Friday, September 05, 2008

The Next 60 Days: McCain's Tactics

Had a conversation this morning with someone who is decidedly conservative, and who worries that Obama will win. I mentioned that it's my thought that the election is still Obama's to lose, but that McCain's tactics were emerging--and may well be the undoing of Obama.

McCain's selection of Palin was the first of his final tactical moves. With that, McCain underlined his "reformer" theme--and he immediately played that in his acceptance speech: "I will fight for YOU [against the special interests and the Establishment]..." He only mentioned GWB once in his speech, and that reference served to point out McCain's insistence on The Surge.

McCain's second tactical move will be to point out Obama's indecisiveness, or insecurity-with-himself. Rudy Giuliani had fun with that tendency, (in a speech moved 'down' in the calendar to immediately precede Palin's acceptance, thus getting more viewers of the Rudy oratory.) Rudy's recitation of flips and flops was lengthy and effective.

Lo and behold! What appears but a column from Spengler. Here's the excerpt of interest:

...Obama is the most talented and persuasive politician of his generation, the intellectual superior of all his competitors, but a fatally insecure personality. American voters are not intellectual, but they are shrewd, like animals. They can smell insecurity, and the convention stank of it. Obama's prospective defeat is entirely of its own making. No one is more surprised than Republican strategists, who were convinced just weeks ago that a weakening economy ensured a Democratic victory.

Biden, who won 3% of the popular vote in the Democratic presidential primary in his home state of Delaware, and 1% or less in every other contest he entered, is ballot-box poison. Obama evidently chose him to assuage critics who point to his lack of foreign policy credentials. That was a deadly error, for by appearing to concede the critics' claim that he knows little about foreign policy, Obama raised questions about whether he is qualified to be president in the first place...

(Spengler was making the case that Obama should have taken HRC as his running-mate.)

As to the first tactic:

McCain doesn't have a tenth of Obama's synaptic fire-power, but he is a nasty old sailor who knows when to come about for a broadside. Given Obama's defensive, even wimpy selection of a running-mate, McCain's choice was obvious. He picked the available candidate most like himself: a maverick with impeccable reform credentials, a risk-seeking commercial fisherwoman and huntress married to a marathon snowmobile racer who carries a steelworkers union card. The Democratic order of battle was to tie McCain to the Bush administration and attack McCain by attacking Bush. With Palin on the ticket, McCain has re-emerged as the maverick he really is.

Further:

McCain has certified his authenticity for the voters. He's now the outsider, the reformer, the maverick, the war hero running next to the Alaskan amazon with a union steelworker spouse. Obama, who styled himself an agent of change, took his image for granted, and attempted to ensure himself victory by doing the cautious thing. He is trapped in a losing position, and there is nothing he can do to get out of it.

Obama, in short, is long on brains and short on guts

And McCain has a book plus several chapters on "guts", which is written in his own blood.

I think McCain's third tactical move will be to highlight, again and again, the "small-town" values--but paste them into an "American Values" backdrop, in an attempt to fly above the race- and class-baiting of the Obama campaign's operatives and surrogates. In other words, McCain will steal Obama's "post-partisan" foofoodust and make it his own.

That, my friends, is OODA-Loop post-graduate application.

By the way, Spengler's column is decidedly non-partisan; he has plenty of ammo to fire at Palin, McCain, Biden, and Obama. Worth the read.

10 comments:

discalcedyooper said...

I don't think he ultimately gets it right. For example, all the behind the scenes reports indicated that McCain wanted Lieberman to be his VP pick. Spengler is always interesting reading though; I'll give him that.

matthew archbold said...

The onyl thing about the Lieberman speculation is that it's hard to know how much of that is the media wishing that were true and how much was actually McCain.
Joe and John are great friends and maybe he did consider it BUT...in the end he made the right decision.

Dad29 said...

Liebermann or Palin--makes little difference to the overall strategy.

W/ Liebermann he underlines the "post-partisan" thing instead of 'small-town values.'

Yah, he'd have to re-invent bi-partisanship to mean 'American values,' (not as easy as 'small-town'=American), but so?

The "decisive" label is the strength he'll play against Obama, anyway. That's the MAIN one; the VP thing is secondary.

After all, it's still a Presidential race, not Vice-Pres.

Grim said...

Spengler's wrong about McCain's 'synaptic firepower.' McCain was tested by the Navy at IQ 133, which puts him in the top few percentage points for humanity. Even if his processing speed has dimmed a bit with age, experience has given him a vastly larger array of data to process. The results will be better.

What he doesn't have is Obama's pretense to intellectualism. He's at least as smart.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Obama's going to destroy himself at the rate he's going.

LarryD said...

One statement McCain made in this speech that I haven't seen anyone in the media mention or comment on(and it's no big surprise, really), is when he said "We're going to return to the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan." Great line. Now, it remains to be seen how much of that will come about, but the absence of Bush's name showed me that McCain is indeed actively distancing himself from Dubya, and appealing to the conservative side of the party (which the selection of Palin did masterfully, and he reinforced).

The race is still up for grabs, despite the MSM's attempt to show America that Obama has a virtual lock on the Electoral College. I wanted to throw a brick at the TV everytime they "went to the EC map". It's as if they're saying..."eh, nice speeches and all, but it's already over."

As Rush would say, they've opened the door in their noses. Again.

BTW, first visit to your blog - I like it and am putting you on my blogroll.

Dad29 said...

Thanks, LarryD.

Reciprocated.

Orv said...

I think you guys are missing the point. If you are thinking about conventional campaigns, you might be right.

I do not believe that McCain is running a conventional campaign. I strongly believe that this campaign will be won by John McCain. His strategy is to attack the mind of Barack Obama, not Barack Obama himself or even his votes or policies. That is a huge distinction.

Go read about the OODA Loop, study the man, Col. John Boyd who is creditied with developing the concept. The theory is based upon making decisons faster than your opponent This creates chaos within the mind of the opponent. This is accomplished by using mis-direction, unusual circumstances and even deception, just to name a few.

Right now McCain has the Obama campaign completely confused. The example that I gave and Dad29 posted above is the most obvious example. I believe that there are other, less obvious things that McCain has been doing that have Obama confused but may not be quite as obvious.

For example, go back about 3-4 weeks ago. McCain was runing a series of TV ads. The ads would air for a few days, just enough time for the Obama campaign to put a response together. By that time, McCain would have a new ad on the air. Again, faster decsions.

I don't know this for sure, but I think that some of McCains earlier tactics caused Obama to make the safe pick of Joe Biden for VP and he may have even influenced the content of Obama's acceptance speech. Remember, this was not the best speech of the very gifted orator.

That my friends is the point that I think you are missing. I hope that I have made things a little more clear for everyone.

Study the OODA Loop, I believe that this concept will change the way campaigns are run in the future.

Dad29 said...

Orv, I think we're on the same page, but McCain WILL have some "conventional" campaigning, which is why I predict he'll pull on the joystick, go to 40 Angels, and fly "above partisanship."

THAT is the strategy. The OODA stuff which you pointed out very nicely, are the tactics.

But the strategy is to win by taking away Obama's perceived strengths--and ferociously attacking his weaknesses.

The Palin OODA-Loop tactic has caused Obama to run abortion-centered ads in several States--which, I think, will hurt Obama more than help him.

Further, the success of the RNConvention has caused Obama to go back to race-baiting--another move which will hurt him.

Yes, McCain's using blitzkreig advertising: here one minute, gone the next, new line of attack in 24 hours...

But there's still an overarching strategy, which is to get "post-partisan." IMHO

Anonymous said...

St. John has "small town values"? You're funny.