I know I'm not the most objective analyst of the McCain campaign, but are they insane?
The plunge by McCain's poll numbers corresponds strongly to the trials and tribulations of the stock market, which demonstrates that the economy is the issue on which most voters are basing their decisinos. The Dow was down another 678 points today, bringing its total losses to over 40% from its peak a year ago (I mis-subtracted in an earlier post when I said it was 14,164 two years ago). And he responds by releasing his first ad which mentions Bill Ayers. Caring about politicians' personal lives was all well and good back in the 90's when we had surpluses and low unemployment as far as the eye can see. But if McCain thinks voters are going to move to him in any significant numbers on the basis of such guilt-by-association tactics, he is sadly mistaken.
To McCain's credit, his campaign has not been entirely focused on personal attacks, but even his policy efforts have demonstrated poor understanding of what is important to voters. During the most recent debate, he unveiled a plan to have the Treasury buy bad mortgages and renegotiate the terms with homeowners, giving banks more money to stay in business and letting people stay in their homes. Sounds good, actually, if you ignore the enormous cost and the fact that, thanks to CDOs, it's pretty much impossible to buy a specific mortgage. Today, McCain clarified that he intends to buy the mortgages at their full price, for some reason. Let's say you loan me $250,000 so I can, using my $50,000 downpayment, buy a $300,000 house. In the years that people had money and the economy didn't suck, I repaid you $50,000, plus interest. So I still owe you $200,000. But now housing prices suck, and I can't refinance my house, so I can't pay you anymore. Bad for you, bad for me, and bad for the economy. So McCain wants the government to step in and buy the mortgage. Instead of reducing the amount he would give you for your loan made to a deadbeat (me) to reflect the general crappiness of your investment, McCain wants to give you the full $200,000. So, instead of banks losing money for making bad investments, he wants to entirely, completely replace the banks' losses using taxpayers' money. This plan goes even further than the already-passed bailout bill in giving tax dollars to Wall Street. That McCain thinks this is a winning strategy demonstrates how clueless his campaign has become.