Did anyone with even half of a brain not see this coming? You can put your hand down, Gov. Palin.
With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain's team has decided that its emphasis on the senator's biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan's campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.
"We're going to get a little tougher," a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. "We've got to question this guy's associations. Very soon. There's no question that we have to change the subject here," said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
John McCain has thrown an entire mountain of mud at Sen. Obama so far this campaign and it has all added up to Fail so far. As the McCain campaign goes 100% negative in its advertising, it's no coincidence that they are retreating from states like Michigan and now pouring in their resources to states they should be winning like North Carolina and Indiana. And their resources are becoming increasingly limited - forcing them to have to make choices of which fronts to fight on - a dilemma reminiscent of Al Gore's fatal decision to contest Florida over Ohio in 2000. Sen. Obama is not facing that sort of resource allocation problem. He has the money (although sending him more can't hurt) to storm multiple beaches D-Day style rather than a narrow defense of previous Democrats.
Furthermore, this election is about serious stuff. The one time period John McCain has lead in this race was when the contest was consumed by triviality like pigs and their choice of lipstick. The congress just passed a $700 billion bailout in order to try and stave off a Depression-era style run on banks and credit. In the month of September, on average 5,333 Americans lost their jobs every day. Like with Franklin Roosevelt 70+ years ago, the nation is looking for a steady hand to guide us through the approaching storm - not a photo op obsessed drama queen and his wind-up doll lackey incapable of independent thought.
The weapons of distraction the McCain campaign is likely to use are the topics that are well worn red herrings of the conservative blogosphere. We've been over the Rev. Wright "story", the Tony Rezko "story", and the laughable William Ayers "story". For over a year now the right and their allies in the media (most notably Fox, but the other networks are often accessories to the crime) have tried to tear down Sen. Obama as a far-left radical black nationalist who is corrupt and oh yeah did we mention he's black. Sen. Obama has been able to defy the caricature by being Sen. Obama. When America sees and hears him and his family, the stereotype fades away to show the reality. When John McCain rudely refused to look him in the eye and wailed about Obama being naive and uncertain, America listened to what Sen. Obama actually said and found him far more authentic than the erratic John McCain.
We should remember that the McCain campaign laughably said they were forced to use this ad about Tony Rezko (as if they hadn't planned to use it along) and it had exactly zero effect on the election in any way. Why? The reality doesn't match up.
McCain is going to throw mud. It is what Republicans do when elections come down to crunch time. In 2006 we heard from the right that Americans should give their lives to prevent Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker and in the next month we are likely to hear all sorts of smears about Sen. Obama, his wife, and the rest of their family. We'll hear the smears from John McCain, the screechings of Sarah Palin, Republican operatives and the media.
Then Barack Obama will talk, the caricature will be forced to do battle with the reality and lose, and America will understand we live in a serious time on the edge of the precipice and we need a steady hand to lead us. In all likelihood, even though the steady hand is a young black one with a funny name, we're ready as a nation to finally get serious about the future and not give a hoot.