03 September 2008

McCain Hires Tucker Eskew, Prepares to Get Ugly

It's pretty obvious to me that the McCain campaign is getting into a desperate corner. If voters interpret campaign management as a sign of potential executive management skills, then Obama will run away with this thing in a landslide. Fortunately for McCain, there's still a lot of time left, relatively speaking, to set the ship right. Unfortunately for McCain, there's still a lot of time left for the whole spectacular cruise to go under before our eyes.

That's why I am exceedingly uncomfortable with the McCain camp's hiring of Tucker Eskew to dig them out of the ditch they're in.

The Obama camp has had the luxury these last couple days to sit back and watch the McCain/Palin ticket erupt in controversy. Joe Biden really hasn't even had a chance to slip up and say something honest--er, I mean, tactless--about the current state of Republican politics. That fact right there has laid to rest one of my chief concerns since Friday, namely that the public would cotton to Sarah Palin and see Joe Biden as a big old chauvinist bully, even before he really got started. Right now, McCain is defending himself and his choices against every brand of incompetency argument. Even from Republicans. As we all know, if you're playing defense, you're losing.

Eskew may change that dynamic. Hopefully, the media will know enough not to bite, whatever the next anti-Obama attack will be. Especially with the McCain camp cutting journalists for asking real questions, anything that comes next will be deeply stained with a lack of credibility. But I'm not so optimistic. When Karl Rove launched a whisper campaign in 2000 that the maverick senator from Arizona had fathered a "dark skinned" child, Eskew put his firm to work making the push poll telephone calls asking voters if they would vote for a president suspected of fathering an illegitimate, black child. (McCain and wife Cindy adopted a Bangledeshi child in the 1990s.) That was enough to put Bush over McCain in South Carolina in 2000.

McCain was livid back in 2000, and understandably so. But I guess he's gotten over all that. After all, it's just politics, right?