Three Questions for the Obama Campaign

The blogosphere is of course all atwitter at Sen. Obama’s drop in the polls.  And true to our past, we’re all ready to pile on with our expert opinions.   We simply must.  We’re Democrats, after all.  Here’s my 3 cents worth.

QUESTION #1

This, from my friend Jack McDonald.  Whatever happened to the catchy taunt, “McSame?”  The campaign seems to believe that it’s best line of attack is to tie McCain to the policies of Bush/Cheney, but the effort doesn’t appear to me to be working.  It just doesn’t have much punch.  Woulnd’t about a million signs shouting, “NO MORE MCSAME,” “THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN 8 YEARS OF BUSH WOULD BE 4 YEARS OF MCSAME?” help?

QUESTION #2

Why isn’t Biden more on the attack?  Of course, that’s the traditional role for the Veep nominee, and Biden’s good at it.  But he can’t get on the news to save his life.

It seems to me that the media has pretty well concluded that McCain is running the most duplicitous campaign of all time.  When Paul Krugman calls him a liar, that’s one thing; when the Associated Press does, that’s quite another:

Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain’s skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama’s campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.

McCain’s persistence in pushing dubious claims is all the more notable because many political insiders consider him one of the greatest living victims of underhanded campaigning. Locked in a tight race with George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain was rocked in South Carolina by a whisper campaign claiming he had fathered an illegitimate black child and was mentally unstable.

How about this as a script for Sen Biden:

I have known John McCain for 35 years, and I have the utmost respect for his integrity.  But ladies and gentlemen, John McCain has fallen in with a bad crowd.  They’re trained by Karl Rove, and they’re the same guys who told lies for George Bush for 8 years.  Now they’re lying to you.  Don’t listen to them.

QUESTION #3

Why not play the soldier card more aggressively?

Randall Stross said something interesting in his book Eboysan otherwise nearly unreadable, capitalistic-porn profile of Benchmark Capital in the midst of the tech bubble.  He said that decades can be largely defined by their cultural heroes.  The Watergate 70s were all about Woodward and Bernstein and their investigative journalist colleagues.  During the 80s, investment bankers were lionized–remember Gordon Gekko and “greed is good,” alongside Sherman McCoy’s explanation of why $1 million wasn’t what it used to be.   In the 1990s, of course we had the “dot com boys,” both entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  The 2000s have largely been about hedge fund managers, with their multi-hundered million dollar annual pay packages driving up the price of art and real estate.

Heading into the 10s, the cultural hero of the moment is the soldier.   Conspicuous wealth is once again on its way out of fashion as the country slides into recession and comes to grip with the fact that the national savings rate must return to levels not seen since the 80s.  And although the cult of celebrity will be seemingly ever-present in American life, we’re tired of Britney and Paris.  At least most of us are.

I see soldier-worship most clearly when I’m traveling.  Soldiers in uniform are ushered to the front of every airport line; they are applauded and offered first-class seats.  As our fatigue with Iraq has escalated, our ardor for our troops has only increased.   This may be a bad war, but they are great servants of their country.  It’s the complete opposite of the ambivalence and downright venom that was faced by soldiers returning from Vietnam.  The American soldier has not been so revered since VJ Day.

With McCain flashing his war hero credentials at every turn, perhaps the most fascinating and under-emphasized fact of this campaign is that the people wearing their country’s uniform overwhelmingly do not want him to be their commander-in-chief.  Obama leads McCain in fundraising among active duty military by 6 to 1.  I’d be suprised if Obama leads McCain by 6-1 in fundraising among blacks!  Even less reported is the fact that the VFW gives McCain simply awful marks as a legislator.

This is an easy story to tell, and doesn’t have to be nasty in the least.

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