If a salacious political firestorm is the media equivalent of Christmas morning, the events of the past few weeks have packed American punditry's stockings to the brim. From the appalling videos of Jeremiah Wright, to Barack Obama's cynical evasion of his pastor problem, to Hillary Clinton's Bosnia fables, the nation's televisions, radios and blogs are abuzz with the energy of scandal. Lost in the shouting, analysis and breathless reporting is an important political development: The Democrats have offered a few recent glimpses at their initial plan of attack against John McCain, and the clumsy, off-the-mark contents of their general election playbook should be encouraging to Republicans.
The most preposterous tactic employed so far is the Democratic National Committee's ham handed attempt to paint McCain as a flip flopper on the Iraq war. Last week the DNC recently churned out a sloppy and misleading web ad designed to highlight contradictions in McCain's rhetoric on this issue. The Republican National Committee fired back with a nine-page fact sheet tearing the ad's dishonest insinuations to shreds. Even CBS News, not exactly renowned for its rabid conservatism, concluded the ad "provided little-to-no context."
Setting the specifics aside, the overall thrust of the ad doesn't pass the smell test. Does Dean, Inc. actually believe average Americans will buy the McCain-flip-flopper narrative? John McCain stuck his neck out in support of this war and has steadfastly defended it, even in its darkest hours. He has repeatedly, and some say intractably, insisted that he'd rather lose the election than lose the war. He has made similar assertions every at step of his campaign, from the valleys of July to the mountaintops of February. If there's a knock on McCain, it's that he's too stubborn. Just ask any conservative who crossed his path during the fierce debate over illegal immigration last year. These obtuse charges of flip-flopping (leveled, incidentally, by the people who brought us John "I-voted-for-the-87-billion-before-I-voted-against-it" Kerry) are extraordinarily lame and ineffective.