Tuesday, October 14, 2008

'Peace with Honor'

With the unraveling of the McCain campaign almost complete (Intrade currently gives Obama a 77% likelihood of becoming the next President), it may be time for the final act of McCain's political life: peace with honor.

McCain's bounce over the summer was attributed to the addition of Steve Schmidt and other veterans of the Bush White House. But last week, after focusing much of their time and energy targeting Obama's associations with former 1960s terrorist William Ayers, McCain did not bring up Ayers' name at the town-hall debate in St. Louis, causing many to question its relevance.(*)

Schmidt's rise came at the apparent expense of long-time McCain advisor Rick Davis; others cast aside who had been with the Arizona during the dark days of the summer of 2007, when he was broke and left for dead by the GOP, include Mark Salter.

Salter has been McCain chief writer (of speeches) and ghost-writer (of books) for a number of years. He helped McCain develop the effective narrative of his life -- that he learned to love his country while a prisoner overseas -- and has been said to "'channel John McCain's voice.'"

Salter, more than anyone except perhaps Cindy McCain, has helped create John McCain's maverick -- and bi-partisan -- brand, which has been lost in the fall campaign. And it may fall to Salter to discuss quietly with McCain that the last few weeks of the campaign may be best spent trying to rehabilitate an image that the national press, at least, has spent much of the last few weeks criticizing at length.

A positive 'close' may allow McCain to claw back a few of the swing states -- all of which appear to be tipping Democratic -- and help the bottom of the Republican ticket that now fears an overwhelming, and filibuster-proof majority in both Houses.

Mark Salter, tell John McCain: it's time.

(*-Note that McCain claimed today that it is "probably ensured" that McCain will raise the name in this week's debate. But with the nation focusing on economic issues, it is still not clear what relevance -- or resonance -- Ayers will have with undecided voters.)

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