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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Team McCain–All Over the Place

A post from Ed yesterday noted that the recent complaining about Barack Obama’s “presumptuous” transition planning would be better directed to the signs of disorganization and infighting being exhibited by John McCain’s staff and advisors. In the Politico today, Kenneth P. Vogel runs down the list of policy issues on which McCain and his advisors have been at odds, though the story gets a little confusing thanks to McCain’s various flip-flops. Here’s the nut graph:

McCain has staked out an eclectic and occasionally politically inconvenient hodgepodge of policy positions that has bucked the Republican line on some issues, backed it on others and — on still others — gone from bucking it to backing it. Keeping him on message would be a challenge for the most unified chorus of advisers — and Team McCain is hardly that.

Vogel tries to do the “on the other hand” thing by searching for similar divisions in the Obama ranks, without a whole lot of success.
The most intriguing set of conflicts within Team McCain involves “senior advisor” Carly Fiorina, the very former HP exec who has occasionally made lists of potential running-mates for the GOP candidate:

Fiorina also has found herself at ideological odds with McCain on key issues.
McCain stumbled when asked about her suggestion this month that insurance companies should cover birth control prescriptions. In recent years, McCain has voted against requiring such coverage. The campaign subsequently clarified that McCain opposes all insurance mandates and contended that Fiorina’s comments were consistent with that stance.
And Fiorina this month suggested that McCain might be open to new taxes on the wealthy, which conflicts with McCain’s own pledges not to consider any new taxes.
This week, though, McCain signaled he might be willing to consider raising payroll taxes for Social Security. Then on Tuesday, he sternly said, “No,” when asked at a Nevada event if he would raise taxes as president.

All in all, it looks like McCain has definitively distinguished himself from George W. Bush in one respect: the famous discipline of W.’s retinue is nowhere to be found in Team McCain.

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