The GOP’s second-guessers have started the ritual of CYA – the process of feeding not-for-attribution quotes to the press about how crappy the losing campaign executed its effort.
Let’s be clear: When all is said and done, the main fault for John McCain’s electoral position lies not with his staff but with one person: George W. Bush.
Throughout the campaign, the one thing that the public polls all agreed on was that overwhelming majorities of Americans believe the country is in bad shape and think Bush has been a bad president. That’s why talking heads all over the country have been saying 2008 was going to be a big Democratic year.
Faced with that reality, there was really only one strategy that could have worked for the McCain campaign: Run against George W. Bush, not Barack Obama.
But that wasn’t tenable for a variety of reasons. So that left his staff struggling for a way to make the change argument without overtly bashing the guy who made people want change in the first place. Once they found themselves in that position, they were doomed.
And let’s not discount the phenomenon of Obama and the fact that his campaign has been flawless thus far. It would be a disservice to them to simply write their likely victory off as a result of Bush’s unpopularity hamstringing McCain.
So while it’s frustrating to lose and tempting to point fingers (I am an expert loser so heed my words), I urge my GOP brothers and sisters to pause before they do so and really think about whether they could have done better. The fact is that the working on a presidential campaign is draining beyond belief and takes a huge personal toll – Considering the climate, GOP insiders should be thanking the McCain team for sticking with it, not slamming them. They did what they could but it’s a different kind of year.