Monday, October 20, 2008

Questions For The Undecided Voter

Congratulations on not being swayed by the endless political rallies, ads, media coverage and phone calls asking for your commitment to the Obama/Biden or the McCain/Palin ticket. You are running out of time to decide but before you do, here are a few questions that you might want to consider. If your answers are in the positive then you should vote for Barack Obama. However if you are unsure about the answers then John McCain deserves your vote.

The Economy: Despite all his mockery of McCain not being knowledgeable on the economy, Obama's background is anything but economic. As a lawyer, a law professor, a community organizer and Senator he has been even more removed from economic and financial affairs than John McCain. When all the rhetoric is peeled away, Obama's economic plan boils down to the redistribution of wealth which he himself admitted to Joe the plumber. One can also expect the deficit to balloon exponentially due to his massive spending programs.Do you agree with the policy that will drive the deficit through the roof and take your hard earned money and pass it out to people who can't cut it?

Military Policy: If Obama is elected, it will be the first time in history that America will elect a President who will preside over three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror). Obama will also be a war time President who has not even the remotest experience with management or military strategy or war in general. In the one chance he had as an elected official, he showed his flawed judgement by declaring the surge a failure before it was even implemented. If he had been allowed to have his way, the troops would already be home by now, the surge would have never occurred and Iraq would be in a state of genocide and chaos. His logic is that we should not have been there in the first place. This is a backward facing view that the next President cannot afford to have.Do you trust a man who was never even a boy scout and has not even run a hot dog stand to manage three wars?

Taxes: Every chance he has had to vote for tax cuts or vote against tax increases, Obama has said no. The only tax cuts Obama has given are rhetorical. But now he promises to cut your taxes and that of 95% of Americans. He will also be running a welfare program in effect by giving tax rebate checks to people that do not pay any income taxes. You should also keep in mind that Bill Clinton ran on a platform of tax cuts but raised taxes once he got elected. It would simply be extremely irresponsible not to raise taxes to pay for the enormous spending programs the Democrats have in mind.

Do you have enough faith in Obama's word that he will not raise taxes even though the record of Democrats and Obama himself reflects the opposite?

Healthcare: Sen. Obama will have the government run the healthcare system for you. This is the government that cannot even secure the country's borders. Besides its ineffectiveness, imagine the experiences you will have at a government run health care facility (hint: think about your last visit to the DMV or the social security office).

Do you feel confident and hopeful about seeing a government appointed DMV style clerk for your healthcare needs?

Energy: It is not a stretch to state that Obama's experience with energy issues is limited to his experience at the local gas station. He voted for a disastrous energy bill and was also opposed to offshore drilling and nuclear power but now supports both. You would be right to assume that he shifted with the polls on energy issues just like he did on FISA and the Patriot Act.

Do you trust Obama to not change his mind and go back to his original views once he is elected?

Associations and Judgement: Obama has made his campaign about judgement being more important than experience. However the only people he has been closely associated for an extended period of time have turned out to be unsavory to say the least. He could not recognize or chose to ignore the characters of men like Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers. Associating with hate mongering pastors, shady political fixers and unrepentant terrorists would be non issues if Obama had a long record that would have helped Americans 'know' him. But he does not, so these are legitimate issues.

Do you feel safe and sure about Obama's judgement and ability to deal with rogue world leaders when he could not even correctly judge the characters of people he has known for years?

Leadership and Crisis Management: Barack Obama has never had to face (let alone lead people out of) a crisis and yet as President he will face the biggest challenges in the history of this country. His only real exposure to failure was losing a bid for the US House of Representatives! He has spent his career as a go along - get along politician with malleable convictions. No one has the faintest idea about how he will react to failure or resolve disputes or face a crisis situation.

Do you have enough proof or faith to be sure that he will not crack under pressure? What if he does?

The doubts about Obama's leadership ability are not only on the Republican side. Bill Clinton has said that electing Obama would be a roll of the dice. Joe Biden said that Obama will need on the job training. It is true that almost all Presidents have had 'on the job training' to an extent (it is the nature of the job) but Obama's learning curve will be extremely steep. It would be like hiring a gas station attendant to be the CEO of Exxon-Mobil.

You are undecided about Barack Obama because he has not closed the deal with you. There is plenty of doubt and uncertainity facing this country ranging from economic, foreign and military affairs.

