10/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Brand McCain as Bush's "Co-Conspirator"

During the Democratic National Convention, Senator Bob Casey (PA) said that John McCain was not a maverick, he was Bush's sidekick. That more accurately characterized McCain, but the Obama campaign has felt it better just to remind people that McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time.

Although I thought Casey's line was great when he said it, upon further reflection I believe it has too positive a connotation to be accurate. The people we think of as 'sidekicks' are usually associated with someone we like -- Sancho Panza to Don Quixote, Kramer to Seinfeld, the Sundance Kid to Butch Cassidy. But, no one would attach the label 'sidekick' to Rasputin to Czar Nicholas, Goehring to Hitler, or, for that matter, Ayman al-Zawahiri to Osama bin Laden.

Nor does reciting McCain's 90% voting with Bush seem to burn deeply in peoples' psyches. It may be that "maverick" is just stronger than "90%", regardless of whom it is actually about. Or, that 90% is too bland and general, and can be overcome by a few concrete, salient examples.

Whatever the reason, the Obama campaign needs a more powerful word than 90% to connect McCain to Bush. My vote is for "co-conspirator".

Co-conspirator reinforces what 75% of the country already believes, that Bush is bad and has been very bad for them and the country. Boomers will recall the most famous "unindicted co-conspirator" in history, Richard A. Nixon, and that will re-ignite a yearning for another (and last) chance for them to create what an assassin's bullet robbed them of when Robert Kennedy was killed. (With RFK's murder, Nixon became president).

Moreover, as opposed to the relatively passive act of "voting 90% of the time" with Bush, a co-conspirator is an active participant, which is what McCain was. McCain did not just vote for the Iraq War, he actively promoted it. He did not just support "cutting and running" from Afghanistan, he championed it. He did not just support George Bush, he proclaimed "mission accomplished" apparently because a banner said so. He is not just endorsing the Bush economic policy, he wants to continue it. He does not just favor government over women in determining whether to carry a rapist's pregnancy to term, he will appoint Supreme Court Justices to ensure it.

That is, John McCain is a co-conspirator in George Bush's failed presidency that broke faith with the American people.

The Obama campaign should indict him.

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