Barack Obama’s campaign blunder is running as Barack Obama.
John McCain’s big mistake is running at all. What a swell way to pick a president!
How to get out of this preposterous swamp and still remain the United States?
Obama’s Share of the Confusion
Obama has defined the issue in this presidential campaign as Obama or not Obama. The issue is all about Obama, himself — the self-ordained, sole agent of change. But, when you look for what change, or change to what, about all you come up with is a sack of smoke. The only substantive policy change Obama represents is a reversal to failed, liberal, tax-laden nostrums of earlier decades.
With so little meat on his skeleton, all that’s left for Obama is his fascination with himself. When you take a hard look at the Barack Obama that is Barack Obama, you see more and more of less and less, not reassuring for sore eyes.
McCain’s Share of the Confusion
His confusion is more complicated than Obama’s. It is (1) who McCain the person is, (2) what McCain stands for and (3) what McCain doesn’t stand for.
McCain the person is a man of integrity, heroism and independence. Between McCain the person and Obama the person, McCain wins hands-down. What he stands for are things that some conservatives and some liberals do not stand for.
What he does not stand for are some other things that one or the other of those two groups do stand for. It’s a multi-puzzle, requiring constant puzzling.
He juggles those head-scratchers by hog-tying himself, left and right. Voters are left trying to calculate the net between his shifting pluses and minuses. It plays into Obama’s hands, for McCain’s confusions are less obscure than Obama’s.
Has McCain any other option if he is to garner enough votes of independents and disaffected Democrats to cobble together a majority? Certainly, he has.
Available to McCain is a fresh, forward-looking, common-sense, conservative message. Liberals now own the reactionary mantle once hung on conservatives. Obama is stuck with: “Back to . . . whatever.” Advantage McCain.
Instead of stressing conservative affirmatives, when McCain sides with liberal positions he appears off-key, uncertain, flippy-floppy. Conservatives are irked. Liberals correctly sense they’ll get even more from Obama. Advantage Obama.
Lacking a theme for his policy puzzle, McCain copes lamely, hampered by an ungainly campaign style. You can’t be faulted for how you can’t help appearing. But, McCain can do something about how he makes himself appear.
In primary debates, he came across as testy. Now, he appears almost defiantly inept.
His awkwardly crafted Louisiana speech against a bilious-green backdrop left folks cringing as though he had raked his fingernails down a chalkboard.
Still worse have been McCain’s celebrated “town hall” meetings, in which he is alleged to be most at home. Yet, there he is so painfully constipated in his fretful pacing back and forth, clutching a microphone, that home viewers look elsewhere on the screen for relief.
Arrayed on all sides of the candidate and fully exposed to the naked eye of the camera is a hand-picked audience of supposedly non-hostile individuals — mostly male, lily-white and senior — with countenances ranging from outright incredulity to hemorrhoidal apprehension.
If McCain prefers such audiences laden with lack of spontaneous enthusiasm, how in blazes can he connect with the broad electorate he must attract to win?
How could this country wind up with a pair of presidential candidates so ill-equipped? Is it reduced to choosing a president based on ratings of telegenic performance? How to escape this muddle, which grows worse by the day?
Could the two nominations mercifully unravel before the conventions? Could both parties realize neither candidate is fit to best the other and agree to start all over? Could Hillary Clinton be right after all – go for an open convention? Could that be any worse? Could the bidding be reopened, at least on the GOP side with Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson?
Could that be the only sensible exodus for both parties? For this nation?
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for NewsMax.com.
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