Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

Obama: “We’re Simply Not Going To Let This Happen Anymore”

We’re simply not going to let this happen anymore,” Sen. Obama told his close friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett during a phone call Wednesday.

As a resident “chicken little,” it warms my heart to see that Obama gets it. And according to this article by the Wall Street Journal, he gets it in a big way. On Wednesday, Obama was fed up and told all his advisers that enough is enough:

Sen. Obama “used as firm and commanding voice as I’ve ever heard him use” in expressing a plan to “stay focused on John McCain rather than be distracted” by the Palin phenomenon, [Jarrett] said. She said the Palin pick and its impact were “unexpected.”

In his regular calls with senior strategists Wednesday, Sen. Obama made clear that he wants to put an end to the tactics Republicans use every four years “to distract voters” from issues, a top adviser said.

And there’s more:

At campaign headquarters in Chicago, the Palin phenomenon is clearly getting under the skin of some aides, who complain she is getting “celebrity” treatment. “The McCain campaign attacks Obama as a celebrity, but they are completely managing Palin’s celebrity — with only handpicked interviews and magazine covers in People and Us,” one Obama adviser said. “We’re not running for American Idol here — ultimately we believe the country is smarter than this.”

Good, the Palin phenomenon SHOULD be getting under the skin of the Obama team. They haven’t figured out how to respond to it at all. Actually, a quote like this has a hidden good tactic in it: call them out on the celebrit management. Question them directly. We are less than two months away from the election and a woman who could be our next President hasn’t had ONE single interview yet.

There’s sign that the counter-attack is coming. In today’s Washington Post we get this tidbit:

The assault came a day before the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, when McCain and Obama are scheduled to appear together at Ground Zero during a mutually declared truce. That cease-fire is not likely to last long. With the airwaves already filling up with some of the most negative imagery of the campaign, Obama aides hinted that they would save their toughest counterpunch until after Sept. 11.

Well, after September 11th starts tomorrow, so let’s hope that these hints are true. Because there’s nothing worse than having to read quotes like this from smarmy Republicans:

“They really are in a meltdown,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), a McCain adviser.

Barf. Can’t you just imagine Lindsey Graham and his snide, faux-sincere delivery telling Obama that?

Well, at least Obama can draw crowds on his own, Lindsey:

Sen. McCain hasn’t any plans to hold big public rallies without [Palin]. In fact, the campaign wants to keep the pair together as much as possible, fearing a solo-stump appearance by Sen. McCain would draw far fewer attendees.

McCain wants big crowds? What a celebrity!

So the bad news in these articles is that Obama’s camp really was caught flat-flooted by the Palin phenomenon. They haven’t figured out how to attack the new ticket at all, and they are fed up with being distracted. Obama always stuck to the long-term plan, but it seems that the addition of Palin demands a re-adjustment of this plan.

The good news? He gets it. His camp gets it. And judging from these articles, they are planning a way to get back on course.

That’s change we can believe in.


September 11, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. Well they need to do something and do if NOW, because November 4th is right around the corner.

    Comment by trellskig | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. Wow!! What in the heck took the Obama Camp so long!!?? How could they not have seen the Handwriting of History staring them up one side of the face and down the other–even from the time of the “celebrity” ads?

    Hopefully, as you said, the moral here is that Obama’s team has FINALLY decided to wake up–even if it is now only some-six weeks until the election. Let’s hope that they hadn’t been listening to the “cackles” from the Chicken-Little-Callers all this time. (That would really be sad if they also were in denial.) There is way too much at stake in this election for Team Obama to be caught “flat-footed” again, as you wrote!

    By the way, did you check out the “left” side of Nate Silver’s blog today? It is indeed ominous–although OBVIOUSLY NOT hopeless (by far) at this point. I have always maintained that this country is full of “Closet Republicans!” Personally, I rarely meet a “Republican” who will openly acknowledge that he or she is one–a trend that goes way back in time in my life! Indeed, most of the “NON-Democrats” I have ever known will tell you that “politics is a private matter”– which consequently makes me suspicious of any EARLY poll numbers that puts the Democrats way ahead! In this case, a “Trailer-Tr—Woman” got them out of the closet earlier than usual!

