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2000 and 2004 were elections where the country felt it was in a relatively good place. Sure 2004 had the War in Iraq but the war was not universally loathed at that point in time and Bush still had a 50% approval rating. Bush strategist Karl Rove ran a campaign based largely on smoke and mirrors. He focused on cultural and other distraction issues designed to fire up his base and win on turn out and voter suppression.

Fast forward to 2008 and Rove protege Steve Schmidt is running the McCain campaign. Schmidt is a veteran of the Bush campaign and he headed up the war room in 04. He spent his time learning at Rove's right hand. He has a masters in GOP campaigning. Unfortunately for him the election is not taking place in 2000 or 2004. The country is in a bad way. For the first time in a generation an election is about more than cultural issues. Sadly for the GOP those are the only things they know how to do.

With the coming article on the McCain teamwe are going to be able to observe all of this and the evidence for it. The basic premise is that they lack the ability to run on things other than the cultural issues. they are completely inflexible. They have boxed themselves in tot he extent that they have one choice in how to run campaigns and they are unable to deviate from that with success. Call it the audible theory if you will. They have ability to recognize when what they are doing is not working. They have the poll data to support that. Hell, they change narratives every day so they must understand that what they are doing does not work. Despite this recognition they are totally unable to capitalize on it. They cannot switch effectively to new lines of attack or a new way to campaign. Here is one example,

And the decision may have been even more impulsive than initially thought. Gov. Sarah Palin, who had never been on the VP shortlist, was advanced at the last minute by Schmidt and Rick Davis, and was picked after a less-than-hour-long chat in with McCain at his ranch in Arizona.

They had a list of serious and qualified, if somewhat boring and lackluster, candidates for the position. Schmidt and co though saw they lay of the land and decided that they needed an audible. And change the play they did. They went with palin not so much a hail mary as a puntfake from their own 40. not a good call.

Another example of McCain teams ability to recognize the importance of a situation and still fail totally to take advantage of it is the financial crisis.

Then there is Schmidt's -- perhaps fatal -- push for McCain to "go all in," leave the campaign trail and head to Washington to work on the financial bailout package.

"Schmidt evidently saw the financial crisis as a 'true character' moment that would advance his candidate's narrative."

Schmidt was actually right about that being a major defining moment of the campaign. sadly for McCain they were unable to take advantage of it. It was a situation that cried out for an audible. They needed a switch to real policy, substance and seriousness. Instead they went gimmick. gimmick and shallow is all they know how to do.  

Commentators and Bloggers have been looking at the mccain campaign and asking why they persist with ayers, acorn, etc when that stuff is totally unimportant to the public. it seems to make no sense. The answer is that this is all these people know how to do. it has been their specialty for the past two decades. It is all they have ever needed. Now though they are being asked to do something new and different and they are totally out of their depth. So they try to up the game using what they do know -- getting slimier and slimier. Unsurprisingly they are not succeeding. Schmidt and co is out of their depth.

This of course frustrates them. They lash out and they look desperate, because they are. They simply dont have a handle on what to do against obama and in the face of an actual crisis because they have waged the past elections with smoke and mirrors. Now, when it comes time to deal with problems tricks dont get it done. Crisis in campaigns are situations that require a campaign to leave the game plan and to try something new and unplanned. You have to audible. Schmidt and company have proven they simply cant do this right. Maybe it should not be so surprising given schmidts history as a war room guy and someone who thrives on relentless message discpline. That type of rigidity only works so long as everything proceeds according to plan. When does not, well we see what has happened to McCain.

From the pages of the gaucho politico

Originally posted to Liberal Youth on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They suited up for badminton at a football game (4+ / 0-)

    Dudehisattva... <div style="color: #0000a0;">"Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"&l

    by Dood Abides on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:17:24 AM PDT

  •  I think you are right (0+ / 0-)

    The old tricks are not working. Everything they have thrown out has failed. I think people have grown weary after eight years of this BS. People are looking for hope, they are looking for calm, not the games of old.

    "Those that know, don't say, those that say, don't know"... Tao te ching... Then why am I posting a comment?

    by zenmasterjack on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:18:34 AM PDT

  •  here's to the wings of republican inanity... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Youth

    may it never molt a feather.

  •  Even Rove wouldn't have been able to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    wage this war between the old ways of doing things and the new ways of doing things.  Obama's campaign has changed the rules, or giving credit where credit is due, Howard Dean and his 50 State Strategy did.  

    "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

    by JFinNe on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:22:59 AM PDT

    •  Dean didn't change the rules. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If he had, he would have won.

      What he did was propose a (brilliant) new set of rules, and demonstrate how they might operate.

      Obama merged Dean's proposals with his own (philosophically similar and equally brilliant) approaches developed through his previous life experiences, and also with the strategic and tactical know-how of the Davids.

      With all that brilliance -- rooted in Dean, but carried well beyond Dean -- Obama did indeed change the rules.

      To John McCain, War is not a metaphor for Life; Life is a metaphor for War.

      by NWTerriD on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:31:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They can't discuss policy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Republican policies, foreign and domestic have gotten us into the trouble we are in today. Policy wise all McCain can offer is "more of the same". More tax cuts(for the rich), more deregulation, more war.

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. A. Bierce

    by irate on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:32:39 AM PDT

  •  I've said it before (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Great political quotes:

    Franklin Roosevelt:  "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

    John McCain:  "We have nothing...."

    "Obama's gonna be president, and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. How's that feel?" - Fishgrease

    by roxtar on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 03:49:38 AM PDT

  •  McCain is running a 20th (0+ / 0-)

    century campaign in the 21st century.  Sometimes change happens slowly.  Right now there is so much change happening so quickly (economic, technical, social) that McCain just can't keep up.  Being experienced counts for something, but McCain's experience is just not relevant now.

  •  The problem started months ago (0+ / 0-)

    McCain was four or five points down when Obama secured the nomination. So they tried to roll out McCain 2.0. When that didn't work, they could have gone back to the original McCain 1.0 and began a slow steady slog to try and erase Obama's lead little by little over a long period.

    Instead they pivoted to McCain 3.0. When that didn't work they were sunk. They had no choice but to roll out a new tactic everyday. Sometimes two or three in the same day. The "erratic" meme took hold and they were sunk. Pitiful. Too bad spin doctors can't be sued for malpractice.

  •  My one line reasoning for McCain's General Failure (0+ / 0-)
    is.. he has been swiftboated by his own agents of swiftboating..
  •  Thanks, you saved me the trouble of typing (0+ / 0-)

    that out myself!


    Remember that until the financial crisis their
    strategy/tactics were working.  They were up
    in key states and gathering momentum.  The week
    before the finacial crisis look at the polls
    then.  Even democratic stratgists pointed out
    that the republican strategy was working...up til
    then.  The financial crisis blew that strategy
    to hell becuase it forced the repubs to discuss
    issues.  After the financial meltdown the repubs
    were on the wrong side of the issues and people
    didnt care about ayers etc.and the voters
    wanted to talk about issues and not all the
    crap the repubs wanted to talk about.  

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