But there's something that bothers me. Obama is, by my estimation, the real deal. He's intelligent, inspiring, powerful, wise, and what we all need. He's now selected a VP who's scrappy, thoughtful, and basically everything that McCain talks about being, but Biden actually is. The country is in the crapper, both in terms of our own hyperleveraged economy, and our standing in the world. Our planet is changing in ways that are unprecedented and faster than even our most pessimistic predictions. The Democrats are gaining ground in the House and the Senate.
And yet, Obama is just barely ahead of McCain, if at all.
To be fair, Obama just barely won the nomination--he had a hard fight with a great competitor who also would have been an outstanding president for our time. The biggest issue I had with Hillary was that she was another Clinton and another baby boomer (and yes, I blame some of the more narcissistic tendenencies of some baby boomers for much of the world's and our country's current state, but that's another blog entry) and I believe Obama has a more postmodern take on our politics which we need. It was the narrative that Obama was the "special" candidate, the one who changed the rules. And that's still how he's defined in the campaign against McCain.
In my opinion, this election should be no contest. Obama should win in a landslide. The Senate and House should become filibuster-proof majorities. The Dems should gain one or two more governorships. We hopefully enter into a new era of environmental and social responsibility, and we work toward building a human society for the next thousand or more years. Yet McCain clings to a close race, and it's far from in the bag.
This week, an offhand clip on how many houses McCain owns became a massive talking point that the Obama campaign managed brilliantly. The press is finally starting to realize that maybe McCain's talk isn't as straight as they assumed.
I want Obama to put this away. Clearly, they can manage the message. Perhaps they understand that it's not necessarily bad to have the race ebb and flow in August, because what's important is November. But I hope they can steadily build, and that they build a big enough lead to survive an October Surprise by the GOP, and inoculate themselves against the negative attacks sure to come. They can't play merely to win this time, that isn't enough. They need to play to dominate. They should control the narrative every week like they did this week, and when Obama went on his international trip. It's what they're capable of and I hope they do it. I was disappointed and bitter about how badly Kerry campaigned and ran--he's a fine guy and a fine Senator, but he didn't control the narrative, and he lost as a result. (Whoever's decision it was not to totally shame the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was foolish.) Gore ultimately didn't control the narrative and had to walk away from the victory he had fairly won (and though his SNL speech was funny, it was also sad because it showed us what was at stake and what we lost by him not being on top of things.)
Obama can't afford to lose. We can't afford having Obama lose. The Democratic Party can't afford having Obama lose. Our true hope is that Obama can break the GOP noise machine, once and for all.