I’ve been saying this for a while now; attack Obama personally at your own peril. The Democratic primary has shown that, for all of his flaws, Obama is both resilient, and knows how to redirect attacks against him back onto his opponent.
And, remember, for the Democratic primary, the gloves were on.
Obama is not the kind of guy to initiate offensives. When he does do so, he’s often clumsy and appears to not really have the heart or nerve for it. But when someone comes after him, it’s almost as though there were two Obamas; the Dr. Jekyl Obama that is better known and suited to his soaring rhetoric, and the Mr. Hyde Obama that launches counteroffensives with rapidity and precision.
As has been detailed several times in the past by me, the Obama mechanism is simple enough to understand. You attack Obama, he denounces you for playing politics, and then he hits you back with impunity. This is the more pragmatic and battle focused aspect of the “change” messaging of his candidacy.
So while many within the GOP are content to try and smear Obama, it’s nice to see that at least one Republican Senator has it right. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has found himself criticizing his own party, asking that they refrain from the personal negative attacks and focusing on the issues.
Indeed, 2008 is shaping up to be a landmark year where the politics of personal destruction destroys the people employing it, and not the targets. One way or another, Obama is going to force the issues on the table and hold Republicans to account for how they have governed over the past seven years.
The choice is simple, either stand and have a debate on the issues and take the chance of losing on those merits (this, might I add, is an honorable way to lose), or continue with a nasty campaign, allow Obama to use that campaign to pummel McCain, still have to face the issues, and look like cowards for trying to run from them.
I know which one I would choose.