What McCain Doesn’t Get
Posted by Jim Walsh on Monday, October 27, 2008
As I write this, eight days before the election, I am dismayed about the course of the McCain campaign on several fronts. It is an understatement to say that the Republican ticket has not caught fire with voters. There’s still some hope of pulling off a victory, but those chances look slimmer and slimmer every day. For what it’s worth, here’s my observations about some of the things that have gone wrong.
(1) Sarah Palin – I love the selection, and I think she’s an intelligent person, but any Republican has to realize that the MSM are not your friends. They should have prepared her better for what she was to face. She did well enough in the debate with Joe Biden, but the Couric interview was a disaster. And when the economy is in a meltdown, is it really necessary to spend $150,000 on clothing for her?
(2) Spend But Don’t Tax – At the risk of committing Republican heresy, I think it’s a major mistake for McCain’s biggest mantra to be a 2008 version of “Read my lips, no new taxes.” As recently as 2000, the federal government was running huge surpluses to the point that pundits were speculating on what would happen when the national debt was paid off and there would be no more Treasury bonds issued. The last 7.75 years have been an irresponsible mess of tax cuts in the face of two wars and burgeoning domestic spending that has led to the debasement of the currency. While the GOP taxes liked Republicans, they spend like Massachusetts Democrats. Running up record deficits hardly qualifies the GOP to lay claim to being the Party of Fiscal Responsibility. People understand that we can’t continue to run the federal government this way. At least Obama gains some credibility when he says he’s going to raise taxes for some people. And here’s news for Republicans: thanks to Ronald Reagan and the Tax Reform Act of 1986, there’s a huge segment of the working population that pays little or no taxes already, and their response to Republicans is “But what have you done for me lately?” Further tax cuts do not appeal to that group AT ALL.
(3) Welfare in Disguise – Part of Obama’s plan is refundable tax credits for people who already pay no income taxes. In other words, it’s not a tax break, it’s a massive welfare scheme. Of course, the MSM won’t point that out, but why doesn’t McCain? By wrapping up his wealth-transfer giveaway as a negative income tax, it’s going to be that much harder for future administrations to undo the damage: “Massive tax increases on our most vulnerable,” the Dems and the New York Times will cry.
(4) Homeland Security – Possibly McCain’s strongest issue that he could use to his benefit is his advantage over Obama on homeland security. And yet he’s not using it at all. Yes, the MSM will probably twist any argument that McCain legitimately makes on this issue as a personal attack on Obama’s semi-Muslim heritage, but I repeat: the MSM are not your friends. They loved you when you were the outsider attacking the Republican administration, but they still hate you for being a Republican, especially when you have a chance at heading another Republican administration. You have to craft your message carefully, and be prepared for the backlash that will follow. I don’t buy the argument that McCain’s not raising the issue because it’s not on voters’ minds: he needs to make it an issue and frame the debate to his advantage. Or he can just write off one of his strong points and lose the election.