March 1, 2008


Homing in on security as Obama's weakness: Clinton and Republicans alike perceive the issue as the Democratic front-runner's biggest vulnerability. He appears eager to take up the fight. (Peter Wallsten, 3/01/08, Los Angeles Times)

In her newest television ad, released Friday, Hillary Rodham Clinton shows who should answer the 3 a.m. call: She is pictured picking up the phone, confident and businesslike. Implied is that Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, would be less prepared for a moment of crisis.

It is the type of attack that Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, is hearing from sides. As he establishes himself as the Democratic front-runner, both Clinton and leading Republicans have settled on national security as his biggest point of vulnerability. [...]

Despite the unpopularity of Iraq policies backed by Bush and McCain, national security again looms as a potential weakness for Democrats, even if Obama's opposition to the war has helped him in his party's primary. Hoping to paint Obama as naive about foreign threats, GOP strategists say they are increasingly optimistic about a contest pitting McCain, the Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, against Obama, who has never served in the military.

That point was underscored this week in a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey. Even though about 60% of registered voters in the survey said it had not been worth going to war in Iraq, about half of registered voters said that McCain, a stalwart supporter of the war, was better able to handle the situation in Iraq than were Obama or Clinton.

Only about one-third of those surveyed said one of the Democratic candidates could handle the war better than McCain. The poll found even wider advantages for McCain on the question of who could best protect the country from terrorism.

The talking cure has never sold in America.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2008 7:13 PM

No, but a good chunk of the populace is ready to believe that it is.

From McCain and Clinton's perspective, Obama is a lightweight.

They don't get to decide that, voters do. Obama's willingness to take on the issue is instructive.

He feels confident enough in the media reporting on the best part his answers, while he merely gets better in each exchange.

He has a resevior of good will among the many who know nothing about him and a strong fan base.

He can play through gaffes like a skater skates through a fall.

Underestimate his chances at your peril.

The fact that the Clinton's haven't taken him down should tell you something.

Posted by: Bruno at March 1, 2008 7:51 PM

Voters have decided he's a lightweight. That's why polls show they require him to explain himself and why, uniquely among modern Democrats, he starts the campaign losing.

Posted by: oj at March 1, 2008 9:37 PM

Bruno, Clinton has trouble attacking Obama because, as I've written here recently, nearly ever attack she can make applies to her as well. McCain has many options she doesn't.

However, you are right that national security is not the best angle of attack. I'd say force him to defend or abandon his old-fashioned liberalism on many issues. He wants a vast increase in foreign aid, but wants to decrease free trade. He wants driver's licenses for illegals. He wants taxpayer-funded abortions. He has said nice things about comparable worth (attack gender equity by having bureaucrats set wages). He wants to end secret ballot unionization elections. These are all unpopular with 60%+ of the public (except maybe the protectionism).

Plus the whole Rezko thing.

My worry is about the side effects of the inevitable Obama Crackup. The later it happens, the worse it will be, because the wailing and conspiracy theories and bitterness will afflict larger numbers of people. If he loses the nomination, the angst will be limited to the usual hardcore lefties and the MSM to a degree. If he loses the election, the breast-beating will include more regular people and most of the MSM. If he gets elected, I just don't see how his presidency will be anything other than a disaster, with high levels of anger on all sides. My only uncertainty is how far the damage will go.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 2, 2008 1:27 AM


The "Rezko thing" will be limited. Though no R would ever get such a pass, his copping to a land deal as a "bone head move" has him out of the way of the bus for now.

The "Syrian" source of the money may work harshly against him, but only of played properly, and borne out by facts.

As long as we are both working as unpaid consultants to McCain's campaign....

I'm very worried that we are all too focused on "the issues" or his experience. Taken issue by issue, Obama can still win if no one punctures the true source of his appeal.

He's running as a prophet leading us to a better future. If enough people buy into that theme without really caring about specific positions, Obama can succeed.

I outlined (in an earlier Bros.Judd post) that there is a better way to undermine Obama that merely focusing on issues.

We have to tie each issue into the consciously promoted theme that Obama is a false prophet, leading "his people" off a cliff, or worse yet, back to Egypt.

Posted by: Bruno at March 2, 2008 9:23 AM

I think we're saying close to the same thing. His old-fashioned left/liberal solutions are words from false prophets. They sound good to many, but they've been tried and turn out to not work well in real life. Specific examples are easy to find.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 3, 2008 12:16 AM