In his column today, David Brooks weighs the in’s and out’s of whether the Obama campaign should go negative and attack Hillary Clinton and thus play by “The Clinton Rules.” Has he not been paying attention? Because the Obama campaign has certainly not been above the fray all these months, as I have pointed out time and time again.
Obama stepping up and attacking Clinton, Brooks claims, is “supposed to show that Obama can’t be pushed around.”
But, of course, what it really suggests is that Obama’s big theory is bankrupt. You can’t really win with the new style of politics. Sooner or later, you have to play by the conventional rules.
So what effect will it have if Obama goes more negative that some of us already see he has? As Brooks explains, Clinton “never promised to purify America,” as Obama has. Which means that Obama supporters may wake up and start to become disillusioned.
As the trench warfare stretches on through the spring, the excitement of Obama-mania will seem like a distant, childish mirage. People will wonder if Obama ever believed any of that stuff himself.
Furthermore, if Obama does go on to win the nomination, indeed “he won’t represent anything new,” he will instead “just be a one-term senator running for president.” Ah, but some of us have seen through the veneer of Obama’s “new politics”. Brooks says:
In short, a candidate should never betray the core theory of his campaign, or head down a road that leads to that betrayal. Barack Obama doesn’t have an impressive record of experience or a unique policy profile. New politics is all he’s got. He loses that, and he loses everything. Every day that he looks conventional is a bad day for him.
Besides, the real softness of the campaign is not that Obama is a wimp. It’s that he has never explained how this new politics would actually produce bread-and-butter benefits to people in places like Youngstown and Altoona.
If he can’t explain that, he’s going to lose at some point anyway.
While the Obama camp feels that people are “hungry for a different kind of politics,” in truth people are really hungry for a strong leader that can and will make the changes necessary and clean up the mess that BushCo has made. Change is coming regardless, as I have said here many times, but to really make that change a reality, we’re going to need a leader that has more experience than a “one-term senator” running on “hope”.
The economy is the issue that people are clamouring for change on. But, Barack Obama hasn’t made that his focus, as Brooks points out — he hasn’t really “explained how this new politics would actually produce bread-and-butter benefits.” Hillary Clinton has and it’s been her focus for some time now, because unlike Barack Obama, Hillary actually listens to the voters.