Hard to Starboard! Steer a course for the shoals!
The Obama campaign attempts to avert looming disaster by charting a course from rough waters to perilous shoals
By Jeff Emanuel Posted in 2008 | Barack Obama | I will not debate you in a boat I will not debate you with a goat | Obamafiles — Comments (14) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Six months from the general election, BarackObama finally appears to be feeling the strain of the Presidential race. He has finally become the target of questions from some in the omnipotent American media, rather than simply of adulation. The Rezko and Ayers connections, the mentor-mentee relationship with the deeply racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his losing primaries in seven of the nine most populous states in the Union , the self-manufactured controversy over the flag pin, and the increasingly evident contradictions within his campaign -- such as the fact that Obama's Hope-Change-Unite rhetoric is firmly at odds with his highly partisan views, attitudes, and background -- have all contributed to his stress levels, and to his criticism-worthy performances, the combination of which has now snowballed into a problem which he sees as requiring macro changes within his campaign, rather than the smaller, less cumbersome minor-course-corrections he was able to implement throughout the past several months of the race.
Obama's Macro adjustments include several things, some of which were more predictable than others. Not content to merely back out of a pre-scheduled North Carolina debate, he is now refusing to square off with Hillary! at any venue or in any way, Saturday rejecting out-of-hand her offer of a moderator-free Lincoln-Douglass style debate (an offer that was renewed today, with Mrs. Clinton offering to meet Obama "on the back of a flatbed truck" -- a challenge from which he will shrink as certainly as he refused the weekend offer of a moderator-less engagement).
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Mr. Obama's campaign changes go, though. Read on.
According to the New York Times:
Senator Barack Obama is making subtle changes to his campaign style and message in an effort to strengthen his appeal to blue-collar voters and to avoid a defeat in Indiana that aides fear could give Democratic Party leaders further pause about his viability in a general election.
On Sunday, Mr. Obama went to a Methodist church in Indianapolis, the kind of event rarely on his public schedule. He suited up for a game of basketball on Friday night before television cameras. And the big, energy-filled stadium rallies that were the bread and butter for most of his campaign have once again given way to smaller town-hall-style meetings, where he is seen talking with people and not at them.
The toning down of the Messianic nature of Obama's campaign appears to be one way that the former assumed Democratic presidential nominee is attempting to reconnect with the people who were so turned off by the frighteningly tent revival-esque facade that his campaign had taken on earlier this year, complete with possibly faked faintings. As with most of Obama's campaign problems, this was exacerbated by Michelle Obama's rhetoric -- particularly her declarations that:
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual
...as well as her assertions that the real question this election year is not whether Barack Obama is ready to be President, but whether the country is ready for Barack Obama.
The Head of the Church of State image that he so enthusiastically fostered this winter did him good in caucuses and small-state primaries; however, when the time came for the midwest to weigh in on the race, Obama found that the Masses in America's heartland already have an Opiate -- something that he snidely derided to the wealthy donors on San Francisco's Billionaire's Row as a "clinging" result of "bitterness."
The publicization of this statement seemed to tear asunder the veil over Obama's true nature (from top to bottom, perhaps?), exposing him to middle America as an individual not only with elitist views and tendencies, but with the modern Liberal view of religion -- as something that, when seriously exercised (as opposed to, say, sitting in the pew of a church for twenty years but supposedly not internalizing the hateful, divisive message being driven at the audience week in and week out), is a poor and desperate attempt by the great unwashed to fill the hole that an insufficiently nurturing government has left in their lives.
This statement likely damaged Obama in the eyes of moderate American voters more than he or his allies on the Left can comprehend. However, damage control is still being attempted (at least in terms of trying to smooth things over with the voters that the campaign has not yet written off). According to the Times:
In strategy sessions last week, advisers concluded that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, needed to do a better job reminding voters of his biography, including his modest upbringing by a single mother and one of his first jobs as a community organizer helping displaced steel mill workers.
