Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama: 'Still Unable To Connect'

Steve Soto here. I think Obama is doing a lousy job myself. I'm disappointed. I just hope he picks Hillary as his running mate. It's nice to run on "change," but Obama should never have tried to disassociate himself from the Clinton administration and hold himself out to be "above politics." He needs to embrace it.

The Clinton era was bliss compared to the mess we've had with George W. Bush. I think choosing Hillary would show we're going to pick up where we left off in the Democratic tradition and make progress once again. See here.

It’s very possible if not certain that a larger and larger part of the Democratic establishment is increasingly uneasy with Barack Obama’s chances this fall. They can point to a range of reasons, from his inability to connect with the general electorate on real issues of concern, especially economic anxieties, to his inability to define John McCain, and to his dismissal of any effective Tier Two and surrogate effort. Some are troubled that Obama still seems too focused on image and pandering instead of connecting effective campaigning with substantive politics. That is how we find ourselves with two flawed candidates tied in some national polls, even though the GOP brand is very unpopular.

There should be little surprise with all of this, although I was hoping against the facts before me that Obama would be ahead in the national polls by 6-10 points by now. Yet Obama seems to be banking on a good convention and football stadium acceptance speech to give him the large bounce that will then withstand a nasty GOP convention containing non-stop under-the-radar racism. I don’t think it will work.

We may have to accept that Obama will never connect with everyday voters, as he doesn’t take ownership of pocketbook issues and hammer 3 to 4 main tangible reasons for his presidency. We will have to accept that he hasn’t defined major differences with John McCain on the economy, taxes, trade, global warming, health care, and the rest because he is fixated on running to the center. Unfortunately, because Obama refuses to run a Tier Two campaign through an effective surrogate operation, he finds that McCain already operates in the center after redefining himself as a moderate and not as a Republican without an effective effort by Obama to define him first. Why? Because Obama disdains the politics of the present and wants to get us all to that happy place of the politics of the future where everyone gets along and gets a pony.

When Clinton tweaked Obama’s style, shallowness on the issues, and inability to connect with the general electorate on real pocketbook issues, she was branded as running a racial campaign and eagerly trashed by his supporters and the media because she was a Clinton. That was, and is, the Obama campaign’s answer to all criticism that he cannot connect, or is too focused on his image at the expense of delineating a campaign of differences: my opponent is running a racist campaign through old-style politics.

Well, now we are heading into the conventions against a guy who was allowed to define himself as anything but a Republican, while he defined Obama as a lightweight elitist celebrity more in love with his image than with real issues. We can’t say we couldn’t see this coming, because it has already played out in the primaries. Nevertheless, many of us were all-too-ready in our swooning to honestly accept that it wasn’t racism to point out Obama’s shortcomings, but simply a preview of what was to come with Obama in charge of the party. Since it was Hillary saying these things, it was easy for the Obama supporters to dismiss it and chalk it up to racism from a bitter bitch and her overrated husband. However, that didn’t make her criticisms untrue.

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