Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kristol uses up his last remaining cliches

I am reaching the point where I am almost starting to feel sorry for conservative columnists who are still in the McCain camp. At this point, what can they say? William Kristol, who at the very least tries to come up with creative ways of spouting nonsense, almost seems to be giving up. His latest column is a compendium of cliches. He has the wit to start with a quote attributed to a military leader - always fun to read.

After admitting that the Democrats are about to win in a rout - apparently he does have some meaningful relationship to reality - Kristol starts scraping the bottom of the barrel. But perhaps this is because he's used everything else in the barrel already.

Time for McCain to attack — or, rather, finally to make his case.

The heart of that case has to be this: reminding voters that when they elect a president, they’re not just electing a super-Treasury secretary or a higher-level head of Health and Human Services. They’re electing a commander in chief in time of war.
Right, because we haven't heard enough from John McCain over the last two years about his military service as a qualification for him to be President.

And then there's this paragraph, breathtaking in its inanity:

As for McCain, he needs to speak about America’s greatness and its future; about how the ingenuity and toughness of the American people will turn around this financial crisis just as the ingenuity of General Petraeus and the toughness of his fighting men and women turned around Iraq; about how America’s spirit was not undone by a terrorist attack, and will not be undone by a financial mess; about how the naysayers will once again be proved wrong; about how America will emerge from its troubles stronger than ever and will win its battles at home and abroad.
This is from William Kristol's new book, "Idiot's Guide To Political Speechwriting." Not that this is bad or silly advice. It's just Speechwriting 101. How about this idea from Speechwriting 102: Give a speech about How You Will Solve The Voters' Problems.

But to his credit, Kristol the eternal optimist tries to valiantly to make a case for being positive one last time:

McCain has a chance to close this election in a big and positive way. He has a chance to get voters to rise above the distractions and to set aside the petty aspects of the campaign. He has a chance to remind them why they have admired him, and perhaps to persuade them to vote for him on Nov. 4.

Would this turn things around? Unlikely. But why not take a shot?
At least someone is saying it. There are seven days left. Advising a candidate to remind voters of why they like him is about the most basic you can get. But I have to agree with Kristol: at this point, resorting to the tired, but tried and true, might be McCain's best chance.

I'm damning with faint praise here, but at least Kristol isn't blaming anyone but McCain for his looming defeat, and at least he isn't writing about the sniping between the various factions within the campaign. Maybe cliches are the best he can do.

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