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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Can McCain Pull It Off?

The answer is yes. On the other hand, will he pull it off? I will let everyone know on November 5th. I just finished watching McCain on Fox News Sunday and in my opinion, he is staying on the message he will need to in order to stake the stunning comeback it will take to win. With sixteen days left, Real Clear Politic has McCain down by six points. Furthermore, the Obama campaign just announced that he raised $150 million in September. As such, a stunning comeback is what McCain will need.

Yet, he has done job number one. When Barack Obama responded to Joe the Plumber by saying that he would "spread the wealth around", that was potentially a major gaffe. It was only a gaffe though if enough people heard about it. That was taken care of when McCain repeatedly referred to him in the debate on Wednesday. Since then, it is Joe the Plumber that is the center of attention. Along with it, it is the policy of income redistribution that Senator Obama is proposing. Besides this, finally, the McCain campaign is also pointing out that Senator Obama is attempting to cut taxes for about 40% of the population that currently pays no federal taxes.

Here is how Dick Morris described the dynamic of political campaigns.

Follow this election cycle. Between the summer of 2007 and the end of February of 2008, all focus was on Hillary Clinton’s ups and downs. And Obama defeated her decisively. Then in March and April of 2008, Obama was in the focus and Rev Wright and the surrounding controversy propelled Hillary to victory. Then during the summer of 2008, all eyes were on Obama and he gained. In September, McCain was on the griddle. At first his selection of Sarah Palin let him move ahead. But then his “suspension” of his campaign and subsequent complicity in the bailout package cost him his lead and moved Obama to an advantage just short of double digits.

Now the attention should logically shift to Obama. He is way ahead and McCain is nowhere to be seen. Few give McCain any chance and the debate is over whether the race is over already. This is, of course, the ideal environment for a McCain surge. All attention would normally focus on the Democrat. But it isn’t. Every American checks the market before they check the polls. The ongoing anxiety over the stock market is not only giving more and more people reason to hate the Republicans of Wall Street and their allies in Washington, but it is keeping us from focusing on Obama.

Now Morris wrote this a week ago. His point, a correct one, was that normally the attention focuses on the front runner and usually the front runner folds in the glare of the spotlight. Unfortunately for McCain, the spotlight then, and to some extent now, was being shared with the meltdown of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Now, I don't believe that the market will calm down in the next couple weeks. As such, people will have at least some of their attention on the market between now and the election. Still, as the election gets closer, it will get more and more attention. With that, the attention will be more and more toward the front runner, Senator Obama, and his policies.

This brings me back to Senator McCain's appearance on FNS. In this interview, he has finally hit on all the right themes upon which to attack Senator Obama. His focus was that Senator Obama's policies would redistribute wealth and punish successful businessmen. Joe the Plumber has become an effective symbol of the way in which Obama's plans will punish those that create success for themselves. Successful campaigns have a successful message and they stay on that message. Calling Obama's tax plan what it is, income redistribution, and furthermore pointing out that Senator Obama's tax plan would give tax cuts to 40% of the population that doesn't even pay federal taxes is an effective message. McCain will repeat the terms income redistribution, socialism, and welfare over and over from now until the end of the campaign. The only question is will it be enough. Only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

If McCain wants to call giving a tax break to millions of hardworking Americans who pay payroll taxes, and could use some relief during these tough times, welfare, then Obama will I hope counter by pointing out the utter elitist, upper class disdain for workers inherit in such a characterization. If Obama's clever he will counter with ads something like this: showing a person like say "Bob the factory worker" hard at work, who then comments, "I work hard and for long hours every day sweating and breaking my back to try to to support my family. I pay 6.5% payroll taxes on every dollar I make. I am voting for Senator Obama, as he will lend me and millions of hardworking Americans like me some tax relief in the form of what Senator McCain calls 'undeserved welfare.' I could use some 'undeserved welfare' tax relief right now." (i.e., with the last part said sarcastically).

mike volpe said...

If Obama tries that, McCain can point out that the payroll tax goes toward social security, and it can't be cut unless 1) you also cut benefits or 2) you create a fiscal nightmare down the road.

In other words, what you are saying is that someone that pays only the payroll tax of 6.5% should get a tax while someone that is already giving nearly 40% of their income, should get a tax increase to fund it. That's the epitome of class warfare and income redistribution.