Barack OBlunder

27Aug08

Susan Estrich writes today about the blunder that the convention has been, thus far, for Barack.

Democrats might not be united behind Barack Obama, but they are certainly united in what they think about George Bush and the GOP. What Obama needed in this convention was an effective assault on George Bush and John McCain, an argument, repeated over and over again — the way negative ads have to be in order to work — about why McCain was wrong, why he was tied to the high gas prices and faltering economy and failing war and mounting foreclosures and ridiculous health care bills that the majority of Americans are most concerned with.

The key phrase in that paragraph is “over and over again.” This has been a convention without a theme. Tonight that will change, presumably, when Joe Biden hits the stage and does the old “4 more years of Bush” routine on John McCain, but even that speech will follow Bill Clinton’s address, which will surely get lots of coverage through the evening and for tomorrow’s news cycle.

That message has been heard on occasion, but it has not been the message of this Convention. Not even close.

The story coming out of this Convention is not Obama v. McCain, much less the follies of McCain and Bush, but Clinton v. Obama.

That has been the story – and that story is likely to continue as we pick apart Bill’s performance tonight and compare it to Hillary’s.

That was inevitable once the schedule was set, probably inevitable once the Obama team decided they didn’t have to take on Hillary’s debt and didn’t have to treat her with kid gloved respect with which winners usually treat losers who have a lot of delegates.

This convention is one of Barack’s first big leadership challenges, as he’s a man with no leadership experience. How did he screw up the whole thing with the Clintons?

They didn’t reach out to her delegates and donors and make them feel like they were important. As late as a week before the Convention, Barack Obama himself was saying that they were dealing with Hillary’s top staff, not her supporters. Big mistake. Almost as big as thinking you can control Bill Clinton. It is nothing short of unbelievable to me that they thought, until Monday, that they could tell Bill Clinton what to say. Why would he listen?

There’s another big mistake, of course, and that is the decision to hold a coronation speech in front of 75,000 people tomorrow night. Barack as a rock star has been effectively devalued by the McCain campaign, and turned into a negative.

If Barack Obama could have moved his acceptance speech to a school auditorium or a factory floor, that would have been great. Turning it into a rock concert is not so great. He doesn’t need to look like a guy who can hold a crowd of 70,000. Everyone knows that. The question is whether that’s all he can do.

The McCain campaign is very good now at making Barack suffer for his mistakes, and surely he will be well mocked for the stadium speech, and for the mausoleum that he’ll be speaking from.

The McCain people are spinning that Obama will come out of the Convention with a fifteen-point lead. They know full well that there is no chance of that. The only question is whether he’ll come out with any significant lead at all, and how long it will take the Republicans who convene next week in the Twin Cities to slash into it.

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One Response to “Barack OBlunder”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Todd,
    Don’t tell the Obamas what a dumb idea it is to do that big stadium event, with the Greek temple as the back drop. This whole thing is a gift to the McCain campaign. I’m afraid if Obama hears this, he may actually get the hint and take down that Greek temple and do the event in the Pepsi center.
    MS


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