[Guest post by DRJ]
This Washington Post article is a good example of the continuing explanations and recriminations for why McCain lost. Take your pick:
Not enough money. The fallout from Sarah Palin’s pick. Too few (or too many) attacks on Obama. Moving to the right instead of acting like the maverick he is. Impossible polls for the GOP following the Bush Presidency. Taking a high-risk approach instead of focusing on his experience and leadership. Media support for Obama. The timing of the financial meltdown. Bad luck.
I may have missed a couple but, in my opinion, McCain’s campaign suffered for all those reasons but he lost for one reason buried in the center of the article:
“And his campaign had spent no time developing a comprehensive economic plan.”
The economy took the center stage in this election as it does in many Presidential elections. Unfortunately, and borrowing from President-elect Obama’s playbook, formulating a comprehensive economic plan was apparently above McCain’s pay grade.
I think all but the most partisan Americans are more flexible than pundits believe on hot button political issues like gay marriage, abortion, and the Iraq War. We respect differences of opinion in our candidates just as we do in our neighbors and co-workers. But Americans insist that candidates care enough about the economy to formulate and try to communicate their economic policies.
Even though I don’t like his policies, Obama had an economic policy and he tried to communicate it to the voters, although he was often vague. McCain’s policy seemed limited to his belated support for tax cuts and drilling, and that left him with a lot to criticize but little to communicate. The reason Palin’s support for drilling as part of an economic/energy policy and Joe the Plumber’s “spreading the wealth” helped McCain is that they gave him clear positions on economic issues that his campaign previously lacked.
Before he ever announced his candidacy for President, the first thing McCain and his advisers should have done was formulate policies on the war and the economy that McCain could clearly articulate. He did the first but he never did the second, and that made him appear aimless and clueless when the financial crisis hit. In my opinion, that cost him the election.