Peter Beinart Steals My Thunder

For me I typically have a slew of ideas hanging around my head in a semi-abstract form.  Clips and phrases jumble about looking for other clips and phrases to connect with and this keeps happening until I have enough ideas to put forth an argument.

It would be a frustrating process if it weren’t for the fact that I got so much stuff up here I usually have several arguments at the ready at any given time.  Now, once the argument is fully formed, I kind of refine it and then I look for a good delivery system to produce it.  That’s to say, I look for an article or blog post that allows me to agree and put forth my argument, or disagree using my argument.

For about thirty seconds I thought Peter Beinart would provide such a delivery system…  Then he stole my thunder completely.

The final catalyst that sealed the deal for me began when I was reading Fester’s post on the Pennsylvania primary coming up.  It got me to thinking about how elections work and how we will break an election down by demographics, name recognition, war chests, etc. in order to prognosticate results.  But in the end, sometimes, every great once in a while, occasionally the election comes down to who is just better at campaigning.

So the clips and phrases in my head really started snapping together and then I caught the Title for Beinart’s piece and the opening few lines on Memeorandum.  They read:

Obama at the Helm

By Peter Beinart

Deep into a primary campaign that was supposed be over by now, Barack Obama must still answer one fundamental question. Jeremiah Wright notwithstanding, it’s not whether he’s too black. It’s whether he’s too green.


Now I had the opportunity to retort Beinart’s claim that Obama was too green to be the president by using my argument.  Except, that turned out to be Beinart’s argument too.

Ah well, things happen.  I do agree with Beinart.  If you really want a look at whether or not Obama can act as a decent president, simply compare the campaigning between the three remaining major presidential candidates and it becomes pretty clear.

Nowhere is the contrast made clearer than the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

At the onset of the campaign just about every metric that a pundit can use to predict a winner was in Hillary Clinton’s favor.  She had the demographics on her side, including the African American Demographic which was supporting her by at least 60%.  Her warchest had already set tongues wagging and fingers tapping, and her fundraising machine had predicted she would raise record amounts of money.  She also had the benefit of strong influence and support within the Democratic party as well as wide household name recognition.

In the beginning, virtually every poll everywhere you looked had her winning by ridiculous double digit margins.

By contrast, Barack Obama was a virtual no name with a weird name to boot.  He had only been on the national stage for about two and a half years, he didn’t have strong ties to the party’s leadership, and he had virtually no demographic to call his own with maybe the exception of the youth vote.  The youth vote, might I also remind you, was also considered to be one of the least reliable demographics.

Fast forward a year and Barack Obama is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination with most of the primary contests already completed.  How did he do it?  He simply ran a better, smarter, and more efficient campaign.  His team actually looked at how the primaries worked and created a logical and executable plan to win as many delegates as possible.  This is why he put time, money, and effort in small states to run up the score; because a win isn’t just a win in a proportional delegate system, and the margin of victory matters.  This is why Obama actually won one of Hillary’s firewall states in Texas; because the Obama campaign took the time to understand how to do the Texas Two Step and come out on top.

Oliver Willis has it dead to rights:

That is how it is. Nobody forced Sen. Clinton to design her campaign for a Super Tuesday splash where she would have the nomination wrapped up for the anointed one by early February. She has name recognition on par with Jesus and a campaign war chest ranking among the largest in history. Yet just like the sort of thinking we have come to identify with the Bush administration she failed to reconcile her fanciful plans with the facts on the ground. The Obama folks didn’t rely on stovepiped intelligence delivered to them by a sympathetic lackey, instead they read the intelligence reports and made the right decision.

Similarly, McCain’s campaign, as Beinart puts it, was a, “top-heavy, slow-moving, money-hemorrhaging Hindenburg that eventually exploded.”  His tenacity allowed him to pick up the pieces and eventually win the nomination, but one could hardly call that a measure of his executive abilities.  Unlike the Democratic nomination race where voters are forced to choose between two solid candidates, Republicans found themselves in a very ugly situation; choosing the candidate they hated or distrusted the least.

By the time it got down to actual voting, the contest was really only between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee.  The Religious Right zealots had made it clear that they did not trust Romney and his cult of Mormonism, even though the intellectual branch of the party loved him.  Meanwhile, the very same intellectual branch of the party couldn’t stand Huckabee, but the Religious Right loved him.

The two candidates effectively canceled each other out forcing the Republicans to basically put all their eggs in the Nationals Security/Foreign Policy basket that is McCain.  He won by default out of a field of fatally flawed candidates.

The moral of the story here, folks, is that if you want to know if Obama is ready to occupy the Oval Office, ask yourself why neither of the more experienced and seasoned politicians in the field have been able to touch him yet?

The answer should be quite illuminating.




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