Beating the “Inevitable”
No political strategist am I, but Jonah Goldberg’s suggestion for the McCain campaign strikes me as wise:
As many have noted, it’s ironic that Obama supporters who profess to want bipartisanship are indisputably voting for the wrong guy. There’s next to nothing in Obama’s record that suggests he’s better equipped to reach across the aisle and work with the opposition party, against the wishes of his own party’s activist base. Obama is bipartisan on popular issues, not on controversial ones. Meanwhile, that’s McCain’s whole schtick.
What’s more ironic is that bipartisanship wouldn’t be an issue for a President Obama. If, as expected, the Democrats win large majorities in the House and Senate, Obama won’t need Republicans for anything, and there’s no reason to expect he would find common cause with the GOP against the base of his own party. In the Illinois Legislature, Obama was a pliable creature of the corrupt Democratic machine. Why, McCain might ask, should we expect that he will be otherwise at the national level?
Obama may be moving rapidly to the center, embracing faith-based initiatives and backpedaling on Iraq and NAFTA, but he is not “triangulating.” He has not picked any serious fights with his base, no doubt in part because he doesn’t think he has to.
This is a potential opening for McCain to exploit. Obama’s thin record offers little ammo for McCain. But the Democrats who would truly run the country if they controlled both the Congress and the White House do indeed have a long record.
The reason the Obamanation is willing to overlook his move to the center is likely that nobody believes that he’ll stay there, especially with his party’s control of the legislature. McCain, therefore, must push him to choose: keep his messianic grip on his base, or fulfill the promise (or promise to fulfill the promise) of substantive compromise.
Even for his own sake, McCain must hammer home how plain wrong Obama is on most issues, because the Republican’s biggest problem has arguably been his years of testy relationships with his party’s base. He has to hammer home the message that voting against him isn’t just a protest vote, it’s a “let it burn” vote.