Obama Campaign Team,
Maybe you just relish the idea of a close race. Or maybe you revel in everyone worrying about a tight race all the while knowing that you'll win outright in November due to your stellar ground game. But I have to tell you, this would be a much easier race for all of us if you would start painting your competition into a political corner.
Before you get all righteous on me and say that "we're running this campaign based on the highest of standards and integrity" and "we're not going to engage in politics as usual," I argue that painting your opponent into a political corner is simply an exercise to provide the voters with information about the opposition's views -- views that the opposition would rather keep secret.
So, you have to ask yourselves: is it worth hoping that voters figure out where McCain/Palin stand on the issues on their own, or is it your responsibility to not only inform voters about what Obama stands for, but also what McCain/Palin really stand for?
It's time to turn the corner. It's time to focus on the fact that you're in a competition, and that it's part of your responsibility to shed light on your opponent as a service to the voters. To do this effectively, you need to do three things simultaneously:
- Hold McCain accountable for everything he and his running mate have said and stand for.
- Have the gumption to direct your questions towards McCain personally so that he feels the need to respond personally.
- Ask questions designed to corner McCain into answering questions one of three ways: attack (temper, temper!), deny (makes for great media meat), or heartily accept (television ad bait).
The following are examples of questions designed to corner McCain that not only uncover information for voters, but help ensure his responses provide further political mileage:
"You have a woman on your ticket, yet you would support nominating Supreme Court justices that would take away women's choices. Do you think your new female supporters know that?"
"Sarah Palin thinks the Iraq war was sanctioned by G-d. Do you agree with your VP nominee?"
"Sarah Palin thinks that a community organizer has no responsibilities. Do you agree or disagree with her that community service is a waste of time?"
"Why do you support drilling for oil when you also know that it will contribute to global warming? You can't be for both. Are you for drilling or for cleaning up our environment? Pick one."
"I'm proud to be a Democrat, yet I notice that you never mention you're a Republican. Are you a proud Republican? You know, like the current administration?"
"You say you put your country first. Yet you picked the next-in-line for Commander-in-Chief after only meeting Sarah Palin twice. I think putting such little effort into such a critical decision really worries people out there. So, on behalf of the American people, I have to ask: Do you make all your decisions that impulsively and with that little preparation?"
"You used to rail against the Bush tax cuts, and now you are for them. You tried to pass reasonable immigration reform, and now you want to shut down the border. You used to be against offshore drilling, and now you're all for it. So, I'm really curious: Are there any other critical issues for America you're going to flip-flop on between now and November 4th?"
"Your most recent TV ads are simply ridiculous, petty and downright comical. Some say that you can tell how a President will lead by the way he runs his campaign. Is your campaign indeed a sneak preview of how your White House would operate?"
There are plenty more where these come from (if you need more, email me), but I think you get the point: I'm not talking about engaging in silly season politics. No; I'm talking about forcing John McCain to answer questions that the media won't ask, and forcing him to answer questions himself instead of hiding behind well-produced ads.
And, yes, there is an added benefit to asking questions that corner him into answering in ways that can be politically expedient. I know it's not within the Obama brand to be this way, but I think it's a reasonable concession in exchange for helping the voters learn about the Real McCain.