Saturday, September 13, 2008

Obama’s Failing Strategy

WASHINGTON - An overwhelming advantage in experience and lopsided support from working-class and suburban whites have lifted Republican John McCain to a slender lead over Barack Obama less than two months from Election Day -- ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer

That is what we call a red flag.

Running short on message, Sen. and presidential aspirant Barack Obama first borrowed an idea from a cartoon bubble and then, for good measure, threw in a trite saying about lipstick and pigs, all to no avail. The moose hunter and her partner have galloped past him in the polls.


Obama’s Achilles’ heal is his lack of administrative and foreign policy experience. His trip to Germany, France and England earlier in the year was a frenetic attempt to acquire quickly the semblance of foreign policy experience. Palin has the edge on him with respect to administrative experience, and presidential aspirant John McCain is light years ahead of him on the foreign policy front.

Importing Biden into the ticket was a way of infusing the campaign with a large dose of instant experience.

The strategists in the Obama camp were not prepared for McCain’s Vice Presidential choice. For them, Palin’s entrée into the race was a resounding smack upside the head, and not only because she was a woman who threatened to turn the Hillary Clinton herd of disappointed women into the Republican paddock.

Hell hath no fury, the ancient Greeks knew, like a woman scorned, and Obama’s summary rejection of Clinton as a presidential partner seemed to many a scornful act. What were Obama strategists to do now that McCain had chosen as his campaign partner a frontier woman, ex-model, moose hunter, hockey mom and corruption busting governor of Alaska, all bound up in feminine mystique?

Here’s an idea: Let’s attack her!

Now, attacks of this kind are not unusual in American politics. America’s first real political campaign – the Jefferson Adam’s tousle – featured the usual tricks of the trade. Adams and his wife accused Jefferson of being a bloody sans culotte, and an atheist to boot. Jefferson and his eventual vice president, Aaron Burr, accused Adams of harboring monarchical pretensions. Burr plotted first against Adams, thereby displeasing Alexander Hamilton whom he later shot in a duel, and then sought to use the arcane system by which presidents were chosen to hoist himself into the presidency. Everyone used everyone else to spread slanders about. One of the most efficient slanderers was a reporter who managed to uncover a liaison involving Hamilton, who supported Jefferson over Burr because, as he said, he would rather have as president someone who embraced the wrong principles than one who had none. Burr used the slanderer’s talents with some effect against Jefferson. The reporter did not die in his bed full of years. Sometime after the campaign, his lifeless body was dredged out of the Potomac.

Only recently have reporters swooned visibly over tacky campaign tactics.

But the attack on Palin is, to put it in a word, stupid. Not that it is not vicious as well: Palin has been accused of pretending to be pregnant with a Down Syndrome child that was born by her daughter, of pretending to nix the notorious Alaskan bridge to nowhere, of being an earmark queen (she accepted the earmarks before rejecting them), and of lacking the experience one would expect a person to have who is but a heart beat away from the presidency.

Much of this untrue, wildly distorted and dumb.

It is dumb, purely from a strategic point of view, because Obama is running for president -- the beating heart in the White House -- his executive experience is shallower than Palin’s, his foreign policy experience has been acquired through his association with Biden, and he has yet to be interviewed by ABC News's Charlie Gibson who, should the occasion arise, possibly will ask him, somewhat sternly, to summarize the Obama doctrine.

The last president to fashion a presidential doctrine was Harry Truman. Modern presidents have doctrines, many of them, each one neatly tailored to the moment and most of which are conflicting.

And the whole experience shtick is a shame, Obama would be the first to admit. President George Bush, Obama has said in other contexts, has vast experience as a president, and yet his experience leaves much to be desired.

Given the Obama doctrine on the inutility of experience, his attacks on Palin make no sense. He should leave such messy duties to his more experienced vice presidential candidate, barracuda Biden.

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