I’ve been thinking about Senator Obama’s pick of Senator Joe Biden as his Vice-Presidential nominee. I’ve come to the conclusion that this pick demonstrates that Senator Obama does not understand this election, or what he needs to do to win it.
In the sure and certain knowledge that the Democrats won’t follow my advice, I offer them here, free of charge, an explanation of what they need to do to win.
- Fundamentally, this election is not between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. This election is between Senator Obama, and “not Senator Obama”. Oh, at the margins who “not Senator Obama” is matters. It matters for Republican intensity, and it matters for some votes from “moderates”. But the Republicans have held the Presidency for the last 8 years, they’ve had their chance to screw things up, so people are biased towards giving the Democrats a chance to screw things up for a while.
- To the extent that it matters that Senator McCain is Senator Obama’s opponent, attacking Senator McCain is not going to do Senator Obama much good. You are not going to get people to vote against McCain because he married a rich wife (and therefore doesn’t know how many houses she owns). You’re not going to surprise any likely voters by telling them that McCain is a cranky old man, because they already know that. You’re not going to score a successful attack on his character, because Senator McCain spent 5+ years getting tortured in the Hanoi Hilton rather than accepting a “dishonorable” early release. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about McCain’s “character”, then you’re pretty much a guaranteed not to be a McCain voter anyway.
- Senator Obama has never been challenged, and never accomplished anything other than getting elected to office. As Dean Barnett noted, he is a dilettante intellectual, and has clearly never spent much time actually thinking about the big questions, let alone foreign policy, or. apparently, much of anything other than “how do I achieve higher office?” This is the man who was “President” / senior Editor of the Harvard Law Review, but never wrote an article for the Law Review (it turns out that’s not correct, and that he did write an article, but lied about it earlier. I’ve yet to read the article myself, or see definitive commentary on it. More later). If he wants to become the next President of the United States of America, he’s going to have to convince the American people to vote for him.
- Senator McCain’s campaign understands this. Thus we get the commercials about “The One”. Commercials that always end with “but is he ready to lead?”
- There’s two ways you can look at the Obama campaign’s response. The first is that they don’t understand this. The second is that they do, but they realize he isn’t ready to lead, and so wish to avoid the question.
- If Senator Obama wants to become President Obama, then he needs to introduce himself to the American people. He needs to say “this is what I believe in.”
- Instead of talking about “Hope”, he needs to tell us exactly what he hopes to accomplish.
- Instead of talking about “Change”, he needs to tell us what he wants to change, what he wants to change it to, and why.
- Instead of talking to us about “living up to America’s Ideals”, he needs to tell us what ideals we haven’t been living up to, and what he’s going to do to get us back on track.
The, utterly destructive to his campaign, problem is that Senator Obama can’t, honestly, answer those questions. Part of that “can’t” is that he’s an intellectual lightweight, and hasn’t bothered to think enough about the issues to actually know where he stands. Which is why he so thoroughly sucks when he tries to speak without a teleprompter, and has refused to do town-hall style debates with Senator McCain.
The rest of that “can’t” is that America is still a center-right country, and Senator Obama is, at best, a center-left politician surrounded by hard-left supporters. So he can either piss off his supporters, or attract voters, but he can rarely do both.
Finally, an exit question for my readers: Exactly how does adding Senator Joe Biden to the campaign help Senator Obama with any of the things he needs to do to win?