Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ghostly Candidates, Guerilla Campaigns

In the new Gallup Poll, the front runners are unchanged, but each party has a candidate with a ghostly image that is slowly fading out.

The desperate situation of John Edwards and John McCain calls for a strategic change, and one of them has already started on his version of a guerilla campaign.

Edwards is on a “poverty tour” that may have been inspired by Robert Kennedy's trip in 1968 and, going even further back, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” the photographs and text that focused attention on tenant farmers in Alabama in 1936.

“By telling their stories to the rest of the nation,” Edwards’ campaign says of the impoverished he will be visiting, “the tour will attempt to shed light on the new faces of poverty in America.”

Ironically, both efforts to make the poor visible had their roots in great wealth. Walker Evans and James Agee were assigned by Fortune, Henry Luce’s magazine for business leaders. Edwards is try to putting behind him publicity about expensive haircuts, lavish homes and high net worth.

The other desperate candidate, John McCain, is soldiering on despite staff casualties and falling behind Ron Paul in campaign funds. Wounded himself, he is weighed down further by a comatose lame-duck president around his neck.

McCain has tried going to Iraq and strolling around. Perhaps his next move should be going back there, embedding himself with the troops and becoming their champion in the final days of the fiasco to dramatize that he has their welfare at heart and his contention that they would be in a better situation if Bush had listened to McCain earlier and managed the war properly.

In doing this, McCain could stop the hemorrhaging of cash, separate himself from Giuliani and Thompson, and keep the news spotlight on what brought him into public life, his image as a soldier-hero.

In 1952, retired Gen. Dwight Eisenhower clinched his election by announcing, “I will go to Korea.” It might not work, but McCain’s best bet could be to emulate him by going to Iraq and waging a guerrilla presidential campaign from there.

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