Obama – Too smart for America?

225pxstevenson_and_korean_officials "McCain did a great job of making me feel confident. He was clearly in his element at Saddleback, among supportive evangelical Christians, and he went a long way toward alleviating their fears about his inability to communicate with them in their own language.

Obama came first, and he handled himself well in front of an audience that clearly disagrees with him on many issues. He also managed to put to rest the notion that he is a Muslim, which 12 percent of Americans still believe he is. He talked directly to Rick Warren as though they were having a real conversation, whereas McCain played to the audience, rarely looking at Warren. He was low-key, thoughtful and nuanced.

That kind of nuance is hard to understand sometimes — it’s unclear, complicated. Obama’s world can be scarier. It’s multicultural. It’s realistic (yes, there is evil on the streets of this country as well as in other places, and a lot of evil has been perpetrated in the name of good). It’s honest. When does life begin? Only the antiabortionists are clear on that. For the majority of Americans (who are pro-choice), it is "above my pay grade," in Obama’s words, where there is no hard and fast line to draw on what’s worth dying for, and where people of all faiths have to be respected.

I would rather live in McCain’s world than Obama’s. But I believe that we live in Obama’s world. "  Sally Quinn


In the fifties there were two presidential elections in which Adlai Stevenson lost to Dwight Eisenhower.  Eisenhower was an intelligent man, who possessed vast experience as a leader and manager.  He was cautious, restrained, not inclined to rash action.  In many ways he deserved to win the election, and he did, but what happened to Stevenson in those two elections is instructive.

Stevenson lost because he was, in the vulgar idiom of today, an "elitist." He was no any kind of "ist," but he was a member of the WASP elite.  He came from a distinguished family, had a fine education in places like Choate, Princeton and Harvard Law and was a wit.  During one of his campaigns he was told that he would have the vote "of every thinking man in America."  He replied that he "needed a majority to be elected."  He was soft spoken, a fine speaker, nuanced in his opinions and pronouncements and indifferent to trivialities like fancy clothes.  A newspaper published a picture of the bottom of one of his shoes.  It had a hole in the sole.  This became emblematic of the man, interpreted by his friends as evidence of a lack of pretension and by his enemies as a pose.  He was incapable of speaking in slogans.  He lost, twice.  Obama is a lot like Stevenson.  You could see that in the "forum" held in Orange County the other night.

McCain has been trained by his neocon handlers and advisers to suppress the music in his rugged old soul in favor of "memetics and neurolinguistics."  He spoke to the audience, not to the host.  He spoke in simplistic terms of complex issues.  He exhorted the crowd to fear against the "other."   It was a rally against the enemies that so many in America hold dear as a focus for their own group identity.

I continue to think that McCain will win.  That does not mean that I favor his candidacy.  pl




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43 Responses to Obama – Too smart for America?

  1. Hudson says:

    I think you are missing the point of Obama’s appearance among and approach to that audience.
    McCain is going to win that demographic (conservative Christians). That was never in doubt.
    Obama is not appearing there to win the demographic, but to reduce McCain’s margin among voters traditionally ceded completely by Democrats.
    So Obama took the smart approach: Adopt a tone and a message designed to woo a small portion of the audience which normally does not go to Democrats.
    Elections in our era are a matter of margins. Obama’s people understand that. When commenters say that McCain “won” the debate, they miss the point. Obama’s people have proved that they are extremely savvy strategists, focused on winning the most delegates.
    This event fits within that existing approach and strategy.

