Stages of the Campaign: Where does the presidential race stand?

Sun Tzu's strategy defines nine common strategic situations to which we must respond. They are defined as types of terrain: scattering, easy, disputed, open, intersecting, dangerous, bad, confined, and deadly. Each requires a specific response. Right now, the two candidates are in very different stages in their campaigns. McCain is on an intersecting terrain, which means that he has the opportunity to solidify alliances. Obama is on bad terrain, which means there are a lot of pitfalls that he must avoid. Needless to say, you want to be on the former, rather than the later. For example, McCain took advantage of his current position at Saddleback, where he solidified his alliances with Christian conservatives. Obama tried to build a bridge there as well, but as we saw, his position demanded that he avoid pitfalls such as the abortion issue. Because of the ground he is on, McCain can only get in trouble if he makes the wrong alliances, for example, with the Democrats by picking Lieberman as his VP (discussed here). That would lead him into the "dangerous" situation where he is cut off from his financial support. Obama, on the other hand, has to continue to avoid issues of his past associations (Ayers, Wright, Rezco, etc.), the abortion issue, the successful surge in Iraq, drilling for oil, and so on. If he can get through that minefield, he will have proven that he truly has the metal to be president. If climate changes didn't have the potential to change the game at any point, I would be tempted to call the election for McCain today given the terrain the two candidates find themselves on.