Where’s Barack?


Last Friday, after the McCain vice presidential pick was revealed, I’m told that Rush opened his show by asking, “Does anybody remember Barack Obama?” or, “When is Barack going to give his speech,” or some such humor.

Sarah Palin has had that kind of impact on this race – today, she’s front page news again, as the pregnancy of her 17 year old daughter continues to percolate. The net effect? Palin is reinforced as a real live person who happened to get into power, alone in that unique stature as she faces off against career politicians who live for the pursuit of power.

Obama can do little more than try to gain some high ground points for saying the pregnancy is personal, family business, and everyone should lay off. It’s a sideline position, but it’s all he has.

The tide continues to turn against him.

Barack has built his campaign on the premise of America being in a malaise. The malaise perception was largely driven by the war in Iraq (now going so well everyone assumes it’s been won), and the price of oil.

From a high at the beginning of the summer up around $147, the cost of a barrel has dropped procipitously.

Oil prices fell below $106 a barrel Tuesday in Asia – $10 below its close Friday before the Labor Day weekend – as investors shifted their focus to slowing global demand after worries about Hurricane Gustav subsided.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery was trading at $106.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midafternoon in Singapore, and at one point dropped as low as $105.46.

Suppliers are suddenly trying to figure out how to keep the price from breaking the $100 barrier.

“The market continues to be weighed down by worries of a global economic downturn and slowing oil demand in developing markets,” said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. “Action by OPEC and supply side concerns should put a backstop to any sharp price drop.”

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is scheduled to meet Sept. 9 and has indicated it may take action to defend the $100 a barrel level.

The combination of Sarah Palin and Good News have created a new dynamic into the race that has the Obama campaign struggling how to regain its footing, just days after the end of the party’s convention. Even Gustav failed to do its job in bringing the country back into the malaise.

As a hurricane, Gustav left half of New Orleans without power as it lashed Louisiana and Mississippi, toppling trees and tearing off roofs. The city’s flood defenses were intact and the death toll may have been kept to single figures, officials said. Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed 1,800 people.

Gustav turned to an advantage as the loss of the convention’s first day pushed President Bush and Dick Cheney off the agenda, and the storm went away quickly allowing the convention to get back on track.

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