Mastering the Art of Losing

I’m not sure Matt isn’t wrong in his criticism of Matt’s scoffing at McCain’s upbeat talk about the status-of-forces negotiation going on. But I don’t know how useful it is to be cute about this sort of thing if the Democrats actually call him on it. From one perspective, it may be good that opposition to a long-term U.S. presence is uniting Iraqis. But not if a long-term presence is one of the U.S.‘s primary objectives! In other words, McCain can only make the sotto voce claim Matt Feeney thinks he hears to the extent that he is willing to be obscure about what, actually, we’re doing in Iraq. Which is a point the Obama campaign could easily make, and win with.

More to the point, it’s a point Matt Yglesias can make. I’m genuinely surprised at how much Yglesias likes going in for the “McCain is senile,” “McCain is ignorant” and “McCain is dim” memes. Has he not noticed that almost precisely these attacks backfired badly when deployed against Reagan and against the current occupant of the office? All he’s doing is lowering the bar so that any time something McCain says can be interpreted to be canny, it discredits a whole line of attack against him.

If the Democrats really want to win this year, they’ll steer clear of giving McCain easy opportunities to do the kind of ju-jitsu that the GOP has always excelled at. Walking around like you’ve got your SAT scores tattooed on your schvantz is an excellent way to lose elections in America.