Do you think it is wise to add to the uncertainty by electing a candidate whose leadership, crisis management and governing skills are a complete mystery?

John McCain is by no means perfect but at least you know where he will take the country and what his leadership and crisis management skills are like. You know about his convictions and his record of standing up for what he believes in no matter the political consequence. He has faced the toughest personal and political crises and come out on top.

That feeling in your gut which has kept you from supporting Obama (and that which has been falsely and unfairly attributed to closet racism) is actually a vital and reasonable recognition of the risks posed by an Obama presidency.

Don't ignore it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ten Talking Points for McCain

Modern day debates have devolved into one line zingers and memorable attack lines instead of actual policy discussion. People's attention spans are too small to digest a 90 minute discussion on issues. It was evident that while interesting, the first debate was disappointing due to its lack of memorable lines or a clear winner. Sen. McCain needs to sharpen his attack with short sentences that cut and see through Obama's soaring rhetoric.

Ten talking points that McCain and Palin might consider using in the next debates and ads:

1. Sen. Obama has a tendency to stay on the sidelines on tough issues. There is an overt effort to avoid ruffling feathers. May it be in the Illinois state Senate where he voted 'Present' on tough issues such as punishment for gang members or may it be the gang of 14 to resolve the gridlock over judicial nominees or the recent bailout negotiations where he could have easily gotten involved to forge a bipartisan deal. Instead he chose to stay outside the loop and make statements from his teleprompter while McCain was in the midst of things - for better or worse, that is what a President is supposed to do. Take the lead and be in charge.

2. Sen. Obama is in the enviable position of saying whatever he wants with minimal risk of being proven wrong because there is no paper trail or a record to match his words and actions. He has voted to raise taxes 94 times and yet now he says he will cut them and Americans are supposed to take his word for it. There is the slimmest of records of bipartisanship and no record whatsoever of standing upto his party and yet we're supposed to accept his words at face value that he will work with both sides.
His 'bipartisanship' includes a law to 'keep lose nukes out of the hands of terrorists'. What does that even mean? It is as controversial and tough as congratulating Michael Phelps on his Olympic achievement. Who would be against keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists? Bipartisanship implies working with the other side to do what is best for the country and in that process you invariably alienate people from both parties. It can be safely assumed no feathers were ruffled when this loose nukes bill was forged.

3. On taxes Obama says he will cut taxes for 95% of Americans. This is an interesting concept since not all working Americans pay Federal income tax. So his tax 'cut' is essentially a welfare program where he will handout rebate checks to people that don't pay any taxes. This is a clever way to hide yet another spending program.

4. On Iran and other rogue nations, Sen Obama wants to talk to them directly. He owes an explanation about what he will say to them. What is the brilliant argument he has in his arsenal that will convince these despots to give up what they're doing? What will he say face to face that cannot be conveyed through high level diplomats or allies that have relations with these countries?

5. There is no proof that he keeps his word on his promises. Sen. Obama was opposed to offshore drilling until the political winds changed and now he is for it. He was against nuclear power and now he is for it with reservations. He was against FISA until he voted for it. There seems to be a pattern of shifting with the polls and public opinion. It shows lack of conviction and raises the issue of trust (not patriotism but trust). Can he be trusted to keep his word when he keeps changing his mind to tell people what they want to hear?

6. Sen. Obama wants the government to take over healthcare and eliminate choices for consumers. He wants to hand over something as vital and important like healthcare to the government that took five days to get water to hurricane victims or the government that can't secure our borders or even handle toll booths efficiently.

7. Sen. Obama has voted with the Democrat leadership 97% of the time. This means he has voted with Harry Reid almost every time - the same Reid who said the war is lost long before the new strategy was even implemented. He voted with the same Nancy Pelosi who has taken over the Congress and run it into the ground. The current Congress has accomplished practically nothing and is even more unpopular than Bush. It is concerning that Obama agrees with such overt partisans every single time. It also proves that bipartisanship is only a punch line for Sen. Obama.

8. Sen. Obama has yet to answer for his running mate's plan to divide Iraq into 3 countries. That would have been disastrous and yet no one has asked them about it. Is that the kind of judgement we need? Obama has also to provide an explanation for asking almost a million dollars for everyday he has been in the Senate in earmarks and Joe Biden's ties to lobbyists and MBNA bank. We still don't have a clarification about Obama's ties to Fannie Mae and the donations from Fannie to his campaign. Both Obama and Biden also owe an explanation on the vote to keep the bill that included the infamous 'Bridge to nowhere' alive.

