As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Behold America's Worst Presidential Campaign

The incompetence continues. And this time, a little more attention is being paid.

So John McCain goes out on the stump yesterday and sayswe're back to "pre-surge" levels in Iraq. First of all, this kind of running in place is supposed to be a good thing. Second of all, it's not true.

Actually, Mr. Magoo, two-thirds of the surge troops are still in Iraq.

Let me walk you through this.
1. Pre-surge troops levels. That's 130,000 to 135,000 troops.

2. Bush sent 30,000 or so "surge" troops to Iraq.

3. That means at full surge we had 165,000 troops in Iraq.

4. We currently have 155,000 troops in Iraq.

5. That means we still currently have 20,000 more troops in Iraq than we had pre-surge, or 2/3 of the surge troops are still in Iraq.

So, it's a gaffe. Not a major one, but a gaffe nonetheless. And McCain compounds it by arguing over verb tenses, saying that he meant to say "we'll be drawing down" instead of "we've drawn down." I hope you forgive us when we say collectively as a nation that we're sensitive to lying about war.

The thing is, the campaign got mad about it, telling reporters on a conference call to stop nitpicking his verb tenses. And the candidate himself continued that alibi, which is just a dumb one. There's a definitive difference between finishing something and hoping to finish it. Events on the ground in Iraq have a way of screwing up those best-laid plans.

Jed Report has a video recounting of the whole thing.

It'd be one thing if this were an isolated incident, but this is a bad candidate and a bad campaign. They proved themselves to be off-message when they sent out an email with an unauthorized picture of David Petraeus in uniform, and McCain defied his advisers and staffers by admitting it was inappropriate to fundraise using that photo. They went back and forth with a dozen different explanations for how to handle the radical pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley, until they dumped them and faced the ire of the religious right. The lobbyist problem is unbelievably difficult for the campaign, as are advisers like Foreclosure Phil Gramm, who helped create the mortgage meltdown, and the candidate's own associations with corporate benefactors like America West Airlines.

This is why the campaign is pretty universally seen as not ready for prime time, and why the numbers you have seen McCain hold, with him never over 45% or so nationally, are bound to erode.

Fall campaigns for President require massive organizations. What's more, McCain is likely to face the biggest, baddest team on the block. Barack Obama has been running the equivalent of a national campaign for almost six months now. He spends more than twice as much every 30 days as McCain has been able to raise in the same period. Obama has a campaign staff that numbers about 700 and already blankets most of the swing states. His organization ticks like a clock, has had an unwavering message and has kept a firmly fixed inner circle.

McCain, meanwhile, is still formulating his general-election pitch and struggling to build his core team. He is also trying, for the second time in as many years, to create a campaign that can win on a big scale. His previous attempt to run as the institutional candidate, with a projected nine-figure budget, failed spectacularly last July and nearly forced him out of the G.O.P. race. Though his campaign is leaner than his rival's, McCain says he is happy with the progress. "I am pleased with the way the campaign is going," he said just before Memorial Day weekend in an airplane hangar in California's Central Valley. "I think we are going pretty well." But even as he spoke, problems were sprouting all around him.

The guy cannot handle a big campaign organization. Why do we think his management style would be suitable for the whole United States?

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