Have you ever been to a child's birthday party in which there's a pinata? It's a pretty straightforward exercise -- the birthday boy/girl gets blindfolded, is handed a big stick, is spun around to cause minor disorientation, and is then encouraged to swing the stick wildly in every direction, in the hopes of hitting a target and getting a prize.
John McCain's campaign has been operating under a similar framework for quite a while now. Under McCain's version of Pinata Politics, the senator and his team swing wildly in every direction, hoping to hit Barack Obama. There's no real consistency to the attacks -- and there's even less honesty and integrity backing up the attacks -- but McCain appears to be blindfolded, allowing Karl Rove's operation to spin him in circles.
Want to read something funny? I mean, genuinely hysterical? Take a look at the memo distributed by the McCain campaign in early March, immediately after the Arizona senator officially secured the Republican nomination.
"It is critical," the memo explained, "as we prepare to face off with whomever the Democrats select as their nominee, that we all follow John's lead and run a respectful campaign focused on the issues.... Throughout the primary election we saw John McCain reject the type of politics that degrade our civics, and this will not change." The memo added that "overheated rhetoric and personal attacks" only serve to "distract" us, and that it was imperative that the campaign hold itself "to the highest standards."
That was nearly five months ago, and it's hard to imagine even the most sycophantic McCain supporter agreeing that the presumptive Republican nominee is meeting the standards he set for himself in March. Indeed, since McCain brought in Karl Rove's team to run the campaign operation, the swings at the pinata have become even more reckless, occasionally hitting the target, and occasionally hitting everyone else watching the festivities.
Just this week, McCain took a swing at the race card. And towards Britney Spears. And at wounded U.S. troops. To fully appreciate just how wild McCain's swings have become, take a look at this list, which is too long to reproduce here, of McCain aiming unsuccessfully at that pinata. There's no coherent thought; just an angry man with a bat.
Since the general-election campaign began in earnest, McCain has attacked Obama's integrity, honesty, character, and patriotism. Last week, the McCain campaign even hinted that Obama is weak on genocide. Hitting that pinata is apparently pretty difficult.
"They're doing it because the candidate, and the campaign, is not happy with where they are and they're lashing out," a Republican strategist recently said.
That may be true. And who knows, maybe voters will find all of this compelling.
But at this point, most of us are pretty anxious to see McCain take the blindfold off -- his tactics are starting to make us dizzy.