Krauthammer, Barnes: McCain's going down

A progress report on where the conservative universe stands within the Kubler-Ross paradigm. The grassroots? Locked until election day in stage one. The big A? Mired perpetually in stage four (stage three isn’t available to atheists). Krauthammer and Barnes? Snug in stage five, no longer fearing the reaper. Their reasons are different — CK thinks America needs a break from drama and FB thinks it’s the economy, stupid — but the upshot is the same:

It’s time to start transitioning to Jindalmania.

In the primary campaign, Obama was cool as in hip. Now Obama is cool as in collected. He has the discipline to let slow and steady carry him to victory. He has not at all distinguished himself in this economic crisis — nor, one might add, in any other during his national career — but detachment has served him well. He understands that this election, like the election of 1980, demands only one thing of the challenger: Make yourself acceptable. Once Ronald Reagan convinced America that he was not menacing, he won in a landslide. If Obama convinces the electorate that he is not too exotic or green or unprepared, he wins as well…

Part of reassurance is intellectual. Like Palin, he’s a rookie, but in his 19 months on the national stage he has achieved fluency in areas in which he has no experience. In the foreign policy debate with McCain, as in his July news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama held his own — fluid, familiar and therefore plausibly presidential.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said of Franklin Roosevelt that he had a “second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament.” Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self-definition — do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he’s got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.

For what it’s worth, not one but two righty bloggers have told me recently that if there’s any redeeming value to an Obama presidency, it’ll be along the temperamental lines Krauthammer suggests. As for Barnes, here’s the lay-up:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is there any way McCain can redeem himself?

BARNES: The bailout plan is probably going to pass on Friday. It might work for him that his imprint will be on it. But the economic crisis has probably doomed McCain’s campaign. Look at the polls: Obama is ahead now nationally and in most battleground states. It might not be fair. McCain tried to do something and now he’s getting punished for it. Obama didn’t do much. But politics is not always fair.

What about Maverick pulling a rabbit out of the hat and attacking Obama for the Democrats’ role in the Fannie/Freddie financial crisis? Ace is fantasizing but James Pethokoukis at U.S. News says it’s a pipe dream: Sources inside Team Maverick tell him that McCain has to step lightly on the CRA thanks to the left’s racial demagoguery and to the fact that it’s a complex economic issue and explaining complex economic issues isn’t his strong suit. Exit question: Er, at this point, what does McCain have to lose? How else can he make up four or five points in the national polls? Palin’s performance may help at the margin, but the CBS and CNN data wasn’t encouraging and people tend not to care too much about VP anyway. McCain’s got two debates left to diminish The One, but it’s hard to imagine what he could do or say at this point to give people a window onto Obama that they don’t already have. Presumably we’re in for a nonstop barrage of Wright/Ayers ads in the last two weeks before the election, but since he’s going to get demagogued for that anyway, why not focus on Frank, Dodd, and the CRA instead?

Update: Per Ace and Pethokoukis, Michael Barone wonders where Palin was last night on the Dems and Fannie/Freddie.

I have one major criticism of Palin’s performance. She failed to pound home one important argument that the McCain campaign has unaccountably failed to make. She did point out briefly that McCain sought in 2005 to impose tighter regulation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that Democrats opposed this Republican move. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac then proceeded to encourage the issuance of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, injecting toxic waste into financial institutions of all kinds. Politicians of both parties share responsibility for widening home ownership further than should have been done. But Democrats can be fairly blamed for failing to rein in Fannie and Freddie. Here the case is laid out by my American Enterprise Institute colleagues Peter Wallison and Charles Calomiris. And two British writers, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Dominic Lawson and the Times of London’s Gerard Baker, have done a better job on this issue than almost any of their American counterparts.

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