It's not common in politics when your opponent graciously goes out of his or her way to campaign for you and make your case, but when that happens, all you can say is "Thank you!"
That is why all Barack Obama supporters should warmly say, "Thank you, McCain '08! Thank you!" Shocking as it may seem, the new McCain talking point is, at its heart, "Here is why you should vote for Barack Obama."
The past week McCain representatives have been hitting the airwaves with their new marching orders: Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Karl Rove, the McCain communication center itself and more have begun trying to make the case that Barack Obama is never "bipartisan." Never mind that it's false -- that's a separate matter (and made all the more panderingly foolish when you realize that Sam Brownback himself has co-sponsored four bills and co-authored a paper with Sen. Obama). Instead, just look at what they're trying to suggest -- that the man who will be the Democratic nominee for president is... a Democrat!
In case one misses the larger point of how mind-numbing this is -- consider: in the coming election, by all accounts of experts on both sides of the aisle, the American public is going to overwhelmingly vote Democratic.
Remember: in all three special House elections held this year, all in conservative Republican districts, they were all won by the Democrat. (In one, Vice President Dick Cheney even campaigned. It didn't help -- unless, of course, you were the Democrat.) On Super Tuesday, 14 million Democrats voted, and only 10 million Republicans. Polls show that 81% percent of Americans consider the country "pretty seriously" on the wrong track. Republican President George W. Bush has a Nixonian-approval rating of just 28%. Republican Vice-President Dick Cheney has an "approval" rating of 18%. And a Pew Poll shows that 51% of Americans consider themselves Democrats or leaning, while only 37% Republican. This was tied, 43-43%, as recently as 2002.
And the John McCain campaign wants to remind you that Barack Obama is a Democrat.
Let's repeat that, because it's not only critical, but incomprehensible -- with all polls showing that Americans are concerned at how Republicans are hurting the country, the McCain campaign wants these Americans to be absolutely sure they know that Barack Obama is the Democrat.
I know that John McCain likes to call his bus the "Straight Talk Express," but this is carrying things to ludicrous extremes.
How bad is it? Even 56% of Republicans say that the loss of American respect is a major problem, compared to only 25% of Republicans.
And the John McCain campaign wants everybody to know that Barack Obama is the Democrat.
You have to wonder at the brain trust who came up with this strategy as a Talking Point. Perhaps it's the same people who said, "Hey, let's send Grover Norquist to the L.A. Times and have him describe Barack Obama as 'tan.' It's not really racist, but we can attract all those people who'd like to think it is."
Maybe McCain '08 has just confused "straight talk" with not having a filter and saying anything. How else do you explain McCain advisor Charlie Black acknowledging to Esquire magazine that a terrorist attack on America would be good for their campaign?
This is no temporary glitch. Keep in mind, these are the same crack advisors who thought it would be a swell idea to have John McCain make a speech to 100 or so supporters in front of a lime-green banner at the same time Barack Obama was acknowledging his becoming the Democratic nominee in a raucous stadium. "I think it's important that we show the American public in as clear a visual way as possible," some ace analyst noted, "that John McCain looks very old and tired, and Barack Obama young and vibrant and ecstatically-popular. TV news shows can put them up on screen side-by-side, so everyone can grasp that point without any effort."
So, that appears to be the McCain strategy: tell the American public that a) Barack Obama is a Democrat, b) Barack Obama is black, and c) Barack Obama is much younger than John McCain.
This isn't the Straight Talk Express. This is the Stating the Blatantly Obvious Sedan.
To be fair, few Republican candidates these days seem to want to be seen as Republican. So, claiming "bi-partisanship" seems the way to fly, amusingly after their eight years of lockstep, "vote as one" partisanship. Unfortunately, though, that will be especially hard for John McCain, who not only hugged that Republican president with a 28% approval, but voted with him 95% of the time -- and then on September 4, will stand at the podium on national television to accept the Republican nomination for president.
And reminds everyone -- again -- with lights, balloons and banners -- that Barack Obama is the Democrat.
Thank you cards can be sent to McCain '08, in lieu of flowers.