August 2, 2008
Three Ways for McCain to Drill to VictoryBy Bruce Walker
The time has come for serious presidential campaigns to settle into a few, clear themes. Senator McCain has not quite done that yet, but he should soon. What themes? Here are three that will win him the presidency:
Drilling for Votes
Yes, this is not a particularly new story in the campaign, but it is a particularly vital story. A substantial majority of the American people now want government to allow drilling for oil in many more places than have been allowed so far. Americans now reject the argument of fringe environmentalists. McCain seems to be badly placed on this issue. Did he not oppose drilling in ANWR? Yes, he did. But that apparent weakness is actually strength.
McCain can completely flip-flop on environmental objections to drilling. Radical environmentalists are not going to vote for John McCain, because these people are always also radical Leftists. Voters whom McCain can win in the election campaign are voters who support more drilling. So McCain can come out increasingly boldly in favor of more drilling for oil. He can begin to cite not only economic issues but national security issues in the case for more drilling. If McCain challenges Obama to "see the light" like him, then McCain can begin to peel off voters by portraying Obama as an elitist.
Voters vote with their pocketbook. Failure to drill for oil, McCain can credibly say, will lead to a permanent and significant reduction in living standards for all ordinary Americans. When oil was cheap, Americans are prosperous. When oil is astronomically high, Americans are prosperous. It is a very easy case to make. Oil was eight times cheaper a decade ago and Americans remember those years as "good times." Let Obama make the Jimmy Carter Case for cardigans and sacrifice. Let McCain make the case for economic opportunity and general affluence.
Drilling the Media
Recent polls which show that a plurality of Democrats think that the media is in the tank for Obama. This should be a major campaign issue. McCain should raise it loudly, not by attacking Obama with it but by attacking the media for being gutless wonders when it comes to Obama. How? McCain could say something like this:
"The major news media has abandoned their job of testing Senator Obama. Polls show enough Democrats think that there is a strong bias in favor of Senator Obama. I have never asked the media to go easy on me and I am not asking it today, but I am asking the media to go tough on Obama as well. Television networks, major newspapers and national magazines have a duty to us to make sure that only truly tested candidates ever become president. If news reporters cannot think of any tough questions for the senator, then they can contact my campaign and we will tell them what to ask Senator Obama.
"Senator Obama cannot control the news media, but he can appear with me all over the nation in a series of twenty town hall meetings, with the people attending the meeting split fifty-fifty by the campaigns and the questions from the audience chosen at random. I challenge him today to do just that. I challenge the news media, if it cannot ask him tough questions to at least let the American people ask him tough questions at these town hall meetings. An election should not be a coronation. The news media should not be the retinue of a noble. "
The jolt from this sort of direct attack on the media will make them very defensive and also very conscious about how they treat Senator Obama. It will almost compel the mainstream media to be tougher on him than it has been which will push his numbers down.
Senator McCain has a well deserved reputation as a needler. Senator Obama was a well deserved reputation as needle shy. The two fit together into a perfect campaign scheme for McCain. Barack is used to getting a free ride from the media. He is used to being hailed as the Messiah. He is used to being treating him like the Duc d'Obama and not Barry Obama. Senator McCain should start to needle him, even as the cost of McCain appearing less than presidential. Why? Because Obama becomes angry and confused when subject to attack. He does not know how to deal with it.
What sort of issues might McCain raise? He should drill Obama as a reformer who flip-flopped on public financing of the presidential campaign. He should drill Obama's gross ignorance of basic facts of history - and McCain should have a list which includes "57 states," "The President of Canada," "The Bomb falling on Pearl Harbor" (especially since Obama grew up in Hawaii), and the like. He should drill Obama for lying to Americans about Jeremiah Wright - and that should be the issue, not Wright but Obama's lying about Wright.
What McCain should want, of course, is a mini-Obama meltdown: A temper tantrum, a fumbling answer like Hillary's answer about driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, a long dull stare into the camera: In other words, the real Obama, an empty suit running for the most important job in the world.
Americans will soon begin to focus in earnest on the presidential race. The mainstream media and its protégée, Obama, are counting on gushing coverage of Obama, public weariness with an almost endless presidential campaign, and the yearning for change to carry Barack Obama into the White House. John McCain cannot, and should not, let this happen. This is his last hurrah. This is his chance to prove not only to conservatives but to ordinary Americans that his years of Hell in Hanoi were motivated by love of America. That takes guts and risks.
I have never been as off on McCain as many of my fellow conservatives. I thought, and think, that he is a patriot who has been wrong lots of the time, but well intentioned. Allowing Obama to waltz into the White House shows no love of our nation. It is time for Senator McCain to begin to play to win.