The Real Softness of the Obama Campaign

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. 

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3 Responses to The Real Softness of the Obama Campaign

  1. Frank Thomas says:

    In his column March 8th in the IHT, David Brooks wisely advises Barack Obama not to sink into the personal attack/dirty tricks game so long poisoning our political system. I disagree, however, that Obama’s message of HOPE comes with no specifics. His first priority has been to change a deep, destructive, “ideologically-pure mindset” in American politics. Here, Obama has been strikingly successful in stirring Americans to question the status quo in an open, less doctrinaire manner. He’s asking us to come together to correct a system casually out-of-touch as it maximizes upper-class wealth and marginalizes the stagnant prosperity and job insecurity of mainstream America; a system widening the gap between “haves and have nots;” a system suffocating under deluges of debt from all directions; a culture of even denying these realities of everyday life.

    He’s calling for an intelligent, balanced, civil social-political dialogue where we argue constructively, objectively weigh the options, make compromises, create new ideas and strengthen old ones — essential to removing ourselves from the precipice of a worsening financial instability, divisive social stratification, and loss of world respect.

    Corrective policies and programs have been given in Obama’s many public talks and on his web site. I agree with Brooks that more details should be forthcoming. I’m confident he’ll do this as well as avoid the “politics as usual” culture of character and
    competence assassination Mr. Brooks warns about. One thing I feel strongly about is that Obama’s enormously uplifting message of HOPE has engaged so many to stop and think as a community of Americans much more critically about WHO we are, HOW and WHERE we want our nation to go.

  2. Frank Thomas

    “He’s asking us to come together to correct a system casually out-of-touch as it maximizes upper-class wealth and marginalizes the stagnant prosperity and job insecurity of mainstream America…”

    If that’s what he asking of voters, one would think that he’d be the one attracting middle to low income voters instead of the upper income income voters.

    The fact is, that Hillary Clinton fares better with the folks who are suffering in this economy — the “have nots”.

    “He’s calling for an intelligent, balanced, civil social-political dialogue where we argue constructively, objectively weigh the options, make compromises…”

    He and his campaign are engaging in “calculated, deeply dishonest conduct ” under the guise of “hope” and “new politics”.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Electing someone to lead, and electing someone to merely lead the discussion are two very different things.

    Here’s one thing to keep in mind. With the rightward drift of our society, conservatives win by merely prolonging the discussion. Those on the left win only by having concrete action taken that changes the direction that public matters are headed. Yes we need to change the nature of the dialogue, but only if it is recognized that that is only a step towards taking us down a path that one third of the country is ready, able, and willing to fight like hell to keep us from taking.