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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Beldar's big-picture observations re Obama's nomination

In April 2007, I predicted that Barack Obama would win the Democratic nomination, but I did not predict the sliver-of-a-whisker closeness of the race. Now the five months of the primaries are done, with five months remaining to the election. Besides the identities of the two major parties' nominees, what else, if anything, is the big news from the last five months?

It's this: I expected Barack Obama to be substantially unbloodied at this point. Instead, he's bleeding badly from the nose and lip, and he's already been forced to duck, weave, and counter-punch. Most importantly, his bloodying came largely at the hands of his fellow Democrats, during a period when the loyalties of his natural allies in the mainstream media were still somewhat divided. McCain therefore will avoid any significant backlash — all the backlash has stuck to Hillary.

Much of Obama's appeal has been in his charisma and polish. The charisma remains, but the polish has been permanently marred.

I don't doubt that Obama will largely regain his footing, and most of his recent stumbles and gaffes will be inconsequential by November. But the cuts that have been already been opened — mainly vulnerabilities associated with his elitist attitudes and with his long-time close associations, including Wright, Pfleger, Trinity, Rezko, Ayers/Dohrn, and (potentially most dangerously) his wife — are in spots that are likely to be pounded again and again. The pounding will be less by McCain than by other foes of the Democrats — but those primary wounds will remain at enormous risk of re-opening and then copiously hemorrhaging throughout the general election campaign.

Simultaneously, the opportunities for sharp punches that have always been available to any Obama opponent — chiefly relating his incredible lack of experience, a topic that lacks the backlash risk of the personal association issues — remain available to McCain. From Obama's speech tonight:

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

But exactly what — besides a meteoric rise through politics and his rock-star cult status — are Barack Obama's "many accomplishments"? I have a finger and thumb left over on one hand when I try to list them, and even those are quite modest: being the minority-party senator allowed by two senior GOP senators to co-sponsor noncontroversial bills on securing ex-Soviet nuclear weapons and government reporting on spending, and being a co-sponsor with dozens of others on a laughably toothless ethics bill. And even those "accomplishments" are dwarfed by his utter failure to convene even a single hearing on a major Senate subcommittee whose chairmanship was entrusted to him by Senate Democrats. Senators famously can be divided into "work-horses" and "show-horses," but if we factor in the hundreds of votes Obama's missed while campaigning, he's made his only mark as a U.S. senator by being a "no-show horse"!

Obama also remains the candidate of MoveOn.org. He is of, and beholden to, and naturally in sympathy with, the Very Hard and Very Angry Left, not the political center. He is more radical than McGovern, and that's an objective fact simply based on his voting record. I read this week someone's analysis that "McGovern is to Obama as Goldwater was to Reagan." That strikes me as profoundly wishful thinking. There may be a few more states now with Hard Left majorities than there were in 1972 (when Nixon won in the Electoral College by 520/17), but not anywhere near enough to get to 270 electoral votes.

McCain's still the underdog. He's far from my ideal candidate. But he ought to monopolize the political center. His chances are better, by far, than I would have predicted a year ago, or than they possibly could have been absent the bruising, extended Democratic primary. Bottom line:  A five-month battle wouldn't have been adequate for America to complete its reality check on Barack Obama. A ten-month battle may be, and come November, that's what we'll have had.

Posted by Beldar at 03:30 AM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar's big-picture observations re Obama's nomination and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) griefer made the following comment | Jun 4, 2008 6:09:56 AM | Permalink

lolz, Beldar, Obama isn't campaigning in a vacumn. If Mccain is going to win he drastically needs oratory classes. His public speaking is was horrible last night.
Unfortunately for your candidate the more Obama is seen and heard, the more the magic works.
Mccain delivering whiny querelous negative attacks won't work.

My suggestion for McCain is to get a VP candidate that can make speeches and let them attack Obama while he remains nobly above the fray.

(2) El Jefe Maximo made the following comment | Jun 4, 2008 9:14:34 AM | Permalink

Listening to the lefty Democrats talk about the future...perhaps Obama's acceptance speech should go something like this.

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Jun 4, 2008 9:52:36 AM | Permalink

Jefe, as it happens, that's one of the dozen or so songs I can play on the piano, and I adore Jeremy Irons' performance of it from the movie:

So prepare for the coup of the century,
Be prepared for the murkiest scam!
Meticulous planning
Tenaciously spanning
Decades of denial,
Is simply why I'll
Be king undisputed,
Respected, saluted,
And seen for the wonder I am!
Yes my teeth and ambitions are bared,
Be prepared!

Thanks for the link to the clip.

(4) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jun 4, 2008 2:36:59 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: But the Democrats have much stronger fundamentals than did McGovern:

a) the economy, if not in a recession as I confidently and wrongly yelled a couple of months ago, is floundering, with some possibilities of yet more bad news to come.

b) the GOP is coming off 8 years of holding the presidency. Getting that third term is always a challenge, particualrly when the incumbent Prez is in the doghouse. Ask Adlai Stevenson how Harry Truman helped him in 1952.

c) the press will be bawling for Obama and have the shiv out for McCain. Look for numerous rehashings of the Keating Five and Cindy McCain's reluctance to release all of her tax returns. Meanwhile Tony Rezko will pine for the Big O in his jail cell, with no reporters to keep him company.

d) the GOP Congress is an anvil attached to a lead balloon.

e) McC isn't the full throated candidate of the GOP. Ask Ann Coulter, that is if you can talk to her after she's taken her ritalin.

These are daunting but not insuperable obstacles. Nor are all the fundamentals for the Democrats bright. We may regret how this election turns out, but it will be a gaudy show.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(5) Scott Jacobs made the following comment | Jun 4, 2008 10:21:59 PM | Permalink

Dear Gregory,

a) Growth is not floundering. The weak dollar and a correcting housing market plays HUGELY into the lower growth than prior years

d) GOP Congress? Did I miss an election where the GOP took Congress?

(6) griefer made the following comment | Jun 5, 2008 7:09:24 AM | Permalink

One thing you seem to be ignoring is Obama's resilience, Beldar.
He has survived closet skellies and gaffes that would have finished a lesser man.

Also, I think you underestimate the value of appearance as well as undervaluing oratory. In a debate or townhall meeting McCain must avoid at all costs standing in the same frame as Obama. McCain will appear very white-colored (he cannot tan), very short and very old.

I predict President Obama.

(7) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jun 5, 2008 10:52:48 AM | Permalink

Dear Scott: a) "Growth is not floundering." The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic analysis has released preliminary estimates of GDP growth for the first qquarter of 2008:


The figure is 0.9% growth. Even if the preliminary figure is off by 100%, that figure is anemic, though not the actual decline I thought was going to happen. Whatever the cause, the numbers are weak, and with the GOP presently holding the White House, it is the party that stands to be hit by the flying boots, frying pans, etc.

d) "The GOP Congress." Yipe! I should have written "the GOP in Congress" or "the GOP congressional wing." Something is seriously wrong when the GOP loses a congressional seat in Mississippi.

Thanks for the corrections.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

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