Beating Obama….What McCain and the GOP Overlooked...

Perhaps the only insight the MSM “got right” is that 2008 is a “change election.” For 18 months, polls consistently show that voters want a break with the status quo and fresh leadership in the White House. Barak Obama has made this the centerpiece of his case for power, and John McCain is on the same page- “I’m a change agent too, but one with experience whom you know and can trust.”

The same page – a reasonable strategy. And a losing one. Losing, that is, in a campaign with “all things being equal” in the minds of undecided voters.

Losing because given the choice between two change agents with arguments that seem equally reasonable, and solutions to the nation’s woes that appear similar, reasonably equal personal negatives, and equally compelling personal positives, the average undecided voter will break for the freshest face, the more energetic of the two men, the one who evinces the most conviction, and the most personable and likeable candidate. Which is why McCain will lose to Obama unless he takes the gloves off now.

John McCain is very personable and likeable; no doubt about it, but Obama has perfected the art of telegenesis. Voters increasingly see Obama as more determined, more confident, in greater command of the facts, and most importantly, a mainstream alternative whose proposals for change are, as one Obama convert recently said, “No different than anything else we’ve seen before.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. But to paraphrase Hans Morgenthau, perception unrefuted ultimately becomes Reality.

Now, John McCain is indeed a political maverick, and a McCain presidency would be as close to a Bush third term as it would a Clinton third term. But all things being equal, the link between Bush and McCain that Obama trumpets resonates with too many undecideds, especially now, when the world markets teeter on collapse, and tax payers once again foot the bill for someone else’s mismanagement.

But over the past couple of days, it seems that the McCain campaign gets it. Starting with Governor Palin re-raising the questions regarding Obama’s past radical associations, and McCain’s scathing attack on Obama’s participation in the Wall Street Crisis, McCain seems to have fully grasped the first of two crucial dependent strategies he needs to deploy in order to win.

The first strategy is axiomatic…in a change election, voters must be more concerned about the change agent than the need for change itself. In other words, voters must understand that Barak Obama is not just another progressive/centrist democrat, but a genuine, determined, clandestine left-wing activist whose vision of the economy and government is closer to radical socialism and discredited liberation theology than traditional liberalism.

Obama’s personal and political influences and associations by and with radicals and former terrorists, which have been declared “off limits” by the MSM (for obvious reasons), are not only fair game, but imperatives, because those seem to be the only associations that Obama had in his years prior to public office. The list of those who influenced Obama’s worldview and political instincts is a virtual Who’s Who of extreme radicalism: Former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, the “Father of American Radicalism” Saul Alinsky, “Black Liberationist Theologian” Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Left-wing activist Father Daniel Fleger, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan; not to mention Obama’s relationships with mideast radicals Khalid al-Monsoor and Rashid Khalidi.

“You are who you hang with,” a teenaged Palin supporter recently blogged. “Either Obama was blissfully ignorant year-after-year about what his closest friends were saying, or he didn’t care, or he is covering it up now that he wants to be president.” Here, here… from the mouths of lisping babes…

Obama’s radical connections must be raised again and again, along with the potential implications in an Obama administration for vital appointments to the federal bench and the U.S. Supreme Court, foreign policy and defense strategies, expanding the federal reach into the lives of American citizens, federal funding of dozens of left-wing organizations, and massive tax increases.

Never in American presidential politics has a true radical won the nomination of a major political party. Change would indeed come with an Obama regime… the type of change that can only happen if the candidate masquerades as a centrist, else be resoundingly rejected by American voters. Remember that when Obama’s radical associations dominated the headlines last Spring, he lost one primary after another to Hillary Clinton, undecideds breaking between 60-65% her way in the last days of each primary.

McCain must raise the alarm in the next 30 days forcefully and loudly, regardless of how loud the MSM howls, not only because voters must fear Obama’s radicalism more than significant change, but because John McCain has always put Country First. He must also trot out economic experts to bolster his claim that Obama’s economic solutions to the problems crippling our economy would only bring it crashing down…surround himself with dozens of voices who are on message.

The Second strategy is linked to the first and essential to its success, and in this election, may be the key to victory. It flows from the axiom that if your opponent links you to the Bogeyman, you better remind everyone why the Bogeyman has a good side.

Translation: McCain is running from the GOP brand because the brand is unpopular. The problem is that no matter how fast he runs away from the GOP, he is still the GOP standard-bearer. To wit, whenever something goes awry, as the recent financial crisis underscores, McCain is linked to the status quo, and Obama emerges as the shining knight who will right the wrongs. Scurrying feet and “me change agent too” is not enough to push the GOP candidate over the top in an election where the GOP is disliked. Solution? Remind voters that the Bogeyman has a good side.

If a voter is rightly worried about Obama’s radicalism, the alternative must be acceptable, which means that the Demon GOP and Evil Bush must not be worst than the “cure.” Ergo, if the positives for the Republican Party, and its president George Bush, go up, Obama’s Raison d’être goes down, and so does his support.

For the last 18 months (much longer, actually, but for clarity’s sake, let’s use the 2008 election cycle), we’ve endured un-refuted unrelenting 24/7 invective decrying Bush’s tenure as the most corrupt, inept, and evil since the founding of the Republic. From Letterman to Leno, SNL to MSM nightly news, on-line headlines to major newspapers and news magazines, NPR, Colbert and John Stewart…a daily, unanswered assault on Bush has now become reality for most Americans. The key here is unanswered. When every aspect of culture and society tells you Bush is a disaster, and no one offers a counterpoint, GOP candidates run from the Republican brand to survive. And Democrats “Wave the Bloody Bush” to win.

The RNC has a substantial war chest. Now is the time for the GOP to defend the GOP. Now is the time for the GOP to define itself again, and make inroads in its declining poll numbers. The RNC should make significant buys in key states reminding voters what Bush accomplished. What a novel idea. Praise actual accomplishments.

And a good case can be made. To name just a few successes: Victory is near in Iraq. America has been safe for seven years. Several terrorist plots were detected and thwarted. Much of the leadership of Al Qaeda is dead, its infrastructure decimated, it finances disrupted. Intelligence capabilities were streamlined into the Department of Homeland Security. Taxes were lowered for all Americans. Millions now have a Prescription Drug Program under Medicare. Faith-based organizations have used federal monies to improve the lives of tens of thousands. Roberts and Alito now sit on the Supreme Court, and dozens of other competent jurists on federal benches. National education standards have improved student performance and increased school district accountability.

Actually, a web-search of “Bush Administration accomplishments,” gives anyone literally scores of Bush successes that counterbalance the Establishment litany of Bush “failures.” Not to defend the last eight years of the GOP White House gives undecideds no safe harbor if they are worried about Obama, and worse – it allows the excoriation of Bush to become political reality for generations to come; democrats can successfully “Wave the Bloody Bush” with impunity.

The recent Will Smith movie, I Am Legend, tells of people willing to take an un-proven cure for cancer. The “cure” appeared reasonable and seemed to work at first, but in the end, it nearly wiped out humanity. The GOP allowed Bush to be painted as the Big C, and unless people are given pause, too many will roll up their sleeves on Election Day and take the cure. Only Providence knows what happens after that.

There are less than 30 days until Election Day, but it is not too late to implement this two-pronged strategy and change the playing field so that “all things being equal” will no longer be what voters perceive. If McCain can do this, he can embrace the successes of the GOP while criticizing its failures, while the need for an “any port in a storm” sort of change will be tempered by a fear of the Chicago community activist whose covert radicalism makes John McCain the only real choice on November 4.