McCain’s One Note Campaign

fred-thompson4.jpgToday, Team McCain continued to try to make an issue out of Barack Obama’s wild suggestion that America can fight terrorism without discarding the U.S. Constitution. It’s now exceedingly clear that, whatever else candidate McCain has going on, every day is a national security day.

Exhibiting the sort of message discipline for which McCain’s campaign is becoming known, today’s conference call attacking Obama’s anti-terrorism policy began with a statement attacking Obama’s withdrawal from public financing. Then Randy Scheunemann turned it over to D.A. Arthur Branch former Senator Fred Thompson, who first attacked the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene — claiming that the Court had created a “new right,” when in fact habeas corpus is one of the oldest rights there is — and then suggested that Obama had “extrapolated” his entire anti-terrorism policy from the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspirators.

The truth, of course, is that the ones who have extrapolated a position here are Team McCain and their surrogates. On Tuesday, Team McCain held a conference call with, among others, former CIA director and noted conspiracy theorist James Woolsey. Yesterday, batting for McCain was Rudy Giuliani, of whom John McCain previously said “I know of nothing in his background that indicates that he has any [national security] experience.” And then today we had Fred Thompson, who said last fall that McCain was “clearly moving away from what I consider to be the sound constitutional, traditional principles that the Reagan coalition was founded upon,” slamming Obama’s adherence to constitutional principles. In the space of three conference calls over three days, Team McCain has proffered these surrogates to construct an elaborate alternate reality version of Obama’s policy, I suppose because it’s easier for them to argue with.

And it’s easy to understand why: Like George W. Bush, John McCain thinks that the conflict with Islamic extremism is best understood as a war, a war can be won by the steady and relentless application of military force. Like George W. Bush, McCain continues to insist that an appropriate response to the 9/11 attacks was to redirect America’s attention and resources away from those responsible for the 9/11 attacks in order to invade and occupy a country that had no connection to the 9/11 attacks. And like George W. Bush, McCain believes that the effective prosecution of this war requires freeing the executive branch from such pointless legal mumbo jumbo as the Magna Carta. The fact that each of these policies have, in the years since 9/11, produced disastrous results for America’s security, its interests, and its reputation is what’s known in political lingo as a “problem” for the candidate.