Monday, July 14, 2008

IS THE HONEMOON OVER BEFORE THE WEDDING BEGINS?

After months of being the golden boy of the main stream media, it seems the luster that surrounded Obama has suffered some tarnish. The latest Newsweek poll shows Obama leading MCain by only 3 percentage points, a dead heat for all practical purposes. Obama leads 44% to 41% only weeks after leading 51% to 36%.

Obama is the victim of the conventional wisdom of the Democratic party, which convinced everyone that continuing the contest between Obama and Clinton all the way to the convention was bad for Obama, for Clinton would criticize him and “beat him up” to the benefit of the Republicans. In other words, if Obama were singing like the Rolling Stones “am I tough enough”, his party answered “no”.

Instead of giving Obama a walk on a red velvet carpet to the convention floor, and presumably to the White House itself, the party’s misguided advice subjected Obama to the intense scrutiny of a candidate in the general election, which he and they claimed he was. He traded the devil he knew for the devil he did not know.

Since then, we have seen him change positions to accommodate criticisms, despite the fact that flip flops killed the chances of his successor, John Kerry. 53% of former Hillary Clinton supporters say he changed positions on key issues for political advantage. Maybe Kerry will loan Obama his flip flops.

Obama, to win, must maintain his support in the far left wing of the Democratic Party, from which he comes, woo Clinton’s more Centrist supporters, convince Independents that he can run the country and maintain his GQ coolness and image as the arbiter of change that appeals to all those people who swoon when he walks into a room.

He has problems in all these areas. First, some Leftists are already complaining that he has moved to the center. This makes it hard for him to court the Clinton crowd without losing his home base. When he is photographed hugging Mrs. Clinton, the Lefties wince and their pocket books pucker. They would rather him pose nude for PETA, or conduct an abortion in a free clinic, or advocate revolution. However, if he does not hug Mrs. Clinton and pay homage to the increasingly narcissistic and demanding Mr. Clinton, the Centrists might start feeling affection for one John McCain, who is camped out over there in Centerville.

Convincing the Independents that he can run the country is also a challenge in the long run and under the more intense scrutiny of the general campaign. The problem is, he has never run anything. He is a First Term Senator, a rookie, an inexperienced neophyte with no national experience, no international experience and no way to get it but trial and error. That is why he is travelling all over, such as to Germany, to give speeches. It gives the allusion of experience and contacts, and Obama is all about allusion.

The allusion that works is that of the cool guy, confident relaxed and the only one who is new and will bring change. No one knows that change will be or what the impact will be, but Americans like change at least until it turns out badly. But, now we see him attending those big fund raising dinners and sucking up to the big money crowd, just like any other politician. There is no change there. The press has now reported that he got a sweet heart mortgage deal. There is no change there. People have always resented politicians getting better deals because of influence.

Maybe Americans want to take the chance that a first term senator can lead the nation without wrecking the economy or suffering attacks from our enemies. If so, they’ll have to believe that Obama can bring change and that the change will be for the better. If his image suffers and he appears to be just another politician, just less experienced, or if the public decides it is too risky to take this leap of faith, then the safe bet is McCain.
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