Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to Beat Obama

SAM endorsed Barack Obama the week before the Iowa caucus and was on this bandwagon before the current momentum. I think Sen. Obama will be our next president, and I'll proudly cast a vote for him in the fall. The following is one way I can imagine Sen. McCain making it close.

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has faltered, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a way to reverse it. Her central problem is that Sen. Barack Obama, her opponent and the probable future president, is Teflon. Nothing sticks to him. And she’s tried it all.

Too inexperienced. Too Black. Too general. Too soft. Too eloquent.

These charges have been leveled against him but don’t stick. Mostly, it’s because the entire premise of his campaign is a new kind of politics-- one beyond the personal attacks that defined the Boomer age-- led by a new generation of activists. So with each new criticism, his message is affirmed.

He hasn’t been in the political trenches that long; he speaks loftily about unity and hope and optimism-- and that’s precisely the point. Criticize his rhetoric or age and you play right into his hand. Those are the only bullets in Clinton’s gun during this race, and they’re blanks.

So, Sen. John McCain will have to tack a different course. And I think Michelle Obama’s comments earlier this week illuminated the way.

She said, “For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country...” Commentators on MSNBC all brushed aside the comment as inconsequential, save one: Pat Buchanan. It seems the old libertarian war horse spotted a rare blip of vulnerability.

The comments eventually garnered widespread coverage, and Obama commented, saying his wife meant she is finally proud of the country’s political process, and did not refer to the US in general.

Whatever the case, it was a telling moment. The argument for opponents to make is that Obama represents a radical kind of change, one that the US doesn’t really need. The traditional “silent majority,” whose parents elected Richard Nixon twice, might resent a younger, Ivy League salesman with a legion of so-called “latte- drinkers” for a base, telling them everything that’s wrong with their country.

Eventually, Obama’s message could start to grate. Meanwhile, McCain should take the stance: I know we have problems, I know there’s work ahead, but we’re still the greatest country in the world, and we’re going to be okay. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

As the Obama campaign approaches the historic, it understandably runs the risk of cockiness, an attitude that seeped through after his win in Iowa. Overconfidence is dangerous; it could alienate the masses, who might feel like there’s a revolution going on they didn’t sign up for, and of which they’re not a part.

Admittedly, if you ask campaign manager David Axelrod, he’d likely welcome a “change vs. more of the same” narrative. The point is only that Obama could wind up being his own worst enemy, and the smugness of a comment like “in the last 25 years, there was nothing to be proud of until we came along” could be his undoing.




the other CM said...

SAM- you are so right on, as usual, it's scary! SOMEONE should be paying you. BTW- so Hillary's fini?

the other CM said...

"Look, I'm the challenger, I'm the upstart," he said. "I'm the insurgent — she's, she's the champ. She's part of the Democratic network in Washington and, you know, if you're the title holder then you don't lose it on points. You got to be knocked out."
Obama's respose when asked if he would be treated differently if he had lost as many as Clinton.

INSURGENT?? probably not the best word choice