It seems pretty clear to me at this point that the McCain campaign is trying to bring this campaign into the swamp of personal animosity. They certainly have done so on their side. They have opted for a strategy of trying to make this a tit-for-tat poop-flinging contest. That allows Obama's central theme of being a grownup running to fix serious problems to be diluted or destroyed. If that happens, all there is to argue about is experience as the McCain campaign defines it. That is not winning ground for Obama.
1. This is not surprising. McCain has hired Karl Rove proteges to run his campaign. That's what they do.
2. McCain desperately needs to keep this campaign away from issues. He will lose on the issues. When large majorities of Americans disapprove of President Bush and McCain wants to adopt essentially all of his policies-the issues are not his friends. When McCain refuses to support updating the GI Bill to have it actually help returning veterans in a meaningful way-issues are not his friends.
So, yeah. McCain does not want this election to be about issues.
3. When you want to keep an election away from issues, you lie, insult, and try to get the other guy to do the same thing. McCain has done just that. From the repeated outright lying on this "bridge to nowhere" nonsense, to his latest ad about Obama wanting to teach kindergarteners about the finer points of fellatio, he's dragging this one into the depths of the political scum swamp.
4. What to do? Let him. John McCain has built his political persona on being above this hyper-partisan, red-meat-for-the-salivating-base approach. And while Democrats have been shouting from the rooftops that McCain is not that person anymore, nothing proves the point like ol' Danger Zone himself hopping into the Rove wallow and snorting about in the filth for all to see. The Republicans have gone to that well too many times, and it's simply not full enough to do it for them anymore. All it's going to do this time around is prove our point.
Moreover, Obama built his primary victory on superior organizing on the ground and that's where this one's going to be won as well. All of the polls people are fretting about are based on tried and true methods but we are dealing with a vastly larger voter pool this time around. I believe that the polls are showing this race to be tighter than it actually is. After all, in the Democratic primaries in every state in the union the turnout was record breaking. And since May, the Obama campaign has been working hard to register even more voters in every state. I don't think Obama's confident smile as he was being interviewed by Keith Olbermann the other night was unfounded optimism or a veneer. I think he has faith in the campaign apparatus he's built. And so do I.
So by all means, get mad. Call McCain out as the liar and Bush clone he is. Call him "unfit for high office," as he surely is. But more importantly, help out in the push to register voters. Give money to the campaign so they can organize teams of election monitors and lawyers to keep those registration gains on election day. If you're tapped out, do some phone banking. But most importantly, don't get lost in gloom based on what some polls say. As The Littlest Gator over at the Group News Blog says: "Dammit dig in and fight harder. There is a long tradition of Liberals in American fighting for what is right, what is good for the people, what is fair and kind and what just makes sense." Remember that. If the people who brought you the forty hour work week, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and female suffrage persevered in the face of brickbats and lynchings, we can stiffen our spines in the face of some tight polling numbers and make the change we want to see happen.