Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

McCain Enters the Coward Zone

In Stephen King’s 1979 novel The Dead Zone, a man named Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma with psychic abilities. After shaking the hand of Congressional candidate Greg Stillson, Smith has a vision that Stillson will one day become president and start a nuclear war. Determined to prevent this outcome, Smith decides to assassinate Stillson, and although his attempt fails, the Congressman’s immediate reaction upon being shot at is to grab a baby from a woman standing nearby and use it as a shield. This act of cowardice destroys Stillson’s political career and changes the future.

It’s been a long time since I read the book, but I was reminded of it while watching John McCain’s latest ad. This ad — and their entire Palin roll-out strategy — is the figurative equilvalent of Stilson holding up the baby.

Leave aside for the moment that McCain’s strategy is deeply sexist — can you imagine in a million years Obama calling attacks on Biden “disrespectful” or insisting McCain owes his running mate an apology? Leave aside that the supposed “attacks” they’re complaining about are, themselves, distortions. Instead, think about what McCain is doing here: In the midst of running one of the most dishonest, content-free negative campaigns in memory, he turns around and whines about those mean nasty Democrats picking on pool lil’ Sarah. He is trying to pre-empt criticism of a nominee who is woefully unprepared for the job — as well as of his own shameful campaign — by hiding behind her skirt and blaming it all on trumped up charges of sexism.

He may have acted courageously 40 years ago, but with the campaign he’s running this year, it’s become clear: John McCain is a coward.


September 12, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy, talking points | , , ,


  1. Great book and great movie. Tempted to have a surrogate come out and accuse McCain of hiding behind Palin

    Comment by dansac | September 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. you inspired me to commit bad photoshopping.

    Comment by ksh01 | September 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. Not to diminish his service to this country 40 years ago, but is that the ONLY THING his campaign people can come up with to tout about him?

    And, it’s clear he’s deferring to Palin – completely. Every time they’re pictured together, he stands slightly behind her. EVERY TIME!

    Comment by Angela Bennett | September 15, 2008 | Reply

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