John McCain may have discovered the key to beating Barack Obama this November. And that key is two magic words: “join me.”
The Arizona senator and presumptive Republican presidential nominee drew blood by using them this week.
McCain invited Illinois Sen. Obama, his presumptive Democratic rival, to “join me” in visiting American troops and commanders in Iraq. As a gambit in America’s political chess, grandmaster McCain’s move was so brilliant that it left Obama nearly speechless and floundering.
If Obama accepted this offer, having zero military experience, he would in Iraq look like a child being tutored by military hero John McCain. If Obama on that battlefield said anything even vaguely positive about our troops, he would alienate the anti-war left that has been a cornerstone of his political support and campaign money.
But if Obama refused either to go, or to say anything positive about the troops protecting him during his visit, he would come off as anti-American or a puppet of far-left groups such as MoveOn.org, thereby alienating patriotic Democratic veterans and families.
Obama has said he would meet “unconditionally” with America’s sworn enemies such as Iran’s apocalyptic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, observed MSNBC Democratic partisan host Chris Matthews on Thursday night, but Obama now “refuses to meet with our own General Petraeus on the battlefield.”
Thus far, Obama has sidestepped McCain’s invitation but, on the defensive, has said he will visit Iraq on his own before the November election.
This is McCain’s key, his winning wedge.
McCain needs to offer many invitations that compel Obama to expend time, money and precious political capital and keep the young Democrat off balance with a never-ending barrage of similar “join me” offers.
These invitations should be designed to make Obama choose between his extremist acolytes and more centrist Americans.
Here are a lucky seven Lowell Ponte recommendations given gratis to Sen. McCain for other challenging invitations he can put to Obama:
1. “Join me at a national gathering of the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.” This, too, would contrast Obama’s utter lack of military experience to McCain’s military heroism. Obama could wear an American flag lapel pin, but he cannot wear the member hat McCain has earned in both noble organizations.
If Obama joins McCain at these events, the Illinois senator risks alienating his anti-war, anti-American left-wing supporters. If Obama begs off joining McCain, then the Arizona senator can make an issue of asking why — and what Obama has against America’s veterans.
2. “Join me on June 14 to celebrate Flag Day, or on the Fourth of July, at an American Flag factory to celebrate our shared love of country, patriotism, and the red-white-and-blue.” If Obama joins McCain, the Illinois senator alienates his anti-American followers and funders. He also appears to be either a student next to the proven patriotism of McCain or a political opportunist hypocritically trying to wrap himself in the flag.
If Obama turns down McCain’s invitation, he again raises questions about why he for months refused to wear an American flag lapel pin, and why a widely-seen Internet photo shows him not putting his hand over his heart when Hillary Clinton and John McCain were doing so. (Obama says this photo was taken during a song, not the Pledge of Allegiance.)
3. “Join me on a hunting trip in West Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania.” If Obama agrees, he alienates his anti-gun, animal rights, and enviro-nut supporters. He also risks looking as ridiculous as Sen. John Kerry did by dressing up as a hunter during the 2004 presidential race . . . or as Ivy League elitist Obama did by scoring only 37 while pandering for bowler votes.
If this Obama won’t hunt, he alienates hunters and gun-rights advocates across the nation and raises fears about whether he would confiscate firearms and restrict hunting.
4. “Join me on a visit to the Hispanic community in the Southwest where we can speak Spanish.” Refuse or accept, Obama risks deepening the divide exploited by Hillary Clinton between Hispanics and blacks, a chasm evidenced by Clinton’s popular vote win in Texas and likely big win this weekend in Puerto Rico.
If Obama joins McCain, the event puts the Illinois Senator at risk that more Hispanics might flock to McCain than to him, a fellow “person of color” who speaks no Spanish.
In any event, it would force Obama to answer embarrassing questions about driver's licenses for illegal aliens, paths to citizenship for illegals, and related issues Obama would rather sidestep.
McCain must decide whether he, too, prefers not to resurrect such issues.
5. “Join me for a visit to the New York Stock Exchange to encourage capitalist
job-makers.” Again, Obama risks alienating his business-hating, union, anti-capitalist, and socialist supporters.
6. “Join me for a NASCAR race.”
7. “Join me at a Boy Scout Jamboree or other scouting event.” If Obama comes, he will alienate his Scout-hating gay and atheist supporters but how can he justify to most Americans his refusal to celebrate this widely beloved organization?
Obama would, of course, counterattack by inviting McCain to attend a black church or a labor union gathering. Such Obama gambits, however, would lack credibility.
Our constitutional separation of church and state should exclude churches from such direct political activity — a guideline frequently violated by Democratic politicians who use black pulpits and collection plates in their campaigns.
Labor unions have been partisan for so long that any such invitation is like asking McCain to appear before the booing Democratic National Convention itself.
In recent weeks McCain floated a trial balloon, hinting that he and Obama could have their own Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Obama responded coolly but did not outright refuse.
My proposed gambits could expand McCain’s bold challenge to a duel over issues with Obama, senator from the land of Lincoln, who claims he wants to bring America together in a positive, bipartisan way.
Obama could win by accepting these invitations, but only if he becomes less leftist.
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