Friday, October 17, 2008
The Road Back to Likeability?
There is no question that I have been very hard on John McCain in the past couple months.
The rhetoric and tactics of the McCain campaign have pissed more than most Republicans of recent vintage,, like George Bush.
I expected dirty politics from Rove, Cheney, and Bush.
Why McCain's campaign tactics bother me so much is that for years I admired John McCain. Not just for his distinguished service in defending our country, but also for the way he has carried himself as a Senator.
He ran a great campaign for President in 2000, and above all he has been a likeable person. Whether on shows like Letterman, Chris Matthews, or Meet The Press with Tim Russert, I always felt like I believed what he was saying. For much of the past eight years he was a rarity amongst politicians.
The John McCain of this campaign abandoned that mentality in this general election.
He has allowed himself to be 'handled'. There's an old line in campaigns that was most famously used by the Reagan campaigns. "Let Reagan be Reagan" they would say when Reagan had problems.
This strategy was not used by Team McCain in the past 5 months. McCain has been micro-managed and the result has been a candidate who has not been true to his own personality and it has showed throughout the campaign.
But just maybe things are changing after the debate the other night. I think the polls and reactions to all three debates may have finally shown John McCain that he has to be himself the last three weeks of this campaign. That he can't listen to the same people that were puppeteers to President Bush in his two victories.
I also have to say that not taking the bait and invoking Jeremiah Wright after he said he wouldn't has been something admirable. The uncomfortableness of the way he handled the Ayers thing showed me he wasn't buying into what the Hannity's of the world were pushing him to do.
McCain has to get back to being himself. It probably will not just to give him a chance to win, it could very well be too late for that, but more importantly he can find a way to lose with some dignity and respect.
By changing course he can finish the campaign and remind people, even like me, why we liked him in the first place.
Last night was a move in that direction.
I watched McCain on David Letterman and thought he was really good. Letterman asked him tough questions and drilled him good, but McCain was funny and likeable. He didn't dodge questions and while I don't agree with his policies or believe that Sarah Palin was his first choice,, think he did well.
Even better, instead of coming in defensive, McCain did what he should have done and admitted that he 'screwed up' by skipping out on his last appearance.
Then came the Al Smith Dinner in New York City last night.
I have to give both candidates credit,, they were hilarious. Of course depending on who you are rooting for you will say that your candidate was funnier, but in this case I can say I think they both did a great job.
Click here for McCain's speech.
Click here for Obama's speech.
As someone who has been tough on John McCain, I think he had a great day yesterday. Not a momentum changing day, but a day unlike the debates and recent rallies, made him look both likeable, real, and like he was not letting advisors 'handle him'.