Today the McCain campaign released another statement criticizing Obama for not visiting the troops in Germany. While this provides red meat for GOP base, it provides another sign to everyone else that the maverick John McCain is dead and gone.
The McCain camp put out a statement by retired Chief Warrant Officer (4th class) Michael J. Durant criticizing Obama, “Over the last week, Barack Obama made time in his busy schedule to hold a rally with 200,000 Germans in Berlin, hold a press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris, and hold a solo press conference in front of 10 Downing Street in London. The Obama campaign had also scheduled a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, but this stop was canceled after it became clear that campaign staff, and the traveling press corps, would not be allowed to accompany Senator Obama.”
Durant questioned Obama’s judgment, “I’ve spent time at Ramstein recovering from wounds received in the service of my country, and I’m sure that Senator Obama could have made no better use of his time than to meet with our men and women in uniform there. That Barack Obama believes otherwise casts serious doubt on his judgment and calls into question his priorities.”
The McCain camp can say that this is an attack on Obama’s judgment, but a campaign doesn’t trot out a former military officer just to question judgment. This is an attack on Obama’s patriotism.
This attack is already showing signs of backfiring, because it undermines McCain’s own maverick image as a different and independent Republican. It shows that McCain is willing to engage in the same faux flag waving patriotism that we have seen out of every Republican since 9/11. The problem for the McCain camp is that Obama has a built in defense against these kinds of attacks. Obama can label these attacks as the same old politics, which they are, and label John McCain as against change, which he is.
There are plenty of issues that McCain could attack Obama on, but instead they chose a desperate tactic that is usually saved for the time just before the election. Obama’s character and personality are his strong suit. This is where they should not have gone yet. While Obama and his family are on the cover of People magazine, McCain is attacking his patriotism. This is a recipe for a voter backlash.
The problem with going negative with their advertising this soon is that there is no turning back, and while negative ads do work, a long term negative campaign hurts the attacking candidate. This is campaigning 101, but the Keystone Cops like McCain campaign can’t even get this right.