9. Obama has consistently avoided being pinned down on social issues and no one knows what kind of judges he will appoint to the Supreme Court. He has said that certain questions are above his pay grade. This shows yet another unwillingness to take on tough or controversial issues. There is no 'Present' button on the President's chair and there is no paygrade above the President's.

10. He has promised to take on the politics as usual and change things, yet there is no record of Obama taking on anyone in Illinois or trying to change things there. His political mentor is under an ethics could, the Governor is under investigation and the Mayor of Chicago is a walking mascot for cronyism and corruption. Sen. Obama has no record of standing up to any of these people.There is also no evidence of him taking on the Democrats in Congress. He never called for Congressman Jefferson or the Mayor of Detroit to resign after their respective scandals and neither has he called for Charlie Rangel to step down from his position after his recent embarassment over tax evasion (even the New York Times called for him to step down). Yet he promises to change things once he is President - sorry if we don't take his word for it.

The times are too challenging, too tough and too complicated to give over the reigns of the country to a freshman Senator with no major legislation, no executive experience and no perceivable convictions that stand the test of time. This is no time to try something new without knowing what that new will do once in office. Are you willing to roll the dice, take the risk and find out?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hillary's Last Swing

Barack Obama's historical achievement was no doubt the biggest news story of the week. However Hillary Clinton did not fade away into the night as many had hoped. Instead she took one final swing at Obama and it seems to have connected. This is her way of showing that she is a force to reckon with and her core base won't just roll over and support Obama. Her surrogates aren't even being subtle in pushing for her to be on the ticket.

The Clinton supporters have alleged everything from media bias to sexism to reverse racism in explaining her defeat. They are mad at the media, the DNC and especially Obama. Many have even threatened to support McCain. Hillary secretly enjoys this but has to come across as a uniter ready to do anything to make sure Democrats win in November. Her base, especially
low income whites and women are wary of Obama and will need convincing if Obama wants their vote.

So what does Clinton do? She all but says that she wants to be on the ticket. The VP buzz is almost as big a story as Obama's nomination. This puts Obama in an awkward situation similar to when she offered him to be her VP earlier this year. The difference is that this time he
has to decide. This is for real and Obama cannot get away by ignoring the question or laughing it off. Hillary's logic is simple: put me on and you get my supporters, say no to me and you disappoint them once again. If Obama does say no to her, he again prevents a woman from getting where no woman has before (if their ticket wins). This will push her supporters off the edge and Obama will never bring them back before November.

Obama supporters secretly wish that the rumors about Clinton wanting a graceful exit are true. (She wants him to offer the VP spot so she can deny it and appear graceful). Somehow, knowing the Clinton's lust for power, I doubt that is the case.
To be fair, Clinton is a brand name and gives the illusion of being experienced compared to the other names being floated around (Jim Webb, Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Warner). The only real competitor of Hillary seems to be Bill Richardson. Richardson isn't exactly a name brand but he is at least recognized outside his home state unlike the others mentioned above.
(Read 'Clinton's VP smokescreen' to see why Obama can't have her on the ticket.)

Why Republicans want the ticket
Republicans have always wanted to go against Clinton and this would give them the opportunity to do so. Obama will probably be overshadowed by the relentless attacks on the Clintons. Everything the Republicans need to attack Hillary and by extention Obama is in the Vanity Fair article by Todd Purdum. The article coupled with the suggestion put forth by Mitt Romney ('Do you want Bill running around the White House with nothing to do?') is enough material to last ages. Innuendo alone will be enough to turn people off this 'dream ticket'. Imagine an inexperienced, deep over his head, President Obama, a hostile, overly ambitious Vice President Hillary and playboy Bill with nothing to do sharing the same White House. Republicans can't have it better if they scripted it.

If Obama does pick Clinton he will show his naivety, inexperience and a vulnerability to be manipulated. Picture the same Obama in the White house being manipulated by hawkish generals or ultra liberal advisers. Imagine his meetings Ahmadinejad or some other despot he has promised to meet. They will instantly see right through him and we will have a Cuban missile crisis redux except this time the missiles might just be launched.

