McCain dodges a bullet

Last week was rough for McCain–no doubt about it. He struggled to find a coherent message on the economy, and the media never gave him a chance. Obama, in contrast, seemed to have a clear, if bad, answer: the “failed” policies of the Bush years.

This left Obama with a perfect chance to “pivot”–to use this issue as a chance to move back to the center by embracing Bush’s recent interventions. Indeed, he appeared ready to outflank McCain in the center when he praised Paulson’s efforts.

But Obama apparently has chosen to return to bashing the Bush administration. Which is great news for McCain, because while McCain has refined his economic proposals, Obama has yet to reveal his own and is stuck on the same old message.

I happen to believe that the McCain=Bush message is one that cannot win, a) because it doesn’t ring true and b) it doesn’t say much about Obama himself. Obama could have risen above this, but he has again taken the low road.

If Obama had indeed pivoted, McCain may have faced a tough choice about the $700 billion bailout. Opposing it on principle–why not recapitalize the banks instead of throwing good money after bad?–might have been the only option. No longer.

McCain can now breathe a (small) sigh of relief and keep hammering away at the theme of responsibility, underscoring his own efforts to reform the housing market (which Obama opposed) and reminding voters who Obama has been taking money from.

I was greatly encouraged by McCain’s speeches today and Friday and I believe he will head into this week’s debate–which is on foreign policy, thank goodness–with a chance to take control of this election back from the Democrats.

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