Duck! and Gather

The Way Out for Obama

Posted on: July 3, 2008

  • In: predictions
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Yesterday, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times confirmed what one might expect: Obama is way stressed out. She paints him as caught between the “warped imagination[s]” of the left and the right in America.

If so, then his mistake these past few weeks has been in trying to pander to the pet prejudices of each group. One problem with doing that, of course, is that in an Internet world in which nothing is secret, whatever he says to pander to one set of extremists enrages the opposite set.

Another problem with doing that comes when the man doesn’t even believe in his own pandering. When that’s the case, he’s stressed doing it, and not at all charismatic or engaging. This is what I have seen in his pandering to the right wing (evangelicals, neocons, big corporations) these past few weeks. I don’t believe Obama shares the pet prejudices of those groups. So when he pretends to do so in his speeches, those speeches fall flat.

What to do if you are Obama? I mean he just can’t ignore the evangelicals, neocons, and big corporations because that’s too big a chunk of the country. What to do? What to do?

To me the answer is simple. Dowd alluded to it in the concluding paragraph of her piece: “Maybe instead of refighting the Vietnam War while we’re still fighting the Iraq war, the candidates can figure out how to feed the world, find enough fuel for everyone and oh, yeah, catch that bin Laden fiend who’s running around free.”

The idea is: identify the common threads that bind all of us Americans. And then give speeches covering only those common threads. When anybody asks you about any other subject (e.g. gun control, religion, free trade), you answer in generalities, and then bring the conversation back to the common threads. For example:

    • Q: What about gun control? A: Yeah, I can see the need for gun control, but gun ownership is core to the American fabric. But anyway, the bigger issue is … [back to common threads] …
      Q: What about religion? A: Hell yeah! I’m religious. But you know, there’s a separation between church and state. But the more important issue for us religious types is … [back to common threads] …
  • What are these threads? That’s for Obama to decide. But some obvious ones seem to be: crushing debt, foreclosures/financial meltdown, gas prices/clean energy, healthcare, obesity/degenerative disease. I’m sure there are others. Good to keep the list to no more than 7 or so.

    And then just drum those themes home day after day, week after week, until November.

    What will this buy him? He’ll be able to address every group in the country, be consistent between speeches, and be passionate and charismatic in doing so. Then when he’s elected in a landslide, he continues to push those very same common threads.

    You watch. He’s a smart fellow. He’ll figure this out.

    for the money has gone too far

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