Sunday, August 3, 2008

Backing Into The Presidency

Original Link:

By Ani

According to Associated Press,

Democratic candidate Barack Obama on Saturday backed away from rival John McCain’s challenge for a series of joint appearances, agreeing only to the standard three debates in the fall.

Odd after Senator Obama’s earlier statement to McCain that he would meet anytime, anywhere to debate “the real issues.”

In summer, stumping on the campaign trail, McCain has often noted that Obama had not followed through and joined him in any events.

This harkens back to an interview Lou Dobbs did with respected political consultant, Hank Sheinkopf, recently, who said “Obama just needs to keep his head down and not make any mistakes until the Convention.”

I think that ship has sailed. Even the adoring media treatment Senator Obama was enjoying until very recently has started to sour. According to Dana Milbank of WaPo, some reporters are now referring to Obama as a “prom queen.”

McCain’s campaign spokesperson, Brian Rogers, was quick to pounce on this:

“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider.”

Those McCain ads poking fun at the celebrity candidacy of Obama and comparing him to Moses parting the Red Sea are gaining traction, not only with the media, but with the American public. Polls are a statistical dead heat, a disaster for a Democrat at this point in the campaign.

Considering that the Republican brand is so damaged this year, why wouldn’t Senator Obama relish the opportunity to meet Senator McCain face to face at the first possible opportunity? If he is offering so much hope and change to us – why not stand before the American people and share concrete ideas so we can compare and contrast the two candidates. Surely that would give him a bump. No?

John McCain is no great speaker or debater. It’s not like Barack has to face off against Hillary Clinton – then I could understand him being scared. She would dance circles around him – and has.

In May, the McCain campaign came up with the idea to challenge Obama to 10 town hall meetings. Obama’s first response was more positive:

“Obviously, we would have to think through the logistics on that, but … if I have the opportunity to debate substantive issues before the voters with John McCain, that’s something that I am going to welcome.”

Guess he’s not going to welcome those town halls after all. And what logistics, exactly? Talk about keeping your head down.

An excellent article by Frank Salvato, Managing Editor of New Media Journal brings another point into sharp relief:

In light of the shameful snubbing Barack Obama inflicted upon the wounded US military personnel at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, it is painfully clear that he is not the candidate of “change.” If anything he is this election cycle’s version of the status quo; a hybrid of inflated rhetoric and Madison Avenue glitz. He offers hollow bumper-sticker catchphrase solutions (“yes we can,” “hope,” and “change”) to political, social and ideological problems he is ill-equipped to address professionally. This is the typical trade-craft of a political operative possessing an extremely limited political resume.

Those not blinded by the “bright, shiny thing” – the distractions of the hollow rhetoric and media marketing – understand that Obama is a political creation of the Chicago Democrat Machine; the Chicago Daley Machine. He is a slickly choreographed media tool meant to reinvent the image of the Democrat[ic] Party for the 21st Century.

The problem is that a symbol, as Obama now calls himself, does not and is not able to govern. Something the DNC would do well to keep in mind.

The first clue to this reality is the fact that his main campaign handler (some would say “puppet master”) is David Axelrod, a longtime strategist for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who fancies himself a “strategist in urban politics.” More recently, proof of the Chicago connection can be seen in the fact that the DNC moved a major portion of its operations to Chicago.

As Obama’s ego grows, so does the budding discontent within his base and his political party.

He has flip-flopped on so many issues and now, offshore oil drilling, leaving none other than his biggest fan, Nancy Pelosi, under the bus. I wonder if she’ll still want to walk with her arm wrapped around his waist.

Certainly MoveOn.Org and many others have felt the sting of his about-face on major issues very recently. FISA comes to mind. The habit of flip flopping is a dangerous one. You never know when the next one is coming.

There is an old adage about unfaithful husbands. If you got him because he was cheating on his wife with you, be prepared for him to cheat on you with someone else – once you are the wife.

I am not clear how voters can still support a man who has shown himself to be little more than a media creation, afraid to show his face at a town hall, who surrenders the majority of the positions he campaigned on without so much as a whimper. What changes are we talking about exactly? What hope is there left? His defenders are quick to say that he has to move to the center for the general election. But he is doing more than that. He is running to the right at lightning speed. Even still, why is he not willing to defend those moves before John McCain and the voters?

I realize I did not mention the name of Mr. Salvato’s article above: Hey Barack, Hillary Only Suspended Her Campaign. This might be something for super delegates to keep in mind, as well as Democratic Party voting stalwarts:

Should Barack Obama continue his slide into ego’s abyss, his campaign of arrogance, naively buying his own marketing scheme, should he continue to alienate the loose association of factions that make up the total of his base, he risks fiddling as his Rome burns; he risks facilitating the migration of super delegates from his candidacy to Hillary Clinton’s. Remember, she suspended her campaign, she didn’t end it.

Senator Clinton’s policies, progressive and straightforward from the beginning, would require no waffling now. She would not need to keep her head down. She would not need to back into the job.

The pressure cooker that is the White House, particularly with our current slate of serious problems, requires someone of great moral courage, experience and intestinal fortitude. Surely someone with the courage of their convictions is never afraid to show up, any time, any place to make their case to the American people. By any standards this would and should be an effective way to move the debate forward.

It might require Senator Obama to roll up his sleeves a bit more than he has to this point. His impatience was much in evidence the other day when dealing with hecklers in Florida:

‘If you don’t like my answer, you can vote for another candidate or run for office yourself.’

We are talking about the toughest job in the world and snarking at voters, rather than addressing their concerns isn’t going to get it done. Contrast this behavior with John McCain in a similar situation recently. He answered a rather hostile man’s question and offered him a chance to follow up. They must have gone back and forth five times and wound up having a respectful exchange – until the man was satisfied and Senator McCain could continue.

Does anyone doubt Hillary Clinton would likewise handle herself in this way?

If Senator Obama lacks the willingness, and yes, humility, to make himself available to the American people in a town hall setting where he faces real competition, and one-on-one confrontations with voters, one might argue he is not possessed of the strength or knowledge to lead. He cannot ‘keep his head down’ forever.

Sooner or later, he will have to face the music.

The American people are waiting.

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