As a supporter of Barack Obama and someone whose political leanings move further to the left each year, I’ve observed the McCain/Palin ticket’s backslide in the polls with equal parts amusement and relief. But those of you who haven’t been paying close attention to the bloviation and baby-kissing may be wondering how we got to this point. For your benefit, then, here’s a handy guide to John McCain’s eight-step plan to sabotage his own campaign:
- Announce at the onset that you will not resort to negative attacks against your opponent. No way, no how. Then proceed to mock said opponent’s “celebrity” status, elitism, and tenuous links to people who were radicals in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, allow your campaign manager to assert that the election is “not about issues.”
- Focus on the relative inexperience of your opponent, a 47-year-old first-term senator from populous Illinois. Choose as your running mate a 44-year-old first-term governor from sparsely populated Alaska.
- Demonize the media as “elitists” (there’s that word again!) who ask “gotcha” questions, particularly after your running mate is made to look foolish by such tricky questions as, “What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read?” and “What other supreme court decisions do you disagree with [besides Roe v. Wade]?” After all, it’s not like you rely on the media to help publicize your message.
- As the economic troubles of America deepen into a crisis, announce that you will “suspend” your campaign to rush back to Washington, D.C., to work on the bank bailout bill and threaten a no-show for the first of three scheduled presidential debates. Many will view this as a hollow and cynical gesture. It also gives the impression that you are panicking when times are tough. After all, shouldn’t the President of the United States be capable of multitasking? As the passage of the bailout package becomes imminent, appear on MSNBC and both praise and condemn the bailout in the same interview.
- Okay, so economic matters aren’t your strong suit, and this is killing you in polling. But you’ve still got plenty of ideas on health insurance! Like, um, deregulating health care. After all, it’s done wonders in banking. You even know exactly how you’ll free up the money to implement your plan: By cutting up to $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid. Whew, it’s a good thing that old people don’t vote in high numbers or anything!
- Speaking of the elderly, one of the great concerns about your fitness for the presidency is your advanced age: At 72, you’d be the oldest first-term prez in the country’s history. Fortunately, you decide that a “Town Hall Meeting” is the form of debate that best favors you. In said debate, your taller, younger opponent is able to move around fluidly, while you appear to wander aimlessly, even when your opponent is the one speaking. You also seem to call attention to your age by making references to hair transplants, Jell-O, and Herbert Hoover.
- Announce melodramatically that you are suspending your campaign efforts in Michigan. As you’re down several points in the polls there, your money and manpower would probably be better used in more competitive states. The reason that you publicly announce your effective surrender of the state to Obama is … well, you’ve got me there.
- As you fall farther and farther behind in the polls, resort to the lowest common denominator — ramping up your xenophobic rhetoric and whipping the most bigoted and uninformed slice of your support base into a violent frenzy. This will probably disturb and alienate anyone who might still be undecided, as well as strengthening the conviction of those who were already leaning away from you. It will also raise genuine concerns about your opponent’s well-being, not to mention the safety of those voters who identify with him. After your tactics cause a justifiable backlash, backtrack and try to talk the crazies off of the ledge. Not only will this disappoint them, but it will ring false with everyone else, who will realize that you’ve merely reaped what you sowed.
Three weeks left until Election Day. It just can’t come soon enough.