Back to the Future
John McCain’s speech last night in Louisiana was certainly not his strongest performance to date, but we nonetheless learned more about how the McCain campaign will attempt to counter Barack Obama’s message of change. Here is the section of McCain’s remarks that caught my attention:
The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas. Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us…That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that’s not change we can believe in.
We have already heard a lot about the Obama campaign’s plans to paint a McCain presidency as a third term for the unpopular Bush Administration. In fact, some political observers have suggested that it was concern over the impact of this critique that led McCain to further distance himself from President Bush last night. While we don’t know for sure whether the McCain campaign’s internal polling red-flagged this issue as gaining traction, it is now clear that McCain intends to employ the counterargument that an Obama presidency would essentially be a twenty-first century version of the Johnson Administration, complete with expensive, large-scale domestic programs on the order of those created by LBJ’s Great Society and War on Poverty.
By identifying Obama as the scion of a liberal governing philosophy, the McCain campaign hopes to undercut Obama’s ability (particularly among moderates and independents) to make a persuasive case for the future, unencumbered by the legacy of his party’s bureaucratic past.
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