September 9, 2008

THE CHALLENGE OF RIDING THE WEAK HORSE (OR, IN THIS CASE, UNICORN):

Barack Obama rattled as rivals steal the limelight (Tom Baldwin, 9/10/08, Times of London)

With Democrats asking if the familiar sight of a Republican resurgence is a trend or merely a post-convention bounce, Mr Obama’s mask of calm has, at times, slipped to reveal him as uncertain — even disorientated — about how to tackle the unexpected phenomenon of Mrs Palin.

Although he made two weighty policy speeches in Ohio about Iraq and education policy, he now spices campaign appearances with spluttered outrage at how Mrs Palin and Mr McCain are portraying themselves as agents of change — or fulmination over the failure of the media to ask them tough questions.


One of the hardest things to do in politics is to stay on message. [For whatever reason, Senators tend to be especially bad at it (see under Bob Dole).] But for his whole career, such as it is, the Unicorn Rider has had a pretty easy time of it, because he only had one message, his own Obamaness.

Now, however, with his candidacy taking on water, he has to offer more and we should probably not be surprised that he's making such a hash of it. They had so many messages today that they reduced their own campaign to cacophony. Though, given how idiotic, incoherent, and/or self-contradictory most of the messages were that's probably a good thing.

To get a sense of his challenge going forward, consider just one message that it would make sense for him to have run on, his very Republican education plan. Had Mr. Obama been out there for the past 12 months banging on teachers unions and pumping up charter schools he really would represent a change from the typical Second Way policies of liberal Democrats. But he's left it so late in the game that he can't afford to spend the time that would be required for this plan to be identified with him and he's turned so partisan that it just seems strange and desperate, rather than refreshing, to hear him back ideas associated with the other party

Meanwhile, John McCain is not only benefiting from his vp pick's Palinness but she's forced him on message, McCain-Palin Duo Draws Enthusiastic Crowds (RON CLAIBORNE, Sept. 9, 2008, ABC News)

Pleased with the surge in support, the McCain campaign skipped plans for the two to campaign separately this week and kept the ticket together as it visited the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

On the stump in Lebanon, Ohio, this morning, McCain barely touched on the war in Iraq and did not mention President Bush's announcement that 8,000 troops would be withdrawn by February 2009.

Instead, McCain and Palin attacked congressional earmarks, the billions of dollars that members of Congress shower on their home states.

"My friends, I've got a pen and I'm going to veto every single pork barrel bill," McCain said to a cheering crowd.

They specifically targeted Obama for requesting what they say amounts to $1 billion in earmarks during his three years in the Senate.

"In just three years my opponent has requested $1 billion of earmarks," Palin said, echoing her running mate's remarks. "That's about a million dollars a day for every day he's been in office."


Her mere presence makes him talk about reform. They should campaign together the rest of the way and start hitting places like WI, NJ, CA, etc., if for no other reason than to tie the Obama campaign down on defense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2008 9:24 PM
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