Worst Messaging Ever

Okay, if I were trying to sell you something, like, maybe a car, I would go about it a certain way.  I would talk about its advantages; I would talk about maybe the great gas mileage or maybe the cozy interior, or the sweet racing stripes.

What I would not do was tell you that the car was likely to roll if you turned at speeds higher than five mph, or that there was a reasonable chance it could spontaneously combust for no good reason at all.  That’s just not very good marketing.

To say that the McCain campaign has had a problem with messaging since day one would be something of an understatement.  It’s not just that they have a hard time striking the right theme, but that they often times cough up the rock on silly things.  Things like, “The fundamentals of the economy are still strong,” or Carly Fiorina insisting that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin could successfully run Hewlitt Packard.

One such violator would be Doug “McCain invented the Blackberry” Holtz-Eakin.  Holtz-Eakin, primarily a campaign advisor that should never have been introduced to a microphone, seems to be particularly sound bite clumsy, providing yet another damaging quote regarding McCain’s health care plan:

Younger, healthier workers likely wouldn’t abandon their company-sponsored plans, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s senior economic policy adviser.

“Why would they leave?” said Holtz-Eakin. “What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit.”

Shorter: McCain’s healthcare plan really isn’t a plan at all.  It’s a tax credit that would provide no improvement on our existing healthcare infrastructure in the US right now.

Now, those who are far more knowledgeable on healthcare reform than I am have already pretty much passed verdict on McCain’s healthcare policy and the word is not encouraging for those who are actually looking to expand healthcare in this country.

But what strikes me (primarily a political analyst) so much is the political clumsiness of it all.  He’s not even trying to sugar coat the policy, and instead delves straight into ideological packaging.  For the McCain campaign this is a microcosmic example of the messaging we have seen this election cycle; one that is confused in nature, jumping back and forth from Republican populism to deep movement conservative orthodoxy.

But on an even larger scale we see a hint of what’s going on in the Republican party in general; there is a core group who’s school of thought is not that there is something flawed about the ideology, but instead that the failure of the Republican party has been that it is not being driven enough by ideology.  The great irony being that modern conservative orthodoxy is what put Republicans where they currently are, but they think the only solution is more modern conservative orthodoxy.

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