For the past five months or so, Barack Obama relentlessly harped on a single message: You don't like George W. Bush. John McCain is George W. Bush. So vote for me instead.
In contrast, McCain has careened between at least eight different themes--in the past 48 hours alone. At a national-security roundtable in Tampa, Fla., he questioned Obama's readiness to be commander in chief. At a pair of "Joe the Plumber" events in Ohio, he claimed that Obama wants to "spread the wealth" around. Meanwhile, he managed to remind voters of Obama's past relationships with Bill Ayers, Khalid Rashidi and ACORN; accuse him of planning cut defense spending in Virginia; characterize him as soft on criminals; warn about the dangers of one-party rule; charge that Obama is just "a typical politician"; and slam him for voting in favor of Bush's 2005 energy bill.
All of which, I suppose, was meant to drive one overarching message: that Obama is an unsavory character. Call it the "Choose Your Own Attack" approach to presidential politics.
With that in mind, you can understand why I was a little surprised when McCain's latest national TV ad arrived in my inbox. The title says it all: "Obama Praises McCain." For your viewing pleasure:
I'll leave it to smarter observers to judge whether McCain's mixed messages are hampering his ability to connect with voters on the issues that matter most--i.e., the economy, the economy and also the economy. But I have to admit: I'm thinking of suing for whiplash.
I mean, I get that McCain wants me to be all excited that Obama once praised his "outstanding leadership" on greenhouse-gas emissions. You know, bipartisanship and whatnot. But doesn't this ad make Obama seem at least as bipartisan as McCain? And what about all that talk about Obama being a pro-criminal, anti-military terrorist lover who's conspiring steal the election and transform America into a socialist dystopia? Wouldn't that make his praise sort of offensive--like how a Hamas spokesman said some favorable stuff about Illinois senator and suddenly he was "the candidate of Hamas"? Wait a second. Does this mean that McCain has become... the candidate of Obama? And if so, what does that say about McCain's "character" and "judgment"?
Now, it's not like I care about some washed-up old redistributor. But the people have a right to know.