Where McCain Went Wrong

McCain did himself a favor when he selected Palin as his running mate.  The base immediately fell in love with her, but the subsequent media lynching, I think, subdued the enthusiasm, particularly on the heels of some poorly thought out interviews she pretty clearly wasn’t ready for.  I think the base still adores Palin, but she needs to gain a bit more expeirence under her belt before she returns to national politics.

You can blame Bush for this one, but Republicans, and center-right Independents have spent the last eight years having to carry the White House’s water on the Iraq War, because the White House was not able to competently handle mistakes, missteps, and difficulties.  We also spent the past eight years watching a President not only fail to articulate and make the case for conservative values, but one who wouldn’t deliver them either.

But McCain’s biggest gaffe, I think, was in the debates.  The debates were all scripted talking points, which tended to work in Obama’s favor.  Obama is comfortable when he’s able to work off of talking points.  Conservatives wanted to see McCain go after Obama, articulate against his policies, and make the case for conservatism.  I think McCain largely failed on that count, and not in a small way.  Conservatives, faced with the prospect of another soft, inarticulate candidate, seem to have decided to stay home in relatively large numbers this election.  The next Republican candidate will need to be able to carry the message.  Obama is popular among the left and center-left because he can do that with great skill.  Reagan was popular for largely similar reasons.  I have to wonder how many conservatives actually saw McCain as just another inarticulate non-conservative, and decided to stay home.

10 thoughts on “Where McCain Went Wrong”

  1. McCain was nothing more or less the another dose of Bob-it’s-my’turn-this-time- Dole. And now he’s going right back to kissing demo’s asses in the senate.

    And his loser of a campaign staff are already fellating the media with stories about how difficult it was to work with that dumb and mean Gov. Palin.

    Screw them and screw him; he didn’t want the job and he deserved to lose. The ONLY good thing to come out of his loser of a campaign was Gov. Palin.

  2. Conservatives have got to figure out what their message is. Maybe we will get some indication of what that is at this year’s CPAC conference. Until we have a coherent message we will not be able to get what I believe is still a center-right electorate to follow us.

  3. Throwing Palin under the bus completely disgusted me. I’m done with McCain. The woman who made him relevant deserves better.

  4. Palin did damn good considering the circumstances in which she was operating. In reality anytime she showed up she made McCain appear lackluster and tepid. Palin was a shot of adrenaline that the McCain campaign saw as a liability simply because she would articulate conservative points better than McCain (But who couldn’t?). In reality she was the real thing , and McCain was second rate. When it comes it comes to each in a comparison who will the people go for?

    Palin will be the frontrunner in 4 years and when she takes the stage again she will be a unstoppable. In the short amount of time on the national stage she managed to energize the base wherever she went and gave conservatives hope that their voice and principles would be carried forward. There is not a single person on the national stage that managed to do that during the primary. At this point she is the future of the Republican party.

  5. I think McCain didn’t fight….he played nice guy and let the !@#$ get beat out of him.

    After the Couric interview, McCain should have responded to any questions about that interview with the following:

    “Sarah Palin sat down for a two hour interview. 6 minutes were shown. 6 minutes that made her look less stellar than she is. If you want to hear from myself or Palin, turn in to Fox News – good day!”

  6. That would have been a disaster. You need to maintain a good relationship with the media if you’re running for office, even if they hate your politics and are in the tank for the other guy. I agree McCain should have gone after Obama in the debates more than he did, but you don’t get to punish the media if you’re not their guy.

  7. The Media was caught completely off guard by Palin, which goes a long way towards explaining the media rampage.

    I don’t actually think that it hurt Palin. First of all, a bunch of folks don’t pay any attention to the media anymore – just look at the media share prices. Second, a bunch of folks (like me) use the media as a fairly reliable guide to how not to think – if the media says “stupid”, then I think “hmmm, may be smarter than they want me to think”. Probably the first and second group cancel out. The third group ralies around, like the base did to Palin. The MSM was SO over the top that she may have higher favorables in the Republican party than she would otherwise.

    I think it was McCain who lost. Palin is, at worst, a wash (I think this was your point).

    As to “maintain a good relationship with the media”, screw ’em. Record all media interactions, and release the most embarassing (to the media) clips on Youtube. The rest will get the point – that they’ll burn their remaining credibility extra special fast if they don’t play straight.

  8. What the McCain campaign should have done was insist on live interviews. As much as I hate to admit it, a large amount of people tune into the major networks, so they can’t be neglected (yes, I would love for them to all choke though). But giving the networks the ability to pick and choose what soundbites they can use for their presentation pretty much deep-sixed Palin. At least she knows what is out there now, and I think that when she starts her campaign for 2012, it’ll be handled much differently. The McCain campaign should serve as a warning as to how not to run one.

  9. Ted:

    You overestimate the effectiveness of the Internet. See Howard Dean and Ron Paul as examples. The internet is very good at helping raise money, and not much else. It might eventually be a serious force, but for now traditional media still rules the day. You have to work with them, and have good relations. This was a problem for Fred Thompson’s campaign too.

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