Obama probably realizes the perils of putting Clinton on the ticket but he feels he can pull it off. Odds are that Obama will pick Clinton because of over confidence and narcissism that have characterized his candidacy. Obama probably thinks he can dictate Clinton's role in the White House and in return he gets her voters and donors. He figures that the Clintons will not dare undercut the darling of the Democrats and the media without repercussions. We all know how that is going to turn out.
This is going to be beautiful.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Advantage John McCain

By clinching the Republican nomination in early March John McCain surprised the pundits who widely believed that the Democrats would settle on their nominee long before the Republicans did. This change of dynamic is unexpectedly good news for McCain and the Republicans in a time when they could use some good news. The uncertainty and the increasingly negative campaigning in the Democratic field gives the Republicans a chance to level the playing field in this favorable year for the Democrats.

Some influential strategists like Karl Rove have argued that McCain risks fading from the front pages and that is not a good thing for a Presidential nominee. However getting some breathing room to plan for the future can only benefit McCain. The voters are likely to suffer from Obama/Clinton fatigue if the Democratic race drags on for months. This would make McCain the fresh new thing come November. It is also possible that the Democrats would exhaust some of their donors as well as enthusiasm among the voters while McCain can get new donors and build support by selling his message to the voters.

The other important factor is fatigue. No matter who the candidate is, the Democratic candidate's campaign is likely to be tired from the intense primary season, while McCain and his camp has a chance to relax and enjoy the show. It also gives them a chance to know what works against Obama/Clinton without having to work for it. They also have enough time to research the weaknesses of the Democratic candidates for the general campaign.
More importantly this provides the McCain camp with a wonderful opportunity to organize, fund raise, sharpen his message and introduce their candidate to the voters.

John McCain was able to clinch the nomination in a relatively weak Republican field with his current organization. However the disorganized McCain camp would be easy prey for the Democrats especially since they would hit the ground running in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where they have intensively campaigned. John McCain needs to organize his campaign structure to match that of George Bush in 2004. The Bush camp followed the basic principles like Stick to message discipline, avoid falling prey to common mistakes and have a tight leak proof organization.

McCain should also remember that a healthy distrust of the press never hurt anyone. He has a habit of getting into arguments with the press as well as answer every question they have for him. This has made the press like him but there will always be some reporters who will use his candor against him. McCain needs to be aware of that and keep the press at arm's length.

Fund Raising:
The biggest advantage that McCain has from the Democratic infighting is money. He is free to raise money from traditional Republican donors as well as attract small online donors. The Democrats would have easily blown millions of dollars attacking each other before the summer ends while McCain has a great chance to increase his bank balance to match the Democrats. This is also the biggest use he has for President Bush. Bush may be unpopular but his fundraising abilities are strong as ever. McCain should take full advantage of this.

Sharpen his message:
John McCain made a mistake by being honest and admitting he does not have a lot of knowledge about economic concepts. He needs to makeup for that blunder and sharpen his domestic and economic message. He has the foreign policy aspect covered but the economic, social and health care messages need to be sharpened and put forth. He should use this time to hire the best economic minds to run that side of his campaign. He will need to have effective answers on the current housing crisis, the social security and medicare fears, the looming recession and rising oil prices.

On a lighter but equally important note, the McCain camp should start using new 'on the campaign trail' stories, jokes and anecdotes. We have heard his jokes about the bridge to nowhere, Clinton's Woodstock museum bill and bear DNA research and they were funny the first 10 times but now he needs new material.

John McCain can use this time to organize his ground game in swing states and open campaign offices in those states. His camp should survey the voters in these states and address their concerns effectively. McCain also has a good chance of winning over Hispanics and his camp should dedicate itself to that cause. He also has ample time to pick his staff and more importantly a running mate that would satisfy the Republican base.

John McCain has a compelling story to tell about his life and career and its a shame most Americans only know a part of it. His courage, compassion and perseverance are inspirational. Barack Obama's inspirational speeches become pale when his words are compared to McCain's actions. McCain should introduce himself to the American people and his campaign should tell his story every chance they get.
In the time the Democrats are busy fighting each other, McCain runs a risk of being yesterday's news. He can reverse that by making TV and radio appearances every chance he gets. He should use this time to be everywhere from Leno to Jon Stewart, from daytime talk shows to Hispanic TV shows.

