Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Checking for Moles?

What’s going on inside the McCain campaign? Maybe I’ve read too much Conan Doyle and Le Carre. Maybe too much of my young professional life was spent in the company of people who built satellites to detect faint electronic signals in enemy lands. Nevertheless, there are too many faint signals coming out of McCain’s inner circle to ignore. And they do not bode well for the candidate.

McCain’s June 3 speech -- designed to rob Obama of some media attention -- might have been a good idea and it might not. But it was poorly-written, badly staged and obviously a text McCain wasn’t comfortable with. McCain’s themes were good, but the speech made him sound petty, almost as if he were a challenger competing against an incumbent Obama.

So some in McCain’s camp convinced him to grasp for media attention on Obama’s night, and then pushed him to make a speech that wasn’t right for him. And then?

These supposed “advisers” and “strategists” immediately leaked to the McCain-hostile press that the only problem was McCain, not the speech or how it was managed as a media event. All you need to know about these problem “insiders” is in the Politico piece by Jonathan Martin entitled, “McCain Bumbles Delivery.”

Martin refers to people among McCain’s “inner circle” who believe that the, “…the visual and stylistic contrast with Obama on Tuesday night was both plain to see and painful in the extreme.” He quotes one McCain adviser saying the contrast between McCain’s speaking skills and Obama’s was, “Not good,” and “It’s never going to be his strong suit, and it will always be Obama’s.” So McCain’s “inner circle” believes that a guy who’s spent decades in politics doesn’t know how to make a decent speech?

If that’s not bad enough Martin writes, “What most everybody inside and out of McCain’s campaign agreed upon was that the address was well-written,” and goes on to quote another (?) McCain aide saying, “It just wasn’t delivered the best…He has to get sharper on delivery.”

How much do you want to bet that the guys who wrote the speech or convinced McCain to give it (or both) are the same ones badmouthing him to Politico?

It’s depressingly familiar. This is the same sort of problem that hurt Fred Thompson’s campaign badly, when purported “aides” and “advisers” were -- on the day of the Iowa caucus -- leaking the falsehood that Thompson would drop out and endorse McCain if Thompson didn’t win Iowa.

It might even be the same guy. At this point, the best addition to McCain’s team might be a cloned version of CIA mole-hunter James Jesus Angleton.

I've often wondered about these "insiders" and "advisors" who leak harmful information to the press or make harmful claims.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Leadership starts at the top. If McCain isn't the captain of his own ship, how can he be trusted to command the whole fleet?

Once again, another senator demonstrates why so few who have served so long in government bureaucracies can make the transition to executive leadership. Leadership requires more than popular opposition, witty sound bites and contrived photo ops.

Lead, follow or get out of the way.


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