By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

How McCain is blowing it

If Barack Obama wins the presidential election, he’ll be able to thank John McCain for embracing the Republican right just as it was losing its strangehold on American politics. Or so I say in the Guardian.

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  1. Ani

    Dan,I noticed you didn’t discuss the issue of Palin’s knowledge or intelligence in your section on her selection. After what Palin said recently about the role of the VP in the Senate, do you still think she is intelligent?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Ani: It was a short column, and I decided just to focus on one thing with Palin. But no, after reading this New Republic piece, I no longer think Palin is intelligent. Just clever.

  3. Ani

    Dan,You have made my day (and I would agree that Palin’s drag on the ticket with potential supporters probably has less to do with the intelligence issue than with other issues).

  4. jvwalt

    McCain was/is in a very tough spot. During the GOP primary, he had to prove his bona fides with the hard right in order to win the nomination. Even after he had it wrapped up, he faced a lukewarm response from the right — and lukewarm wasn’t good enough. He not only needs their votes, he needs their active support in terms of donations and volunteer activity. So he couldn’t simply appeal to the center. He had to — still has to — keep playing to the right. But in doing so, he lost his hold on the independents. But personally, I think there’s a bigger fault in McCain’s campaign. From start to finish, it’s been all about tactics: veering this way and that, testing new messages and catchphrases, appealing to this group or that, changing its focus every few days. I haven’t seen much sense of strategic direction. Whereas Obama’s campaign has been one of the best I’ve ever seen at strategy — keeping an eye on the overall picture and the long term.

  5. Don, American

    When I start believing opinion polls, please have me committed.

  6. mike_b1

    don, why wouldn’t you believe them?

  7. O'Rion

    We’ll see how clever Palin is post election. If she takes a month or so to really take a tutorial and learn some of the essentials, she could emerge as a leader in what appears to be a vast wasteland of a divided GOP. If she tries to make it as is (the Brian Williams interview was pretty bad), she’ll just be continuing the sideshow that’s currently tanking. I predict she will not spare McCain her–public– feelings about how his blunders cost them the election.

  8. O-FISH-L

    Dan, does the Guardian give you the headline and then ask you to scramble to fill in the content? No offense, but it seems like it. Again, this one brought laughter.Your recent remembrance of David Nyhan prompted me to look at his 2005 obituary and I was amused to read that even as a liberal journalist, one of his favorite pols was John McCain. “I’m with you until the Democratic Convention,” Nyhan once told McCain. Dan, you should come right out like David Nyhan did and admit that journalists are not allowed to be with the Republican in the final, no matter what. Instead you mislead readers when you claim that media abandonment of McCain is somehow his own fault, even when the respected Nyhan predicted it down to the exact day, over three years ago. As for Palin, she has been nothing short of lifesaving to both McCain’s campaign and his supporter’s enthusiam. Much like the red herring dragged across the trail to confuse tracking dogs in days of yore, the media is running after Palin and Obama is running after Bush. Meanwhile, against all odds McCain sneaks to within 1.1% in ANOTHER poll, this one from IBD/TIPP, the firm that was most accurate in 2004. With the obscene amounts of cash at his disposal, fawning media coverage, incumbent opposite party president with approvals at 20% and an elderly, disabled opponent, why is Obama still within the margin of error and not up by 25%? Who’s “Blowing It” again?

  9. jvwalt

    Fish: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you’re not making much sense, considering that we’re ten days away from an epic Republican defeat. But really… Nyhan was an OPINION columnist. He made no bones about being liberal. His political leanings say nothing about the media as a whole. And you can believe the media are slanted against McCain if you like; there are a whole lot of liberals who believe the media slants to the right. Palin has helped stir up the Republican base, to be sure, but otherwise she has absolutely been a drag on the ticket. She is not helping at all to attract the independent voters McCain needs to win. And oh, I love it that a conservative is suddenly yelping about “obscene amounts of money” in a campaign! For the first time in who knows how long, the Dems actually have more money than the Republicans — so now it’s obscene? Were Bush’s deep-pocketed campaigns obscene? At least Obama is raising his money from millions of small donors — average contribution $86 — instead of the usual fat cats. You can cherrypick the poll you like best. I look at a McCain campaign giving up in a bunch of battleground states and an RNC abandoning Congressional incumbents; it’s pretty clear that the GOP is reading the tea leaves and expecting a defeat of historic proportions. We’ll see who’s right on November 5.

  10. mike_b1

    o-fish, turn that same question around: In 2003, with an incumbent president, two wars on, and a country feeling under the gun from terrorists, why was Kerry anything more than an after-thought for voters?You are basically saying 1) your candidate sucks (which is true) and 2) the current administration sucks (also true). Which begs the question, Why do you support them?

  11. Dot Lane

    “As for Palin, she has been nothing short of lifesaving to both McCain’s campaign and his supporter’s enthusiam.”Life saving in the sense that a lead anchor weighs less than a gold anchor like Romney would have been? Doesn’t matter, he’s still sinking. And let’s not have this nonsense about IBD/TIPP. The only basis for their most accurate claim is themselves. If you look at their most recent poll, the one you cite, you can clearly see that they’ve gone overboard with southern middle class voters. Coincidence? Maybe. But when you have Obama winning three regions of the country, three economic categories, and still with only a 2% lead or so, you can see where the sample fell flat, especially when they screwed up young people due to too small a sample size. I still don’t see the fascination with the national polling, when all the action is at the state level.But hey, whatever keeps you warm at night.

  12. Steve

    Uh oh: Obama leads by only two points!In North Dakota. (See, anyone can cherry-pick polls!)

  13. An Astute Observer

    **After what Palin said recently about the role of the VP in the Senate, do you still think she is intelligent?**Not sure what she said that was so bad. THe VP *IS* the president pro tem of the Senate.Biden’s comment that the VP “has no role” in the senate is more incorrect, yet he gets away with it?

  14. mike_b1

    Not so astute: The President pro tem is Robert Byrd. Last time I checked, he is not the VP. And if Palin claimed the VP is president pro tem, well, then she’s even dumber than I thought.

  15. Steve

    OK, here is how McCain is blowing it:He can’t hold lots of states Bush won in 2004 (from RCP):CO O+6.5 (Bush +4.7)FL O+2.2 (Bush +5.0)IN O+0.5 (Bush +20.7)IA O+6.1 (Bush +2.1)MO O+2.7 (Bush +7.2)NV O+3.3 (Bush +2.6)NM O+8.4 (Bush +0.7)NC O+1.0 (Bush +12.4)OH O+7.5 (Bush +2.1)VA O+7.0 (Bush +8.2)Instead of all this FUD about “why isn’t Obama up by 25%” (25%? Really, fish?), the race is really all about “Why can’t McCain hold onto the states Bush won?” Bush won NC and IN by double digits, and now McCain can’t hold them.

  16. Stella

    FADE TO BLACKDimming the lesser lights.Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign’s already-tense internal dynamics.Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.”She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.”I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

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