The Huffington Post; by Kristen Breitweiser; May 14, 2008
Those who are responsible for putting Democrats in the broken place we are in right now with regard to Barack Obama had better own it to the end. Leave those bumper stickers on and wear those campaign pins until the bitter end folks because YOU OWN IT. And people are going to want to know whose to blame.
And as for the superdelegates, just an FYI, we have the list with your names, you will be held accountable on Election Day and beyond, too. This time around, everybody’s going to be looking for accountability.
Flash forward to Election Day 08. Can you imagine the backpedaling going on when it comes to explaining how Barack Obama — the Democratic nominee by math not by sensibility — loses key states? What will those pundits say? Can they turn to history and defend themselves by saying that Obama won Ohio in the primary? Pennsylvania? Florida? And what about West Virginia? No Democrat has won the WH since 1916 without winning West Virginia and we all know what happened yesterday. What will they use as their rationale as to why they reasonably expected Obama to win those states in the general? Will they be driven mad with their math and just keep repeating that it wasn’t their fault — it was math’s fault? (Or will they fall back on the usual suspect and blame it on Hillary?)
Maybe they’ll use the argument that Obama was supposed to re-draw the political map. That Obama promised that “all states were in play.” And, what if he turns out to be wrong? What if Obama loses those red states (and even some of those key blue states)? Is it possible that after e-i-g-h-t years of George Bush, we will have another Republican in the WH? Is it fathomable that a Republican like McCain could win by a landslide? Right now Jerome Armstrong at myDD has an electoral college estimate with McCain winning 290 to 248.
In August when the Republican attack ads unroll with a screaming, ranting, raving, railing, and dancing like a chicken lunatic Reverend Wright juxtaposed with an angry Obama with an outstretched pointing finger overlayed by Obama’s voice saying that he can’t disown Wright anymore than he can disown his grandmother, will the superdelegates feel good and justified about their decision to try and kick Hillary out of the race before she won a state like West Virginia or Kentucky? Will those same superdelegates apologize for their bad judgment in thinking a candidate who lost 40% of the Democratic vote in a state primary — a mere 5 months before Election Day — should even still qualify to be the best candidate in a general election?
Will those superdelegates admit bad judgment in voting for the candidate that “said” he had good judgment but turned out to have bad judgment once he was aptly defined by the likes of Karl Rove? Because as of May 14, 2008, Barack Obama has yet to successfully define himself to the American people — he is too busy defining John McCain. (Scary thought: maybe Obama hasn’t defined himself yet because he can’t. Look at his record. Look at what his colleagues say about him. He rides the middle. He goes this way and that. On the one hand. On the other hand. He himself in his autobiographies even admits to having trouble pinning down his identities — whether that be individual, political, racial or whatever else.)
Has anyone truly and fairly presented the problem Obama faces by continuously saying “a vote for John McCain is a vote for another 4 more years of George Bush” particularly when most of us don’t even know what a vote for Barack Obama would mean? Not to mention the fairly obvious fact that the whole reason McCain is able to run so strongly in 08 is specifically because everybody knows he is NOT George Bush.
A suggestion to Obama: when you are an unknown like yourself with no record to back up your flowery words, you might better your chances of people getting to know you by telling them WHY THEY SHOULD VOTE FOR YOU—not why they shouldn’t vote for the other guy. Especially when that other guy John McCain has been in the public eye for years and enjoys a very well-cemented identity.
Just exactly what is David Axelrod’s reasoning as to how Obama — the candidate who “says” he represents change and “outsider politics”– will fare against the well-documented record of a maverick like McCain who has actually spent his entire career bucking the political system and truly enacted change? Will Obama change his campaign theme? Yikes. Is the Obama campaign strategy being unveiled when Obama states that “a vote for McCain is a vote for Bush”? Because if that is the Obama campaign’s idea of a “winning” strategy against John McCain, we are in serious trouble.
