THE BLOG
11/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Mid-October Surprise? Dump Palin (and Kristol)!

At Wednesday night's debate at Hofstra, McCain might want to volunteer a mild mea culpa about the extent to which the presidential race has degenerated into a shouting match. And then he can pledge to the voters that the last three weeks will feature a contest worthy of this moment in our history.
He'd enjoy it.
Bill Kristol, "Fire the Campaign," New York Times of October 13.

For shameless audacity -- or chutzpah -- Bill Kristol takes the cake in his role as The Times' in-residence adviser to the John McCain campaign. After advocating that McCain let Palin be Palin by "liberating" his vice-presidential running mate to communicate in her own voice ("How McCain Wins," September 29), a week later Kristol laid out the she-wolf approach in egging on Gov. Palin -- in his phone call to her -- to take the gloves off by making character attacks upon Barack Obama for his associations with Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers ("The Wright Stuff," October 6).

On the campaign trail last week, Sarah Palin proceeded to demean herself by whipping up the crowds in explicitly linking Obama to terrorists and traitors -- to people who do not love America -- all in an effort to help the American people understand "who the real Barack Obama is." But that approach boomeranged, exciting McCain crowds to shout hateful and dangerous epithets about Obama, to the point that the Republican presidential candidate felt compelled to try to tone down the rhetoric.

Now, a week later, Bill Kristol has pivoted and says McCain needs to "fire his campaign" and go back to "running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate." Moreover, drop his attack ads and try to sell voters on the idea that the country needs a tested leader in a time of crisis:

"The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional ... Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic."

Ah, if only it was that easy.

In his latest bit of cheap, armchair advice to junk the whole thing and start over, Kristol shamelessly advises that "Palin should follow suit." Set the candidates free; and drop the campaign attacks upon Obama that "just aren't working"!

In the final debate, Kristol the provocateur advises:

"McCain might want to volunteer a mild mea culpa about the extent to which the presidential race has degenerated into a shouting match. And then he can pledge to the voters that the last three weeks will feature a contest worthy of this moment in our history."

Indeed! No mea culpa from the neo-conservative editor of The Weekly Standard?

Well, I have a different piece of advice for John McCain: Drop Sarah Palin from the ticket and have the Republican National Committee name a replacement. And, in the process, fire Bill Kristol as an informal campaign adviser. Form a circular firing squad.