Can Someone Please Give Obama the "John McSame" Memo?

So, here's the thing: In an election when every Democrat and/or progressive is angling to make the case that a McCain presidency would effectively be a third Bush term (which is no exaggeration, given his stances on the war, torture, tax cuts, LGBTQ- and reproductive rights, faithfulness to cronyism, unwillingness to hear criticism, newfound tolerance for the dirtiest politics, etc. etc. etc.), this would be the totally. wrong. thing. to. say:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Sunday that Republican rival John McCain would be better for the country than President Bush has been over the past eight years.

"You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain," Obama said to cheers from a rowdy crowd in central Pennsylvania. Then he said: "And all three of us would be better than George Bush."

What really irritates me most about that statement is that it's just. not. true. McCain wouldn't be better than Bush. Not now. Perhaps, if he'd won his party's nomination in 2000, and then won (or "won" like Bush) the election, the country would have been better served. But in the intervening years, the country has changed, the Republican Party has changed, and John McCain has changed. And now he will, without question, be every bit as bad as George Bush and, in some ways, quite possibly worse. Obama totally undermined the Democrats' best case against McCain to say something that's not even accurate.

It was hella stupid for several reasons (not least of which is giving even an inch to McCain, which he doesn't deserve) when Hillary Clinton said that McCain could "cross the commander-in-chief threshold," but at least it didn't subvert the "McSame" narrative. And yeah, Obama went on to add: "But what you have to ask yourself is who has the chance to actually really change things in a fundamental way so that 10 years from now or 20 years from now you can look back and you can say boy we really moved in a new direction and we put the country on a better path," but I'll give you one guess as to whether that's going to make the sound bite if Obama wins the nomination and he, or any other Democrat, tries to make the case that McCain is Bush Part Three.

There are countless Republicans, Conservatives, and fellow-traveling Independents who know that George Bush has been a disaster. They want him gone as much as the rest of us do. But they don't agree on the reasons. It may have dawned on some of them that Bush has been such a spectacular failure not because he's not a compassionate conservative, but because he's a conservative period and they might be considering voting for a Democrat for the first time in their lives because they're coming around to the idea that Democratic and liberal positions are saner, wiser, more economic, more practical, and better all around for the country. But most of the rest are thinking, It's that goddamn Bush! And they're considering voting for not Obama, not Clinton, but Not-Bush.

They're willing to put up with President Not-Bush for four years, if the only President Not-Bush they can have is a Democrat.

But they'd rather have a President Not-Bush who's also not a liberal.

Now Obama has gone and told them that there is another, Republican Not-Bush. A conservative Not-Bush.
That's the Republican message. That's also the mainstream media's message. It is not the Democratic message.

Someone get Obama back on message, stat.

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