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Aug. 23rd, 2008 @ 10:32 pm Put it away
I actually watched Obama's VP announcement this afternoon. It was extremely well done, verbal gaffes notwithstanding (I mean, how many times do people say "the next VICE president of the United States versus saying "the next PRESIDENT of the United States"? The former is almost permanently etched into a candidate's brain. And "Barack America"? Awesome!)

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.
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Date:August 24th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
The NY Times Sunday Magazine has an interview with Kucinich in which he thinks Bush is going to go to war with Iran right around the time of the elections to give more support to McCain. Which is a very ugly, cynical thing to say that might also actually be true.

Gore always seemed very uncomfortable during his 2000 campaign; maybe it was because of the fact that the press was focusing on things like Naomi Wolfe being brought in to consult and the like, but ironically, it's the relaxed, sincere Gore of A Simple Truth who seems way more presidential than the guy who ran years before.
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Date:August 24th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
I also felt the same way about Bob Dole after he lost in 1996. He was a much more appealing candidate once he stopped being one. Perhaps it's related to the phenomenon of how people are more attractive once they're in a relationship and theoretically unavailable.
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Date:August 25th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
Perhaps. I do think some people have tremendous difficulty being handled and being asked to accept whatever other people tell them to do. And then there are people like our current president.