In the spirit of this thread…
Right now, McCain is on the ropes. It’s not a done deal for Barack, but it is an uphill climb for the GOP candidate. While some speculate that Obama might win it in a bigger fashion than some might have expected, I don’t know anyone (even Republicans) who are willing to acknowledge that, if McCain wins, it will be anything but a squeaker.
And let’s be honest, if he wins, it will be (barring some unexpected November surprise) for one reason: the attacks worked. McCain has not really been relying on policy nuances and elevated discussions of philosophical differences in governance over the last several weeks (or months, for that matter). He (either directly or through sanctioned campaign surrogates) has been calling Obama just about everything he can to strike fear in people: A Marxist/Socialist/Communist. A Black Radical. A Druggie. Corrupt. Unpatriotic. Elitist. Someone who associates with terrorists. Someone who doesn’t care about the troops. Someone who wants to teach sex-ed to 6 year olds. Essentially, someone who is more than just Liberal or Inexperienced, but fundamentally untrustworthy to lead this country.
And that’s not to mention the wide swaths of his followers, many of whom do not live in “Real” America in the first place.
So let’s say this classic last-minute Rove/Schmidt playbook gambit works. McCain wins (and not by much). For all this talk of being a “maverick” and of having a career of “reaching across the aisle”, he’ll be dealing with 49.99% of the population who will very likely be incensed by his victory and the way he achieved it.
How will he heal this rift–a rift that’s largely of his own exploiting? How will he get half the population to believe that, after all the mud-slinging and misrepresentations, he still cares about Obama’s voters and their interests and values? After mailers like this and TV ads like this, what exactly is his strategy to bridge the gap that this inflammatory rhetoric has created? And after such a slash-and-burn campaign, how is he going to get a Democratic congress to cooperate with anything he might propose?
And before we raise the head of False Equivalency, let’s be honest–this is not a question Obama has to face if he wins. Obama’s campaign has centered around Hope and Change more than it has around Fear. Last night’s 30-minute infomercial didn’t mention McCain/Palin or their polilcies once (and only alluded to Bush without mentioning him explicitly either). What’s the worst that he and his surrogates have called his opponent? Erratic and out-of-touch? Bush 2.0 and More of the Same? Certainly the worst thing that comes to mind was the Guns/God/Bitter comment–which he only said once and now acknowledges was a mistake. To be assured, there will be a significant percent of the population (40+%) who will need convincing that he’s up for the job, but the bad blood that exists toward him will largely be about who they think he is or what they think he represents or what they’re afraid he might do in office, but not about what he did in his campaign.
If McCain wins, there may very well be large-scale protests and allegations of voter fraud. And there will almost certainly be bitterness and recriminations. Given the tenor of his campaign and the tactics he has used to win at the ballot box, how exactly is he going to bring this country (already riddled with crisis and anxiety) together? I assume anyone who’s voting for McCain would have the best ideas or theories (since they clearly see something in the guy that I don’t), so I’m most interested in their contribution here.