When is the McCain campaign going to get serious? It seems to be marking time with softball ads, more appropriate to the soundbites campaign media spokespeople exchange with one another than to strategic paid media hits. One ad talks about how the media loves Obama. Another mocks him as a celebrity. Each throws pitty-pat punches, far short of the kind of knockout blows one would expect from a presidential campaign. Were I a donor to McCain's campaign, paying for these pathetic spots, I would demand a refund. Or sue for malpractice.
Yet despite this softball nonsense, Obama remains vulnerable, no better than two points ahead despite the bounce from his overseas trip.
Are the McCain people waiting for September to get serious? If so, they are making a big mistake and missing an important opportunity. History indicates that the best time to beat a new candidate is in the summer. August to be precise.
Dukakis, Mondale, and Kerry all were destroyed in the summer, long before the fall campaign began. In 1984, the offensive against Geraldine Ferraro crippled Mondale well before Labor Day. In 1988, the pledge of allegiance, revolving door, and Willie Horton ads all ran in the summer. Dukakis was dead by September. And the swift boat attack on Kerry defeated him well before the summer was over.
McCain needs to make voters afraid of Obama. Not, as he suggests self-servingly, by emphasizing that he "doesn't look like all the other presidents on dollar bills," but by hitting him on the two fronts where it would really hurt -- the economy and national security. Obama's inexperience and the wildly liberal proposals he has made in his primary campaigning, both set him up for a crippling blow this month.
Oil drilling is an issue, but it does not provoke the fear that the McCain campaign needs to elicit to win. It's just an issue disagreement with bad consequences for the nation. Obama's position on the issue is not a recipe for national disaster.