This weekend there were several articles about new and potential additions to the McCain campaign team that could help McCain stem the pro-Obama tide and keep him from suffering a painful loss to Obama in the fall. If only this simple thing would completely solve McCain’s problems, then I would feel a whole lot better about his chances in November. It won’t. There are a few things that the best strategists in the world can’t fix for McCain — although I’m sure that we will see significant improvement over the status quo.
The McCain campaign has blown the head start they had back when McCain first clinched the Republican nomination. They had the opportunity to define Barack Obama and to explain the glaring differences between McCain and Obama. Consider this a missed opportunity. They allowed the narrative about Obama to be more about his questionable associations than about his policy positions, and this was a mistake. The Jeremiah Wright association raised some questions about Barack, no question, but this by itself isn’t enough to keep voters from voting for Barack Obama. Much of this lack of contrast should be blamed on McCains staff.
It would take some kind of miracle worker to transform McCain into the polished product Obama has become (at least when hes on script). McCain can hire all of the brilliant strategists he can afford and keep reshuffling the deck chairs on the campaign team, and maybe he can improve enough so hes not as painful to watch. One thing all these strategists cannot fix is that after all the tweaks and suggestions they offer — McCain is still McCain. He will always be a drastic contrast to Barack Obama. He is older, less personable, way too familiar with the Washington crowd, and he doesnt really enjoy talking to people. Even many Republicans find Barack appealing, although they may find some of his policy proposals alarming.
McCain doesnt fare quite so well in the popularity department. He is a bona-fide expert at losing friends and alienating people in his own party. Some Republicans cant stand him and they would rather roll the dice with Obama than reward McCain with the presidency. Deep down they know what the smart decision is (at least in my view) but it will be difficult for them to follow through when their nominee disagrees with them on more than one key issue — not only that, but he actively disparages their views while pandering to the moderates/ independents. One thing that could save McCain is if my fellow Republicans swallow their dislike of McCain at least until after the election and vote for him in order to keep Barack Obama from being our next president. Even then, it might not be enough to put McCain over the top in November. Good luck to the present and future strategists tasked with saving McCain. It won’t be easy.