And now for some good news: Barack Obama and the Democrats are taking their gloves off.
This morning on CNN, Paul Begala of all people made a good point, that nothing unites a group like the definition of a common enemy. That enemy is John McCain and the Republicans, and it looks as though the Democrats are waking up to how much fodder this guy keeps giving us. As Tom cataloged today, Obama's language is getting tougher and more progressive. He was asked about this by Time Magazine:
TIME: Your speeches seem to be getting far tougher.
OBAMA: Well, it's getting to be crunch time.
He went on:
And over the last several weeks, I think what we've been getting from John McCain has been non—stop attacks against me and my character, which have distracted people from the issues. What I want to do is make sure that people understand is here are the choices. That you've got a candidate who is presenting policies that are identical to what George Bush has been doing for the last eight years. You've got somebody who intends to fundamentally change those policies so that they work for the average American family. And if people understand what those choices are, I think we will win. (emphasis mine)
The Obama campaign released this statement today on the subject:
"This story about John McCain losing track of how many houses he owns is a telling moment that helps to explain why he still thinks 'the fundamentals of our economy are strong' and why he offers just more of the same economic policies that we’ve gotten from President Bush for the last eight years," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton
(note to Bill Burton, don't be afraid to just say "John McCain is out of touch").
In fact, Governor Tim Kaine this morning was the first to pick up that talking point, in a very effective performance on CNN's American Morning (video in link). He said:
I'm not surprised that folks feel favorable toward John McCain, but I think as they look at the direction they want to take the nation, feeling favorably about him as a public servant and what he's done in the past is one thing, but embracing someone who has been part of the Bush economic strategy, and whose basic proposal on how to help the economy is to focus on how the wealthy are doing...
I understand that Senator McCain was asked yesterday this question: "How many houses do you own?" And he couldn't answer that question, he couldn't count high enough apparently to even know how many houses he owned. We've got Americans who are struggling with foreclosures, which are skyrocketing in Virginia and elsewhere, gas prices, jobs slowing down, deficits at a record level, we've got to have somebody who will change the direction of this economy. John McCain won't do it, but Barack Obama understands the new economy and he will.
(Side note: when the Tim Kaine trial balloon went up, I was pretty unenthusiastic about it. But having seen him today and his incredibly strong smack-down of Karl Rove on Meet The Press, I will say I'm more favorably impressed).
But wait, there's more. Remember Obama's targeting of McCain with negative ads locally? Well take a look at this new doozy in Nevada on the issue of Yucca Mountain:
"John McCain. Just more of the same," is the tagline, and the best line is, "If you don't want nuclear waste here (with a picture of a playground), you don't want John McCain here (with a picture of the White House."
And here's another one, a re-mixed version of the economy ad which featured Mid-Westerners talking about the economy, contrasted with John McCain's idiotic statements on the economy:
A remix of Obama's man-on-the-street ad, which features Midwesterners challenging cheery McCain words on the economy, directs viewers to a new website: JohnMcCainRecord.com, which features a YouTube video of McCain talking about the economy at greater length, and stumblingly, during a debate as Mitt Romney looks a bit pained, and finally concluding that the country is "better off," though things are tough.
And there is more, including Susan Rice and Richard Clarke hammering McCain as "reckless" and "trigger happy."
And here we come to our final point, the emergence of two strong points that alone can win the race:
- John McCain is out of touch at home.
- John McCain is reckless and trigger happy abroad.
Who do those points remind you of?
Effective because they're true, they can be backed up by his record, his statements, and the fact that he's insanely wealthy and a hot head with a short fuse.
This isn't just a frame, these should be the EXACT WORDS YOU USE TO PAINT McCAIN.
In fact, Joe Klein of all people made this point today in an article which was correct in asking to see more of Obama's passion:
He desperately needed to do unto McCain what McCain had done unto him: hammer his opponent in a sustained, thematic way—not just a few tossed-away lines in a stump speech. That shouldn't be too difficult. An argument can be made that McCain is trigger-happy overseas and out of touch at home.
There's your theme, guys. Start defining McCain. It's not enough for Obama to say it, you have to have your press, your surrogates, and your advertising say it.
Now for the good news: it's starting to happen. Keep it up.
UPDATE: You can keep the McCain/houses story alive via this DIGG LINK
UPDATE 2: Barack Obama just PERSONALLY went after McCain on the houses quote.:
"Think about that. I guess if you think that being rich means you’ve got to make $5 million, and if you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong!"
"But if you’re like me, and you’ve got one house... you might have a different perspective."
UPDATE 3: ALREADY UP WITH A NEW AD:
UPDATE 4: McCain Response Angrily:
"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people ‘cling’ to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who’s in touch with regular Americans?"
What does that suggest to you? They're worried about this line of attack. And they should be, because PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THIS TRUTH ABOUT McCAIN.
CROSS-POSTED AT STRATEGY '08