April 23, 2008


Obama's Gloves Are Off -- And May Need to Stay Off (Jonathan Weisman, 4/23/08, Washington Post)

[T]he candidate who rocketed to stardom as the embodiment of a new kind of politics -- hopeful, positive and inspiring -- saw his image tarnished in the bruising fight for Pennsylvania. Provoked by Clinton's repeated references to his remarks about the state's voters and her charges that he is an "elitist," Obama struck back in the closing days of the campaign.

"It's a real danger for Obama, and if you look at these recent ads, the messages they're delivering in all these conference calls, it's a far cry from last fall," when the theme of hope emerged amid calls for a more negative tone, said Democratic consultant Steve Elmendorf, a Clinton supporter.

Republican strategist John Feehery put it less charitably: "That's the danger of running as holier-than-thou. You have a lot farther to fall." [...]

In early exit polls, Clinton was carrying white voters by 24 percentage points, union households by 18 points, and voters without college degrees by 16 points -- all that, according to the Clinton campaign, "after the Obama campaign's 'go-for-broke' Pennsylvania strategy, after their avalanche of negative ads, negative mailers and negative attacks against Sen. Clinton, after their record-breaking spending in the state."

If Obama's image was coarsened in Pennsylvania, the next round of primaries may do it even more damage. But Obama advisers say the campaign is in a far different place than it was last fall. The senator from Illinois is much better known nationally, with an image that will not be easily recast -- either by his opponents or his own tactics.

"Are there some people who might see him as less than the idealistic candidate that he was at the beginning of this process? Certainly," said an Obama adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity last night.

It's a given that we're the Stupid Party, but can you imagine the GOP nominating a candidate whose sole selling point is that he's above mortal politics?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2008 7:02 AM

There are some people in the GOP who are upset about just that.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2008 7:52 AM

The arrogance of the left that has turned me off from day one is their unceasing belief that whatever they do not like is happening because people "worse than we (the leftist) are" are making it happen, because they are either greedy, ignorant, or just plain rotten.

Thus, Oby was "above politics" on some higher mortal plain than the rest, because all he had to do was say so. Now, whooda thunk, he's forced to do...... what EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN HISTORY has done, play the game, throw some elbows, antagonize some factions, whole package..... and lo, the people who think they are so much smarter and better than 200 years of their forebears are shocked.... SHOCKED I tell you.... that their candidate is faced with the same dynamics that every other candidate has faced, and thus acts accordingly. Thus his "perfection" (oh..... oh.... I feel faint....!) is compromised. What a surprise.

I don't want to dislike idealists. I really don't. I just wish they were not such damnable idiots sometimes.

Posted by: Andrew X at April 23, 2008 11:35 AM

Well, it was always obvious that this wouldn't last. You can perhaps win elections without blatantly distorting an opponent's record, but you can't win elections without some negativity because that's the ball game. Candidates launch political attacks on each other because they have very different political ideas and, really, it's unnatural to expect everyone to drop their objections just because some candidate is youthful or telegenic or a nice guy.

Liberals fall for this stuff because they view amity as the natural and default condition of mankind. They think we're all secretly longing to get into their government-handout, socialized health care, unilateral disarmament group hug. They believe that if only they can get an attractive pitchman then all their proposals will fall into place, followed by our natural state of complete political unity. Try reading the Federalist #10 to see how the Founders would have howled them off the stage.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 23, 2008 11:09 PM