The Obama Referendum

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This morning, Bob Novak pens a column explaining what nearly every Republican in town is thinking:

I asked one of the Republican Party’s smartest, most candid heavy hitters last week whether John McCain really has a chance to defeat Barack Obama in this season of Republican discontent. “No, if the campaign is about McCain,” he replied. “Yes, if it’s about Obama.”

As if on cue, the New York Times rejects a John McCain op-ed, after publishing a similar op-ed by Barack Obama. Why? Because McCain didn’t write about his own plan for Iraq as much as he wrote about why he thinks the Obama plan stinks. You can’t make this up.

“The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans,” writes the Times editor. “It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.”

But if McCain did that, he would be making the campaign about McCain. No Republican wants that. Better to leak the story to the Drudge.