  2. As the saying goes sometimes quiet waters run deep. So was Ike. He was deeply concerned that the two party system in the US had been eroded by the four election wins by FDR and Truman’s 1948 win. He decided in part on the Republicans to provide a corrective balance, and historically of course he could not have foreseen that most of the rest of the 20th Century would be dominated by Republican victories. Caret, but for the Nixon pardon by Ford, and Clinton, but for Ross Perot, would not have held the highest office. Yet thinking on his feet was not necessarily a skill of IKE. It is a rather rare and unusual skill, witness the lack of skilled trial lawyers. But what is now really needed in the US is thoughtful perhaps even visionary decisionmakeing for the long term. If either party spends the next 4 years looking back and trying to correct past wrongs and not focus on the future, the Shining City on A Hill may be doomed. Wall street has again conclusively demonstrated where short term thinking leads us. So does Putin and Russia. China may be the only real long term player internationally. WOW! If that is the case then perhaps McCain and Obama can detail there China policy in both short term and looking 20-30 years down the road. Yes, key to the 2008 election is the VISION THING. Will McCain sink the NAVY? Doubtful. Will Obama pull a Clinton and be so defensive about his lack of military and national security experience that he puts in trust in the usual suspects of the Democratic national security establishment roster that blew the Clinton years and the real end of coldwar opportunities including getting the military/Industrial/Academic complex devoted to militarism back under full civilian control. Corporations without direct or indirect federal subsidies are rare. Same goes for many of the large Academic complexes. Let’s leave the non-thinking THINK TANKS for later.

  3. frogspawn says:

    ‘The more we know about the
    audience the more accurately my computer program can produce the key words and phrases. They are woven into a speech-‘
    ‘Can they? Will they make sense?’
    ‘That’s up to the ingenuity of the speech writer, but it doesn’t really matter. If you’re pounding a drum, you might get the audience stirred up until their feet and hearts are pounding with it; till they reach ignition point.’

    From Ignition Point!, a short story by Isaac Asimov from 1981. This post brought that story to mind.

  4. Nancy K says:

    My husband, who grew up in Europe and Israel, is a professor and speaks several languages, agrees with you that McCain will win, because Obama is too intelligent.
    How sad is that. America would rather have a president who speaks in 5 word sound bites and will keep us living in constant fear of the others.
    I hope you and my husband are wrong. I hope that in the voting booth Americans will start thinking that maybe it takes more than a Rovian trained monkey to lead this country. Not that I think McCain is a trained monkey, I’m sure he is both honorable and fairly intelligent but he has drunk the kool aid.

  5. frogspawn says:

    hit ‘Post’ instead of ‘Preview’
    Anyway, the story is about a “mob psychologist” trying to sell his crowd-manipulation services to the campaign manger of a handsome, statesman-looking empty suit who hasn’t a hope in hell of winning office.

  6. TomByrd says:

    Actually, Adlai Stevenson lost three times, if you count his primary loss to Kennedy in 1960. And that third loss was one “elite” against another. Had Stevenson run against Nixon in 1960, what would have been the result? Scary thought considering how close that race ended up. In many ways, Adlai was the last Democrat to run after a loss. Now losers are put out to pasture in the party, McCain showing that losers in the Republican party can keep on keeping on for ever.

  7. David Habakkuk says:

    As an Englishman who has never lived in the United States, I cannot judge. But the argument sounds horribly plausible. A difference of course is that I would have preferred Eisenhower to Stevenson — while the thought of McCain fills me with dread.
    I do find myself thinking back to a saying used by Czeslaw Milosz to preface his classic anti-communist polemic The Captive Mind. Attributed to ‘an old of Jew of Galicia’, it runs as follows:
    ‘When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.’

  8. Mad Dogs says:

    “I continue to think that McCain will win.”
    You’re scaring me Pat! *g*
    I’ll agree that the polls are narrowing and more than a few on the Democratic side are wondering just when Obama is going to take the gloves off. Maybe never? Yikes!
    Obama wasn’t my 1st choice, nor even my 2nd choice, so I’m not one of those Obama-zombies who believes in the Tooth Fairy, but Jiminy Crickets, we cannot afford another 4 years of McSame.

