How Low Can He Go

July 31, 2008 4:48 p.m.

It seems we’re in for another bout of that great biennial bit of sad-sackery just can’t help unwittingly stumbling into racialized imagery and code-words when all they’re trying to do is create a good old fashioned smear ad. I feel their pain. Love is a battlefield. But before returning to that subject I wanted to hit briefly on a related matter.

Yesterday at TPMCafe, Theda Skocpol wrote that whatever the McCain camp is doing, the Obama campaign, writ large and small, will only play into his hands by getting into an argument about race. That after all is one of the things the McCain camp is trying to do. What they need to do is go on the offense, hitting McCain with vivid ads on his numerous vulnerabilities. Like the fact that he embraces all of George W. Bush’s policies and his own evident desperation.

It may surprise you. But I completely agree. As a matter of messaging and campaigning, parrying this sludge requires a deft hand, and the Obama campaign can’t let itself get sucked into a debate about race and racialized campaign messages. But that’s their issue. Not ours. My interest is on shining a spotlight on what McCain’s doing.

It was always clear that it was going to be hard for John McCain to emerge from this campaign with his reputation and the presidency, simply because of the rough terrain any Republican faces this year. At this point, it’s clear that by the end of this, the reputation is going to be shot. There’s just been too much demonstrable lying on the candidate’s part, too much sleazy campaigning, too much outsourcing his campaign to Karl Rove. More and more editorialists and even some of the prestige pundits are starting to see it.

So that means, he has to win. Because if he doesn’t, he’s got nothing left. All he is is a four term senator from a medium-sized state with no legislative record. It’s an eminently worthwhile task to chronicle his descent.

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