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An outside assessment is sometimes instructive
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gerard Baker of the UK's "The Times" takes a look at the Democratic primary and comes away with a little different assessment than we heard among Democrats as this all began:
There's a popular view among Democrats and the media establishment that the reason for the party's current disarray is that it just happens to have two most extraordinary candidates: talented, attractive, and in their gender and race, excitingly new. But there's an alternative explanation, which I suspect the voters have grasped rather better than their necromancers in the media. Both are losers.
That said, Baker, like most of us, understands that the most likely outcome of the bloody Democratic primary is the nomination of Barack Obama as the party's nominee. But, as we've mentioned any number of times, Baker notes the bloom is off the Obama rose, and the carefully nurtured political persona Obama was trying to present has been destroyed:
But the mask has slipped. Under pressure in a Democratic primary, Mr Obama has sounded just like any other tax-raising, government-loving Democratic politician. Worse, he has revealed himself to be a member of that special subset of the party's liberal elite - a well-educated man with a serious superiority complex.

His worst moment of the campaign was when he was caught telling liberal sophisticates about his anthropological observations on the campaign trail. In the misery of their daily lives, he said, the hicks out there in the sticks cling to religion and guns and the other irrational necessities of the unenlightened life. His wife had earlier told voters that they should be grateful that someone of his protean talents had deigned to come among them and be their president.

The events of the last month have also revealed another side of Mr Obama that threatens to undermine his whole message. He is a cynic. He tells the mavens of San Francisco one thing and the great unwashed of Pennsylvania another. In defending his long relationship with the Rev Jeremiah Wright, he shopped his own grandmother, comparing the reverend's views (God Damn America! The US deliberately spread Aids among the black population) to his grandmother's occasionally expressed fears about the potential of being the victim of crime at the hands of an African-American.
The left, and Democrats in particular, believe all of these questions have been answered satisfactorily and all of the gaffes are behind him - "old news" is how they spin it. And among Democrats, for the most part, that may be true. But the reality of presidential electoral politics is there aren't enough Democrats to elect anyone to the Presidency. Just like the Republicans, they need help. Among many of those from whom they need this sort of help the questions the candidates wave off remain unanswered to their satisfaction.

As I mentioned yesterday, like it or not, candidates don't get to decide what is or isn't important to voters. They don't get to dictate what is or isn't a 'distraction' and what is an 'issue'. One of the most repeated basic mistakes of losing politicians is to wave off things they don't want to answer as "distractions" while lecturing voters about concentrating on 'issues'. For Obama, that is a constant theme, and it is a losing theme.

Baker makes a very salient point about US presidential elections in general:
American presidential elections turn as much on the characters of the candidates as they do on the saliency of policies. Democrats, of course, think this is all rather crass. They think voters should confine themselves to the “issues”. But Americans understand their government a little better. They know the limits of presidential office and they understand the president's role as head of state is as much about leadership of the nation as it is about implementation of policy.

What they want is a man - or a woman - of character and record to inspire and lead them. That may be why the Democrats are in trouble.
Political reality laid out for the "reality based community" - political reality it again seems to be ignoring.

(HT: Neo)
 
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What they want is a man - or a woman - of character and record to inspire and lead them. That may be why the Democrats are in trouble.
And the Republicans, too.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://kishnevi.wordpress.com
After some 10,000 Obama ads on my TV here in Pennsylvania, I still don’t know what Obama believes or truly stands for .. other than hope, change, and higher taxes.

I have a better sense of what Britney Spears or Anna Nicole Smith believe, and one of them is dead.

Money for nothing.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
And the Republicans, too.
As usual, it will come down to the voter’s perception of the lesser of two evils.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Funny how there are so many "McCain is another Bob Dole," or "Obama’s image is destroyed," or "McCain has peaked" or... And, of course, usually the left thinks McCain is Dole, and the right thinks Obama is destroyed. In reality, there’s as much wisdom behind those analyses as those who proclaimed in the summer of 2007 that it was almost certainly Clinton vs. Guiliani, and that Obama had no chance.

Campaigns are fought on a variety of fronts, and it depends on the candidates, conditions (economic and international), campaign strategies, state get out the vote efforts, and the public mood. Both McCain and Obama have a shot at it, early prognosticators will end up looking as silly as those who wrote off McCain and Obama in mid or even late 2007.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Both McCain and Obama have a shot at it, early prognosticators will end up looking as silly as those who wrote off McCain and Obama in mid or even late 2007.
If I remember correctly, Erb, you were one of those early prognosticators who said emphatically that Obama’s Race speech had put the Wright issue behind him.

