For what it’s worth here is my advice for McCain. Don’t run on experience. It hasn’t worked with Clinton and it won’t work for him. In McCain’s case it speaks for itself. Why downplay this obvious asset? Because this is a “change” election. If the economy continues to tank, it’s going to be even more of a change election. Remember the Bill Clinton mantra in 1992? “Change versus more of the same.” It worked. And it will work even more this time, since the number of Americans believing that the country is on the wrong track is even higher than in 1992.
Moreover, the whole “experience” and “readiness” theme would reinforce McCain’s biggest liability in the obvious narrative of the 2008 election: the old versus the young. He will seem like an establishment figure whose time has gone.
What McCain has to do is to coopt Obama’s message. McCain has to become the change candidate. He has a record that makes this plausible enough. He has long been a rebel in Washington: he has tackled Republican rigidity on climate change, spending excess and the war. If anyone can be said to have forced a change in strategy in Iraq, it is McCain.
What he needs to do is to reiterate that he brought change once before to Iraq and can bring it again, by orches-trating a withdrawal that is as careful (to paraphrase Obama) as the invasion was careless. But he needs to broaden that message, adding diplomacy to his theme….