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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's the matter with Obama?

Could the Obama campaign's recent floundering be due to a lack of experience in close, tough, hard-fought campaigning?

This New York Post op-ed suggests maybe yes:

Obama has lived a lot of places, but his adult life has been overwhelming "anti-Palin country" - urban and/or elite: here in New York as a Columbia undergrad, and later with NYPIRG; Cambridge, Mass., for Harvard; Chicago.

You start to see why he couldn't name a single right-wing friend when Bill O'Reilly asked. And how he unleashed that idiotic comment about how small-town people "cling to guns or religion."

A race against a serious Republican might have awakened him to this weakness - but he's never been in one before. In Illinois, he was the surprise winner of the 2004 primary for the Senate, in part because two white candidates split the vote.

In the general, he basically had it won once a Chicago paper took down the GOP nominee by getting a court to unseal unseemly divorce papers, and the local Republicans then tapped Alan Keyes - a carpet-bagging right-wing performance artist - as their standard-bearer.

So it's not such a mystery that the mean machine of the Democratic primaries, which stole the nomination away from Sen. Hillary Clinton, is sputtering so badly now.
Actually, Obama "basically had it won" as soon as he was nominated, but that just makes the point all the better.

I found that via blogger Robert Stacy McCain, who writes:

What Obama doesn't seem to understand is this: Middle-class voters don't trust Democrats on taxes, period. Obama would do best to avoid the subject of taxes entirely, but instead repeats Clinton's lying 1992 promise of "middle-class tax cuts," while claiming he'll only raise taxes on "the rich."
Point being: having never run outside a heavily liberal, Democrat area; having never faced actual Republican opposition; and having never had to convince vast numbers of non-urban liberals to vote for him, Obama's inexperience might be showing.

I call this the "McCallum Effect," after former Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum.

Back when McCallum’s governorship (and re-election campaign) were flailing, I speculated: McCallum hadn’t really been on the front lines for a long time. Serving as lieutenant governor for 14 years, basically riding Tommy Thompson’s coattails, McCallum hadn’t had to keep his political edge sharp.

Thus, when the time finally came, he was trying to slice cheese with a wooden spoon.

You’d think the talent available to a presidential campaign would make up for a similar weakness, and of course Obama has been on the front lines for the last two years (the front lines in a Democrat battle, though – not a general election).

Still, a liberal politician hailing from a place where liberal Democrats sail to victory doesn’t seem to suggest a very sharp edge. Could be the McCallum Effect at work.