I just finished watching the vice-presidential debate between Joseph Biden and Sarah Palin, and the line that sticks in my mind is the one Palin recited (I don't give her any credit for any original thoughts) after Biden described McCain's voting history, because Palin said, "There you go again, looking backwards."
The biggest challenge of the McCain campaign is that is must distance itself from both the past and the present. The past is the record of the Republican party, which has controlled Congress for 10 0f the last 12 years, the record of John McCain, who has been in the Senate for the last 26 years, and the record of George W. Bush, who has been President for the last 7 years. The present is the platform of John McCain, which is a platform of increasing tax breaks for the wealthy, continued dependence on fossil fuels, and the continuation of a unilateral foreign policy based on military force.
The promise of the McCain-Palin campaign is that we didn't really mean what we did in the past, we don't mean what we say about the present, and we're going to do something different in the future. Just trust us.
And Joe Biden had the correct response, which is that the past is prologue.