  9. Fred says:

    “He (McCain) spoke to the audience, not to the host. He spoke in simplistic terms of complex issues.”
    This is something Obama better start doing (speaking to the audience) unless he wants to lose.
    As for Sally “I want to believe that our biggest enemy is radical Islamist terrorists. I want to be part of a world that doesn’t have to raise taxes.”
    “I want to live in a world where Gen. David Petraeus and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, are the wisest people I know,…”
    “By the time McCain finished his interview…I was curled up in a fetal position in my chair, wrapped in a mohair throw, practically sucking my thumb.””
    This is the quality of reporting from the Washington Post? Pat, I can only think of the line about the Franciscan priest who left California in your post “McCain speaks in Slogans.” “When asked why, he said that his Mercedes had been getting in the way of his ability to follow Jesus.”
    Seems like there are plenty of Americans suffering from the same problem; but are unwilling to look inside themselves.

  10. Paul says:

    McCain comes off as an angry old man – indeed, one who might be paranoid. If the liberal members of the Supreme Court are “evil”, he certainly is not ready to lead one-half of the nation.
    His disdain for Obama is palatable; it’s the same attitude fighter pilots have for groundpounders. One top of that, Obama is a black guy: how dare him disagree with me! A lot of people can read the code from the mouth of a 71 year old white guy. (I’m 71 and have heard patronizing words for years.)
    McCain with his finger on the trigger is frightening. The best reason for NOT electing him: we cannot afford him and his kind.

  11. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    ‘Morning in America’ again? God save us.
    I can only hope that McCain’s growing image as someone who, like Reagan, will save us by showering us with reassuring slogans will become so irrelevant to the vicious reality facing many Americans and the world that he will be defeated.
    Unfortunately, however, the disastrous consequences of Reagan’s irrational optimism may not yet be far enough behind us nor created enough misery for that to work.
    Still, if Obama can focus enough of us on how best to cope with the realities of the world even Quinn acknowledges that we live in . . . . .

  12. Binh says:

    So he was an elitist despite having a hole in the sole of his shoe?
    I thought Eisenhower won because Americans were tired of the (Democratic-led) Korean war and Ike said he would end it, and being a WWII hero gave that promise a lot of credibility.

  13. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I’m getting burned out and keep telling myself that my life will carry on the same regardless of who occupies the White House.
    Time for Marshmallows and Puppie Dogs again!
    Awwww. That feels better.

  14. C.M. says:

    John McCain will win only if the media continues to be in the tank for John McCain (I realize that he is currently complaining that the tank is not deep enough).
    If they will not expose him for who he really is (someone who plays the POW card at every turn; believes that he can defeat Evil although the Bible specifically leaves that to the Lord; appears to make up POW stories based on books he has read; lies about his opponent’s positions constantly –although the media doesn’t seem to question him on that; and believes that books smearing his opponent are funny, yet takes offense about any and everything said about him)we are in deep trouble.
    For you to state that you’d rather live in John McCain’s world is frightening indeed.

  15. Patrick Lang says:

    English is not your native language?
    You can not distinguish between prediction and hope? pl

  16. jamzo says:

    mccain has personal appeal
    and he knows how to sing jingoism
    it is his strength and he has worked hard to refine and develop it over the years
    rev rick as it turns out gave questions in advance (admits to some, but was it all) and he did not put mccain in a “cone of silence” (rev’s words)
    did this give the admiral’s son an edge?
    don’t know
    he came across well sitting with the rev providing stump speech answers to questions
    obama came across well thoughtfully answering the rev’s questions
    i was impressed with how differently each of them approached the questions
    i personally thought mccain did not answer the questions so much as play riff’s from his stump speeches
    i don’t think your analogy to eisenhower and stephenson fits
    mcain is career military but he is not the icon that ike was
    obama is an intellectual but he has a carisma and political savy that stephenson lacked
    a slight transfression
    my three year old grandson is in love with the name barrack obama
    he thinks he is a star wars character
    every time he sees a tv commercial or sees a campaign poster he exclaims “there he is, back obama!”

