Has Obama dug a hole that he can’t climb out of?
There’s been a spurt of 527 activity on behalf of Sen. John McCain, but Barack Obama campaign has suddenly gone silent on the subject.That’s because, after of year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama’s Democratic Party, Obama’s strategists have changed their approach.
An Obama adviser privy to the campaign’s internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies — what another campaign aide termed “the cavalry” — with come to Obama’s aid.
Obama has made no attempt to hide that he’s a control freak. He’s ordered donors to stay away from 527s and called all the money to his campaign directly. He’s cold-shouldered the grassroots and Netroots. And he’s ignored the blogs like a high school quarterback ignores his 14 year-old sister when his friends are watching.
He’s played to the center – which isn’t a bad strategy in and of itself – but in the process has made a show of distancing himself from all the fringe freakbat liberals out there to the left of Ken Salazar. He and Biden have been so complimentary of John McCain that I half expect them to haul out the kneepads and chapstick at any moment.*
Of course, you can see the reason for all the civility. McCain has himself run a civil, honest and fair campaign so far. Errr, no, wait. That’s not right. He’s lied about Obama so badly that FOX freakin’ News called him on it!
Well, still. It’s not like the real power brokers in the GOP won’t rein him in if he gets too out of hand, right? (By the way, can anybody here explain how an obscure noun like “swiftboat” got to be a verb?)
A week and a half ago, at the end of a gloriously staged spectacle in Mile High Stadium, Barack Obama was King of the World. Since then his opponents have put on an epic display of ballistic podiatry by focusing the world’s undivided attention on the worst VP nominee since Dan Quayle (and frankly, I think I prefer Quayle; truth be told, Palin scares me worse than Marilyn Quayle). Life’s great, right?
Except, if we’re to place any stock in the most recent round of polls (which I don’t, completely – but there’s no excuse for him having placed himself behind the 8 ball this badly), he’s now running from behind in a world where his opponent has made significant gains on the money front.
So now Barack has come around to the idea that his campaign needs the sort of opponent-tenderizing capability that only a snarling 527 can provide. Or maybe he was led around to the conclusion by his advisers. Not sure that matters. All that matters is that it’s late in the day. Maybe too late – I’m not an expert on campaign law and procedures, but I’m seeing some folks questioning whether it’s technically doable at this point, and if so, is it too late to really raise the cash needed to do it right? (Whatever may be happening on the 527 front, there’s no outreach to the blogosphere yet. Maybe he just assumes they’ll fight to the death for him because, well, what the hell choice do they have. And he may well be right. Still, you want people fighting out of love and passion instead of dread and spite if at all possible.)
Of course, the serious racist stuff hasn’t started to fly yet, although it certainly will. It won’t come from McCain, but it will come from his surrogates. You know, kind that Obama has made clear he doesn’t need.
I respect that Obama wants to run a high-road campaign, that he wants to win the right way. But I’m starting to suspect a bit of arrogance on his part – it’s one thing to want to win the right way and another entirely to assume that it can be done, despite all evidence pointing the other way.
Maybe his new “No Maverick” ad is a sign that he’s getting it, finally. Time will tell, and I guess we’ll know soon enough if he adapted in time.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking: lack of experience, indeed….
* Thanks to Nick Langewis for this disturbing turn of phrase.