The truth is probably that nobody really expected Obama to get this far. Not even Axelrod. So they probably didn’t (and still don’t) have a cohesive strategy in place for how Obama can beat a guy like McCain. (Heck nobody even expected McCain to make it this far in the race. So, if anyone did think Obama would make it this far, they certainly didn’t expect Obama to be running against McCain, that’s for sure.)
So how will Axelrod run Obama against McCain? Have any of the superdelegates thought about that?
Clearly, Obama cannot run on “change” since McCain corners the market on “change” and being a “maverick outsider”. More to the point, McCain, unlike Obama, actually has the long and very real record proving that he is, indeed, an outsider and a maverick bucking the system. Flatly, Obama does not have that same record or proof.
Will it be the economy? Given Obama’s lackluster appeal to the lower-income and working class, I sure hope not. I can see the commercials now–it will not take a lot of effort to get the disenfranchised lunch-pail liberals to identify with a hard-worker like John McCain as compared to the elitist, Starbuck-drinking, RedBull swilling, arugula-eating, Blackberry-carrying Obama.
Of course, another choice would be for Obama to run on age. But that is dangerous for many obvious reasons. What? You don’t think being coined as the “youth’ candidate is a bad thing? Think again because the winning brand is not “youth” when we are in the midst of a recession and two wars. When the chips hit the floor on Election Day and gas is $10/barrel it will be realism not idealism that delivers the WH. And given the fact that Obama’s base is already widely known to be made up of predominantly young voters, half of the Republicans work is already done for them. Yup, they would have an easy walk defining Obama as the choice for the young and naïve.
That leaves Iraq, right? A slam-dunk for Obama, right? Not so fast. After witnessing the defying of logic and the suspension of belief in what happened to John Kerry in 04, anyone who thinks Obama’s “speech” about the Iraq war from the cozy confines of a Chicago suburb will assuredly prove that Obama is a better Commander in Chief than John McCain, needs to think again. And yes, I know that the vast majority of Americans are against the Iraq war. And yes, I know the Iraq war has cost us billions and contributed to our recession. And yes, I know that John McCain’s words about spending another 100 years in Iraq are repeatedly used against him. But, remember what happened in 04. Logic can be defied. Belief (yes, even hope) can and has been suspended on Election Day.
Remember: John McCain is a veteran. John McCain is a former POW. John McCain is a war hero. Moreover, one of John McCain’s sons is currently serving in Iraq. So, if anyone thinks McCain is going to mistreat or misuse our troops — which include his son, they need to think again. Frankly, Obama will look like a fool against McCain because once again, McCain has his real record, history, and even his family to prove his sound leadership and true patriotism. And Obama merely has his words, hope and the video of his wife sounding unpatriotic which will be used over and over and over again.
And that’s why so many Clinton supporters are reluctant to vote for Obama if he becomes the nominee. It’s not because they are bitter. It is because they chose Hillary over Obama for two real reasons: experience and definition.
Obama can’t gain experience in the next 5 months.
True, Obama can gain definition — that is if he starts defining himself today and stops leaving his self-definition up to others — namely the likes of Reverend Wright and Karl Rove.
To me, it’s the difference between buying cereal for the picture on the box rather than the ingredients on the nutritional label. Clinton supporters want to know what they are eating for breakfast–they don’t get swayed by the fancy packaging that often hides the sugar and artificial additives hiding inside. They check the label. They read the ingredients.
We know what we are getting with Hillary Clinton. We’ve read the label that has been on the box for years. And, yes, we may not like everything about her, but at least we know what we are getting when we support her. There are no surprises, no baggage left unexamined. Hillary has been in the public eye for years. She has a record that can be followed and seen in plain view. We know who she is. We know that she is a hard worker and a smart fighter who will never give up. And we have a pretty good idea of what she would do as president. Perhaps most importantly though, we know that she wins vital states that have proven to be essential to winning the WH.
But can we rightfully say the same about Barack Obama? He says he has good judgment. But does he? He says all 50 states are in play if he is the nominee. But what if they’re not? He says he is a good leader. But how do we know that? He says he is the candidate of change. But what does that really mean? In truth, it’s all just a lot of promises and hope that could very well end up short when pitted against John McCain next Election Day.