Matt Lewis
It's almost as if John McCain's campaign simply decided they will not allow anyone  to cause McCain one minute's trouble.  ... Say something about Obama's middle name -- sayonara.  Twitter a YouTube clip about Rev. Wright -- you're gone.  Be a lobbyist at a time when that's a liability -- adios! 

By quickly dispensing of any unwanted baggage, McCain's campaign hopes to frustrate Obama's ability to attack him.   

... Of course, this strategy isn't all that different from Bill Clinton's triangulation.  In both cases, the principal frustrates his opponents by making unorthodox moves.  While triangulation seeks to co-opt opponents' ideas, McCainulation seeks to root-out -- like a cancer -- any potential internal weakness -- before they can be exploited by your opponent.

This strategy is not without its downside, however.  Winston Churchill famously said appeasement was, "like feeding a crocodile and hoping it would eat you last."  In a sense, though, that's ironically what McCain is doing when his campaign throws supporters off the boat to the crocodiles. 

The problem with appeasement, of course, is that it doesn't appease -- it actually emboldens your opponents and rewards them for their aggression. 

In the instance of McCain's new rules regarding lobbyists on his campaign, McCain is finding out that he has not, in fact, pacified his opponents by introducing these new "rules" about lobbyists.  Instead, he has opened the door to a slew of new problems.

It has been observed that liberals actually fight their domestic conservative opponents much harder than they fight the totalitarian regimes who wish to vanquish us.  Likewise, it could be said that conservatives -- who brazenly fight totalitarian regimes -- become domestic doves when it comes to confronting liberals.  This is especially true of McCain.  But the question remains:  If appeasement doesn't work for, say, Iran, why should we expect it to work when dealing with the Leftists?

There's also the issue of loyalty.  It's hard to inspire supporters and staffers to sacrifice for you when they realize you won't stand up for them.  That's not to say that there is never a time to cut someone loose.  Obviously, there are occasions when advisers and staffers simply must be let go.  It just seems that, for McCain's campaign, that has become the default position.

In 1976, after it became clear that moderate Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker (Ronald Reagan's running mate that year) had become a liability -- Reagan turned down Schweiker's offer to remove himself from the ticket, saying:  "No, Dick.  We came to Kansas City together and we're going to leave together."

Based on what we've seen so far on the campaign trail, one has a hard time imagining McCain would make the same decision.

Matt Lewis

Matt Lewis is conservative writer and blogger based in Alexandria, VA.

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