Obama’s Strategery – Damned if I Know

It’s quite obvious why the McCain campaign has kept Sarah Palin to a tightly controlled script since announcing her as the VP pick. They’re terrified of her making some obvious mistake. I don’t know why they’re so afraid. The fact that McCain and Palin have flip-flopped or goofed on the answers to many questions hasn’t hurt the team’s poll numbers. In fact, it seems as though McCain got an 11-point bump out of the RNC without addressing a single concern of middle-class Americans.

So why worry? If Palin flubs the answer to some question during her big ABC interview with Charlie Gibson later this week, all she needs to do is dodge the question or answer with GOP rhetoric. People obviously won’t know the difference. In fact, it just might make her more appealing! As Bill Maher once said about Bush, “he doesn’t know… He doesn’t know! Leave him alone, he just doesn’t know…”

McCain’s campaign manager has said this campaign is not about the issues. America is buying right into that. All Palin needs to say is something about patriotism, or reform, or bureaucracy, or perhaps rattle off some snarky witticism that the campaign prepared ahead of time, and that’s all that will get coverage. She’ll be totally prepared by the end of the week, and the press will be reporting with enthusiasm on this new political discovery rather than on her answers. God knows now that Olbermann and Matthews and anyone else who dare speak a word against this pair gets relegated to cleaning the restroom stalls at NBC headquarters.

America apparently doesn’t care about policy. It doesn’t care about issues. It doesn’t want to hear specifics about how the candidates will tackle the most important problems of the day. The people of America just want a good (quick!) sound byte, a picture of the flag, and a few lies to their faces. That’s all. It’s not about the issues… Exactly.

As the poll numbers inch upward for McCain, I’m wondering why it seems like it’s taking so long for the Obama camp to push back. I’m starting to think that this is 2004 all over again, when Kerry let the swiftboaters define him and he took way too long to immediately punch back. Obama’s got plenty of money (given to him by small folks like myself), why isn’t he spending it?

Perhaps he is spending it, just not in NY? If he is, it doesn’t seem to be getting any national coverage. Of course, with the Palin stories still sucking any air out of the room, I’m not surprised.

Perhaps Obama’s campaign folk think that 57 days is plenty to reverse the momentum? That’s possible. However, if it gets any closer to the election and McCain’s numbers are still picking up, Obama is going to have to try something more drastic. How many commercials have we seen from the McCain campaign that haven’t actually AIRED, or that have aired only a couple times, but have received play after play on some program while some talking head discussed the ad? Free advertising. National coverage. Obama might have to do something controversial and get coverage this way if people don’t stop talking about Sarah Palin. He can buy all the ads he wants, but no one will be talking about them until the Palin excitement fades.

I can’t believe I’m writing this. The Palin excitement? Jesus.

The point is, if Obama is fighting back right now, nothing seems to be getting through. These days the only Obama message getting through is slip ups like talking about his “Muslim faith.” OK, I repeated it here, but I’m going to put it in context, something that other blogs are not doing… Purposefully not doing…

The slip came when Obama suggested that McCain had not talked about “my Muslim faith,” meaning that he hadn’t tried to label Obama a Muslim. Here is the context, as taken from the Post article linked above:

The exchange came after Mr. Obama said that Republicans are attempting to scare voters by suggesting he is not Christian, which McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said was “cynical.”

Asked about it on ABC, Mr. Obama said, “These guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand.”

“The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections,” said Mr. Stephanopoulos, who repeatedly interrupted Mr. Obama during the interview.

“I don’t think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let’s say, and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks,” Mr Obama responded, and Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted: “But John McCain said that’s wrong.”

“Let’s not play games,” he said. “What I was suggesting — you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you’re absolutely right that that has not come.”

Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted with, “Christian faith.”

“My Christian faith,” Mr. Obama said quickly. “Well, what I’m saying is that he hasn’t suggested that I’m a Muslim. And I think that his campaign’s upper echelons have not, either. What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I’m not who I say I am when it comes to my faith — something which I find deeply offensive, and that has been going on for a pretty long time.”

So this is the only news Obama is making as of late, well, along with his idiotic flip-flop of a notion that he might not actually rescind the Bush tax cuts, and of course he had to mention that rescinding the cuts would actually be a tax increase, giving more fodder to his Republican rivals.

Bottom line, the campaign is in trouble. There’s no denying it. The McCain camp has so much momentum it succeeded in having Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews basically fired as political anchors. I know the Obama camp probably sees this poll-reported momentum as a blip, but it had better be very careful, and it had better start nailing its opponents to the wall on their many many lies.

I think the “Bridge to Nowhere” issue is a great one to start with. People are already familiar with the Bridge to Nowhere as a symbolic example of all that is wrong in Washington. They also remember very clearly the distorted John Kerry line, “I actually voted before it before I voted against it.”

The Obama campaign needs to blitz the airwaves with the fact that Sarah Palin was a supporter of that bridge before she was against it, and then took some of the money anyway. That will stick in peoples’ minds. Very simple. Use Rove’s playbook against the GOP. After that you can talk about how Palin didn’t really “sell” the Alaskan jet on Ebay, and how she was a big proponent of earmarks for her state. You might even throw in some of her speech at the church in her town, where she said the the Iraq war and the new gas pipeline were “God’s will.” I don’t know if painting her as a religious crackpot would do any good, and it might do some harm, but if things get desperate there’s always that option. If used properly, it could certainly scare off some independents.

Folks, it’s going to have to get dirty. We all know how the game is played now. If Democrats want to talk about policy, Republicans will attack us on the finer points. When we defend or try to clear up the lies by getting into details, no one wants to listen. That’s just how it is. And while we’re defending and clarifying, they’re immediately back on offense with ad hominem attacks which America then sends around in e-mail threads, and again we’re suddenly on defense. And as the momentum swings, a few letters to MSNBC results in even more favorable coverage for the GOP because MSNBC doesn’t want to take the chance that they could be caught on the “wrong side of history,” despite the fact that they made that mistake with Phil Donohue what, seven years ago now? In the administration’s rush to war, MSNBC didn’t want anyone on the air saying, “hey, maybe we should really think about this for a second.”

So it seems like right now because everyone is on the McCain/Palin bandwagon, everyone’s afraid to be critical of what could be the upcoming administration. It’s going to take a big rush from Obama to overcome this. It’s starting to look like an uphill battle.

I’m sure the campaign is not going to show its hand, but I sure would like — at the very least — to hear that the folks over there are not worried, that they have a plan, because I’m scared shitless right about now that we’ll see four more years of John McBush, and then eight more with the uber-neoconservative, Christianist wackjob Palin. I can’t even imagine in my wildest nightmares what this country will look like after they appoint three more conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

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