For Once, A Politician Gets Something Right

First, for reasons detailed previously, I support Barack Obama for POTUSA so bear this in mind.  Of course, he gave a historic speech tonight, filled with the usual political signposts and pandering. But readers can find fourth-rate ideological rantings on thousands of other sites so I will cut through the propoganda crap and look at this from a realpolitik viewpoint.

A couple of observations from a former campaign hack and political junkie:

  1. From a political standpoint, this convention can be classified as a success.  Ratings already attest to that fact and if Obama doesn’t see a bounce from this, it won’t be due to the execution of the convention (as of Thursday, he was already seeing a 6 point bounce nationally as well as moving ahead in key states like Florida).
  2. Much has been made of Obama’s “underperformance” in polling thus far vs. McCain.  Nevermind that at this juncture in 2004, Kerry held a 17 point edge over GW Bush.  Polls at this time mean nothing.
  3. To refine the last point, Obama’s lowered position may actually turn out to be a positive.  One of the glaring weaknesses of Obama’s primary campaign was that it peaked too soon and he spent the last few months in a downward slope, hanging on for dear life as Hillary gained momentum.  To the extent that they can control these things, the Obama campaign may try to pace itself better for the general election.
  4. As Obama found out with his foreign goodwill trip a few weeks ago, events that may seem like clear advantages can have unforeseen consequences.  For weeks, if not months, the media has been fanning this story of a rift between Obama and the Clintons.  The McCain campaign has been eager to do everything it can to fan this story.  The unintended consequence could have been ramped-up interest in the Democratic convention — additional viewers who tuned in to see the Clintons unequivocally support Obama and deliver rousing calls to defeat John McCain.  In general, viewers saw a convention described as a political spectacle like no other before it by almost all commentators, including “neutral” observers like PBS.  There is almost no chance that the Republican convention next week will generate the same level of interest and even less chance that the McCain people will be able to execute as well as Obama, if for no other reason than the dearth of bonafide superstars in the GOP at this time.
  5. Like so many other aspects of his campaign, the Obama team executed as perfectly as could be expected, again a reinforcement of his superb executive skills.  Coming out of the campaign, almost all of the burning “tabloid” stories have been defused and Obama is now slingshoted out of this convention with momentum that resembles the energy after the Iowa caucus.
  6. I’m trying to think of flaws this week at the DNC but they were pretty minor.  Even the “surprise” appearance on Wednesday night was probably the right thing to do.  I told my girlfriend when we were watching it that my guess for the drop-in was that the Clintons were probably not going to be in attendance for Obama’s Thursday night speech and so the campaign probably wanted footage of Barack praising Clintons and the cameras cutting to the Bill and Hillary.  As it turned out, Hillary was supposedly at Invesco Field but on the network I was watching, there were no camera shots of her even when she was mentioned in his speech.  Maybe the flattest moment for me was the line in Obama’s speech when he said that this election “was never about me.  It was about you” — he should have looked directly into the camera on the “it was about you.”  The audience he needed to reach wasn’t in the stadium, they were the millions watching at home.

McCain will pick his VP tomorrow in an effort to deaden Obama’s momentum as quickly as possible.  Reports are flying that it will be Gov. Pawlenty from Minnesota, which seems to be the only choice he could have made from the widely reported finalists of Romney, Lieberman & Ridge, as all of these names would demoralize the base for various reasons (pro-choice, flip-flopping RINO, & a pseudo-Democrat).  Many pundits are panning Pawlenty as boring and non-descript.  I can think of at least 2 reasons this is a good pick for McCain:

  1. Minnesota may be in play this year and Pawlenty is probably a net positive in that state.
  2. Next week’s convention will be noticeably less exciting so having a “local” play such a prominent role as part of the ticket could ramp up the atmosphere.  If so, the convention will play better on TV and could neutralize the bump Obama is projected to see.

Should be interesting to see how the race develops into the fall.

One last point, tonight’s speech from Obama was obviously a partisan speech but on one point, no American — Republican, Democrat, Independent, completely apolitical – can afford to ignore: our country and our way of life are at a defining crossroad for two primary reasons: peak oil and the economic reckoning that comes from fueling economic growth by stealing future generations’ wealth.  This crossroad is the catalyst that drove me to take control of my financial matters, to prepare for the rough times ahead.  I suggest all readers do the same.

As always, YMMV.

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