Sunday, September 14, 2008

What Obama Must Do To Win

After a disastrous two weeks following the Palin announcement, Obama's campaign finally seems to be recovering from the shock, and fully recognizes the value Sarah Palin brings to the McCain campaign.

As I've mentioned before, Obama's strengths in the "ground war" of voter turnout make a McCain victory in November unlikely. But McCain could still win the "air war"; here's what Obama needs to do to prevent that from happening.

First, he needs to shift away from what has been his primary line of attack: That John McCain represents a continuation of George W. Bush. Try as his aides and Andrew Sullivan might, America is not going to equate Sarah Palin with Dick Cheney.

Second, he needs to open up a new line of attack (which his campaign seems to be doing): That John McCain is willing to lie to America to win the election. It wouldn't hurt if his own campaign would cease their own dirty tricks, such as trying to attack McCain for joking that $5 million represented "middle class" when he was clearly speaking ironically.

Third, he needs to get the electorate to look past election day and consider which candidate will make a better president. Here, Obama should focus relentlessly on things that are 100% true--that he cuts taxes by more than McCain for every group other than those making over $250,000 per year, that John McCain doesn't know or care much about the economy, and that John McCain is more likely to lead America into other wars with potentially disastrous consequences.

"John McCain likes to talk a lot about putting country first. He loves America. But simple patriotism isn't enough to fix our economy or our foreign policy.

My opponent has good intentions, but I have a plan that will help America become stronger and more prosperous.

I'll provide bigger tax cuts for anyone making less than $250,000 per year. I'll focus our government on fixing the bad policies that led to this financial crisis and on improving our economy, rather than on fighting wars that don't keep America safer. I won't hesitate to use military force when necessary, but only when it is the best option, and only when the stakes justify putting our brave soldiers in harm's way."

Finally, the Obama campaign should avoid attacking Sarah Palin's qualifications (since his own are pretty thin) and instead underline how her beliefs and values seem extreme to much of the electorate. They need to emphasize that Palin doesn't believe that women who are raped or are the victims of incest should be allowed to have abortions, and that intelligent design should be taught in school.

While this might turn off those with ardent pro-life or anti-Darwinian beliefs, Obama had no chance of winning those votes anyways. What this would do is make sure that independent voters, especially women, realize that voting for McCain means supporting both the pro-life movement and intelligent design.

UPDATE: Sarah Palin never advocated the teaching of intelligent design in school. This is an out-and-out slander. My apologies for mistakenly including it in a post.


dr droock said...

So you think David Ploufe (sic) is reading your blog?

As in today's news blah, blah and
" That John McCain is willing to lie to America to win the election."

Alex said...

You guys have similar timing and thoughts.

Foobarista said...

I'm no Obama fan. But as an interesting intellectual exercise:

1. Sister Souljah: he needs to take an important Democratic power group out to the woodshed and beat it to a pulp publicly. He's never stood up to anyone in public life other than clear political enemies.

He did it in a small way by arguing that the Ivy League should let ROTC back, but the teacher unions are the most visible real candidate for this sort of thing.

2. After showing that he has huevos, he can then attempt to talk about how a working-class white woman would be better off under his administration versus McCain's, without sounding like he's promising a free lunch or giving a law-school lecture.

Currently, his appeal is basically: I'm Black, I'm Cool, I'm Smart (see, I opposed the war in 2002), and I Ain't Bush.

He needs something that actually argues he'll be a better President than McCain. If not, he'll get the usual 45% that Dems always get, but not much more.

(And I don't believe that Obama has any better ground game than McCain. Palin's got the church vote excited now, which will cancel any college kid vote surge, which tends to not show up in real life anyway...)

paul said...

"They need to emphasize that Palin doesn't believe that women who are raped or are the victims of incest should be allowed to have abortions, and that intelligent design should be taught in school."

These two sentences are about the funniest I've read this year concerning this election.

The abortion argument won't work for Obama - he's clearly on record as supporting infanticide -- the record is available and not just on whacky 'right-wing' websites. It's the truth... so which is more scary to the American people? Someone who stands on the side of life? Or someone who believes it's ok to take a living but aborted baby, and let it just go ahead and die by not allowing medical attention? Yeah, he's got no argument.

