April 20, 2008


Brush It Off (MAUREEN DOWD, 4/20/08, NY Times)

The thorny questions Obama got in the debate were absolutely predictable, yet he seemed utterly unprepared and annoyed by them. He did not do well for the same reason he failed to outmaneuver Hillary in a year’s worth of debates: he disdains the convention, the need for sound bites and witty flick-offs and game-changing jabs.

He needs to be less philosophical and abstract, and more visceral and personal. Some of the topics he acted dismissive about are real things on the minds of many Americans.

Obama does not need to wear a flag pin. By the time NBC colored its peacock logo with the Stars and Stripes after 9/11, it was clear that patriotism had been co-opted by commercialism. And he’s right that W. and Cheney used patriotism in a corrosive way to goad Americans into going along with their trumped-up war.

But when a voter from Latrobe asked in the debate why he doesn’t wear a flag pin, he high-hatted it as a “manufactured issue,” then, backing in tepidly, added, “I could not help but love this country for all that it’s given me.”

Asked about his friendly relationship with the former Weather Underground anarchist William Ayers — an association that The Wall Street Journal suggests could turn into the Swift Boat of 2008 given Ayers’s statement that “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough” — Obama defended him with a line that only the eggheads orbiting his campaign could appreciate. Ayers, he said, is “a professor of English in Chicago.”

Obama has to prove to Americans that, despite his exotic background and multicultural looks, he shares or at least respects their values and understands why they would be upset about his associations with the Rev. Wright and an ex-Weatherman.

...they'd be doing America a favor by allowing it to be governed by them. As bad as what that does to his cause with voters is what it does to him, leaving him unprepared for any of the heavy-lifting that actual politics requires.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2008 1:36 PM

he disdains the convention, the need for sound bites and witty flick-offs and game-changing jabs

He does not disdain "witty flick-offs" and "jabs", he is unable to dish out "flick-offs" and "jabs". Despite all his degrees, Obama seems unable to think and speak at the same time. His so-called eloquent stump speeches were all written, rehearsed and re-rehearsed. Whenever he's supposed to say things off-the-cuff, he stumbles. Yet, like John Kerry and Al Gore, he is so "highly intellectual". His sayings are so "profound". If you don't understand what he says, it's because you are dumb. If you detect contradictions, it is because you don't understand nuances. Anyway, it is your fault. If you don't support him, you are either racist or bitter.

Posted by: ic at April 20, 2008 2:20 PM

From Wikipedia, Ayers is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education, not a professor of English in the English department at the University of Chicago.

It may not be much, but it is a small comfort.

Education in this country is at rock bottom and can't get any lower.

Posted by: erp at April 20, 2008 4:17 PM