From NBC's coverage of its new poll showing a substantial Obama lead:

“The 200-pound ball and chain around McCain’s foot is George W. Bush,” Hart says. “Unless he figures out a way to cut it loose, he’s going to be dragging it throughout this election.”

This tends to get discussed in quasi-mystical terms, like nobody can say what would suffice to cut McCain loose from Bush. But it would really be quite easy. The crux of the matter is that most voters think Bush has been a bad president and would like to see different policies implemented. Obama goes out on the campaign trail, says Bush has been a bad president, and then proposes policies that are different from Bush's.

John McCain could do this, too!

But he doesn't say Bush has been a bad president. He campaigned for Bush in 2000 and even more so campaigned for his re-election in 2004. He seems to have no regrets about that. On the trail, he's made continuing Bush's Iraq policies the centerpiece of his campaign. At the heart of his economic agenda is extending Bush's tax policies and his health care agenda is the same as Bush's. He joined Bush in opposing the Climate Security Act, endorses Bush's approach to Iran, and agrees with Bush that no action should be taken to provide people with viable alternatives to driving. Consequently, he's got this 200-pound ball and chain around his leg. But he could cut it off easily enough. The trouble is that his substantive views seem to be very similar to Bush's and he's dependent on the financial and logistical support of a very similar interest group coalition to the one behind Bush.

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