But before the Lehman meltdown, team Obama knew they were in trouble and they decided to change the tone of their campaign. They unleashed the new tough angry Obama. The Obamamaniacs flipped for it. According to liberal conventional wisdom, Obama is finally taking it to the Republicans and their “lies” and his rise in the polls reflect that his new tough guy act is working.
Anybody watching the polls closely knows that the recent Obama mini-blip coincided with two things. First, Obama’s numbers rose and slightly receded in accordance with the market crisis. Second, the bounce from the Palin effect also receded. Palin is still just a veep candidate and wasn’t going to warrant front page attention forever. These correlations are obvious.
Unwittingly, team Obama just handed Steve Schmidt another gift, another trap. Obama’s rise had nothing to do with his new tough guy attitude. Frankly, he looks ridiculous. Even worse, he is contradicting every single transcendent impulse that gave him broad appeal in the first place. This new Obama would have been trounced by Hillary in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s a disastrous tactic for the Obama campaign.
Let’s be blunt. Our political landscape is tainted with subtle political and cultural biases whether it is race, religion, sex, regionalism or whatnot. But it is the Democrats that are guilty of baiting the worse elements of our society and interjecting the most raw forms of “hate” and “racism” into the debate. But the issue is much more complex then their simple minds allow.
Remember, it was the heartland that vaulted Obama to victory over Hillary, not the states with large urban populations. It’s not race that makes Middle America leery. It is the divisive, angry, identity ridden politics of our liberal inner cities that are associated with race that makes them leery. Middle America was still swooning over Obama when they were horrified to learn of Jeremiah Wright. Liberals fail to recognize the difference. They will see a rejection of angry tough Obama as racist. It is not. It is a rejection of a value system.
Tough angry Obama will fail as a candidate. Steve Schmidt knows it. McCain’s newest ad blasts Obama for his Chicago ties and even places a clip of Obama talking about how he is “tough” guy because he is from Chicago. Does anybody really think Coloradans and Wisconsinites will be impressed with this new tough Obama from Chicago? Middle America does not want to hear this garbage. What happened to the old Obama they must be wondering. Maybe this is why Obama was sweating so much at his Wisconsin rally. He knows he is trapped.
If he plays this new angry tough guy role, he risks alienating many of the swing voters that were captivated by his message of hope. Small town folks from Wisconsin did not warm up to tough angry Obama from Chicago. They warmed up to the rational transcendent figure that ran as the candidate who could bring people together. If he returns to the calm, reassuring, transcendent Obama, his base will be upset at him and he will look weak and vacillating.
Obama should have stuck the routine that brought him prominence in the first place. In a moment of desperation, he flipped the script and trapped himself. Schmidt is going to used a perceived strength against him just like he did with the “celebrity” campaign theme. Like that one, this campaign theme will work. The One is soon to become ChicagObama.
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