Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gut feeling heading into the Dem Convention

I, obviously, have made up my mind on who I'm voting for in this year's Presidential race.

And that's kind of my point with today's post. Despite his lack of EVERYTHING except for fluid positions and uneasy personal associations, Sen Obama is guaranteed to bring in well above 40% of the vote everywhere in this country--at least. That's just the people who would vote for him even if a video was released tomorrow showing him kicking puppies and then pillow-suffocating an old man who couldn't fight back. His absolute concrete floor is probably around 45 million votes--which, if placed properly, would give him the White House. Fortunately, I don't think that "worst-case scenario" for him is placed properly enough, so we have an actual race on our hands.

BUT I say this again: it is Obama's election to lose.

And how does he lose it? Well how about the other side of that coin: how does he win it?

To me, the answer is simple: he backs out of the last two debates, and keeps his attack dogs in check.

Is it cowardly? Absolutely. But this guy isn't going to win because people think his ACTIONS are brave. If he wins it will be because he's an inspirational speaker and because people are PROJECTING onto him whatever quality it is they want in a President. Honestly, people are just sick of Washington--made all the more clear with the energy fiasco of late. As much as you and I know that Obama isn't going to "change Washington" (or at least change it for the better by making it less partisan and more efficient), his election would make for a loooooong honeymoon from the Bush administration.

And honestly, I think THAT may be the most appealing aspect of his candidacy to a lot of non-partisans.

I wrote a long time ago that Obama was going to lose his chic, above-the-fray persona in the last phases of the Dem primaries, and that doing so was going to cost him the White House--by a lot. He didn't make my prediction come entirely true. . .then. By now, however, his image is no longer that of a man who has clean hands in the ugly business of "politics".

And every time he speaks, he makes it worse. Even this past weekend, which included what most commenters have said was a strong performance in a less-than-friendly forum at Saddleback, the big news coming into the week was that his forceful "defense" of his position on abortion (made to David Brody) following his appearance with Pastor Rick was a flat-out distortion. How forceful was this wrong-footed defense? He had this to say to the people who were pointing out the inconsistencies of his statements: "folks are lying."

He was right, of course--but the liar was him. While the print was still drying on the reviews of the Saddleback forum, his campaign inartfully said "next, please." And that's fine and good--for now.

But an amazing ad in late September this makes, I do believe.

And this is far from an isolated event. McCain and any GOP-leaning 527s already have ample ammunition to make him look like a slick, say-anything-do-nothing elitist who doesn't think that Americans have any kind of memory or sense.

And THAT is how he will lose this election.

Hence, he needs to stop speaking off-the-cuff to the maximum extent possible. His mantra needs to be message, message, message. No more "they" (as in "they have nothing to say"), and a lot more "we" (as in "we are the hope we've been waiting for").

And he needs to tell his team to let McCain's campaign play the "politics as usual" game while he returns to "above the fray". If that means that some attacks on his character or his candidacy get left unanswered, so be it. At least that way, the "attack" is quickly snuffed of oxygen, since the media certainly won't be carrying any water for McCain.

And the ONLY ads that Obama should put out feature nothing but smiling faces, particularly those of old people and young people, and probably have some form of patriotic music in the background. Maybe even a prominent display of a flag pin on his lapel once or twice. . .

Again, Obama will win this thing if he realizes that his greatest asset and biggest attraction to his voters is the "hope" that they believe he embodies. When he does anything remotely political, he gets exposed as a politician. And he can't win that way.

So that's how he wins. Simple, right?

The question is: will his ego allow him to let those belt-high, middle-of-the-plate fastballs served up by conservatives pass without taking a swing?

I said back in March that his ego would get the best of him. While we can debate whether he fully exposed himself or not back then, he limped to the finish line of the Dem race. His antics made the race with Clinton tighter.

With this race already pretty tight, I wonder if he can show the necessary discipline for another 10 weeks or so?

We'll get our first answer next week, as we watch the Dem convention unfold. And then, when the post-convention bounces are sorted out. . .THEN it will get interesting.

Oh, and about that convention: if he picks Hillary as his VP, this election is over. Nothing says "new" like burying the hatchet and picking your chief antagonist in the primaries to join your ticket. Think Reagan/Bush in '80.

With the added benefit that the Clinton attack machine would allow Obama to stay "above the fray". Not to mention all those purported disenfranchised Clinton supporters out there finally having a reason to warm up to Obama. . .

Now for psych 101: if he shuns the "dream ticket" and goes with someone without the Clinton surname, would that serve as an example of Obama's ego being too big to do the things necessary to win?


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