26 June 2008

Team Maverick begins to misfire

John McCain's greatest strengths -- his convictions and his loyalty -- likely are also his greatest weaknesses. Long considering himself an outsider among GOP circles, McCain has cobbled together a small group of intensely loyal surrogates, instead of, like George W. Bush in 2000 or Mitt Romney this year, making the umbrella large and taking in comers from all sides of the GOP. Perhaps this is simply an incorrect assumption, but many political analysts suggest that the team assembled by McCain to guide his presidential run during the summer and fall will be, as usual, rather lean and insular.

This is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Chief among them is the simple fact that had Rudy Guiliani not ignored the first four primaries, had Mike Huckabee not knocked off Mitt Romney in Iowa (halting Romney's momentum and delivering McCain a narrow victory in New Hampshire several days later), and had Fred Thompson dropped out before South Carolina instead of afterward, McCain's political team might not look so brilliant. Much of McCain's success can likely be attributed not to the advice of his strategists, but rather, sheer luck and, perhaps less significantly, McCain's presence in the media and on the stump. While he trusts and respects his advisers, he appears at town halls and on talk shows not because his advisers suggest it, but because he loves talking to people.

And a problem might be emerging. The Senior Senator's small group of highly trusted advisers seem to have convinced themselves that if McCain simply carries his message to the voters in a purely issue-driven campaign, Barack Obama can be beaten. The reality, however, as has been written in this space before, is that the current political climate is dangerously toxic for the GOP, and if McCain doesn't try to cut Obama off at the knees at every corner, he will lose. Badly.

McCain must inject new voices into his inner circle. Team Maverick needs new blood-- perhaps even Dick Morris or -- gasp -- Karl Rove -- to bring new perspectives to the table and remind McCain that he must attack, attack, attack. (As divisive a force as Rove has been, the man simply is a brilliant strategist.) As also has been noted here before, McCain must take a lesson from the Clintons: For all his nonsensical platitudes about hope and post-partisanship, Obama clearly can be goaded into a fight with a bit of simple mudslinging. Perhaps new voices within the Senior Senator's tight circle are a necessity to remind him that running a biography campaign, as McCain's group has hinted that they will do, is a surefire way to get slaughtered.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

I read your blog today:)