Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Pressue on Obama Mounts From the Underbelly of Politics
For all intents and purposes, the general election campaign is turning into an instant replay of the primary campaign, with merely a nominal--literally--change in Obama's opponent's name.
McCain has slid comfortably into Hillary's old slot and is conducting much the same type of campaign she did once she realized that she was not going to be anointed the Dem candidate by acclamation.
The campaign (henceforth in this essay, "campaign" refers simultaneously to the McCain and Clinton campaigns), the campaign adopts the overall strategy of tearing down one's opponent on a personal, ad hominem, basis.
The tactics used are ridicule, innuendo, outright falsehoods, whispering campaigns, baseless charges, distortions and anything else that can be carved into a weapon of personal destruction.
Those who use these tactics count on the ignorance and prejudice of the voting public to ensure their efficacy. Remember Hillary's success with "under-informed" voters during the primary?
Primary-Obama faced the issue and resisted attempts to roll in the mud with his opponent. He won the Primary.
General-Obama is now faced with the virtually identical issue. Advice, publicly by the likes of Chuck Schumer, for example, and, presumably, privately is streaming in, urging Obama to "fight back, get tough, hit 'em as hard as they're hitting you"...and so on.
The media has found an angle in the election that they can enthusiastically cover because it obviates the hard work that covering real, complex issues entails, thereby increasing the pressure on Barack.
In refusing to play the game by the rules of Bush, Rove, Clinton, Penn and Schumer, as Barack has thus-far done, the single toughest objection to this path of action is this one: But what these other people do Works! These tactics Win elections, like it or not. And, not employing these tactics Loses elections.
As a political outsider, a civilian, if you will, it appears to me that professional political types are in near unanimous agreement that the previous three sentences above are gospel. But they base that conclusion (a) on and only on the results of the last two presidential elections and (b) their interpretation and perhaps creation of the causality relationship between Bush's two victories and the use of personal-destruction politics.
To say that these political professionals have restricted their universe of variables and inputs is an understatement. To these pro's, a candidate is a candidate is a candidate; Kerry=Gore=Obama; just another face and name to plug into their system of winning elections.
If Barack Obama views himself as this latest incarnation of Gore and Kerry, he might as well admit that he's in Rome and "do as the Romans do."
If, however, he thinks he's gotten this far by being something Other than the typical Dem candidate for president, by being a sort of un-candidate, or at least an atypical one, he's got to stick to the high road that brought him to within a step of the White House.
Once he descends down to the Low Road, he has already lost, regardless of the results in November.