Feel free to tell me I'm nuts for asking the question, but doesn't it seem that, more and more, the McCain campaign is turning into the Clinton campaign?
The comparison smacked me upside the head last week, when the turmoil and melodrama attending the internal functioning--or, rather, dysfunctioning--of the Republican nominee's organization burst into public view. Just a few days after John McCain had shaken up his operation, demoting his campaign manager Rick Davis and elevating bullet-headed adjutant Steve Schmidt to a position of putative near-total authority, Bill Kristol confidently predicted in his column in the Times that McCain would soon bring consultant Mike Murphy aboard as the campaign's chief strategist. Kristol wasn't flat wrong, or so I'm told by a longtime McCain confidant. The Arizona senator did indeed offer the gig to Murphy, who served on McCain's 2000 primary bid and whose counsel the candidate had been receiving on the down-low for months. But the outcry among McCain's other advisers, many of whom openly loathe Murphy, was simply too intense. So a little more than 24 hours after Kristol's column was published, Murphy announced that his reentry wasn't gonna happen; instead, he would be going to work for MSNBC.
Now, it's fair to point out that strife is nothing new to McCain campaigns, which tend to be less well-oiled machines than spastic-goat rodeos. Yet it's hard not to see the similarities between the chaos afflicting McCain-land now and what went on in Clinton-world during the primaries. In the former, like the latter, you have an outfit with no clear lines of authority, rife with elephantine egos and feuding factions that have been at each other's throats for years, none with the slightest compunction about bearing their animosities (albeit anonymously) in the press. And in McCain, like Clinton, you have a candidate who not only tolerates but seems to encourage an atmosphere of anarchy--and who finds it difficult to fire anyone, no matter how incompetent.