Tonight is John McCain's last best chance to address the American people. Granted, this will likely be the smallest of the debate audiences, but it will still be substantial -- 50 million plus I would guess. Its far more than any advertising buy will reach, and its a chance for McCain to speak directly to the voters. Its a chance that he has had twice before and largely squandered. If he has any chance of winning, he cannot squander it tonight. But its a tall order for McCain -- who has both been hampered by an inane campaign (Bill Kristol says McCain should "fire" the lot of them), and his unwillingness to go for the jugular against Obama's obvious weaknesses. McCain sees it as beneath his dignity to play "dirty" with Obama -- as if going after the Senator's associations and past are off limits. This is noble in a game of chess, but not when the presidency of the United States is on the line. While McCain sees it as somehow honorable to not bring up the Reverend Wright because it touches on Obama's religion, he is really doing a disservice to the very people he wants to represent as president. As Tony Blankley writes today, McCain's unwillingness to go strongly after Obama and his past is a very critical and relevant issue that most Americans don't know anything about:
During the past few weeks, as I have been traveling extensively across the country, I have yet to find anyone (including a few reporters and producers at local news stations in Florida, California and New York) who has heard of these facts. The response when I recite the facts is always about the same. More or less: "Really? Wow!"
For those who follow politics closely, this may seem shocking. But it really isn't -- a huge part of the population is both uninterested in politics and uninformed. To me it is unreal that people actually are "undecided" up until the time they actually cast their ballot -- but that is because I understand the stark differences between the candidates and follow it closely. But many do not. They don't know ANYTHING about Barack Obama except that he is black, smooth, well-spoken and young -- all things that are, at first glance, attractive. And this is as far as most people get. That's why Obama's whole schtick about "hope and change" and "post-partisanship" had so much traction in the beginning. And even now, people look at Obama and think he represents change and a new style of politics.
But it is all a farce; Obama is a standard-issue liberal with an even more radical left-wing background than probably 95% of those in Washington. He's left of the left in Congress. He's just packaged himself perfectly. As I've written previously this is a great hoodwinking of the American people.
What McCain must say is this: Barack Obama is not like "you and me". He sat in an openly racist, anti-American church for 20 years. He's worked with a domestic terrorist who set-off bombs designed to kill Americans. He has had financial dealings with a known felons. He was the attorney for ACORN in Chicago and his campaign has recently given them $800,000 to register voters -- which they are doing illegally. He needs to make it clear: Barack Obama is a radical, not a mainstream Democrat. He's no Bill Clinton. And he's certainly no Jack Kennedy.
And he must say this as well: the history of one party rule in this country has not been successful. It is a blank check for the party in power to legislate its agenda. And in this case it will be big spending and big tax increases -- never mind what Barack Obama is saying on the campaign trail. If the Democrats are in charge of both branches of government, hang on to your wallet!
That's a message that will resonate with people.
Tax increases aren't popular -- and McCain must make the case that if Obama is president with Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge of the Congress, the country is going to get tax increases like never before. Why? Because Obama's stated tax plan is a lie -- he'll say and do anything to get elected. But once in the Oval Office, "circumstances" will have suddenly changed, and he'll be "forced" to raise taxes on everyone "for the good of the country". Oh, and to pay for his massive health care program and ten-year energy boondoggle.
That's what McCain must say tonight. And he must say it with confidence, warmth and compassion.
Look Obama in the eye and let him have it -- Just the facts, ma'am. In this case, the facts are all he needs.