Skip the Reaction Shot
An interesting piece today by Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen at Politico nicely underscores a pair of my recent posts on John McCain. Although the McCain campaign had promised to counter-program Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe last week with events focused on pressing domestic issues, the campaign instead (as I warned) fell into the avoidable trap of reacting daily (and with increasing irritation) to Obama’s every move overseas.
The Politico piece is interesting because it suggests that this reactive behavior by the McCain campaign is not a one-week aberration, but instead a reflection of the organization’s underlying structure and key personalities. In its own defense, the McCain campaign has argued that Obama’s newness on the political scene, and the media’s preoccupation with his candidacy, leave few options for breaking into the news cycle other than the kinds of reaction shots we saw from Senator McCain last week.
McCain did a better job of charting his own course on Sunday, during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on This Week. But he may have also created new problems for himself on Social Security, and his awkward response to a question about gay adoption is topped only by this recent reaction to a question about insurance coverage for Viagra and birth control. According to Politico, the McCain campaign plans to hit Obama even harder in the coming months. Whatever the campaign decides to do, it can’t afford another reactive week like the last one. 

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