Casey Stengel’s famous quip about the ’62 Mets about sums up the 2008 election cycle for conservatives: It’s been two years of cluelessness.
As I watch even usually astute conservatives completely miss the point, I am left with cascading frustration. Guys, something you need to understand: Not much of anyone gives a rip about Bill Ayers. Not that Ayers’s relationship with Obama is irrelevant, or illegitimate for debate, just that it falls way down anybody’s list of voting issues and is a waste of time. No amount of effort or money could make it otherwise.
McCain will pay a steep political price if voters think he’s fiddling while Rome burns. Among the reasons the Republican brand is in such disrepair is because voters don’t believe the party is focused on issues that matter. It was true in 2006. It remains true today.
This isn’t 1996 or 2000, when voters were feeling pretty good about things and minor issues could quickly capture attention. America is at war, and the economy is in deep trouble. Only 8 percent of the country thinks we’re on the right track.
At a time when Americans are darn-near panicked about their jobs, their savings, the value of their houses, the value of their retirement plans, the constant squeeze on their pocketbooks, they are naturally focused on the biggest of big issues. This is an election where the old stand-bys — abortion, gay marriage, guns, et al. — are not going to matter as much.
Some on the Right wonder why Republican politicians aren’t talking about the usual issues. Easy: Voters aren’t talking about them. They aren’t talking about liberal staples like education or the environment either. Voters are talking about the fundamentals.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan wasn’t campaigning on Billy Carter or the killer rabbit. With the misery index through the roof and the Soviets on the march, he was campaigning on the economy and a strong America. He knew intuitively what Americans were concerned about; he knew what needed to be done and he focused on it incessantly. And he won in a landslide.
The problem with Republican candidates today is that they seem dangerously out of touch. All this talk of bipartisanship and bringing people together is insane. Bring whom together to do what? The current crowd in Washington with their bottom-feeding approval ratings? People don’t want them “brought together”; they want them run out of town on a rail. They want someone to be held accountable for the scandalous incompetence that has brought us to where we are today.