Monday, March 24, 2008

Who will McCain focus his attacks on?

Although it is easy for a Republican to attack Democrats in general, it is much more effective to have a face to attack in a more "personal" manner, almost literally on a first-name basis. That presents a conundrum for McCain. He can either attack fuzzy Democrats in general or he has to pick whether to go after Barack or after Hillary. Going after two faces simultaneously takes more time, energy, and money, is not as effective, confuses people, and diffuses the effect of the "personal" attack.

The problem for McCain is that whichever of the two he attacks will be relatively weakened by his attacks which will make the other one appear relatively stronger for the remainder of the Democratic primary season. So, if he attacks the stronger candidate on the presumption that they are the ultimate contender for November, he will only increase the odds that the weaker will be able to overcome their current underdog position. Similarly, if he attacks the weaker one, he only makes the stronger one look even stronger.

Basically, he cannot win by focusing his attacks on either Democratic contender at this stage.

But, reality dictates that he must attack somebody. The result may be that each of his attacks has a target but that he does not maintain a focused attack. The Democrats do not realize this, but it does appear that keeping two of them alive until much later in the game actually makes it more difficult for McCain to attack either of them.

Besides, the degree to which Barack and Hillary spend any effort attacking McCain rather than each other is a good thing and there of two of them, so that partially makes up for the fact that they can only attack McCain part of the time since they are busy tearing down each other most of the time.

The beauty of this state of affairs is that if McCain attacks Hillary he effectively annoints her as still being in the running and gives her a chance to show her "stuff" in battle." And if McCain attacks Barack, Hillary has the triple benefit of attacking McCain directly from the side while he is distracted and unable to respond directly, to rush to Barack's defense to show that she works for the best interests of the Democratic party, and to at least partially let McCain draw some blood from Barack to show that he is relatively weaker than her.

Barack has similar options. His major strengths are that he wasn't party to getting the U.S. into Iraq and won't be party to getting the U.S. into Iran. Other than that, he has nothing but weaknesses to attacks from McCain on the "warrior" and commander-in-chief front. Sure, he can try to re-focus on non-defense/security issues, but deflection will only highlight his weakness.

And if McCain does not attack strongly, he only looks weak and feeble. Besides, he really does need to attack since he is vulnerable on the anti-war/pro-Iraq front and the weak-regulation of Wall Street excesses on the conomic front.

What an interesting time this is.

The Democrats may be wringing their hands that they do not have a nominee yet, but for the American people overall it is better to see three strong contenders duking it out in a three-way match.

Just wait until Ralph Nader shows up on the scene. Then things will really get... confused.

-- Jack Krupansky


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