The Obamacentric Universe

>> Sunday, July 27, 2008

Anyone paying attention to the 2007-08 campaign for President cannot but help to see that the since Iowa the race has been about Obama. The Primary became about him. Could he survive Jeremiah Wright? Could he earn the votes of Sen. Clinton’s base? The discussion about whether Sen. Clinton should stay in the race was driven by projections about her effect on Obama’s future chances. The compelling story that is Barack Obama became the star of the show. This race dynamic centered on Obama has only solidified since the General Election has started.

The dreadful performance of the McCain campaign has been well documented as has his inability to get a great deal of media coverage. Some speculate that the lack of coverage is actually good for McCain because it prevents people from understanding how confused he is about really important things. The argument assumes that more coverage would equate to more coverage of his mistakes. This is not necessarily true. What the McCain campaign has to be upset about is the lack of positive press in addition to his screw ups. His screw ups are virtually the only thing being covered because they are generally so bad that not covering them is unethical. The McCain camp is pissed because they cannot generate the positive images and coverage to offset the screw ups. Barack Obama has taken firm control of the race dynamic.

The Obama camp plan of attack is clear. They are taking advantage of the time before the convention to define Obama. It is hard for us who follow the political events rapidly to contemplate that some people really do not know who Obama is. The campaign is filling in his weakest areas and the areas people may perceive as weaknesses. They can define Obama how they choose to and there is not a whole lot the McCain camp can do about it because they are not in control. McCain has to react to Obama and as a consequence is always a step behind him. The McCain camp realizes that Obama is defining himself and they are trying their best to intervene. The wild and constant attacks that are entirely about Obama are their attempts at defining him before he firmly defines himself for the voters. Obama is the more unknown and he needed to define himself lest the right set up the lenses through which the voters view him.

While McCain spends all his time talking about Obama he leaves himself open. McCain should not rely on the old press and identity he built up. McCain should be out there trying to take more control of his identity reinforcing the maverick label with legislation or some coherent policy plans. Instead he spends all his time reacting to Obama and racking up policy inconstancies and gaffes.

Many kossacks are worried because they see McCain going undefined and continue as a maverick. The Obama team has chosen to sure up their own base and image before going to define McCain. This has a number of advantages. The first is that sets them up to attack McCain closer to the election when the Obama camp must feel that it will be more effective. People might forget what happened four months before the election but a steady stream of attacks just before the election might sway some minds. Defining McCain closer to the election also allows the Obama campaign to bring back Bush. Making himself seem safe early allows Obama to make the election a referendum on Bush. Voters can go into the booths and think, "Bush sucks. Therefore, Republicans suck. McCain is a Republican. McCain sucks" without worrying that the non-republican cannot do the job. Obama does not want to be defending himself at the wire.

I would look for a major paradigm shift around the time of the convention. By that point Obama should be as well defined as he is going to be. Both candidates will get their convention bounce and then Obama will go to work hammering on McCain until the election. The first half of the race will be about making sure Obama is up to the task. The second half will be about defining McCain to people, not as a maverick, but as the confused neo-con panderer. If McCain’s campaign continues to be this inept, I do not foresee them being able to stop Obama. They cannot stop him defining himself now and they will not stop him defining McCain later.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

  © Blogger template Sunset by 2008

Back to TOP