    Comment by Midwesterners | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  3. Dansac, this line concerns me:

    Sen. Obama made clear that he wants to put an end to the tactics Republicans use every four years “to distract voters” from issues

    Does this mean that Obama’s going to continue to take the high road by not engaging into response ads to ads like McCain’s “sexual education” ad? If so, that would be a major mistake.

    Comment by slinkerwink | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  4. The Republicans are con artists at the highest level. Obama and the Democrats need to push this theme/talking point as far as they can. We need to not only attack Mccain, but the Republican party in it’s entirety and hold them accountable for the atrocities of the last 8 years.

    1. Bush’s 2000 & 2004 campaign. If we retrace the false promises and the harsh realities of G W Bush, Obama can prove to the American people that they are being “conned” once again by the Republicans.

    2. Mccain’s campaign staff is full of old Bush & Rove staffers. Show the American people that they are being duped.

    We need to brand the Republicans as something that the American people can feel emotion from. By saying you are being conned, it is an insult to your integrity and intelligence. Simply saying Mccain is 4 more years and only talking about the issues won’t deliver the message.

    Comment by RJ | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  5. RJ: You are One Million Percent Correct: The Republicans have Taken “Con-Artistry” to the highest level possible. There is no doubt that Republican leaders are among the most morally depraved people on the planet–from Rove/Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Wolfie/McSlime all the way down.

    But the problem is that Obama (& Co.) hasn’t seem interested in EXPOSING these Global Hoodlums for what they are–or at least the Obama Campaign hasn’t done so yet. And until Obama–or anyone in power– begins to expose these militaristic and corporate thugs, they will continue to hoodwink Americans with their Sarah Palins and whatever other gimmicks they have up their sleeves: such as War with Iran!

    Do you think that Team Obama will actually start telling the people they have been conned for the past eight years? I hope so!

    Comment by Midwesterners | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  6. Um, I’ve got a problem with this ongoing tirade from the progressive/Democratic side, flipping out over poll numbers (show some backbone and look at the state-by-state numbers, willya?). But mostly for getting into a fit over the Obama campaign not doing this, not doing that. “Why aren’t they attacking this, that, and the other thing every 5 minutes??!!”

    When I saw that Sarah Palin was the VP pick, I thought there’s the election- for the Democrats. How can anyone look at this lady as a serious selection? I’m not sure she’s qualified to be Gov. of Alaska, let alone VP. Everyone’s got to see that. And everyone I know did.

    So was I caught “flat-footed” too? I don’t think so. I stand by what I thought 2 weeks ago. It’s still clear as day this lady doesn’t cut it. What’s also clear is that a hefty portion of the American Electorate is seriously twisted. (BTW I understand that her appeal has lifted the GOP ticket in the South, but not anywhere else)

    Of course, if everyone in America were as informed as they should be, then this would be no contest. So understand this, IMHO, you can talk about strategies the Obama campaign can or should take, or what the best line of attack could be. But Obama is not tied with McCain at this moment due to something the campaign did or did not do: the race is as close as it is due to the latent racism of much of white America (I’m white so I know) and that 30% of the country that still doesn’t believe in Evolution.

    Look at that again- 30% (I wish I had a source to verify that, sorry I don’t, but that’s the number I’ve seen for years now). I mean, that’s embarrassing.

    Comment by PG | September 12, 2008 | Reply

  7. PG: It’s interesting that you know just how racist such a large percentage of American society is, and yet you thought that Sarah Palin would help the Democrats win. It sounds contradictory!

    When someone like me says that Obama’s team was caught flat-footed, it means that they did virtually nothing in the face of McCain’s bold-face lies and false charges all summer–not just over the past two weeks since Palin was put on the Republican ticket. Indeed, they thought that to answer these lies in their own ads would mean that that they would be going negative, which is absurd considering that the MSM is doing everything it can to hurt Obama at the same time. (At least the MSM will take Obama’s money for ads–so why not have effective ads?!)