Chickens and where they roost anyone?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
If it’s a choice between the lesser of two evils, then surely if Obama is in trouble, since his campaign has been based largely on him being a hopey changetude "different kind of politician." Surely that would not make him one of two evils.

I was aware of Obama’s church for some years (I’ve watched his career from his first race), and I was telling people last fall that when people realized what kind of church he belonged to it would damage him. One of my colleagues, much like Erb, assured me the day after Obama’s ’race conversation’ speech that the brilliant orator (mustn’t say articulate) had now put the Wright controversy behind him. I offered to bet a beer on it, and she has now agreed she was really, really wrong and owes me beer.

Obama is simply not ready yet. I still think that he originally intended this run as preparation for 2012 or 2016, depending on if Hillary won or not. He probably intended to run a respectable second or third, bow out gracefully, throw his support to the victor, and be the obvious choice next time, when he’d still be relatively young, but have an additional 4 or 8 years in the Senate. (He’d never have taken the VP slot. If all had gone as expected with Hillary winning, he’d have brought nothing to the ticket she wouldn’t already have and he’d have nothing to gain by spending 8 years in the Clinton shadow.)

However, he caught lightning in a bottle, largely on the basis of collecting enormous amounts of money from a web he didn’t even understand. Remember how he took over the original MySpace Obama website from the volunteer who set it up? (go to http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/5/2/35114/27244 for the story)

The web enabled Obama in ways his campaign didn’t expect, I think. It also altered the arc of the whole Democratic primaries. Now, he’s in a position that he can’t back out of and quite possibly will not only ruin his chances but split the Democratic Party.
 
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
"early prognosticators will end up looking as silly as those who wrote off McCain and Obama in mid or even late 2007. "
Even the ones who predict correctly?
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
If I remember correctly, Erb, you were one of those early prognosticators who said emphatically that Obama’s Race speech had put the Wright issue behind him.
Wright won’t hurt Obama. He’ll be able to handle that easily. Unlike the Clinton Vietnam ROTC letter, this is just an association. I think a lot of people on the right are fooling themselves that this will be an issue. Though, frankly, I agree with Wright on quite a bit. Obama has time to figure out the best way to deal with this, it’s minor.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Concern trolling is still concern trolling, even with an English accent.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Wright won’t hurt Obama.
I don’t think Pennsylvania got that memo.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Wright won’t hurt Obama.

I don’t think Pennsylvania got that memo.
I don’t think Wright cost Obama Pennsylvania.

Look, compared to Clinton’s Vietnam letter and scandals, this is an association thing. Those do very limited, short term damage — and at this point most people aren’t even paying attention. Obama will have to know precisely how to deal with this, and others will dirty the waters around McCain. Even with this Obama’s positives are far higher than Bill Clinton’s were at this time in 1992. Clinton proved an adept and skilled politician and overcame his much larger negatives. Obama may not be that good of a politician and thus may still fail. But for those who think an association automatically sinks him, well, you don’t understand politics! There are many variables and opportunities. Obama hasn’t proven he has the political skill to handle a harsh campaign, but at least Hillary is showing his team what they have to prepare for. We’ll see come November.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Those do very limited, short term damage — and at this point most people aren’t even paying attention.
This sounds like wishful thinking.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
This sounds like wishful thinking.
No, it’s a dose of reality, responding to wishful thinking amongst the right wing.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
No, it’s a dose of reality, responding to wishful thinking amongst the right wing.
And that’s another delusional decree from the King of Wishful Thinking.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
this is an association thing. Those do very limited, short term damage
That’s what you want to think.

Fact is, associations can’t do significant damage. Imagine if a Republican running for pres spent 20 years in the KKK.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Though, frankly, I agree with Wright on quite a bit.
I’m not surprised.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Though, frankly, I agree with Wright on quite a bit.
We know, it shows.
Constantly.
And ironically you’d be one of the first to be thrown under the bus by people who follow teachings like those from Wright.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Though, frankly, I agree with Wright on quite a bit.
Natch.
 
Written By: rob
URL: http://

 
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