If at first you don’t succeed….

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…. The Politico’s Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin report today on the next arrow in the McCain campaign’s quiver.

As part of a plan to reinvigorate his flagging campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is considering additional economic measures aimed directly at the middle class that are likely to be rolled out this week, campaign officials said.

Among the measures being considered are tax cuts — perhaps temporary — for capital gains and dividends, the officials said.

There’s quite a bit wrong with this. First, as Hilzoy noted over night, Americans aren’t exactly worried right now about “how they’ll manage to pay the taxes on their massive capital gains.”

Second, as Brad DeLong explained, the reporting itself is flawed: “Capital gains and dividend tax cuts are simply not ‘economic measures aimed directly at the middle class’: the middle class doesn’t collect capital gains, or dividends, in any material amount.”

And third, is it me or is the McCain campaign deliberately trying to reinforce the “erratic” meme the Obama campaign has been pushing? Since the financial crisis began in earnest, consider just how many responses McCain has offered the public: he was for and against the AIG bailout on successive days; he wanted to see Chris Cox fired; he wanted a commission to study what had gone wrong; he pretended to “suspend” his campaign; he said earmarks are the real problem; he unveiled a “Homeowner Resurgence Plan.”

In each instance, McCain seemed very excited about his latest thought, touted it for about a day, faced resistance from those who pointed out that McCain didn’t appear to know what he was talking about; and then forgot about his idea soon after. A day or two later, he’d start the cycle over again with some new idea.

Now he’s poised to offer yet another proposal, based at least in part on tax cuts on capital gains that don’t actually exist in the midst of a financial collapse.

McCain has simply gone from one ridiculous notion to another, flailing around, desperately looking for something coherent to say. It’s not working.

The Politico added, “McCain’s new package would amount to a do-over from the hasty introduction of McCain’s mortgage buy-up program.”

We’re 23 days from Election Day, and McCain is looking for “do-overs” on economic policy in the middle of a financial crisis? Seriously?

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.