ALL NEWS IS GOOD NEWS FOR MCCAIN.... It's difficult to identify with any real certainty the single worst political analysis of the presidential campaign, but if you missed ABC News' "This Week" yesterday, you missed Time's Mark Halperin offering analysis that was so bizarre, it was tempting to think it was intended as satire. Only in this case, Halperin was serious.
For those of you who can't watch clips online, the roundtable discussion turned to the story about John McCain having so many homes, he can't remember how many he currently owns. "My hunch is this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates, but it's Barack Obama," Halperin argued, adding, "I believe that this opened the door to not just Tony Rezko in that ad, but to bring up Reverend Wright, to bring up his relationship with Bill Ayers."
It was so odd, host George Stephanopoulos said, on the air, "I'm having a little trouble following your argument." Stephanopoulos wasn't the only one.
Pressed on the notion that McCain, who's run a relentlessly negative campaign in recent months, was going to go after Rezko, Wright, and Ayers anyway, Halperin, who apparently has been watching a presidential race in a parallel universe, insisted, "I think it would have been hard for John McCain, given the way he says he's going to run his campaign, to do all this stuff without the door being opened."
Really? Because McCain and his campaign have been attacking Obama's character, integrity, and patriotism pretty much non-stop for months, and no one "opened the door" to make that happen. Indeed, McCain didn't even need a nudge to be relentlessly negative -- as Kevin explained, McCain hired Karl Rove's team to run his campaign operation for a reason.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with Halperin's mind-numbing commentary is the underlying strategic message it offers Obama: If McCain makes a humiliating mistake, don't say anything. If you do, you'll get smeared and you'll deserve it. Even if McCain accuses you of treason, don't fight back. It'll only empower McCain to take the campaign even further into the gutter.
Josh Marshall added, "It's a very tough standard, but I think this may be the stupidest thing Halperin has ever said. (Yes, I know, I know...) The McCain folks must be both loving and laughing at the guy at the same time."
I suppose it's possible we'll see worse political analysis at some point this year, but after watching Halperin yesterday, it's hard to imagine what it would be.
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