Tuesday, 29 April 2008

God, give me an F. Please.

My intuition in the electoral-political sphere is miserable and consistently wrong, so let’s hope it’s not working once again. But I now have a queasy feeling about the Obama campaign and suspect that the unbearable Clintonoids are correct that the tide has shifted against his candidacy.

Reverend Wright could do better than have his 15 minutes of fame at the candidate’s expense, but that wouldn’t matter if the silver-tongued senator could manage to get off the defensive and neutralize the drumbeat of negative coverage with some spin of his own. But that isn’t Obama’s style, and in my view it’s his biggest weakness.

There are myriad examples over the past few weeks of opportunities that Obama let sit when he could have levered the debate into brand-new territory. It’s not enough to insist that his appeal is that of the above-it-all healer and uniter since people want their leaders to show some balls in the healing process, too. The two things aren’t contradictory.

The Obama campaign could use some of the leftover juice from Edwards’ attacks on the big money boys, rather than responding to Hillary’s and McCain’s absurd claims that the guy who left Harvard to do community organizing is an ‘elitist.’ This from the $100 million lady and the guy who voted against the Martin Luther King holiday--the openings are barn-sized, but Obama didn’t even swat.

Yes, yes, the news media have played a shoddy role and may even have shifted definitely toward Clinton. Could be. But the soaring rhetoric and supra-racial vision is looking weaker and weaker when Obama can’t refocus in the face of an attack and bounce it back with the kinds of simplified counter-messages that modern politics requires.

For example, Obama could have shamed the absurd news anchors in the final debate for sinking into utter frivolity. Instead, he patiently tried to answer all their repetitious charges as if cooperating would convince them he was all right after all. That was the moment to take charge, even kick some butt, and the public would have applauded him for it.

But he didn’t, missing a chance to boost that sense of powerful confidence that nervous voters need at a time when their worlds are maked by uncertainty.

I think Obama’s margin in North Carolina will be less than expected and that Indiana will go to the suburban white lady, that the nominating process will drag on and that the remaining super-delegates will remain anxiously undecided. If his support sags further, I see Hillary Clinton edging closer and closer to the nomination, leaving us with the prospect of two candidates from the War Party to choose from.

I hope I’m wrong.

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