National Journal Politicscope
John McCain‘s campaign now says it might play the explosive Jeremiah Wright card after all. It makes some sense, strategically. Polls seem to be tightening, and the election is going to be decided by a white, male plumber named Joe.
The Democrats’ case is simple: If Wright is a crucial issue, then surely McCain’s own running mate is even more so.
But first, let’s look at McCain’s emerging change of heart on the relevance of Obama’s former pastor to the country’s future. During a recent radio interview, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said Rep. John Lewis‘ comparison of McCain to George Wallace has caused the campaign to “rethink” a few things about race and the race. “When Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters… racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know that you’ve got to rethink all these things,” Davis told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And so I think we’re in the process of looking at how we’re going to close this campaign. We’ve got 19 days, and we’re taking serious all these issues.”
Davis is a smart guy, so I’m sure he didn’t mean to sound as petty and cynical as he did. Because this is what it sounds like he’s saying: Mean old John Lewis called us racists, which hurt our feelings. So now, we’re going to … play the race card.
Of course, just because voters think McCain’s tactics are overly negative doesn’t mean those tactics don’t work. Which is why the Obama camp should respond to such an attack with more than a predictable boatload of “OMG” outrage on cable news and tsk-tsk op-eds penned by big-name surrogates.
They should respond with Palin.
In his Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Colin Powell opened the door to a more aggressive approach towards the Maverick’s Sidekick, specifically citing McCain’s choice of running mate as a reason to question his fitness for office.
Other Obama surrogates have started beating the drum. “One [presidential candidate] picked one of the strongest candidates for vice president he could have picked,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said at a rally of 100,000 supporters in St. Louis last weekend, referring to Joe Biden. “And, well, the other didn’t.”
The Democrats’ case is simple: If Wright is a crucial issue, then surely McCain’s own running mate is even more so. Wright would play no role in an Obama administration. Palin would play one in McCain’s; she might even become president.