I must admit that I left McCain’s rally in northern Virginia today more convinced that ever that this American hero will, sadly, lose on Tuesday. The bulk of McCain’s stump speech is dominated by an argument against redistribution. It is a classic right-left fight—and that’s what’s wrong with it. McCain is preaching to the choir but the choir is smaller than it has been in a generation.
If in 2005, when talk began about a second McCain run for the White House, one had been told that McCain would have to win Pennsylvania to win the White House one could have sketched out a plan for how he would do it. It would have involved him running as part of the radical centre, a bold reformer. The strategy would have been to keep down the Democratic margin in the populous Philly suburbs and then sweep the rural parts of the state. The one thing you would have told McCain not to do is run as a generic Republican; after all there are a million more registered Democratsthan Republicans in Pennsylvania. But the argument McCain is making about taxes is a generic Republican one.
This is not to say that tax isn’t a political weapon any more, half the Obama signs I saw in Virginia today bore the slogan 'Obama-Biden For Lower Taxes'. But the point is the Democrats haven’t walked into an elephant trap this year but the Republicans are acting as if they have.
To be sure, the financial crisis has done more to dish McCain than anything else. But it seems crazy that McCain is centring the closing message of his general election campaign on a more conservative argument than he used to make during the Republican primaries. (Spectator)