But we all know that politics has as much to do with image as it does with policy. And right now, John McCain looks like the one floundering all over the place. Sure, he's gotten off a few workman-like 30-second ads. But he's also been quoted as saying the "fundamentals of the economy are strong." Now, as true as that may be on some fundamental level -- even Bloomberg has said this recently -- it's a bone-headed, stupid thing to say. Of course, the Obama campaign jumped all over it. As well it should have (from a purely tactical outlook).
And while Obama may seem to be slow in unleashing ads in response to this, it may be better for him. His style is to stick to the script, whereas McCain can't quite be controlled. In this scenario, McCain provides the Obama team the soundbites it needs while crafting a more considered response. Today, Obama unveiled a two-minute ad (see below) in which he sits down and basically has a chat with voters about the economy. More important, he comes off as talking about the economy they are familiar with -- the "I-just-had-to-put-milk-on-my-credit-card economy" as opposed to the "golden-parachutes-in-Manhattan" economy. "The truth is," Obama says, "that while you've been living up to your responsibilities, Washington has not. That's why we need change."
And while McCain is trying to appropriate the "change" theme, he's proposing what? A panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission to study the issue. Now, not only does that sound like the same old politics, it almost sounds like the same old Democratic politics from back in the early '80s. Let's conduct a study and throw more government money at it. That allowed Obama to come back with this response: "The last thing we need is a commission to study a problem that everyone but John McCain knows is the result of the failed economic policies he has championed for the last 26 years." Ouch.
UPDATE: McCain is trying his hand at talking directly to the people as well with a spot called "Foundation."