If this is the direction in which John McCain wants the campaign to go, Democrats are even luckier than I had hoped.
As he did Tuesday night, McCain focused much of his criticism on Obama, Tuesday’s winner on the Democratic side.
“I respect him and the campaign that he has run, but there’s going to come a time when we have to get into specifics,” McCain told reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “I’ve not observed every speech he’s given, obviously, but they are singularly lacking in specifics.”
Now, the claim that Obama lacks specifics is, on its face, false. Obama’s campaign has presented detailed policy prescriptions on almost every issue under the sun. If McCain wants to argue that these policies are wrong and offer alternatives, more power to him. But to pretend they don’t exist is just silly.
But the more important point is that McCain is going after Obama on one of his own biggest weaknesses. We’re talking about a candidate who’s running on a powerful personal story, but whose understanding of policy details is almost Bush-like. Last year, for example, McCain explained his position on Iraqi reconciliation this way: “One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit.’” This is what passes for “policy specifics” in John McCain World.
Jonathan Chait added, “McCain takes a strong interest in foreign policy, to be sure, but his main public appeal has been to endless remind voters of his history as a POW. On economics, he’s repeatedly admitted that he knows very little. And on social issues, he doesn’t even know what his own positions are."
If this campaign boils down to which side is better prepared to offer policy specifics, McCain will be lucky to even carry Arizona.