THE BLOG
11/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The McCain Campaign: "Turning a Page"

Greg Sargent at talkingpointsmemo.com made another excellent catch from today's Washington Post.

It seems that the McCain people want to go negative, and to change the subject from the economic crisis:

"We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days," said Greg Strimple, one of McCain's top advisers. "We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama's aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans."

Let's all take a moment to ponder the spectacular tone-deafness of Strimple's comments. Translation: If we could all stop being distracted by everything going to hell in a hand basket right now, we could focus on the important stuff, such as Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and whatever else Republicans can dredge up. All that stuff seems like ancient history right now.

Driving my daughter home from soccer today, I saw a moving van removing stuff from a house with a lingering "for sale" sign posted out front. I don't know this family. I hope things work out well for them. Our majority-buppie neighborhood is really hurting from the mortgage crisis. I see many signs that say "For Sale--Reduced Price," or words to that effect.

Millions of Americans struggling with mortgage payments would love to turn the page on this financial crisis. Millions of sick people who lack health coverage or who can't pay their medical bills would love to turn the page on this healthcare crisis. Residents of New Orleans' Ninth Ward would love to turn the page on this continuing Katrina crisis. Tens of thousands of Americans, and millions of Kurds, Sunni, and Shia, would love to turn the page... You see my point.

The McCain campaign suggests that a President Obama would enact "aggressively liberal" stuff that would ruin the economy, and more generally undermine American life as we know it. News accounts suggest that Senator McCain has allocated almost all of his remaining ad budget to negative commercials.

The hard-sell doesn't seem to be working. Consider the view of one hard-left constituency: professional economists interviewed by Economist magazine You may recall that Sarah Palin claims the Economist as a favorite news source. (We must be reading different things.)

More than 80 percent of surveyed economists suggested that Barack Obama had the better economic team. Two-thirds gave an overall rating of "bad" or "very bad" to the McCain tax plan, compared with 22 percent giving similarly poor ratings for the Obama tax plan. One person scored worse, by a whisker, than Senator McCain. That was President George W. Bush. No wonder McCain campaign staff want to talk about other stuff.

Senator McCain may yet pull this thing out. Barack Obama might stumble. There may be more racist voters than we think. We might endure a game-changing world crisis. One thing we know: Senator McCain will not win because he is offering a positive message that meets the challenge of our very difficult times. I fear we're in for a barrage of depressing negative campaigning from a Republican machine that has run out of much else to say or do.

Wow, I'm looking forward to turning this page.

Postscript: The comment thread includes various suggestions for how the Obama campaign or surrogates could respond in-kind to McCain's negative campaigning I have one response: Let's all keep our heads and stay classy.

We have every reason to believe that we can win this thing by staying focused on healthcare, the economy, the environment, and the other reasons we are excited to support the Obama campaign. We can use this next month to strengthen the groundwork for serious work in these areas.

Staying out of the personal stuff will heighten the contrast between one candidate who is calm, deliberate, and focused on critical issues and his increasingly desperate opposition. We must also guard against political and ethica missteps that might damage the campaign. A handful of folks writing misguided blogs about the Palin pregnancies gave an opening for Republicans to score easy points we don't want to grant.

Plus, I am conscious of the fact that HuffPo does not edit me. Ten years from now, my kids will be able to read these postings. I want them to see serious discussion of healthcare and the rest, not sniping about Vietnam or Cindy McCain. We have a huge opportunity to win this thing in the right way, in a way that will reflect well on us and our candidate once this thing is done.

One more thing. If you live in the DC area or are simply jazzed about disability issues, you might want to attend a neat event hosted by Americans with Disabilities, Families, Friends and Advocates. It is called "breaking down barriers and creating equality and justice for all," and it benefits the Obama Victory Fund.

Some cool people will be there, including House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Congressman Edward J. Markey, and Congressman Keith Ellison. If you want to come, click on the URL. Make sure to note that I am the person who encouraged you to come.