Winning the Base:
This is also a great opportunity for McCain to win over conservatives. He should make appearances on conservative talk radio as well as evangelical churches. He needs to do all he can to assure conservatives about Supreme Court judges, immigration and tax cuts. However McCain needs to be careful so as to not get carried away with this pandering. He should do it relatively below the radar and not win over conservatives at the expense of independents and moderates. It is a fine line but McCain can manage it.

Moreover a few conservatives being against him will not hurt him as much as one would think. Rush Limbaugh said a few weeks ago that if he wanted to destroy McCain's chances he (Limbaugh) would enthusiastically endorse him and that would drive away the moderates and independents. Thus if McCain does not have every conservative on board, he is at a net advantage.

The Democrats have given John McCain and the Republicans a great opening - question is can he take advantage of it?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Clinton's VP Smokescreen

In a recent campaign event Bill Clinton told reporters that Hillary was 'very open to the idea' of Barack Obama as her running mate. This followed Hillary's statements to the news media that a joint ticket "may be where this is headed".

This is may sound like good news to Democrats who want this so called 'dream ticket' and to those who are worried about party unity. Clinton's offer suggests that she does not want the race to get irreparably negative. However the strategy behind this recent VP buzz is more tactical than altruistic.

Why Obama is not interested:
It is quite uncommon to see the front runner being offered the post of VP by the trailing candidate. Even though Sen. Obama is ahead by all measures in the race so far, Clinton's offer undercuts Obama's achievements and gives the illusion that she is ahead. It also puts him in an awkward spot where he either has to show some warmth to the idea or make a counter offer of his own to Hillary.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama was trailing Clinton. Even in this scenario Obama cannot accept the offer because it would fly in the face of his entire platform. He has gotten this far by promising change and vowing not to allow the same old people to run Washington. By accepting the offer he would not only support the same old people, he would in fact facilitate the process as VP. Obama would also ruin his chances of running again in 2012 or 2016 because his message of change would be exposed as hypocritical.

Why Obama cannot counter the offer:
With Hillary as his running mate Obama would still be seen as facilitating giving power to the same old faces in Washington. He would also be worried about Hillary trying to undermine his authority. Denials aside, Obama will require on the job training if he becomes President. One can safely assume that he will not want the Clintons to be his trainers.

A President Obama would also constantly be wary of Bill and Hillary trying to second guess him. It would be an ugly power struggle where a seasoned former President and First Lady outshine and out maneuver the rookie President. Obama cannot afford to risk an undercurrent of hostility and political cunning in his running mate(s).

The Clinton camp has already figured out this dynamic and is thriving on it. They know Obama is cold to either idea and they have put him in a tough spot. Hillary comes across as the uniter extending an olive branch to her opponent while he comes across as the one willing to risk a divided party. Hillary would also largely benefit if Obama did accept her offer since she does not share the above dilemmas. The Obama camp is on the defensive against the retooled Clinton machine.

The Clintons have accepted their role as the insurgent candidate and have adapted to it brilliantly. They are at their best when fighting in the trenches and it will be interesting to see how Obama responds from his 'above the fray' pedestal.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Satire: The Great Obama Sale

Welcome Voters!

It is the great Obama Sale! You are guaranteed to find something for everyone. We believe in pleasing everyone so come on in!!


Against NAFTA?
Then you will be happy to know that our candidate has all intentions to end NAFTA if it isn't renegotiated to get you your job back!
If you are not in a state like Ohio then rest assured! We're sure that by now you've heard of our (wink-wink) conversation with the Canadians. Nafta is not going anywhere - so relax!

Against Telecom immunity and terrorist surveillance?
Our candidate has said that they shouldn't be given immunity and we need to end warrentless wiretaps. So we will roll back the Bush tactics.
Worried we won't monitor terror communications?
Well our candidate did not show up to vote for the FISA bill so take it easy; we are not really against the FISA bill either! (wink-wink).

Want our troops out?
Our candidate showed amazing judgment by giving a speech in Chicago against the war! He has promised that troops will begin pulling out almost as soon as he takes office. So our troops are coming home and who cares what happens in Iraq after that?
Worried Iraq will fall into chaos or that al Qaeda will take over?
Fear not! We will send our troops back into Iraq if that happens. And who gives a damn that al Qaeda is already there?
To let you in on a secret - we aren't really going to withdraw too much. But we hope you understand that we have to say that to get elected! And we can always hope al Qaeda and the Shiite militants just go away.

