A steady hand: Why voters are breaking for Obama.

Over at the Times, Stanley Fish offers a deft narrative of how the Barack Obama has managed to create and maintain such a solid lead:

The McCain campaign huffs and puffs and jumps from charge to charge: Obama consorts with terrorists; he’s a socialist; he’s a communist; he is un-American; he’s not one of us; he’s a celebrity; he’s going to take your money and give it to people who never did a day’s work; he’s going to sell out Israel; he’ll cozy up to foreign dictators; he’s measuring the drapes.

In response, Obama explains his tax policy for the umpteenth time, points out that capitalists like Warren Buffet support him, details his relationship with Bill Ayers, lists those he consults with, observes that Senator McCain, by his own boast, voted with President George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, and calls for change.

What he (or his campaign) doesn’t do is bring up the Keating Five, or make veiled references to McCain’s treatment of his first wife, or make fun of Sarah Palin (she doesn’t need any help), or disparage his opponent’s experience, or hint at the disabilities of age. He just stands there looking languid (George Will called him the Fred Astaire of politics), always smiling and never raising his voice.

The behavior of McCain (and his campaign) telegraphs the opposite impression that he’s trying to establish. McCain wants to be known as the steady hand, the tested leader, the guy you can count on when everything is a mess. But everything is a mess, and Obama has been calm and consistent in his message, while McCain seems anything but. By failing to live up to his own frame, McCain makes himself look unauthentic or, worse, unable to live up to his own standards.

This is, incidentally, the same bind that the campaign has found themselves in with regard to personal finances. They say that people who work hard and earn a lot money shouldn’t have to apologize for it; but when word of Palin’s $150k outfits came out, the campaign tried out a series of excuses, rather than just saying “hey, she’s running for vice president—hasn’t she earned the right to look good?” If wealth is a virtue, why treat it like a vice?

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

6 replies on “A steady hand: Why voters are breaking for Obama.”

  1. I was particularly amused by this back-hand to the McCain-Palin circus in a New York Times LTE by William Ibershof:

    As the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s (I was then chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of Michigan and took over the Weathermen prosecution in 1972), I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers’s terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child.

    And then this wrap.

    I do take issue with the statement in your news article that the Weathermen indictment was dismissed because of “prosecutorial misconduct.” It was dismissed because of illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions, initiated by John N. Mitchell, attorney general at that time, and W. Mark Felt, an F.B.I. assistant director.

    In other words the previous record holder for most corrupt Republican administration ever.

  2. Only two words are needed to explain why McCain is going down in flames:


    She is the ball and chain that has dragged down what could have been, for the first time in decades, a fairly progressive, Republican Presidential ticket.

    Instead of a boost, when John McCain hitched that ball and chain, Palin, to his campaign, we could practically hear the disgust of the middle class voters as they gave up all hope.

    Contrary to the RNC spin, Palin did not energize anyone. She did manage to drive away much of the moderate base who had hoped that McCain-Romney would prove to be a forward thinking, progressive, solutions oriented team that was the right fit for our times. Instead, McCain gave us the finger and picked trailer-park Palin in some misguided effort to win the lecherous Joe Sixpack vote.

    Perhaps the saddest part of this saga is that in the election aftermath, some of the Republican leadership will still try to promote Palin as some sort of rising star, when she has been responsible for ruining the campaign of an otherwise credible candidate, John McCain.

    Perhaps the GOP bosses will have learned by 2012 that they can’t scare the People into voting for them, but that they must produce solid, libertarian-Republican candidates who will offer real solutions and a positive vision for America’s future. Perhaps they will eventually learn, but, better that the Republican rank and file canned the current National GOP leadership and started over with a clean house.

  3. I’d argue that Sarah Palin’s appointment to the nomination is a symptom of, rather than the cause of, McCain’s spectacular failure as a nominee. Well before her nomination, he was running a nasty campaign from as far to the right as possible, turning 180 degrees from the respectable campaign he ran in 2000.

    I mean, he was still a disgustingly conservative politician in 2000; he just ran a respectable campaign. Now he doesn’t even have that.

  4. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. We have connected John McCain to the Plumbers. I’m still researching where Joe fits in.

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