Sidney Blumenthal Argues Against Running Against McCain as Bush III

Add Sidney Blumenthal to the list of people who agree with my belief that the Democrats are making a mistake in campaigning against George Bush as opposed to specifically against John McCain. From Washington Whispers:

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and strategist for Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, went “off message” (his words) today with a warning to his party: Don’t run against GOP nominee John McCain by painting him as Bush III, because he’s not. Bucking the Democratic National Committee’s talking points that characterize a potential McCain administration as tantamount to a third Bush term, Blumenthal told our Liz Halloran that running on that strategy in the fall would be a mistake. “I understand people’s political reasons for doing that,” he said. “I think it’s more helpful to describe [political opponents] as they are.” Bottom line, Blumenthal calls the strategy “a mistake and adds: “The public doesn’t see [McCain] that way. That’s a hard sell.” At an event to promote his new book, The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party, Blumenthal also predicted that McCain has “lots of room to maneuver” politically before the fall election. What hurts the presumed Republican nominee? His need, Blumenthal says, to reassure conservative Republicans about the kind of nominees he’d make to the Supreme Court.

There are certainly areas where McCain can be compared to Bush, such as on Iraq as well as on potential Supreme Court nominees. There are also significant differences and if the major argument against McCain is that he is another George Bush there is plenty of room for him to convince voters otherwise.


  1. 1
    chris says:

    I agree that it is a total mistake to try and paint McCain as Bush III. The perception among most Republicans and many centrist people paying attention is that McCain can’t stand Bush and would be the opposite as President. Meanwhile the Democrats have a perception of their own that needs addressing. In many people’s minds they have devolved into the Party that is against things (like Bush) but is not for anything. It is more important for the Democratic nominee to spell out what they stand for (and not buzzwords like “change” and “hope”) than it is to keep hammering away at what they don’t like.

  2. 2
    LJ Washington says:

    Mccain is not “Dubya.” Obama could easily defeat Bush if Bush was running for a third term but he isn’t. That is the folly of Dems’ strategy. Mccain represents a change precisely because Bush is not running. But more importantly, Mccain represent an opportunity for reform.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    McCain does represent an opportunity for reform to some degree. Unfortunately in other areas it will be more of the same. I’d rather campaign against McCain based upon areas where he is wrong (including areas where he offers more of the same) but will also acknowledge that in some areas McCain will probably be much better than Bush.

    Obama could easily defeat Bush, and so could virtually anyone else. Unfortunately for the Democrats they must campaign against their actual opponent.

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