John McCain has been offered, free of charge, two very good pieces of advice today. The first comes from Pete Wehner who argues, very astutely, that a simple criticism of Obama as vacuous will be ineffective. Wehner notes that there is something to this charge as surely there is something distasteful in the rock-star persona and circus surrounding the new King of Liberalism. But don’t forget the Liberalism, Wehner notes. Obama is the King of Liberalism in more than the fluffy sense. He really is astoundingly liberal, "in a country that is not." McCain should reject out of hand anyone who argues that attacks on Obama’s liberalism are "so 1980s"--even if they are, that doesn’t make them any less effective or true.
The second bit of advice comes from John Podhoretz in a piece the focus of which is more Michelle Obama than Barack or John McCain. Michelle Obama’s over-the-top rhetoric is probably an insight into the soul of the Obama family’s kitchen table conversation, Podhoretz postulates. It exposes their sincere (though bizarre) belief that they are a new Messiah for America. But why do they imagine that America needs a new Messiah? The Obamas don’t argue that America is fundamentally good, but flawed (as the overwhelming majority of Americans believe to their core) . . . they argue that America is "fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good." McCain needs to expose this and challenge Obama--even directly--to defend it if he can. This is a wide open hole through which McCain should be able to make a successful run in my view.
One aspect to an argument against the Obamas that will appeal to young people, for example, is to point out their monumental hypocrisy. If America is "fundamentally flawed" and only "occasionally good" how is it that a Michelle Obama (with her Princeton and Harvard degrees) and a guy like her husband (similarly outfitted) even came to be? What silver spoons did they have to suck in order for a country as screwed up as this one to take them seriously? You mean . . . there weren’t any silver spoons? They’re not the son or the daughter of privilege? Oh . . . what a rotten country! Well . . . what exactly is it that they need to save? Perhaps we need John McCain to save us from the saviors!