The second half of the sentence is equally as funny... "she wants to teach intelligent design in school"...

ohhhh.... scary! ...

When schools began in America, they were primarily Christian schools - teaching, God Forbid!, intelligent design - or, creationism. God created all (including giving His blessings to this country) Scary, scary! The idea that we came from monkeys came from that bigot Darwin (who many believe was the instigator of the holocaust - thanks to his idea of 'natural selection') in 1859... it gave Atheist a religion of their own and 100 years later led to prayer being taken out of school (thanks to O'Hair and a compliant judiciary)...

So the idea that Palin is somehow 'scary' because she wants to teach intelligent design in school - leaving aside the fact (because who wants to let facts get in the way?) that she hasn't called for evolution to NOT be taught.

It's Silly.

one small last point - the repubs have a TON of ground force money and despite the fact O'bama flipped on his commitment to take matching funds and has gone on a fund raising tear, doesn't mean McCain is hamstrung in the ground war - not with the Repub money at his disposal (they just can't do it directly).

This is going to be fun to watch... and debate... and I enjoy your post on it all... despite the differences we have.

Anonymous said...

Paul, though (supposedly) a McCain/Palin supporter (I wouldn't be surprised if he's a Moby, but who knows, every side has its idiots) is spreading as much distorted/misleading BS about her as her opponents. She never advocated teaching creationism & intelligent design in the schools. She merely said she didn't think one should *outlaw* free discussion of the matter, if e.g. raised by a student in class. It's more a libertarian position than a Christianist one. (I'm not going to touch the Darwin BS, I've never in my life hears such a thing from any mainstream conservative, and I know a lot of them). Whatever, Obama supporters will continue to disseminate smears, distortions, rumors, and outright lies (she banned books! thinks dinosaurs are 5,000 years old! was a baby-eating Witch!). Good luck with that: the more over-the-top & falsifiable your characterizations of her are, the more you (and consequently Obama) loses credibility.

Alex said...

Paul, it IS scary to a lot of people, including myself. You're not going to gain much ground telling people what they are or are note afraid of.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'm the same anonymous as above. I didn't mean to come across as rude/angry toward the host of this blog-- it's the first time I come across it, & it's very good, interestingly mixed/nuanced politically & pretty even-handed, which is really rare these days. I just wanted to correct what I think is a widespread, facile distortion of Palin (one often spread maliciously elsewhere; that is not the case here). Cheers.

Chris said...

Dr Droock:

I wish Plouffe and "The Ax" were reading this blog. Heck, I don't even know if Tim Tagaris and Patrick Ruffini read this blog, and I've met them.


I'm not surprised that Aaron and I have similar thoughts...we have similar backgrounds, though he is far more hard-core technical.

As a side note, one thing I've been saying as far back as 2004 is that if the Democrats were smart, they'd have Soros offer Rove $1 billion to switch sides.


I agree that Obama needs a Sister Souljah moment. He's already had a couple (picture "The Ax" sending a bouquet of flowers to Jesse Jackson for his "I want to cut his nuts off" comment), but they've faded from memory. He needs an issue where he is to the right of McCain, and is correct in being so.

As for the ground game, the reason Obama's ground game is tough to beat is that he's paying professionals on the ground. Unlike college kids who tend to fade into the woodwork as midterms approach, these mercenaries will stay bought, and God help them, many of them also believe in the cause. The churches are strong, but because the Republican GOTV operation already operates closer to the theoretical max, there's less upside.


Note that I didn't say I believed in these particular issues (abortion and intelligent design). But they are wedge issues that can help Obama pry independents away from McCain. By and large, independent voters are not 100% pro-life and pro-Creationism.

The fact that Creationism used to be the primary science taught in the past doesn't mean that it should be taught in today's schools. I wouldn't want medical schools to teach bloodletting as a cure-all.


The intelligent design criticism of Palin is a slander, and I will be updating my post accordingly. As you know, I typically don't accept the word of the DailyKos's of the world blindly, so I must have conflated a post with MSM coverage. Thanks for the correction.

I enjoy your contributions to the discussion on the blog (they are carefully thought out, and reflect an interesting viewpoint) and I hope you continue!