Want an end to partisanship?
Our candidate's whole platform is based on that. He will end the bickering and make everyone come together. Believe us - it's a promise he intends to keep.
Part of the liberal Democratic base?
We are on your side! Our candidate isn't really going to work with Republicans on contentious issues. His idea of bipartisanship is making everyone go along with his view. And think about it, would you still support him if he had actually worked with Republicans on controversial issues?

Just look at John McCain - his party's base hates him because he worked with Democrats. Our candidate has the support of every sub group of the Democratic Party - does that happen with someone who is willing to break with his party on some issues? (wink-wink).

No Health Insurance?
Obama to the rescue! We will provide everyone a government run health care plan. Yes the same government that can't even handle toll booths efficiently will be responsible for your healthcare needs! We believe it is the best way.
There is a $4000 tax credit and low interest student loans for you if you vote for our candidate.
Senior Citizen?
There are additional medicare and prescription drug benefits for you if you vote for us.
Middle class family?
Don't worry, your taxes are not going up. We will only raise the taxes of your employers and other rich folk. How dare they get rich?!

So shoppers, in this leap year we ask you to make a leap of faith and support our great candidate.
Official Obama Cult Members get 15% more of their wishes fulfilled!!


  • We urge you to ignore our candidate's judgment of entering into a transaction with indicted political fixer Tony Rezko.
  • The Canadian memo was not supposed to leak out.
  • We do not take into consideration that threatening to end NAFTA unless its renegotiated to our liking will set a dangerous precedent where Canada and Mexico can threat to opt out unless the agreement is negotiated to their liking.
  • We also do not take into account that illegal immigration will increase ten fold and Mexico's economy might collapse if we withdraw from NAFTA.
  • We know there is no real evidence of bipartisanship, but when he is the President, Obama will work with everyone. You will just have to take our word for it.
  • We do not take into account the logistical and military nightmare it will be to take American troops out of Iraq and put them back in on short notice when Al Qaeda resurges.
  • We do not believe your small business employer will lay you off if his/her taxes go up. Economics is just not our cup of tea.
  • We have no real plan to pay for all our big programs for students, veterans, seniors, universal healthcare, etc. But with a 'Yes We Can' attitude we just might figure out a way.
  • Our promises are not necessarily binding and we reserve the right to 'change' our minds on them as we see fit politically.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It is now or never for Clinton

It seems like Sen. Hillary Clinton has become a footnote between Sen. Barack Obama's victory speeches as he steamrolls through yet another string of victories in the Democratic primary.
The Clinton camp was expecting these losses in February, and they come as no surprise to anyone. However, Clinton needs to stay relevant in the campaign. She cannot afford to continue being mentioned as the runner-up who is pinning her hopes on Texas and Ohio. The Clinton campaign has to break Obama's momentum in order to remain competitive till the looming showdown over super delegates and resolution of Michigan and Florida delegates emerges.

One can safely assume Clinton and her surrogates are working under the radar to court the uncommitted super delegates and preparing for the fight over Florida and Michigan. Although these are necessary steps, Clinton has to get in the spotlight and separate herself from Obama and give voters a clear choice.

This phony live and let live campaign style that Obama and Clinton have employed is killing Clinton. Currently the policy differences betweeen the two are microscopic, and the race has been reduced to a popularity contest. Likeability is not a battle Hillary Clinton is going to win anytime soon. The Clinton camp is pushing for a debate in Texas before the primary there, and if she gets a chance to debate Obama she has to take Obama head-on. The love affair of the last debate gets her nowhere.

It is hard to attack the darling of the media whose platform is an abstract, non-specific theme that cannot be proven either way. Rep. Patrick Kennedy said so much in an interview where he said "what Sen. Obama offers cannot be put on a resume." Obama uses his experience as a community organizer in Chicago (another disprovable concept in terms of his effectiveness as the organizer) as a qualification to be President. In any other election cycle this would be a laughable proposition, but he is able to pull it off. His other and only real experience includes essentially discussing potholes in the Illinois legislature for seven years during which he did not stand out in any way.