    By the way, the Obama Team has announced that they ARE changing their strategy–and that they ARE becoming more aggressive! I’ve read–and seen the first ads–that they are directly exposing McPalin for their weaknesses and that they are finally answering the Repugnican’s bold face lies that have gone unanswered all summer. Obama’s team has said that they realize now that they were not as aggressive as they should have been!

    I agree with you completely that AT LEAST 30 percent of the electorate is racist and wants creationism taught in schools instead of science. But that has nothing to do with the fact that Obama’s Team has raised millions and millions of dollars from people so that the Democrats and Obama could FINALLY carry out an effective campaign against Rove’s Republicans. And instead of doing just that, Obama’s folks ran a campaign that was no better than Kerry’s–and ignored the Rovian bombardment that was happening to them!

    At least the Obama campaign has acknowledged NOW their weakness and is finally turning things around. The issue here is that thousands of Democrats HAVE been telling them to turn things around for months now, and they have refused to listen–UNTIL NOW when their poll numbers are forcing them to make the kind of “change” we need.

    Comment by Midwesterners | September 12, 2008 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the comments Midwesterners.

    I have to disagree with your first point. To be clear, while there is some overlap, white racism and creationism are two seperate entities. I really don’t know just how large the percentage of white Americans is reflexively racist. I do know that it is more than zero, and I believe at least 11% of Americans have answered that they won’t vote for a president who is black. Thus 80% of the country can think we’re headed in the wrong direction but only 48-49% support the opposition party. Those numbers would never match up exactly in any year. But come on, we both acknowledge it’s there- we may just quibble on the percentages.

    I was sure that the rest of America would see that by picking an unknown and not-very-experienced running mate that McCain could in no way say he was looking at his VP candidate with an eye to actually DOING the job, let alone the possibility of actually BEING president should something happen to him. There are only about 100 more GOP candidates, and 2 dozen GOP women, who are actually qualified for the job. There’s no way that McCain and the rest of the GOP can stand there and say Palin is the best person available or the most qualified- something I like to think matters to non-partisan and more independent voters. Hence, I don’t think it’s a contradiction to acknowledge racism but believe “most” voters would be unimpressed with this Palin chick.

    However I don’t hang out around creationists and that 30%. And to them, obviously, experience isn’t terribly relevant.

    I hear your second point, and I’m afraid that you and I are caught in a bit of a Democratic/progressive condunrum. You see, one of the most appealing things to me is that Obama has always tried NOT to campaign like a typical slash and burn politician, not make dopey promises, not endlessly demonize the other side. That’s appealling to ME, to be honest. And while I’m at it, to this day I don’t have a problem with the Kerry campaign.

    So bully for me. OBVIOUSLY if this country were like you and I, what a happy place it would be. OBVIOUSLY it’s not. So, you are the side that argues that we should campaign as they do- attacking, negative, Rovian- because that’s what works (never mind what people say). I’m still left with the fact that my distaste for the GOP and conservatives extends to my not wanting to operate like them AT ALL. Honestly- I feel it’s incompatible with my core progressive beliefs.

    Now, it’s not because I’m in some ivory tower above the fray. Rather, and let’s be honest about this, it appeals to the smallness in people. Their base fears (usually from ignorance), their greed, their petty resentments. THAT’S why it works for the GOP- those sentiments are at the heart of their worldview, I think. They have a harder time lining up with a liberal agenda.

    So now you’ll ask me if I want us to just keep losing with honor? No, of course not. I know it’s grey and messy out there. BUT if the population were more, oh, “correctly composed”, you couldn’t get away with the lying and distractions. So when Obama runs a campaign aimed at intelligent discourse and no partisan bickering, I think he’s right. When it proves less effective against the Rove tactics, my first response, the area I lay the blame at FIRST is the public. Truly. Now, as I see the Obama campaign is paying heed to your advice, we’ll see what happens.

    Comment by PG | September 13, 2008 | Reply

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