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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Dissecting the Campaigns before the Real Test Starts

I'm slacking in all my crampy glory. It's a lousy day to be female.

I'm ignoring the mess that surrounds me, trying to think of when I feel like making the tacos I shouldn't be making, or whether the spaghetti and meat sauce sounds wiser. Oh, difficult thoughts.

So I'm diverting my attention with the Times. Great passage here on the upcoming new tactics unveiled by the Obama campaign:
Mr. Obama’s aides said some states where they intend to campaign — like Georgia, Missouri, Montana and North Carolina — might ultimately be too red to turn blue. But the result of making an effort there could force Mr. McCain to spend money or send him to campaign in what should be safe ground, rather than using those resources in states like Ohio.
See, this is where I think Obama's different from all the recent Democratic campaigns. He's a fuckin' scrappy little dude and he's going to fight on different terms than the bend-over-and-take-it Democrats of old. He's taking new ideas in a new era and using new medias to create an image with the youth that no one's been able to do since the Kennedys, but he's also fighting a simpler, more grassroots battle of old like more traditional campaigns of underdogs have done, but he has a record-breaking budget for advertising that dwarfs the Republican warchest.

It's a fucking awesome convergence of situations that's going to make for a campaign that will reinvent political science classes, man. I totally see all the rules getting rewritten here.

This is where the campaign will get entertaining. Fight 'em where they think they're safe, beat 'em where you know you can take 'em, and take what you can where you're not expected to take much in an election year where a fraction of a percent could make all the difference, after two national elections decided by exactly that.

In that election year where one percent will make a world of difference, these are the tactics that need employing. The whole thing will keep the comfortable politics-of-old dinosaurs-r-us Republican machine on its toes, and I think may ultimately cost the Republicans the election. I do not think they're imaginative nor honest enough to survive a modern new media election with someone savvy enough to use it all to their advantage, whether it's the Black-eyed Peas doing "Yes we can" on YouTube or Obama cleaning up in a throw-down basketball match on the trail, McCain's still going to look 80 and beaten everywhere he goes.

I'm believing this could be a double-digit victory for the Democrats if they play tough Chicago politics the whole way through and Obama can maintain the smooth, calm exterior he's been exuding of late. He lost his cool around the last Clinton-Obama debate, and he's been measured and pretty unflappable ever since. She caught him, and he seems to have learned from it.

This is one campaign where he needs to maintain the "never let'em seeya sweat" mentality of cool and comfortable, because there's no way in hell a 25-years-senior McCain can match the pacing of the fit, healthy, young Obama. No way. It's far worse a juxtaposition of the doughy, sweaty Al Gore versus the fit, athletic rugged cowboy of Bush from 2000.

If the Republicans become reactionary and defensive while looking old and sounding dated, and the economy continues to fail, this one may just be in the bag after all.

Maybe I'm oversimpifying it, because I'm sure it will be a difficult and challenging path ahead of them, but I have a feeling that McCain's going to feel out of his league, because we've seen in the past that Obama really gets under his skin, and it pisses him off that this upstart seems to have it so easy, and this causes McCain to lose his cool.

I think he'll totally blow his cool at some point on this campaign, and he's going to come off with that simmering, seething anger you see bubbling under his skin sometimes, and those icky yellow teeth in forced "fuck you but I'll play nice" forced smile. I think he'll continue to be satirized in the press, and he won't have a sense of humour about it. He will slowly develop a strange and somewhat bastardized persona in the press. He's halfway there, with the leering desperation that oozes behind his failed quips like, "America has known me for years, unlike how they're just getting to know Senator Obama" with the breathy, creepy toothy grin he flashes at the end.

Slowly we'll see Obama emerge as the easy, afflable, fit and charming young guy he appears to be, and McCain will increasingly show his frustrated interior, and the stats will play out in Obama's favour. Obama needs to embrace more of the everyman image, sipping ice tea after basketball, cycling with his kids, holding up walking sticks from 95-year-old men and promising to "whup" congress if they fail to pass his health bill. That's the Obama that'll have this in the bag, so it's all on that shining through.

The McCain camp, of course, plans to focus their strategies on states lost to Obama in the primary season, which is going to serve like a roadmap for them. But this could be the fatal flaw in their tactics, because, while Obama may have lost to Clinton, and big, in some states, it doesn't mean the disenchanted will be casting a vote the Republican way. They're still Republicans. And Bush is barely alive with 30% approval these days, and no matter how much McCain wants to pretend he's a bold new era, that pesky record of voting just like Bush is going to bite him in the ass sooner or later, and if Wall Street has any more 3% loss days and oil continues skyrocketing over $140 a barrel, there's no fucking way Business-as-Usual will continue to be swallowed by the less savvy political minds out there.

So, ultimately, Obama has the campaign advantage, 'cos they have a clear showing of where their message requires work, and where they stand the most opposition.

And Hillary Clinton has a lot to prove to the Democrats right now. They fought too hard, created too divisive a water for Obama to get across on his own, and now she needs to help heal that riff. Bill Clinton has hurt the party, and his wife, even more with his derisive, redneck attacks on Obama.

Unlike the rest of the media, who are saying, Oh, this is the nail in the Clintons' coffin, I completely disagree! It's like that moment in Apollo 13 when Ed Harris speaks back to the NASA bigwig who says this mission could be NASA's worst moment, and Harris says, "With all due respect, sir, I think it will be our finest hour."

And that's the situation before the Clintons right now. They both fucked up in the campaign when they a) let everything slip from their grasp, and b) got petty and unscrupulous on the primary trail. They're not stupid, they realize all the mistakes they've made, but they got caught up in the swirlie of when things go to shit and start to circle the drain, sometimes you just can't break the tide you're caught in. I think that's what happened to the Clintons.

But they'll regroup and they'll channel into the brilliant political minds they are, and while they let everything come apart in the span of three months, they have five months to reverse the damage they'd done, and I think they will. They know the nation will never forgive them if this election is lost, and they won't let that happen.

They're charming and spectacular people who understand the American mindset almost as well as masterminds like Rove. They fucked up, but if they can regroup, they can be a huge part of a massive victory party come November, and I don't think it's too late for that to happen. In fact, I'm cheering like you wouldn't believe that they find it within themselves to put all their political bullshit aside, be themselves, and be magnets that help guide Obama to victory in a time when there's practically a greenlight to the White House, if only they're smart enough to capitalize.

Bill Clinton will be outraged that he fucked up a chance to redeem his legacy in a post-blue dress/Lewinsky world. He'll get a chance to step back and get a constructive look at his asinine behaviour, and he'll start to see more of himself in Obama, who's the same age now as Clinton was when he took the office, and I think he'll become more helpful than he's been. He can become a mentor to this guy, a guy who feeds off of mentor-pupil relationships more than any politician in recent history, and he can be the father of the "kid's" campaign, if he can put his ego aside long enough to start being a guide rather than a star.

Or at least that's how I see it.

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