Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

The Gamble Obama is Taking

Following the just-announced news that Obama will be speaking at the Victory Column in Berlin (rather than the Brandenburg Gate), I thought it’s worth addressing the latest CW pundit talking point: “Obama’s big trip to Europe carries risks!” We hear it over and over again on air, online, and in print.

My favorite guilty pleasure/bane of my existence “Morning Joe” again today featured the cast of conventional-wisdom crack addicts pushing the meme: “Sure there may be some upside for Obama, but aren’t there big risks too? Chuck Todd, let’s forget about the rewards, tell us about the dangers!” (in their defense, they did shoot down Pawlenty who expressed his “concern” about Obama speaking abroad).

The CW goes something like this: Obama can draw out adoring crowds in Europe, but is there a danger that will backlash back home? How will that play in Kentucky? Will Americans recoil at the sight of Europeans cheering on Obama?

The Chairperson Emeritus of Fake Concern and “Obama Has a Problem” punditocracy, Andrea Mitchell, went so far as to say:

“in some parts of the country, seeing Obama celebrated in Europe might be an implicit criticism of America.”

The truth is, there is a gamble here, and Obama is taking it. He’s making the bet that the pundit-class is wrong about the reactions on the part of the Americans. He knows that the media will spin it negatively, aided and abetted by McCain slamming Obama for running for President of Europe.

Obama’s bet is that Americans of all walks of life, including in Kentucky, actually know that our standing in the world is in tatters and will react positively to seeing an American received adoringly by the world community.

Where I agree with the CW of the MSM is that there IS a risk. But I don’t know that they’re right, nor do I know if Obama’s right. It’s a risk in the vein of opposing a gas tax holiday that every MSM analyst said would be popular. It’s a risk in the tradition of sticking with the policy of negotiating with our enemies even when the CW immediately said that would reveal Obama as being naive. In other words, it’s a risk in that he is sticking with the right thing even if it flouts conventional inside-the-beltway thinking (not to succumb to blind adoration, he still is susceptible to that thinking on other issues).

But on this, we have to give him credit for taking the gamble that Americans will actually react positively to seeing his reception in Europe. Is he right? I honestly don’t know. But he is certainly right in that they SHOULD react positively. Here’s hoping for the best.


July 18, 2008 - Posted by | foreign policy, Uncategorized | , ,


  1. Good points, Dansac.

    Obama’s campaign has been based on the “risk” that the American people are smarter than the beltway pundits think they are. So far we’ve been proving him right.

    Comment by zenbowl | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  2. To a degree, yes, but I do think that any strategy relying on over-estimating the American people carries risks. To ourselves, it’s refreshing, but there is a nagging feeling in the back of my head that some of our fellow country-folk may let us down. I would love to be wrong.

    Comment by dansac | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  3. Actually, the biggest risk they have is allowing McCain to go unanswered in his attempt to take down this trip. I think he needs surrogates asking why McCain felt it was appropriate to do fundraisers in England and Canada and campaign in Mexico and Columbia to shore up Hispanic American votes. Someone needs to point out McCain’s hypocrisy in urging him to go to Iraq and then criticizing him because he’s going.

    You know what, I say Biden for VP – he wouldn’t let them get away with such tactics!

    Comment by Suzie Q | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  4. Great points Suzie, or how about every time they say Obama shouldn’t make a decision about Iraq until he visits, why don’t they ask about how many times Bush visited Iraq before he decided to invade it?

    Comment by dansac | July 18, 2008 | Reply

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