Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obama and His Supporters: Studies in Contradiction (UPDATED)

This is one for the textbooks. Political science instructors around the nation need to take a careful look at Obama's campaign and teach it as precisely the wrong way to win converts to a cause.

The punch line is that Obama is getting "feistier" in his most recent campaign stops. While I'm certain this plays well with his dedicated base, I am less than convinced that this will lead to pulling in those swing votes he seems to crave with just under seven weeks left in the campaign.

There's the usual "my opponent is lying" diatribe, of course. But this is no cause for alarm. This is what presidential candidates do as they get closer to the finish line. Obama dishes it out; McCain dishes it right back. Even I can write campaign speeches for most of this nonsense. "My opponent claims to have supported [insert issue du jour], when in fact he was the one who torpedoed it during his long/short career in the Senate, which is why I am the one who represents true hope/change/whatever." Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda.

News flash, candidates: no one who isn't already sold on you is listening. The fence-sitters are, instead, listening to the pundits (who are, themselves, firmly in the tank for one or the other of you), and will be biting their wishy-washy nails right down to the wire. On November 4 they will read their horoscopes, then go vote. That's just the way it is. Then whichever one of you loses can send out your legal team to whichever state(s) had "irregularities" in the ballot box so we can drag this election out interminably.

This is the essence of American presidential politics.

But back to my main point, which I'd nearly forgotten. Having descended from his cloud-obscured mountain retreat, the Dalai 'Bama made a pronouncement to his acolytes:
"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face," he said.
The Feisty One continues:
"And if they tell you that, 'Well, we're not sure where he stands on guns.' I want you to say, 'He believes in the Second Amendment.' If they tell you, 'Well, he's going to raise your taxes,' you say, 'No, he's not, he's going lower them.' You are my ambassadors. You guys are the ones who can make the case."
Thus spake Zarathustra.

Hey, just ask any Mormon missionary how effective Obama's method is for gathering converts. When we do it Obama's way, we ultimately get doors slammed in our faces and/or dogs sicced after us. I suppose it's faintly damning that Obama seems to feel that the combative approach is the one worth pursuing. If you're going after Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, I'm all for it. If you're trying to persuade me that you "support the 2nd Amendment" (I'm not persuaded, by the way), then this isn't the way to get my attention.

Which brings me to the study in contradictions. Obama supporters have been urging The One to go after McCain more aggressively for several weeks now, a call which intensified after Sarah Palin was added to the Republican ticket. (Speaking of which, nice work, guys. Way to make a name for yourselves. Specifically, that name would be "moron.") The Chron article points out:
The feistier, more sarcastic tone came as worried Democrats urged Obama to get tougher and show more passion. Obama has tried to assure donors and voters that he's been schooled by Chicago politics.
Oh, he has. Indeed he has. Then, when presented with the "feistier, more sarcastic" Obama, his adoring public reacted this way:
"I think he needs to keep doing exactly what he's doing, which is speak softly, show it through," said Paul Barnhart, a retired real estate appraiser. "I think most Americans are pretty fed up and sick and tired of the bickering and the battling back and forth. I am."

Holly Black, a special education teacher in Elko, agreed. "I don't believe in the trash-talking. I believe he is aggressive."
As Obama himself has said, you can't make this stuff up.

So which is it, Obamatics? Is he aggressive, or is he speaking softly? Is he trash-talking, or is he bickering and battling back and forth? I tend to think (call me an old fool) that an aggressive manner lends itself to both trash-talk and bickering and battling back and forth. Nor have I ever heard Obama "speak softly." I've never heard any politician in my lifetime speak softly, with or without a big stick.

No, what has happened is that Obama started out trying to keep himself "above the fray" so to speak. It was a nice thought, but from the moment the convention ended the gaffes began to appear. Every time Biden opens his mouth, it seems, something weird or unintentionally silly comes out, and Obama's handlers need to keep Joltin' Joe behind a teleprompter as much as Obama needs one. So now they face the reality that speaking softly in an election year wins nothing, and they're scrambling to play catch-up.

Which makes The One no different from any of the others. Not even McCain.

UPDATE: It's in the classrooms already, but not Poli/Sci. Try an English class at Metropolitan State College of Denver. (H/T: Malkin)


Interestingly, Prof. Hallam's profile, if he ever had one, has been removed from the school's web site.

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