Churchill and McCain

It's weird but when reflecting on the Palin/McCain "pals around with terrorists" strategy, I keep thinking of that Churchill quote about having to choose between war and dishonor, and how choosing dishonor ultimately leads to both. Here is what last week wrought for John McCain:

Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking. Over all, the poll found that if the election were held today, 53 percent of those determined to be probable voters said they would vote for Mr. Obama and 39 percent said they would vote for Mr. McCain.

At the risk of repeating myself I'll say, again, that we, as liberals, are shook. We think that bringing up Ayers and Wright is evidence of a kind of toughness and steely strength that we lack. In general, and specifically in this case, I see it exactly the other way. McCain and Palin are afraid of a fight on the terms that most voters want--the economy. They don't want war with Obama over who has the best economic policy--and they've admitted as much. But they can't even honestly fight that battle, because they don't want their general to get bloody. So they dispatch his wife and other clueless surrogates to do what the general is afraid to do himself. When you are scared to fight on issues, and scared to attack on the terrain you've identified, I don't know how that makes you tough, strong or any of that. It makes you dishonorable. And, in these times, you won't be able to duck the war. Indeed, as Churchill said, you will have both.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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