DID I MISS MCCAIN'S FIRST TERM AS PRESIDENT?

The RNC has a hilarious new ad out resurrecting the experience attack on Obama:

There are some obvious problems here: McCain has no more executive experience than Obama, and he's done much worse at the biggest executive test either has ever faced -- running a presidential campaign (recall how his collapsed completely last summer). And, of course, unless I somehow repressed a memory of McCain's first term as president, he also hasn't faced a crisis in the Oval Office's magic thinking chair either (maybe Bush lets him borrow it?).

Seriously though, I can't see an experience attack working at this point. More than 50 percent of voters are ready to vote for Obama, even knowing how little experience he has, and he's generally though to have demonstrated throughout the campaign a steadiness and thoughtfulness which are the very opposite of the fears an experience attack evokes. More people say they trust him on the issues and he does well on the "ready to be president" question. (See lots of polls on the subject here.)

I think a more promising approach for McCain would be to try to shake off the reputation for gimmickry, glibness, and nastiness he's developed by talking seriously about the economy. This should include a message of fiscal restraint, which people tend to find appealing in the abstract, and some fear mongering about Obama's tax increases (you saw this at the debate -- the 'Obama wants to raise your taxes in the middle of a recession' line). Patrick Ruffini lays out how it would work here, though even he doesn't really think it would win McCain the presidency. But, nonetheless, it does seem to be roughly what the McCain campaign is going for:

Will it win him the election? Probably not, but it might close the gap, help some down-ballot races, and, as Ruffini points out astutely, set up a powerful avenue of attack anytime Obama tries to accomplish anything as president. On the other hand, I doubt McCain really cares about anything other than his campaign at this point ...

--Sam Boyd

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