However, the fleece is off the wolf, and such attempts will likely ring mostly hollow at best. As Fred Siegel, a political scientist at New York's Cooper Union, wrote in National Review (h/t WSJPD):
Obama is the internationalist opposed to free trade...He is the proponent of courage in the face of powerful interests who lacked the courage to break with Reverend Wright. He is the man who would lead our efforts against terrorism yet was friendly with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant 1960s terrorist. He is the post-racialist supporter of affirmative action. He is the enemy of Big Oil who takes money from executives at Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and British Petroleum. Obama has, in a sense, represented a new version of the Invisible Man, a candidate whose color obscures his failings. Perhaps his remarks about bitter Pennsylvanians' clinging to their guns have finally made visible the real man and his Harvard hauteur
The specter of that "Harvard hauteur" will not quickly depart the minds of those whose support Obama desperately needs if he is to win any of the remaining primary contests -- let alone a general election in the fall.
Perhaps partially recognizing their newly disadvantaged position, Obama's campaign organizers are implementing a fresh tactic for the North Carolina primary election: they are calling for help from out-of-state sources to turn out the vote and, more importantly, to show a massive base of support for Obama. This show of support stands to be decidedly non-local (especially now that Obama's North Carolina lead has been cut in half), but appearances often matter more than reality in media coverage of electoral politics (and of so many other issues).
"The North Carolina primary is coming up on May 6th, and it's by far the biggest contest remaining," wrote Katina Tsongas, the Obama campaign's North Carolina field director, in a recent email to supporters. She continued:
You can be a part of this effort -- and there are two opportunities for folks across the country to come and help out.
Early vote locations are open through Saturday, May 3rd, and North Carolinians can make their voices heard right away -- even people who aren't registered to vote or have never voted before. And from Friday, May 2nd to Tuesday, May 6th, we'll be in an all-out Get Out The Vote push to make sure Barack has a strong showing on Primary Day itself.
Let us know when you can take a trip to North Carolina for Barack: http://nc.barackobama.com/cometoNC
Everything we've accomplished has been made possible by a network of grassroots supporters across the country working to make change possible.
Right now, local staff and volunteers are working hard to identify Obama supporters across the state -- but they need your help.
A strong finish for Barack could make the difference in this election, and so much of that outcome depends on you.
Will you take a trip to North Carolina in the next 12 days?
Further, late Monday afternoon the Obama campaign sent an email (under the candidate’s name) to supporters in which Obama said:
In the coming days, supporters across the country will be coming to North Carolina to knock on doors, make phone calls, and Get Out The Vote for Primary Day on May 6th -- and they need your help.
I know this is a big decision. But what's brought our campaign where we are today is that so many people -- including many who never thought they'd get involved in politics in their lifetime -- have taken that leap to help us succeed.
We can bring jobs back to communities across America, reduce the price of gas, and put an end to the war in Iraq -- and it all begins in North Carolina…I hope you'll join us.
Perhaps it is his past coming back to haunt him that has brought Obama's Ship of Candidacy to the point where he is begging for out-of-state help to create the appearance of a base of support in one of the last primary locations; perhaps it is his innate elitism, and standard Liberal disdain for the common man whom he hopes to represent (and to make decisions for); perhaps it is his simple lack of experience, judgment, and ability to deal with any form of adversity.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that Obama's campaign has hit rough waters for the first time since he became a nationally viable candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Though they are doubtless making the best decisions they are capable of, the measures that Obama and his staff are taking to change course and steer away from the rough seas ahead appear to be leading the electoral effort centered around the junior Senator from Illinois toward the shoals, rather than toward the clear, open water through which the sailing would be both safest and smoothest. Whether his candidacy will founder is still an open question; however, given the weight of the baggage he is bringing with him, Barack Obama does not appear at this point to have the wherewithal (or the advisors in place) to be able to survive the taking on of much more water than his campaign already has.