imageOn the Strickland campaign, one of our daily traditions was to judge each day as either a feather in our cap or a black eye. Net positive day was a feather, net negative was a black eye. Unfortunately, we lacked a symbol for repeatedly kicking ourselves in the crotch.

The latest salvo: A statement from Michael J. Durant, the retired Army helicopter pilot who was shot down over Somalia in the incident that would later be made famous in the book and move, "Black Hawk Down."

"Over the last week, Barack Obama made time in his busy schedule to hold a rally with 200,000 Germans in Berlin, hold a press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris, and hold a solo press conference in front of 10 Downing Street in London. The Obama campaign had also scheduled a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, but this stop was canceled after it became clear that campaign staff, and the traveling press corps, would not be allowed to accompany Senator Obama.

"I've spent time at Ramstein recovering from wounds received in the service of my country, and I'm sure that Senator Obama could have made no better use of his time than to meet with our men and women in uniform there. That Barack Obama believes otherwise casts serious doubt on his judgment and calls into question his priorities."

Besides the fact that this has been explained repeatedly, McCain insists on hammering it to death. And every time he does, it just makes him look worse. There is, of course, the ad he ran saying Obama skipped visiting troops to go visit troops. But there's also his insistence on toting out veterans to not only lie, but to, quite frankly, embarrass their own record of service by attacking a politician for respecting the Pentagon's rules and not bringing political operatives to a military hospital. The "analysis", of course, is only good for McCain:

This issue strikes me in two ways.

First, as being potentially very effective. Like John Kerry's actions after he returned from Vietnam, this incident, as it's being portrayed, offers a real-life example of a message that Republicans are usually limited to driving by way of obscure spending bills: that Democrats have no regard for our military. And in Obama's case, it gets at both the above and below ground raps on him: that, respectively, he's too cool for school and that he's insufficiently American.

Second, as something that liberal elites (or Chuck Hagel) will hate McCain for using. They'd rather see the maverick McCain they once loved lose than win ugly against the new object of their affection. Karl Rove and George W. Bush wouldn't (and didn't) care what these people thought about their tactics.

Which will win out in McCainworld?

The beauty of being John McCain: you either run the risk of painting your opponent as an anti-American elitist or you run the risk of alienating the mushy-headed anti-American elitists who once thought you were the bee's knees. On the plus side, though, you also get to trot out political operatives to take a giant piss all over our wounded veterans in order to score cheap political points against a guy who wouldn't have had them be wounded in the first place.