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Disturbing Campaign News Round-Up

10:45 AM, May 15, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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Above is John McCain's new campaign ad. In spite of Powers Boothe's stirring narration, I have to confess to being less than thrilled with the spot. The ad boasts that at the end of John McCain's first term, the Middle East will be "stabilized," the nuclear terror threat "reduced," border security "strengthened," energy independence "advanced," wasteful spending "reformed," healthcare choice "delivered' and economic confidence also "restored." Who knows? Maybe the influence of a McCain administration will even inspire the New England Patriots to win the next four Super Bowls.

Since all of these sound like swell things, you might wonder what's my beef. The problem is Barack Obama could run the exact same ad. Obama also wants the Middle East "stabilized" and energy independence "advanced." The difference between the two candidates lies in what they would do to make such things happen.

To wit, Obama's plan to restore economic confidence includes raising taxes. McCain's doesn't. This ad is literally devoid of substantive ideas, and refuses to draw any contrasts between the two candidates. If the two candidates stand for exactly the same things, in this year of all years the one without an "R" after his name is a long shot.

In other disturbing news, Rasmussen's tracking numbers continue to show Obama with a one point lead over McCain. The fact that the deficit is only a single point is actually good news. The bad news is found in the internals: "Obama is supported by 71% of Democrats, McCain by 80% of Republicans." Chances are, a bunch of those Democrats will come home after their bitter primary season has become a memory.

Rasmussen also notes, "It is amazing that McCain remains competitive at all in a year where the fundamentals so heavily favor the Democrats." True enough. Quite by accident, the Republican party has managed to nominate its only candidate with a chance of winning the general election. A more traditional Republican or one that the public more closely associates with the tattered Republican brand would have almost no shot.

But McCain does have a shot. If, however, he runs a race trying to be "Barack Obama Light" (if you can imagine such a weightless creature), his chances will evaporate in a hurry.