Monday, September 29, 2008

The Best Advice Yet for McCain


Perhaps the best advice yet given to John McCain during this election season.

We Americans face a real financial crisis. Usually the candidate of the incumbent's party minimizes the severity of the nation's problems. McCain should break the mold and acknowledge, even emphasize the crisis. He can explain that dealing with it requires candor and leadership of the sort he's shown in his career. McCain can tell voters we're almost certainly in a recession, and things will likely get worse before they get better.

And McCain can note that the financial crisis isn't going to be solved by any one piece of legislation. There are serious economists, for example, who think we could be on the verge of a huge bank run. Congress may have to act to authorize the FDIC to provide far greater deposit insurance, and the secretary of the Treasury to protect money market funds. McCain can call for Congress to stand ready to pass such legislation. He can say more generally that in the tough times ahead, we'll need a tough president willing to make tough decisions.

With respect to his campaign, McCain needs to liberate his running mate from the former Bush aides brought in to handle her - aides who seem to have succeeded in importing to the Palin campaign the trademark defensive crouch of the Bush White House. McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she's a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice.

There isn't a better way to say it. Free Sarah Palin to use the intellect and voice that made her noteworthy in the first place. Second, be as honest as possible with the electorate about the current conditions and what it takes to address them. Obama is weakest on foreign policy because he cannot admit to current conditions and show that he can change his mind about what must be done.

McCain is very much suffering from this domestically. There was a willingness to address the crisis and even though I disagree with the solution, the motivations themselves will resonate more with voters than simply proclaiming all is well with the economy.