You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia.’ But only slightly less well known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.’
You can add one to that. When the only guy in the race that can hurt you is down, you need to make sure that guy doesn’t get back up.
I was trading e-mail with someone who asked what I thought of McCain’s ascendancy. While I think the story of his comeback is impressive, I think the story of Rudy’s failure is even more impressive.
When the story of 2008 is written, and Rudy Giuliani’s campaign is analyzed, I think they’ll actually find two great mistakes. The obvious mistake of writing off the early states is the first. The second, and less obvious though, is the mistake of not engaging McCain directly and not doing it last July.
McCain was the only person in the race with better credentials on National Security than Rudy. He had argued for the surge when it was politically unpopular, he had stuck to his guns and not made equivocating statements about it. He was also a POW and war hero. Other than that, on paper they were very similar with a spotty history of principled conservatism and a lot of baggage. To let McCain cruise through five states before trying to engage was a mistake. Rudy had one opponent he absolutely had to knock down before his Florida & 2/5 strategy would work, and that’s McCain.
They should have taken every opportunity to blow McCain out of the water last June. On July 1, it should have been the highest priority to go after his donors and go after his supporters hardcore. They needed to do whatever they had to do. By not taking the opportunity to put the wounded badger out of his misery, they allowed him to heal and get pissed.
Rudy’s colossal blunder wasn’t yesterday, it was last July.