Search This Blog

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Accidental Candidate

Can you remember? It was only a year ago that Hillary Clinton’s ascension to be the Democrat Party candidate and the next President was as sure a thing as you could get in politics?

From the November 16, 2007 Gallup poll:

PRINCETON , NJ -- In the national standings of the Democratic presidential candidates seeking their party's nomination next year, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton continues to hold a strong 27-point lead over second-place rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, according to a new Gallup Poll. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards remains further behind in third place.
According to the Nov. 11-14, 2007, poll, 48% of Democrats say they are most likely to support Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination in 2008, followed by Obama
at 21% and Edwards at 12%.

August 17, 2007 California Progress Report by Frank D. Russo:

The California Field Poll, long considered the "gold standard" in the measuring the attitudes of voters in the Golden State, has today released a poll showing that Hillary Clinton has increased her lead here amongst likely voters for the Democratic nomination and that she has sizeable double digit leads when matched up against Republican candidates for President in the general election.
From Real Clear Politics March 28, 2007 by Tony Blankley

With every passing week it becomes more likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party nominee for president. This thought, alone, should provide the strongest possible motivation to the Bush administration and the Washington Republicans to get their acts together so that the eventual Republican nominee for president doesn't start the general election campaign in too deep a hole.

So what happened?

You begin to see the cloud on the horizon that presaged the political storm in this further quote from Blankley

The polls that show half the country saying they won't vote for Hillary should be discounted.

The polls showed that half the country did not want Hillary as president. Because that meant another four (or perhaps eight) years of the “Bill and Hillary” show, and the last few episodes did not demand a re-run.

Blankley on Obama:

His media-driven launch immediately captured much of the substantial anti-Hillary sentiment in the Democratic Party.

Barack Obama’s ascendency was as much about Hillary as it was about Obama. Barack the candidate had all the attributes Democrats were looking for: he was young, handsome, well dressed, a good orator and he was an affirmative action candidate.

In the words of Joe Biden, Obama's pick for his VP:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

He had rock star qualities that had women fainting in the aisles and creating soft-porn YouTube videos for him. Plus he had that other not-talked-about feature: he was not Hillary Clinton.

When Barack began his run, he was an unknown. Groomed by the Chicago Democrat machine for national office, this run was supposed to be a warm-up for the real thing a few years down the road, or perhaps a shot at the Vice Presidency.

But the adulation he received plus the “not Hillary” factor combined to push him into the lead in the early caucuses and primaries. This was the time that all the world was exposed to the candidate of “Change, Hope and the Future.” This was the kind of campaign that Obama liked to run: filled with lofty but essentially empty rhetoric.

What, after all, is someone promising who offers change, hope and the future?

But Obama has always used his ability to, as he said it:
“I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

That is the key to Obama's past success in all his relationships. People never see him, they always see their own desires and hopes reflected back to them.

And in his political life, it helps that all of his real opponents never seemed to make it on the ballot or to the date of the election.

There is no more effective way to maintain that blank screen than to offer your audience change, hope and the future and let them use their imagination to define what those things mean.

But there was a problem brewing for Obama on the way to his anointing.

Like the ghosts of Christmas past, the skeletons kept tumbling out of his closet. First there was his association with Tony Rezko and the purchase of his Chicago mansion.

Then the Reverend Wright showed up, not just on YouTube, but on the networks and finally in a National Press Club speech and the man who was his pastor for 20 years, his spiritual mentor and who he could no more disown that his racist grandmother, had to be disowned for calling him a politician.

And now the ongoing saga of Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn . Click here for what Ayers and Dohrn think about America today.

As an orator before a teleprompter mouthing the word he has been given, he is one of the best speakers in politics. It’s in his unscripted utterances that he shows the man behind the blank screen.

I contend that his hesitancy when peaking extemporaneously is due to the fact that he is afraid of revealing himself; afraid of showing the “Reverend Wright” within. Yet it does come out in his comparing America unfavorably to China. Comparing Russia’s invasion of Georgia to our invasion of Iraq; putting us on the same moral plane.

The way he criticizes McCain’s houses reminds me of nothing so much as “wise ass” comments; sophomoric.

Like Icarus, Barack was giddy from his high flight. But the more people got to know him, the more he comes into focus, the less attractive he becomes.

And as he was taking his regal ride to the nomination he began to believe his own hype. When one is being hailed as a modern day Messiah, a little humility is in order. But the rock-star performance reached a peak as the German public hailed the leader whose physical perfection was only matched by his ability to transform the world and right America’s wrongs. Reaching too far into rockstardom, he was setting himself up for parody.

At this point, the electorate a beginning to wonder: “what’s behind the screen?” Is it the friend of felon Tony Rezko, Reverend “God damn America” Wright, unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist bomber William Ayers? Is he just the front man for Chicago machine politics?

And what of the “change” that Barack and Michelle Obama promise? Is he promising to restructure America’s culture because it has way too many faults? With the exception of the far Left, which is overly represented in Democrat party politics at this time, most Americans are fairly satisfied with our culture. It’s the $4 per gallon gasoline they don’t like. It’s schools that don’t educate they don’t like. It’s taxes that take too much of their pay they don’t like. It’s illegal aliens pouring across our borders they don’t like. It’s a decline in the value of their retirement accounts they don’t like. It’s concern about the coarsening of our culture they don’t like.

Unfortunately for Obama, most people don’t see him as the change agent for fixing the things they don’t like.

They may not be enthusiastic for John McCain, but the old wrinkled white haired guy will keep things on an even keel. He’s a war hero, he’s ethical, and he’s as non-partisan as you can get in a partisan world.

He’s firmly opposed to abortion in a country that’s divided on the issue. But what people are not divided on is partial birth abortion and infanticide; issues that bedevil Obama.

McCain may have his endorsement from controversial religious figures on the Right, but he did not choose as his spiritual mentor and long time pastor Reverend “God Damn America” Wright.

The campaign went on too long for Barack Obama. The blank screen is shredding, the man behind it is being revealed, and the image is not pretty.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan agrees: They're Paying Attention Now
Why is it a real race now, with John McCain rising in the polls and Barack Obama falling? There are many answers, but here I think is an essential one: The American people have begun paying attention.

1 comment:

David Gerard said...

Latest poll shows we have to all keep watching the media. Whatever you do! Stay at the TV!