The cornerstone of so-called Rovian politics is "attack your opponent on his strengths." At its most basic, perfect level, it means attack war hero John Kerry for being a spineless anti-American coward. McCain tried it early this season: Obama is popular and energizing, just like a dumb blonde celebrity. Everyone cooed and said "oh good one Mr. McCain." But that line wasn't enough to get McCain through the end of the summer, let alone the fall. So now, yes, Steve Schmidt and John McCain have developed and employed a brilliant new twist on Karl Rove's old dictum: attack your opponent on your own weaknesses! In McCain's terrible new speech today on how none of us know who this mysterious and dangerous terrorist Barack Obama actually is, he says, literally, that Obama gets "touchy" and "angry" whenever he's attacked or criticized or accused of lying. As Josh Marshall points out, this is called "projection," because Obama actually remains infuriatingly cool and collected in the face of things that would drive us insane. Meanwhile, McCain is notorious for his temper, for his pettiness, and for his grudges. So naturally McCain found that he was being criticized by everyone for lying all the time, and he decided that meant that he was hitting a nerve with Obama (and not just all the dudes in the press who used to have man-crushes on him), and decided further to expand this into a whole new line of attack. A line of attack based entirely on projection. So when we said "a brilliant new twist on Karl Rove's old dictum" what we actually meant was "a sad foray into the extreme disconnect between perception and reality that is probably the logical conclusion of Rovian politics."
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