Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

There will be blood – but not yet.

There’s been a lot of fretting in certain camps that Obama isn’t hitting out enough. The latest “poll” showing McCain ahead among “likely voters” has stoked this fire. Fine. They’re wrong.

There will be blood. Don’t worry about that. But Obama is doing the right thing by going to Hawaii for a week, by laying low. Sunzi (Sun-Tzu) tells us:

When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

By getting out of the spotlight for a week, the media will have no choice but to pay attention to John McCain. They will have to cover him, his gaffes, his errors, his anger, and the applesauce moments in the grocery stores.

By appearing far away, Barack Obama is actually quite near, as the unspoken alternative to the grumpy old man who will fill our television screens for a week.

The attacks will come, don’t worry about that. But, in the meantime, Obama will let McCain bloody himself up a bit more. Let the enemy defeat himself without damaging your own camp – that’s the hallmark of a true general.


July 29, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. I wish I shared your optimism. I still worry that they don’t understand how to take the offense and repeat a message until it sticks. Take a look at Bob Herbert today, and his point about the Gramm “gaffe.” The Obama camp could have taken the opportunity to paint McCain as hopelessly out of touch, but they didn’t. I know it’s summer, but it would have made a difference.

    Comment by dansac | July 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Going negative this early will only hurt Obama. Running positive bio-ads, shoring up doubt on foreign policy by traveling abroad, that’s a good August for him.

    That leaves him all of September and October to use all the gaffes and errors McCain has piled up to run attack ad after attack ad. He’ll be able to define McCain as angry, bitter, and a novice on the economy – who believes Bush’s policies are correct.

    Build up your good image, and then pounce. It worked in the Primary, I think it’ll work in the general.

    Comment by zenbowl | July 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. Here is an observation by of all people Christopher Hitchens:

    The cliché for the Obama phenomenon is jujitsu, where the strength of your opponent is precisely what you use against him. McCain had one particular strength when this campaign began: his fortitude in respect of Iraq, which entailed (as some people forget) his willingness to criticize the commander in chief in time of war. Now he is in real danger of confusing the two things and trying to make criticism or disagreement appear to be suspect in themselves. If last week hasn’t taught him that this is a doomed tactic—and strategy—then he is unteachable.

    Even the rightwinger Hitchens sees that McCains attacks are self defeating.

    Full article at

    Comment by Small d dem | July 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. Obama has has a counter ad to the Pump McCain ad blaming Obama for gas prices. “It’s the same old politics” and show Obama’s energy plans. It’s being shown in the same markets the McCain is running for the last 2 days.

    Obama is doing the same thing to McCain as he did to Hillary and that is pointing out the same old Washington politics.

    Comment by SharonAustinTX | July 30, 2008 | Reply

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