If Obama wants the
world country to know that he is not a policy ditz, he will have to show us something of substance. The best way for him to do this, would be for him to agree to a few town hall debates. Remember this truism: “Blogs Cannot act in a vacuum, but Obama can.”
Obama seems pretty much on his own in facing down McCain’s increasingly nasty attacks (yes, we have the blogs, but the blogs aren’t enough by themselves – see my discussion of this further down). The conventional wisdom is that the best way to respond to these kind of attacks is to respond in kind, and blow them out of the water (note how McCain responded to Obama’s “race” comment, and note how it threw the Obama people off-balance – also, note what McCain did to Wesley Clark). You do that with the candidate himself, sometimes (if you feel a need to show that the candidate can get angry if necessary, i.e., has balls), but more often you use outside groups and surrogate members of Congress, and other third parties, like the blogs, talk radio, etc. But in this case, our outside groups were shut down a few months ago, so they’re gone, and many of their staff, some of the top political people in town, aren’t even working on the election at all now. As for Democratic Senators and House Members, they’ve been oddly silent over the past week or two, and at least don’t seem part of any larger, public, and coordinated strategy to counterattack. And yes, finally, the blogs are still here, but as I’ve argued many a time (see the Alito filubuster [sic] fiasco), the blogs can’t act in a vacuum. A proper political marketing strategy requires multiple layers, multiple actors, each complementing the other’s work, the other’s message, the other’s attacks.
The “nasty attack” in question is a McCain commercial asserting that Obama is a lightweight media celebrity unprepared to be President. In this sense, the ad was also an attack on the sycophantic Obama-centric media (see: Tapper, Jake and Klein, Joe as examples). Aravosis’s contention is that Barry’s fighting this “nasty attack” by himself, with only the lefty blogs carrying his water.
I wonder why so few are rushing to the fore with the Barry banner.ANSWER: There is no way to answer that charge. Obama is a media celebrity who is not prepared to be President. Why even Dem-at-heart Joe Lieberman, who thinks that Obama may make a fine President some day, told Tom Brokaw on Sunday:
The point here is, particularly after the trip to Europe, essentially holding a political rally of 200,000 in Germany–in Berlin, bigger crowd than he’s gotten anywhere here in America, and he’s gotten some big crowds, this ad raise the question we’re, we’re not deciding who’s our favorite celebrity, who, who we are fans of. We’re doing something very serious at a time when our economy is hurting a lot of people, energy prices are sky-high, and we still are in a war against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. Look beyond the celebrity status, is what this ad is saying.
If Obama has substance beyond his celebrity, the best way to fight back against the ad would be for him to display this seriousness and depth, this fitness and preparedness. We don’t need Clair McCaskill and Tom Daschle promising us that Obama is this, that, and the other; we need something beyond a substanceless speech to 200,000 Berliners and a cheap pickup line about Hopechangehope.
I am not certain if it galls the Obama crowd that John McCain is having fun at their guy’s expense. Obama is the butt of jokes. (Inflate your tires, kids; save the planet!) The reason for my uncertainty is that I doubt they get it. (Y’know: “Certainly nothing to dismiss out of hand if you actually take this energy crisis seriously.” Ahem, ahem, grumble.)
Obama supporter and Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wants Obama to fight back against what he and his friends consider to be “negative ads and petty misrepresentations.” He wants his Obama to tame McCain in those town hall debates from which Obama ran.
The forums would return attention to the issues, where Obama believes he has a clear advantage. And if McCain sought to use them for personal attacks, he would at least have to bear full personal responsibility for doing so.
Barry has a “clear advantage” on the issues? Ground control to WashPost, we standing firmly on the ground do not think so. Obama has charisma, the stuff which works in front of big crowds who don’t ask questions.
But I agree with Hiatt: let those debates begin! Let’s wake these people up. (But they can do it after the Dems have their tranquil convention in Denver. We do not want to give the incentive to wizen up and nominate Hillary.) Obama will still be on his own, and John Aravosis doesn’t like the crazed loner image for his candidate, but Barry’s going to have to do this himself. It’s time to take off the training wheels.