  17. Patrick Lang says:

    I was not interested in commenting on Ike. I agree there is little that he and McCain have in common.
    On the other hand I think that Obama and Stevenson have in common an elevated and intellectual air which many people resent and mistrust in the United States.
    On top of that, Paul is right. Obama is black and there are still people in this country who will not vote for a black man. pl

  18. Jose says:

    Col, I agree Obama was very bad during Saddleback because he tried to make a speech rather than talk to the audience.
    I also agree McCain was better during the event because he could communicate in sound bites.
    However, Obama was coming off a vacation in Hawaii while McCain has been in the limelight for the past week.
    Why Obama scheduled a vacation at this time is beyond my understanding.
    The real race begins Thursday when as expected Obama will pick his VP.
    Just hope Mr. Bayh or Mr. Kaine are good attack dogs because Obama refuses to get his hands dirty.
    ““Ignorance is bold and knowledge reserved.” – Thucydides
    P.S. Looks like Bayh:

  19. Patrick Lang says:

    No. I thought Obama did very well in the “forum.” Unfortunately, not enough of the audience thought that. pl

  20. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    Pat, I’m thinking McCain may have a temper-engendered “Macaca Moment”, probably in October when the pressure gets to him. His normal speaking voice has a tone that conveys barely controlled anger.
    We’ll see.

  21. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    McCain may well win thus consigning our republic to a dark and uncertain future. The public would have a chance in 2010 to register disapproval and again in 2012 but the world will have moved on.
    McCain will continue Bushism-Neoconism in foreign policy, as his staff choices and policy statements indicate, thereby further weakening and isolating the United States. More reckless crusades and unnecessary military adventures would keep the blood and treasure meter running. The New Cold War against Russia would be ramped up and the “strategic alliance” with Israel expanded. Within the next five to ten years, the US could find itself in something of a corner with Russia-China-Japan tightening their relations and the EU beginning to tilt away from the US and its delusional “leadership.”
    The Russian perspective is quite well reported on RussiaToday (Novosti) streamed television programming over the Internet. Spending a few hours watching the news shows in English is a useful exercise, IMO. Note the very British accents of the lead newscasters/presenters. Hit the “Online” button at

  22. G Green says:

    I really hope that Obama wins. It will be very disappointing if McCain does. Please vote for Obama. Visit WHYOBAMA08.ORG!!

  23. Matthew says:

    McCain as our Kaiser Wilhelm II?
    Do you get the feeling that we will be nostalgic for Dubya’s “nuance” if McCain wins.
    BTW, we are NOT all Georgians now.

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    Intelligence organizations do not advocate policy. It is not their role. pl

  25. Sven Ortmann says:

    A majority of Europeans didn’t really like the choice of GWB over Gore.
    Few Europeans understood how GWB could be re-elected over Kerry.
    If the Americans really elect McCain (again Republican and listening to NeoCon whisperers as it seems), it severe the close relationship between Europe and the USA, right to the breaking point.
    It’s about patience. Patience is running out.
    Americans have the right to elect whomever they want, but Europeans have the right to quit friendship and leave the alliance.

  26. Stevenson had a slogan, “Let’s talk sense to the American people.”
    Yup, Pat, there are parallels.
    Will the undecideds break 2-1 for McCain in the battlegrounds?
    McCain, he of the massive chip on his shoulder, envious of Obama’s potency, and egoistic by way of compensation, spoke before the VFW today. …was a brutal performance.
    What does he want the electorate to think of Obama: ivy liberal elitist socialist unamerican semi-foreigner hollywood celebrity gay loving tree hugger???
    I have no prediction about who will win but I hope Obama takes the gloves off in September.

  27. ISL says:

    Truly I fear you are right. However, as 44 showed, one can win even with a negative popular vote (-0.5%), and Obama showed in his contest with Clinton a master strategist of extremely arcane primary rules. In the general election, things are less confusing; however, electoral college strategy is quite different from popular vote strategy.
    Also, one “win” from the debate is to decrease the “Obama is a muslim” meme – from 13% down to 7% or something like that.

