Last night during a Missouri Senate debate, Jean Carnahan wagged her finger at challenger Jim Talent, accusing him of accusing her of being unpatriotic. Talent responded by saying that it was not her patriotism but her positions that he questioned.
While I did not see the debate, the press accounts makes it sound like this was a "planned wag." If so, this was a remarkably bad calculation by the campaign. A finger wag has a school-marmish condescension to it that is not likely to sit well with voters. It also brings to mind someone who wagged his finger while being less than truthful (thank you once again, Mr. Clinton).
The biggest problem for Carnahan, however, is that she wagged her finger about a serious issue which she has treated with anything but seriousness. After all, it was just last week that she was quoted as saying “I’m the number one target of the White House. They can’t get Osama bin Laden, so they’re going to get me." So, after denigrating the armed forces in Afghanistan and making light of what is probably the most serious issue to voters, she thought that it would be good to lecture others on patriotism.
Both the comment and the wag are symptoms of the same disease: Carnahan’s campaign is faltering, and she in response is flailing. As reported here yesterday, even the DNC Chairman has publicly recognized that Carnahan is in trouble. The wag may simply be the last straw.