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Is The Flip-flop Attack Working?

National Review editor Rich Lowry has an interesting chat with a Republican strategist:

Just talked to a Republican strategist whose judgment I trust. He's despairing about Republican prospects in the Fall. He thinks Republicans will lose "a minimum" of 25 seats in the House and "a minimum" of 5 seats in the Senate, and probably closer to 7. But he's feeling better about the presidential race than a week ago because: 1) he thinks Steve Schmidt is going to make a big difference; 2) he hears that $80 million is going to be devoted to an anti-Obama 527; 3) in general, the financial disparity between McCain and Obama is not going to be as large as first feared. Although he thinks this could be shaping up like the 1980 race, and if people get comfortable with Obama the way they did with Reagan, it's all over. But he likes the way the McCain people gave been driving Obama on flip-flops, toward the goal of making him appear too duplicitous and too immature to be trusted with the presidency.

I bolded the part at the end because it touches on the exchange Noam and I had over whether the flip-flop attack can work for McCain. One of my points was that, if it sticks, the flip-flopper image can be used to undermine Obama's credibility and leech over into other areas. This GOP strategist certainly sees this as the goal.

Noam and I also debated whether or not McCain's staggering hypocrisy on this point would catch up to him. McCain's list of policy reversals --  all of which were well-timed to position him for the 2008 GOP primary -- is unquestionably far longer and deeper than Obama's. Noam was confident the press corps would latch onto this:

This journalistic norm will ensure that, by Election Day, McCain will have ginned up at least as many stories highlighting his own expedient maneuvering as Obama's.

Sp far, I don't see anything like this happening.

Again, McCain is in a tough spot regardless of what he does, and the flip-flop attack certainly isn't the most damaging criticism against Obama. I do think, however, that it's a viable bridge for other attacks.

--Jonathan Chait