Dean Barnett pointes out that in the battle of Obama vs. not Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois isn't doing all that well. He's not the only one reading tea leaves. Over on the Left, they're starting to worry:
I've had a bad feeling about the direction of the campaign for the past couple weeks. We've been saying for months that McCain and the GOP would go negative, very negative. No surprise. That is what's happening. Karl Rove and his crew are at their best destroying people and they're running the show now. The latest tracking polls seem to indicate that McCain's negative attacks are having an impact. The corollary is that Obama's response hasn't been working, or at least it hasn't been enough. That needs to change, fast.
What savage attack machine are they talking about? Isn't the McCain campaign defending itself against charges that its 'Celebrity' and 'the One' ads are silly? The last week has seen Obama flip flop on drilling, and falsely charge the McCain campaign with racist attacks? Those are unforced Obama errors -- not GOP attacks.
And the Obama camp seems focused on not making the same mistake as previous Democratic campaigns. They say that they won't repeat the purported mistakes of the Kerry campaign -- letting charges go unanswered. They forget that the Kerry team went after the Swift Boat criticisms hard; Kerry's team had promised not to make the same mistakes Dukakis did. The problem was not that Kerry didn't respond, it was that the charges were true. Obama will do no better than Kerry if he tries to argue that he didn't know about Jeremiah Wright's extreme views, or that his world tour didn't come across as just a little presumptuous.
Obama's task right now is to sell himself as prepared to lead. He's better off not getting caught up in trying to respond to every criticism leveled at him by a Republican operative, but instead trying to show that he is ready to be president. It wouldn't hurt if he stopped making so many rookie mistakes.