Listen to Kristol

John McCain really should take Bill Kristol’s advice in his NYT column today and fire his entire campaign. You know, for the good of the country.

It’s time for John McCain to fire his campaign.

He has nothing to lose. His campaign is totally overmatched by Obama’s. The Obama team is well organized, flush with resources, and the candidate and the campaign are in sync. The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic. If the race continues over the next three weeks to be a conventional one, McCain is doomed.

He may be anyway. Bush is unpopular. The media is hostile. The financial meltdown has made things tougher. Maybe the situation is hopeless — and if it is, then nothing McCain or his campaign does matters.

Kristol really strikes me as of the same ilk as all those Tom Friedman and Nick Kristof columns, proclaiming the path the Bush administration should take in Iraq. At no point did the Bush administration ever listen to these columnists, but endorsements of particular plans by ostensibly liberal columnists gave the patina of approval to a failed war. Moreover, the columnists who penned articles that decision makers would never, ever listen to would be able to deploy the incompetence dodge when analyzing the war’s failure in hindsight (“We would have won in Iraq if Bush and Rumsfeld had listened to my column,” bemoans the columnist spurned).

That, to me, seems to be the main point of Kristol’s column today. He’s laying down a marker that might look great in hindsight and distance himself from the outcome of McCain’s campaign. But any analysis of whether Kristol was right in his column today from the vantage point of November 5th will be based around a counterfactual. It won’t be available for actually legitimizing Kristol in the ashes of the McCain campaign.

It’s also worth mentioning that one reason Kristol would be wanting to innoculate himself from the downfall of John McCain and the Republican Party is that he played a critical role in the formation of this ticket. According to Scott Horton, Kristol was the key advocate for Sarah Palin’s vice presidential pick and in so doing, he defeated Karl Rove’s push for Mitt Romney. Given that Palin has been a complete flop outside the Republican base, Kristol will be well served to place distance from the terminal McCain campaign.

I say McCain should take Kristol’s advice. It will succeed in doing two things: electing Barack Obama president and putting the nail in the coffin of Bill Kristol’s reputation. It would be impossible for McCain to operate, let alone win, with complete staff turnover today. It would be impossible for them to buy tv time and plan town halls, as Kristol suggests McCain do, with the termination of the entire campaign. But by all means, John McCain should take Kristol’s advice. The country will be far better off if he does.

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