MATTHEWS: "Let me ask you again about what you're facing now, John McCain -- he's even joked about bombing Iran. I know it was a joke -- let's not overplay it -- but he's certainly a very strong hawk. Is he too hawkish for the American people as our next president?"
MCAULIFFE: "Well, listen it's going to be quite a debate as we head into the fall. I think Sen. McCain's biggest problems are going to be dealing with the issues on the economy. That is not considered his strong suit. It is considered the strong suit for Hillary, as you know -- on the housing crisis, she's been the first one to get out in front on that, called for moratorium on home foreclosures, called for a freeze on interest rates for the next five years, she's been dealing with the credit crisis. So I think as it relates to Sen. McCain, he knows that he can't really deal with these economic issues -- he's been all over the map -- supporting the Bush tax cuts, against the Bush tax cuts. Hillary has been very consistent out there on these economic issues.
So he's going to try, I think, Chris, to continue to show that he's the most hawkish, he will be the toughest on national security -- that's going to be their fall campaign. As you know, they did it to us in 2004 with the Swift Boating of Sen. Kerry. They're going to do that same type of campaign again this time. They're not going to Swift Boat Hillary Clinton. They have no ability to do that. We're going to run a strong campaign because we know we're out there fighting for millions of Americans who want health care, want their homes to be preserved, and want to keep us safe. [emphases in original]
This is not smart strategy. Trying to change the subject when talk turns to one's opponents main political appeal is just kinda dumb. I'm not sure what people are supposed to assume, but what they're going to assume is obvious, that Democrats are conceding that McCain has a better, more intelligent strategy than the Democrats do. Karl Rove has demonstrated that he knows better than that:
Very early on, Karl Rove did something that many other political operatives don't do, and it's really an element of why he's a unique figure in American political life: He understands that while other people look for the weakness in an opponent and exploit that, Rove has long looked at the strength of an opponent. In the case of Ann Richards running for governor, it was that she was tolerant and appealed to many constituents, so you attack her as an advocate for the homosexuals' agenda. In the case of John McCain, it was that he was a POW in Vietnam, and so you raise questions about his service in Vietnam through surrogate groups.
In 2004, the number one thing that John Kerry offered was his heroic service in Vietnam, and so what Rove did was attack the strength of Kerry, not his weakness. What you had to do was confront Kerry's strength in Vietnam by raising doubts about whether or not he was a hero and whether or not his service was really all that noble. And you do that in part with a surrogate group, raising questions about whether his medals were truly warranted, and beyond that, pressing the case of John Kerry, who came back from the war as an opponent of the war.
To try and sidestep or finesse McCain's insane warmongering (Q: "President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years -- " (cut off by McCain) McCain: "Make it a hundred.") is an utter loser of a strategy that will do nothing but continue the pathetic losing streak established by the DLC (The DLC was caught flatfooted and "whacked upside the head" by Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution of 1994 and spent the next decade trying ever more futile and useless strategies until they were simply pushed aside by the netroots). Yes, there are serious questions about the 2004 vote, especially in Ohio, but the primary problem was that incompetent strategy on Kerry's part allowed Bush to get within lunging distance where cheating could then make the difference. Terry McAuliffe is a figure of the past and someone who needs to remain there. He obviously hasn't adapted to the Republican Party of Karl Rove and the new way of doing things.
The thing the Democratic Party has to remember is that when Republicans talk about a fear-based strategy, a strategy of saying "Ooh! Osama bin Laden's gonna gitcha! If we don't continue to wage war without end in the Mideast and continue dumping lives and money down into that endless hole, bin Laden will establish a caliphate and take over THE WORLD!!1@!!"
Remember!!! They already tried this for the 2006 midterm elections! It didn't work then. It won't work in the future, but it will only remain futile if the Democrats respond forthrightly and answer their arguments directly. I had a conversation with conservatives in the comments section of a newspaper article recently. He commented on how terrible things were under the evil dictator Saddam Hussein. I replied "Yes, he was an evil dictator, but..." and proceeded to detail how bad things became after the US invasion. The other guy continued the argument, but we moved onto different aspects.