Monday, September 29, 2008

Bipartisanship

The McCain campaign trotted out an ad before Friday midnight about how Barack Obama said “John was right” several times during the debate. They seem to think it’s a winning strategy to portray Mr. Obama as a McCain supporter. Hilzoy disagrees:

It would have been one thing had Obama not also been willing to say, forcefully, that he thought McCain was wrong. But he was, and usually his acknowledgement that McCain was right on some point was the preface to an explanation of why he was wrong on another.

[…]

Nonetheless, the McCain campaign seems to think that pointing out the occasions when Obama said that McCain was right is a winning strategy. I think this is wrong, not only for the reasons I mentioned, but because it undercuts one of McCain’s main lines of argument: that he is willing to reach across the aisle and work for bipartisan solutions, whereas Obama is not.

Think about it: McCain couldn’t even bring himself to look at Obama. He was consistently contemptuous and dismissive. And now he has released an ad that takes Obama’s willingness to acknowledge that his opponents are right to be the sort of thing that’s worth attacking him for.

McCain claims that he can truly reach out to his opponents and work with them, while Obama cannot. It’s hard for me to think that his performance in this debate didn’t seriously undermine that claim.

I think this points out an element of Mr. McCain’s idea of bipartisanship: he’s happy to claim his willingness to reach across the aisle, but the anecdotal evidence is that it’s only when he gets his way; otherwise he’s more than likely to tell you to go Cheney yourself. And as this ad campaign indicates, he’s not even willing to acknowledge Mr. Obama’s agreements because he doesn’t consider him as a worthy equal on the stage.

This is the Rovian mentality oozing in under the Mavericky door; turn your opponent’s strength into a weakness even when it’s the same as your own.