THE PLANK JULY 11, 2008
TNR.com loves the smell of policy reversals in the morning. This week, John McCain promised to balance the budget while calling for massive tax cuts--a highly dishonest act that Jonathan Chait likened to the death of irony. Then McCain shamelessly exaggerated how much economists support his plan and talked out of both sides of his mouth on cap-and-trade.
Luckily, the candidates were rescued by distractions--in the form of Whinergate and Castrationgate. Noam Scheiber invoked Michael Kinsley to explain Phil Gramm's impolitic remarks. Jamie Kirchick and Jason Zengerle dug up old Jesse Jackson gaffes, while Crowley added a few doses of perspective. After all, sometimes "a castration threat is just a castration threat." Eve Fairbanks decried the influence of so many loose-lipped surrogates on the election season.
But who do the distractions benefit? Chait thinks McCain's flip-flop attacks are capable of eroding Obama's credibility; but Noam says they may redound to Obama's advantage--and Noam and Chris Orr both think campaign distractions are good for Obama.