What if McCain knows what he's doing?

Sometimes, if I'm puzzled by someone's actions, I like to ask myself "if he's really smarter than I am, why would he be doing what he's doing?"

You can learn a lot that way.  Unfortunately, the American Chattering Classes often operate on the opposite assumption: "if I don't see the point of this, that other guy must be an idiot."

As a case study, let's consider the McCain campaign in the month since
my piece on McCain's apparent use of the OODA loop was published here in American Thinker.  God knows it's been a rough month: after the rush of the Palin selection, we had a couple of disappointing experiences with major media interviews, and worse -- much worse -- we had the credit market freeze and the fight to get a rescue package working.

Of course, then we had the Vice Presidential debate, which certainly restored a certain amount of respect for Sarah Palin.  (It must have: there has been another
flood of Palin rumors.)  But then we had some more inexplicable actions on the part of McCain's campaign: the announcement that they intended to get tough on Obama... real soon.  The announcement that they were pulling out of Michigan ... or were they?  The Michigan GOP didn't like it, and Sarah Palin said to send her and her husband.   It became clear McCain didn't exactly have complete control of the moose-hunting governor.

Following shortly after that announcement, the New York Times published a piece on
Obama's association with William Ayers, describing Obama's association with the "60's bomber". The article argued, not very successfully, that there wasn't much of a connection.  (It was timed perfectly to appear shortly after the first hints of McCain using the topic.)

Then the Obama campaign started to talk about the Keating Five, a topic that Obama had previously suggested wasn't very interesting.

The Palin rumor mill pumped up a visiting Kenyan preacher who apparently was a "witch hunter" in his village in Africa.  This preacher, in a single visit to Palin's church three years ago, prayed for God's blessing and protection on Palin.

What followed?  Now Ayers was a topic in the mainstream press; when Sarah Palin attacked Obama on the association, she did so referring to the New York Times story.  When the issue of Obama's connections to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac came up, it came up only after the Obama campaign had already brought up the Keating Five -- and, of course, it happened that just about then, another of the Keating Five was introducing Bruce Springsteen at an Obama fundraiser. 

Now that the topic of Palin's religious connections has come up, well,  the Rev. Wright story had shown us Obama wasn't lacking in peculiar religious connections -- and, while McCain had refused to use it during the late primary, Palin brought it up. She had already established that she wasn't always going to do exactly what McCain wanted when she argued against the Michigan pullout.

Suddenly, Monday, McCain is pulling no punches: in a
talk in Albuquerque, he brought up the Ayers association, just as Sarah had; he brought up the issue of Obama's association with so many figures who seem to have been at the heart of the credit crisis; he asked the questions people had been pushing for weeks in the GOP blogosphere.  Questions like "What has Obama accomplished?  What were his relationships to Ayers and other radicals?  Why is he so secretive about his past?"

In every case, we see that the McCain campaign had telegraphed the topic, then waited for the Obama campaign (or the mainstream media).  They reliably would then bring out the defenses, making them topics that McCain could then explore.

In the last four weeks of the campaign, McCain is bringing up topics that are weaknesses for Obama, having stood up to the repeated attacks.  We go into the "town hall meeting" debate tonight, a forum that shows McCain to best advantage, with a new and combative McCain, armed with topics that are now on everyone's minds, having conserved his resources effectively, and after months of record-breaking Republican National Committee fundraising.  What's more, he's doing so at a time when Obama's resources are strained, and his fundraising is under scrutiny.

It's never good to make predictions about anything in this race, but I think there's one prediction that we can make without fear: the campaign isn't done yet, and we can expect surprises.

For those of us on McCain's side, I suspect they will be good surprises.
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