Jack and John

That Jack Abramoff was sentenced to prison the same day U.S. Sen. John McCain spoke to the Republican Convention warrants some sustained reflection.  For what it reminds us of is that try as he might, John McCain simply cannot shake and distance himself from the recent disapointing era of Republican rule. 

One of the most important things the Obama camp will have to do in the days ahead is to do a better job at evoking what went wrong when the GOP was in charge, and reminding everyone that for a generation, John McCain has been, yes, a Republican leader. "Voted with Bush 90 percent of the time."  Does that do it?  Is it potent enough?  Why not indict the whole Republican era, not just Bush? For while Bush is going away, those Republicans and their politics remain - unprecedented corruption (images of Abramoff, Don Young, Cunningham, etc), an economics for the wealthy by the wealthy and not for us, a foreign policy that has left our enemies emboldened, Bin Laden on the loose, and our military less capable of defending America?  That by electing McCain and Palin, we will be electing a political party and a governing strategy that has done so much to weaken America and its people? That this is the very opposite of patriotism? 

As John McCain himself admitted in his speech to the Republican Convention, his Party left America worse than he found it......

We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption....We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

And that in order to win the nomination, and seize power, John McCain had to embrace the failed politics and strategies of this era?  Its economics? Its foreign policy? Its slash and burn and lying politics? Its approach to torture? Toward immigrants and immigration?  That in the process of winning the nomination that he became one of those Republicans?

In April I wrote

Not a big fan of McSame - Some of the early arguments coming from the Democratic/progressive side attempt to make McCain into Bush. But I think this approach is bound to fail. McCain is his own man. He isn't George Bush. They may have worked together to bring about this disasterous conservative era. They have similar beliefs. But McCain isn't Bush. He has a powerful and compelling personal narrative. His take on Iraq is different. His economic plan is different. His position on immigration is different. It is time for those who have opposed Bush to let go of him as a man, and begin making the indictment against his beliefs, his government and the mess he and his team - with McCain's help - have left us. The country has written Bush off, and is turning the page. It is time for the progressive movement to do the same.

To that end, I think the new DNC Ad is a good one. It takes McCain's own words and ties them to the performance of the conservative economic strategy now embraced by the Arizona Senator. An editorial in the Washington Post today further disembles the inanity of McCain's emerging economic arguments, providing much more new material for those of us who have opposed the bankrupt and failed economic approach of the modern conservatives.

With McCain-Palin surging, the Obama campaign now has two jobs. To make its case for why an Obama Presidency will make America great, good and prosperous again, and why McCain-Palin won't, the Obama camp needs to take a page from the GOP Convention and offer a sustained narrative, over time, that makes their case.  This is not about rapid response now.  It is about recasting the race, taking it up a level, telling a compelling and powerful story, and coming to terms with that a sustained fight betwen Country First and Change We Can Believe In will put Old Man McCain in the White House next year.