McCain Strikes Back

“Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan.  He hasn’t been to Iraq in years.  He voted against funding our troops. Positions that helped him win his nomination.  Now Obama is changing to help himself become president.  John McCain has always supported our troops and the surge that’s working.  McCain. Country First.”
John McCain Ad on “Troop Funding, July 2008

            Watch it here.

John McCain hit his opponent hard the weekend before Barack Obama went on his “Rainbow Tour” of the Middle East and Europe.  Disguised as a Congressional fact finding tour, the presumptive Democrat nominee traveled to the Middle East for the first time in over two years and met with General Petraeus in Iraq as well as the players in Afghanistan and other stops in the Middle East. As we all know by now, the media treated this like the first visit anyone had ever made to a war zone, but that is beside the point.

National Security and how you define it—whether you look at terrorism as a law enforcement issue and whether you include energy independence as part of national security will be the deciding factors in this election. 

The governments of Europe are concerned about the cult like following that Obama has even in their countries because they have seen what cult like political followings can do to a nation.  The hype is out there and the noise is great—so did the McCain engine make headway into the noise that is the coverage of Barack Obama?

The answer to that is no—for the moment. That doesn’t mean that the ads were not successful — but one ad doesn’t make a message—the message has to be consistent.  The simple truth is, the candidate that puts forth a security strategy that Americans believe that includes energy independence will win this election. But for now no one is hearing anything but the chants of “Obama” and until the convention; McCain has to lay the ground work.

“Troop Funding” focuses on Obama’s typical democrat position that the war cannot be won.  In fact, the post-Viet Nam era Democrats haven’t seen a war that America can or should win. But the Obama position is worse than that—in his view of the world, government should pick winners.  They do it in the economy and now they want to do it when it comes to our enemies.  In fact, enemy is just too harsh a word for them.  Every world faction that opposes us and our allies are just misunderstood victims that just need a good talking to. Democrats love to pick winners in the economy but now it seems they want to pick the winners in war and America needs to be taught a lesson.  No where in the rhetoric of Barack Obama is the rhetoric of winning. 

John McCain addresses this in the tag “Country First.”  It is okay to put America first.  We may have a global economy but the free market is the best system for our economy and in foreign policy it must be “Country First”—our country first.

The timing of the ad is interesting. McCain takes on Obama’s troop funding record and his Middle East policy on the eve of his trip to the war zone.  But the ad is factually accurate and the only response the Obama campaign had was to call it “negative” and to accuse McCain of reneging on his promise to run a clean campaign.  Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded to the ad: “While Barack Obama wants to change American foreign policy to wind down the war in Iraq and address the grave threat posed by a resurgent al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, John McCain offers this patently misleading negative ad. Given his calls for a civil campaign, it’s disappointing that Senator McCain has slipped so easily into the same, tired campaign tactics that have become so familiar to the American people." I guess Senator Obama’s record is another addition to the long list of things you can’t talk about without being a hate monger.

The purpose of this ad is singular—to undermine the aura of Obama.  This ad targets the undecided voters who haven’t committed to a candidate, haven’t tuned in yet and don’t know Obama. The McCain campaign is betting that to know Obama is not to love him.  They want to point out that “change you can believe” in can also mean that he’s changing all the time and when he does take a stand it’s against America. 

The gamble the McCain campaign took is that Obama will not need to respond to this ad and can’t respond other than calling it negative — because it is accurate — but with the Rainbow Tour through the Middle East and Europe, the sheer volume of pictures worth a thousand words will drown out the message of the ad. 

Sen. McCain has to hit the issues of national security and energy policy hard and every week because the winner of the contest will be the one who is believed by the voting public to be able to manage our national security and have a believable and executable energy policy.

This endless campaign is beginning to remind me of the Wimbledon Men’s Final with the match point going back and forth.  But you have to admire the tenacity of John McCain.  Outspent, but catching up—overlooked, but not giving up—John McCain is finally crafting a message that will transcend the pictures of Obama and the three point shot –I hope.