  28. linda says:

    ugh. the entire evening creeped me out. i just wish someone would once say ‘my religion is none of your damned business’ and risk the repercussions.
    having said that, there’s another angle worth considering — it’s an effort to strip away the influence of the noxious james dobson, tony perkins, et al crowd — over the evangelicals.
    and, apparently, that guaranteed cone of silence had some shortcomings. st john likely cheated and mislead a pastor. at a christian-sponsored event.
    what would the baby jesus think.

  29. Mark Logan says:

    The statistic of 10% of the American people believing he is a Muslim is
    (IMO) misleading. 10% do say
    that, but I think it’s really race related. Few are
    going to tell a pollster
    they won’t vote for him because he is black. If pressed, they will simply find another rationalization.
    I believe his “hope” is
    in his ability to get large numbers of people, who normally do not vote at all,
    to turn out for him. And in
    the key states. If left to
    the demographic that has voted in the last several elections, I think the Col
    is very correct. His odds are not very good.
    I would give anything to be able to choose between an Ike or an Adlai this year.

  30. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    <"the close relationship between Europe and the USA, right to the breaking point.">
    Sven Ortman,
    How do you assess the current European reaction to, and longer range consequences of, the Caucasus situation and the US role and Russian roles?
    We have seen a split in approach between the traditional continental powers France and Germany on the one hand and so-called “New Europe” countries like Poland, and the Baltic States.
    Also, Finland seems to have inclined toward the more cautious position of France and Germany while Sweden seems to have inclined toward the position of the US and New Europe states.
    Should Europeans see McCain elected and then see him continuing Bushism-Neoconism what do you foresee in the US-Europe relationship?

  31. ServingPatriot says:

    I’m with you!!!!
    It goes back to Art VI of the one document that matters, the Constitution of the United States of America. To wit:
    no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
    The involvement of religion in our politics is as old as the Republic. But, whenever its involvement becomes to great, we suffer.
    I wish all politicians would simply pass on the opportunity to demagogue about “their” religion. We citizens must begin to demand nothing less.

  32. Walrus says:

    Col. Lang, Re-sent, broken email, to hear is to obey..
    I’m afraid I’m already contemplating what my response to a McCain Presidency will be.
    Prediction number One is that the internet bloggers will be muzzled quickly under the guise of a “net neutrality act” and the removal of whatever shreds of anonymity still exist on it – all for our own good, and to protect little kids of course.
    Prediction number Two is that the intrusive intelligence gathering and the blurring of the lines between military intelligence and police work will reach a point where the ability and desire of Americans to join protest groups or organisations will be diminished through constant, planned and deliberate harassment enabled by such intelligence.
    As Hitler demonstrated, you only need to make an example of 1% – 2% of the population to cow the other 98%. And despite loud protestations to the contrary, Americans will be no different to Germans in this respect.
    To put it another way, join ACLU, PETA or any other group and expect an IRS audit at the least and you should probably expect to lose your job.
    Prediction number Three is that violence against perceived “Liberals” will intensify. The mainstream media will be puzzled by this, despite their continuous vilification of Liberals, and loudly say so….to encourage more copycat behaviour.
    Prediction number Four is a return of the draft, new military spending initiatives, and the continued looting of the treasury by the military industrial complex.
    My response will be to start working politically to cut U.S. / Australian ties as fast as possible to avoid going down with the ship. We will probably have to forge ties with China, much to Japan’s dislike.
    Even if he is elected, and assumes the Presidency, I’m not sure Obama can stop the juggernaut that has been gathering speed the last Seven years.