Hillary Clinton has to make the case that change and experience are not mutually exclusive concepts. She has to point out that Obama is just another politician who has played it safe in both the Illinois State and US Senates for political benefit. He did not make an iota of difference in Chicago for over seven years and yet expects voters to take his word about changing the country.

Clinton also has to differentiate herself from Obama's policies or at least offer specifics about troop withdrawals and dealing with the war on terror. She has to offer ideas on how to deal with the problems facing the country that are concrete and different from Obama's. She needs to raise a new issue in the campaign (countering China, for example) and hammer it down. She should tout her First Lady experience as well as her Senate record before Obama got to the Senate.

Clinton needs to counter Obama's attacks about her vote for the war. He gave a non-consequential speech about the war, and his actions had no effect on anything. Once in the Senate, Obama has not backed up his anti-war stance by voting against funding or introducing a bill to withdraw troops. It won't be easy, but she has to sell that point to the voters. Finally, Clinton has to compete in Wisconsin even though she will probably lose there. Wisconsin can be used as a testing ground to attack Obama on his weaknesses.

The tide is with Obama right now, especially with respect to foreign affairs. Iraq is stable, Iran and North Korea are behaving themselves and no major foreign incident has occurred since the death of Benazir Bhutto that would expose Obama's inexperience and naivety. It is up to Hillary to remind the voters that it will not stay calm forever and when things change, stabilization will require real experience which only she offers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Clinton is stronger after Super Tuesday

If you paid any attention to the news leading up to Super Tuesday it was clear Obama had the momentum with a string of celebrity and union endorsements. Clinton was shown to be at least even if not behind in polls in California. There was no doubt about who won the state tally on Super Tuesday. Barack Obama won thirteen states to Clinton's eight with New Mexico pending and looking favorable to Obama.

The Obama campaign should be happy at what they accomplished against one the most recognizable political names in America. The Clinton folks should also be upbeat after winning California and Massachusetts and thus nullifying the endorsements of the Kennedys and John Kerry. A close look at the states won by each candidate gives an insight to which candidate has a better chance in the general elections.
Obama won more states but those included states like Alaska where the total votes cast were under 400. He also won states like Utah, Idaho and North Dakota which do not have enough delegates to make a difference in the total count and are republican strongholds. No Democrat has any chance at these states in the general elections. The Democratic Party has not and will not spend time in these states.

Obama did make headlines by winning the southern states with the exception of Tennessee which went to Clinton. Again the Bible belt is red from top to bottom and no Democrat has a chance there. The Black vote in these states will be small and inconsequential in November to make a difference for Democrats. The Hispanic vote will have a much bigger impact for the Democrats. Obama's biggest victories on Super Tuesday were Missouri, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Connecticut, Kansas and Minnesota. Missouri, although a win for Obama, is essentially a tie in terms of the delegates awarded to each candidate.

Hillary Clinton also won in red states like Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arizona where the Democratic nominee does not have a chance in November. But the Clinton camp should be happy with Super Tuesday’s results because of her wins in delegate rich Massachusetts, California, New York and New Jersey. These are Democratic states in the general elections. This is the Democratic base and Clinton did very well here. This means the democratic base with the exception of Illinois, Connecticut, and Delaware went with Clinton on Super Tuesday. It implies that she has the support of the voters in the states that democrats traditionally carry in the general elections.
This is the argument she can take to the big donors of the Democratic Party. Clinton only has to catch up in Connecticut, Delaware and Illinois while Obama has to work in New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and New York. Missouri is an exception where both would have to work to win that state along with the Republican nominee. Thus Obama has more work to do in winning the Democratic base than Clinton.

This is by no means over and Hillary Clinton should now concentrate on a few select states beyond Super Tuesday. States such as Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania are noteworthy. She can let Obama win more states and get the headlines but in terms of the base votes and delegates Clinton will remain ahead. She also has to attack Obama on the lack of specifics of his policies. The media seems to have given him a pass on the details but Clinton cannot afford to do so. She has to force him to unveil the nuts and bolts of his economic, military and social plans beyond the redundant change concept. Everyone gets it that Obama wants to bring about change but Clinton has to force him to get to the ‘how’ part.

There is no doubt that Barack Obama will continue his huge cash flows and get high profile endorsements. However ,the Clinton machine will work the grass roots like they did in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and California. Like in California and Massachusetts Obama’s celebrity endorsements will be reduced to nothing more than an opportunity to name drop by the Obama campaign.