Learning Lessons

It is the same critique now as it was when Obama first entered the race; he doesn’t punch enough.  Partly, this stems from a misunderstanding of his political philosophy, an uninformed belief that Obama simply can’t attack, that would be hypocritical.  Nothing could be further from the truth; the politics of hope don’t preclude attacking, they just insist that you do so with a certain set of scruples.

Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Obama just doesn’t seem to much relish in what Hillary Clinton once called, “the fun part” of politics.  But Ohio and Texas came with lessons to be learned, and if Obama wants to bring this nomination home, he better learn them good.

Going negative worked.  In Texas the red phone ad tripped Obama up and prevented him from garnering the small lead polls had him winning.  The funniest bit about the red phone ad was that the counter punches were inherently obvious.  First, this was classic politics of fear.  I’ve heard Hillary Clinton later say the music was upbeat, but my God if you call the music from that upbeat I would hate to see how Chelsea’s birthday parties went when she was a kid.  The other thing about the red phone ad was that it was silliness incarnate. 

The red phone, or more appropriately the hot-line, was established back in the early sixties as a direct line between Moscow and the White House.  It was set up during the cold war so that in the case of a potential international incident, the presidents of the two countries could talk directly to settle misunderstandings and prevent the Cold War from heating up.  Thus, today, the significance of the red phone to national security is somewhat antiquated.

And while I’m on the subject, and knowing as we do now that the red phone goes directly to the Russian president, is this really the person we want answering the phone?

Question: Who do you want answering the phone that goes directly to the Russian president?

Answer: Someone who can pronounce his name correctly might be a good start.

This guy not so much, but doing better than Clinton:

But if Hillary would like to be prepared to answer that phone, here’s an instructional video:

And in Ohio we had NAFTAgate which I addressed a little earlier this morning.

The lesson to be learned is that going negative worked against Obama, and he’s going to have to learn how to punch back seriously without tarnishing his image. Given that many Obama supporters were calling for him to do just that ages ago, I think he can actually get away with taking the gloves completely off without losing much support at this point.

But he has to get in there and swing, or else he’s playing prevent defense and likely to give Clinton a credible Super Delegate even after all of the talk that such an event would seriously cripple her in the General Election. And by some early indications, I think the Obama camp is about ready to start giving back what the Clinton campaign has been dishing out the whole time.

Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, had a warning for the Clinton campaign in the aftermath of the March 4th primaries:

“We have not hesitated to draw distinctions between the candidates and we’ll continue to do that,” said Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod. “If Sen. Clinton wants to take the debate to various places, we’ll join that debate. We’ll do it on our terms and in our own way, but if she wants to make issues like ethics and disclosure and law firms and real estate deals and all that stuff issues, as I’ve said before, I don’t know why they’d want to go there, but I guess that’s where they’ll take the race.”

And then there’s the mailer I just got from the Obama campaign which has an almost beautiful set of quick jabs aimed at both McCain and Clinton at the same time, ultimately showing that not only is Obama up to the challenged of an even further prolonged battle with Clinton, he’ll take her and McCain on at the same time:

This nomination process is an opportunity to decide what our party needs to stand for in this election.
We can either take on John McCain with a candidate who’s already united Republicans and Independents against us, or we can do it with a campaign that’s united Americans from all parties around a common purpose.
We can debate John McCain about who can clean up Washington by nominating a candidate who’s taken more money from lobbyists than he has, or we can do it with a campaign that hasn’t taken a dime of their money because we’ve been funded by you.

We can present the American people with a candidate who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with McCain on the worst foreign policy disaster of our generation, and agrees with him that George Bush deserves the benefit of the doubt on Iran, or we can nominate someone who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning and will not support a march to war with Iran.

John McCain may have a long history of straight talk and independent thinking, but he has made the decision in this campaign to offer four more years of the very same policies that have failed us for the last eight.

We need a Democratic candidate who will present the starkest contrast to those failed policies of the past.

And that candidate is Barack Obama.

If the Republicans and Clinton supporters were looking for a candidate with a glass jaw, I think they may have picked the wrong fight.

One Response to “Learning Lessons”

  1. lkm55 says:

    The Obama campaign has a lot to lose if they counter punch and go negative on the Clinton machine. Everyone expects, and has been waiting for, HRC to go negative. The Clinton machine has made smearing anyone who challenged them or got in their way an art form for 16 years.
    Obama has spent the last year running on the platform of being a different kind of candidate. If he goes negative he better go for the jugular and destroy Hillary. If he doesn’t take her completely out he becomes just another mud slinging politician.

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