Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why McCain Lost

Jennifer Rubin has a list (via Rand Simberg). The list is not comprehensive; I have a few additions: Let me add a few:

John McCain is a weak conservative. Moderate Republicans cannot distinguish themselves sufficiently from liberal Democrats to win a national election. McCain can't run against Obama on immigration laws because they are both weak on enforcing them. Both voted for the bailout package that gave massive powers to the Secretary of the Treasury. McCain had pandered to ACORN during his senatorial career. McCain was part of the Gang of Fourteen that guaranteed the then-minority party's control over the non-SCOTUS judicial nomination process. McCain occasionally demonizes Wall Street the way that leftists do.

The Republican National Committee should have started researching Obama's background on Day One of his campaign, but failed to do so. We should have known last year that Obama devoted twenty years of his life in a church pastored by a man rooted in black supremacist theology. (See also this post.) We should have known last year that Obama implemented educational programs drafted by an unrepentant domestic terrorist. We should have known last year of Obama's involvement with ACORN. We still know little about the programs Annenberg funded, or about Obama's community organizing "career."

McCain/Palin failed to place Jeremiah Wright in the proper context. Wright's sound bites weren't sufficient. McCain/Palin should have explained Wright's theology in bullet points, and directly contrasted it with Martin Luther King's vision of harmonious interracial community.

McCain/Palin failed to place William Ayers in the proper context. It was more than just "palling around" with an unrepentant terrorist - HE WAS IMPLEMENTING GOVERNMENT POLICY ENGINEERED BY AN UNREPENTANT TERRORIST. If it would be a conflict of interest for a guy to sit on the jury of his next-door-neighbor's trial, how much greater a conflict of interest is to grant what amounts to a government contract to a guy who sought to kill American citizens - many of them government employees?

McCain/Palin failed to link President Bush to the Democrats. The Dems were calling McCain a Bush clone. The candidates should have countered by bringing this slogan to the campaign trail:

"We will not continue the spending policy of Bush and the Democrats. President Bush was right on the war, right on his tax cut, right on his nominations of Roberts and Alito, right on [cite other examples], but President Bush was wrong on his liberal domestic spending policy."

McCain/Palin did not make running against Congress a central theme. Congressional approval ratings are lower than Bush's, and probably even lower than William Ayers'. Rubin supplies some specific tactics, like item 4: "Failure to explain the Democrats’ role in the financial meltdown."

Congressional Republicans lack a unified, coherent plan that can be communicated clearly to the American people. This would have reinforced my previous suggestion - strength in numbers and all. Conservatives can't with with vague promises like liberal can - we have to offer something tangible. The Contract with America was a great example of such.

Congressional Republicans have been a pack of spineless cowards for twelve years. Ever since Clinton won the PR battle over the 1995 government shutdown, the GOP Congress lost its nerve and never got it back. They stopped fighting for conservatism on many fronts, particularly on Bush/Democrat spending, which is why they're in the minority. Congress can't bolster a Republican candidate's shot at the White House if it sits on its hands.


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