The contrast between his own public pronouncements in response to the moronic would-be voter in Lakeville, Minnesota and the comments emanating from the mouth of his embarrassing vice-presidential selection, Sarah Palin, would be enough to lead most thinking voters to conclude that John McCain either is rudderless or duplicitous in his campaign for President. But Senator McCain has opted to make the point even clear enough for his own base to see through.
As Senator McCain aides rushed to get to the public the video of Senator McCain correcting a woman who does not trust Barack Obama because "he's an Arab," his campaign--not the Republican Party, but his own campaign--continued to run ads suggesting that Senator Obama is the very embodiment of the uniformed Lakeville voter's, and, presumably, many other Republicans' worst fears. The implication in Senator McCain's most frequently running ads is that Senator Obama, though not an Arab, is either a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer.
While Senator McCain and his aides insist that they are turning the page on this disingenuous campaign theme--a theme that is failing miserably even by the candidate's own polling statistics--Governor Palin continues to tour the country promulgating the view that Senator Obama is in bed with terrorists intent on destroying the United States.
Fortunately for Senator Obama and his presidential ambitions, Senator McCain appears neither to have the inclination nor the ability to reign in his "maverick" (read embarrassing) running mate.
Senator McCain has only one hope for winning this election. And that hope is tied to a string of decisions that he must make at this point in his campaign to save what has been the most poorly executed campaign since the evangelicals hijacked the campaign of Senator Bob Dole. As with many of his campaign miscues, however, Senator McCain appears intent on riding this out without either admitting or correcting his mistakes before they cause his candidacy to become the least competitive presidential bid since that of Walter Mondale.
Should Senator McCain any longer care to win the election, however, there is one thing that he must do and do immediately. That one thing, of course, is to admit that his decision to cave into the demands of the Karl Rove-led faction of his Party--a faction that ought to be well out of favor by this point--was a mistake.
The conventional wisdom in presidential elections is that the selection of a vice-presidential candidate is a non-issue on election day, save for the possible influence that that candidate might have in securing votes in that candidate's home state. Sarah Palin's inclusion on the McCain ticket is threatening to add a corollary to that axiom, however.
Speaking in cliched generalities, stoking divisiveness, baiting hatred, and offering no semblance of intelligent insight on any subject, Governor Palin has made a caricature not only of herself but also of the McCain candidacy. While Senator McCain has made numerous and severe errors in judgment during this campaign, including his continuing attempts to position himself as a Washington outsider despite his nearly three decades in the Senate and his attempt to portray himself as a leader on the financial crisis while offering a bailout to bankers and financial firms most intrinsically associated with Washington cronyism that created the current economic turmoil, his gravest error in judgment was selecting an unfit and uniformed running mate.
For Senator McCain to mount a credible campaign starting in the final three weeks of the election cycle seems improbable, particularly given the ineptitude that has characterized this campaign from the beginning when Senator McCain failed to parlay his three-month lead in securing the nomination into voter support. But, if he is to have any hope of winning the election, the time for making sound decisions begins now. And the most important step, though only a first step, is to replace Governor Palin with someone known for understanding the economy.
One suspects that those hoping for a turn-around in the polls are not holding their breaths.