  33. zanzibar says:

    With Pat’s astuteness and his penchant for being right we better contemplate what 4 years under McCain will bring and prepare for it.
    After watching both Obama and McCain at Saddleback I felt McCain reinforced his base and those that want life as black & white. In troubled times easy answers that don’t require thinking probably fits those Americans in the states that will decide the election.

  34. Lysander says:

    When I hear “Elitism” I think of something different than an Ivy league education and a family of wealth.
    American political thought has moved away from democracy. The logical underpinnings of democracy assume that the consensus decision of the public is likely to be better than an elite group of the “best and the brightest.” The latter, while much smarter than Joe Shmo, will be beholden to interests other than the public.
    Today, the public seems to have lost confidence in its ability to govern itself. It has, wittingly or otherwise, surrendered the most serious decisions of the nation to a Council on Foreign Relations elite. Sorry if I sound conspiratorial but it is true.
    And so the public goes on talking about elitism as if gaining admission to Annapolis, or being the child and grandchild of Admirals is somehow less elite that Harvard Law. Or that being a Son of a President (Bush) is less elite than the son of a Senator (Gore) or that either would ever be caught dead in Jersey with the Bruce Springsteen crowd outside of a photo op.
    Elitism surrounds us in our political choices.
    What is sad is that the public actually thinks that it has a non elite choice in the matter.

  35. host says:

    The election will be about “the economy”. The two candidates are both “right of center”, right of Eisenhower, as is the country. They both are committed to defending Israel as if it was the 51st state, using force pre-emptively, and they agree that Afghanistan is a “central front of the war on terror”. A year ago, Obama spoke of adding 92,000 ground troops. US GINI is 45, vs. 28 in France. Obama defines “rich” as $250k annual income, in a country where the Fed reports that the bottom 50 percent of the population own just 2-1/2 percent of the wealth, while the top ten percent own 70 percent. Compared to the average Frenchman, an American has nothing to show for past votes. France enjoys a sustainable economic/political distributive model, while America drifts towards rioting by the increasing numbers of disaffected and/or decent into an even more extreme right power consolidation. The two US candidates are too similar for it to matter much, which one wins the coming election.

  36. Comment says:

    Just some minor points – PL is correct about the similarities in terms of image. But this commenter knew someone who knew Stevenson a bit and she thinks he was overrated in his rep for being well read – Indeed, he gave that impression. But it was mostly mannerism -Ironically (image wise) Someone like Nixon was actually far more intellectual than Stevenson – in reality , Even JFK joked that he read more books than Stevenson. But Obama is actually well read and clever. Alas, he is black and that hurts bet 10-20 percent. His wife is interesting, but the demos will prefer Cindy (can you imagine if Michelle had a drug rap like Cindy? Ha!).
    It will be a super close election – toss-up. McCain has that great character, right? Too bad it seems he might be he steals scenes from Solzhenitsyn to tell audiences about his prison days.

  37. fnord says:

    Hmm, to provide something positive: Lets not all contribute to the “MC Cain is coming, get ready for Hagees Armageddon!” hysteria quite yet (though I can feel it creeping up my spine as well). From a strategic pov, Obamas appearance on the show can be seen as a defensive blocking move, a anti-swiftboat move if you please. The current memetic assaults on the nets are running the far-left/muslim meme for all it is worth, and the appearance with the reverend should surely contribute to lay that to rest. Also, the republicans may have crescendoed early with their “Celebrity” attack. It all depends on wether Obama has a comeback strategy.
    If I was his handler, I would have done some things in the runup differently, especially when it came to A) Wiretapping and B) Oildrilling. I would have opposed the wiretapping on principles because that cause reaches deep into the republican libertarian heartlands, and I would have gone on record as trying for the “great communicator role” by showing how drilling is not going to solve the current crisis, using a slogan along the lines of “Wake up and smell the cofee, America!.” But, thats too late. What he needs to do now is to come up with six clear points and two big promises to run the rest of his campaign on, a core of ideas wich he can hammer again and again and again. In addition, he needs to build his own swiftboats, maybe not so brutal but underscoring the many mistakes and idiocies of McCain. Chalabi leaps to mind, as does the warmongering with russia. The image of a schaefer vs. a pitbull (one guards your house, the other attacks on sight) may be used. “Mc Cain was conned by a two-bit hustler then. How can we know he will not be again?”
    The most important point of the six I think must be to steal back the War on Terror: Propose a police-led manhunt for Osama bin Laden, signing in the elite of both muslim and western policeforces, a real hunting posse. The second must be about the economy, and here he could promise taxbreaks to the poorest and taxes for the hyper-rich. Third could be to go after the big corporations, and bite the hand that feeds him. Fourth should be a promise of a full economical audit of the whole last eight years adventure, and a promise to hunt down anyone who has unduly profited out of the brave boys in uniform. Hammer Bremer. Hammer Hagee. Hammer the neo-cons. The rest I leave open for ideas, but hammering the economy and the gasprices seems like a good idea, laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the republicans.
    A serious offensive hardball game will save it. Looking all dignified and scared and disgusted at the bullying and hustling of the common people will send him the way of Stevenson. Hes gotta learn to project a love for the fight, Irish pride and a boxers stance. If not, he will loose and the world may end as we know it on the fields of Harmageddon.

  38. Yellow Dog says:

    Perhaps McCain will win, but I doubt it. Not because I have any great faith in Obama, but because I have an unreasoning (and perhaps unreasonable)faith in the American people. Historically, America has often lost her way (as she has for the last 8 years), but ultimately realizes her error and corrects her course. I can’t help but believe that enough people now recognize how deeply the Republicans have driven us into the ditch. Maybe that’s not a realistic outlook, but that’s faith for you.

  39. meletius says:

    McCain will likely eke out a “win” (even losing the popular vote ala Bush/Cheney) with his vicious all-negative Rovian campaign and daily lies, all happily “covered” by the MSM, so get ready. That will likely destroy the Dem party, as it should.
    Europe actually registering real disgust with electoral failure in the US (with actual policy consequences) would be interesting.
    It needed to happen after the failed election of 2004, and didn’t. I’ll guess it won’t after the upcoming failed election of 2008, either—because the US is not the only democracy experiencing electoral failure by its citizenry and empty “leaders”.

  40. JohnS says:

    This is the exact same problem that every Democratic campaign since Carter has had except for Bill Clinton. As Obama continues to studiously avoid the Clinton model, he continues to keep it all too close in a year when the Dem candidate should have been a shoo-in.
    The thing to remember with this campaign however, is that Bush had big $$$ and a very strong ground operation in 2000 and and even stronger one in 2004. McCain has almost no ground game at all, but thanks to a brutal primary fight, Obama has a strong, well-organized ground game in practically every state, and this year Dems are more or less on par with the GOP, $$$-wise. (I think Obama’s team are counting very heavily on their ability to GOTV, and that just ain’t gonna show up in any polling…)
    So McCain’s campaign will be limited to television and radio ads and to the pundit chatter that they generate. They’re spending an awfully lot of $$ upfront, trying to “brand” Obama while the Obama campaign has been much more restrained with the $$$ and the ads. (Regarding GOP surrogate attacks: It looks like both the Obama campaign and the media are on high alert for Swift Boat-style smears from the GOP, and Corsi and his new book are getting hammered in places like Larry King Live this time around.)
    I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. I suspect the battle will not begin in ernest until after the conventions.

  41. bcw says:

    i think your analysis of the election is correct.

  42. Arun says:

    Don’t worry, we will get the President we deserve (may not be the President our young ones deserve, though).

  43. There are other reasons Stevenson lost, as this annecdote (probably apocryphal) illustrates.
    Stevenson is about to give a speech in 5 minutes. He asks an aide “Do I have time to go to the bathroom?” Being assured he did, he asks “Do I want to go to the bathroom?”
    From Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest (p23).

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