Politics

McCain Campaign Should Become More Sun Tzu and Less Sun Dole

While the mainstream media continues to guzzle  Barack Obama’s bath water, it is high time for John McCain to douse heartland voters with the  cold shower of truth.

Senator McCain ought to enunciate these 7 indisputable truths.

1)  The genius of  American governance lies in the concept of checks and balances.

2)  The  greatest threat to checks and balances is undivided government, in which all three branches all held by the same party

3)  There is no doubt about which party  will control the legislative branches for the next two years. The only mystery remains who will be in the White House to check  and balance the Pelosi/Reid Democrats.

4) Americans have identified the economy as the number one  issue  in this campaign

5) The number one threat to a growing economy is the high price of energy.

6) The Republicans are for drilling offshore.

7) The Pelosi/Reid Democrats won’t even allow a vote on it.

Barack Obama in recent days has been pursuing a strategy that  Leonard Cohen would give high marks too, "First we take Manhattan. Then Berlin." With all due respect to the Canadian poet, Senator McCain should take his inspiration from the second century Chinese realist, Suz Tzu. In the "Art of War," he offers two pronged strategic path  that the McCain campaign needs to take.

1) To be certain to take what you attack, attack where the enemy cannot defend.

2) To achieve the advance that cannot be hampered, rush to his weak points.

The enemy for John McCain may be Barack Obama.  But the territory that Obama cannot defend is the Democratic Congress, which for the last two years has been about anything but change. If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have steadfastly opposed increasing the supply of  American oil to a country that is starved for it, why should anyone believe that they will remove their feet from their ideological cement with Democrat Barack Obama in the Oval Office. If John McCain wants to advance in a way in a way where he is relatively
hampered, he must rush to Obama’s weakest points. They are the Democrat inaction plan on on oil exploration and Obama’s own lead footed approach.  

Only two weeks ago after President Bush lifted the Presidential ban on offshore drilling and called on Congress to do the same, Obama said that such an action on the part of Congress would "merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for 30 years," Obama is responding to a public need with a slogan. That’s not public service and it certainly isn’t Change that anybody driving a car or heating a home can believe in. Senator McCain ought to wake up and the smell the fumes.

We all know what Senator McCain refuses to do in this compaign.  He won’t  play the character card on Obama. His  political calculus tells him that attacking an opponent’s character can drive up the unfavorables for both the opponent and the attacker.

McCain is not only willing but almost singularly focused on the Iraq card. Unfortunately for him, it would appear that two fellows named Maliki and Bush may have made weakened his hand. The leader of the free world and the Sheriff of Baghdad both now seem to be talking a talk that seems closer to Obama’s  exit strategy than McCain’s. President Bush is now using words like time horizons. Only the hair splitting wing of American punditocracy thinks there is a dime’s worth of difference between time horizons  and time tables. The newly refined Bush position in response to Maliki’s almost outright endorsement of Obama’s 16 month plan, has now turned the tables on McCain’s, "We’re stayin’ till the last terrrorist dog dies" strategy.

With the Iraq and character cards removed, the Arizona senator needs to play the card that  is most available and ultimately most useful. He must attack the leadership of the Democratic Congress and identify Obama as their  supplicant. McCain has lots of experience in attacking Republican members who don’t want to be part of his various adventures.

But winning the White House is as similar to getting a bill passed as a Heart Attack is similar to a common cold.  McCain needs to strengthen the arteries in his Republican heart and at Pelosi like decibels, scream the message that on the  issue of Energy security, Obama is not an agent of change.

On the issue of finding the lifeblood of the economy, new oil, Obama is  an agent of intolerance.  It’s been eight years since McCain used those words. There is a major difference between then and now. The last time he used them, he unwittingly fired his weapon at the    heart of the Republican base. This time he would be not only firing up the base but forcing a conversation that would go well beyond the base, with the truth of the matter being on his side. Obama’s two key weaknesses are the  partnership with Pelosi and Reid, the Larry and Curly of government, and the Illinois senator’s stated opposition to exploration for new American oil.

There is only one fly in  the political ointment here for John McCain. He is a man who is extremely uncomfortable with doing the uncomfortable. He doesn’t  like the idea of taking on Congress. It is a club that he has belonged to for most of his post Vietnam life. But with Obama’s campaign reported to be already hiring a transition team, it’s time for John McCain to see himself as President McCain.  The senator seems at times to have a Bob Dole like stomach when it comes to scorching the congressional earth.

Those who are not looking forward to an Obama presidency need to hope that in the coming days the McCain campaign becomes more Sun Tzu and less Sun Dole.   


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