Just Can't Win For Losing
This was the year to do the world a favor and finally rid it of the U.S. Republican Party, once and for all. The worst and most unpopular president ever, and a Republican candidate who might even be more disastrous, and all the Democrats needed do was run a tight campaign, emphasize what people already knew, and let history take its course. Only the Democratic Party could have blown this critical historic opportunity, and that is precisely what they already have done. This is not at all to say that this election is lost, and I still think it is Barack Obama's to lose, but I agree with digby, when she writes:
There's much about the Obama campaign that I admire. But I have always believed it was a mistake to box themselves into a post-partisan trap. They probably had to be careful about the tone, so that people would feel "comfortable" with a young black presidential candidate, but I think they overcompensated. This was a partisan year and it should have been a partisan rout. But somebody had to make that case.
It's probably too late to make the message of conservative failure stick at this point. It is now a 60 day dogfight fight between a gifted, young African American reformer and a grizzled old veteran ... reformer. The Republicans are "coming home" even in the face of their massive, nearly unprecedented disaster at governance over the past eight years because there's no price to pay as far as anyone's concerned --- the Republican brand is "self-correcting."
It's a tie today (or very close) and if the Obama campaign focuses on the economy, does well in the debates and gets out the vote as well as the GOP's re-invigorated churches do, they should win. But the days of arguing that this is a map changer or that "The Obama Movement" represents a seismic political shift are over. It's a 50/50 fight, just like it was in 2004. Half of the country still doesn't know that George W. Bush's failed governance wasn't a bug but a feature. And you certainly can't blame them for not telling anybody.
That John McCain as reformer is a fraud has been well-documented, but both Hillary Clinton's comity and Barack Obama's post-partisan schtick enabled the corporate media's endless efforts to cast him as such. As Big Tent Democrat argues, Obama's unwillingness to add Clinton to his ticket then opened the door to McCain's Palin play, which the Obama camp was ill-prepared to expose as the dangerous sell-out it was. As Steve has consistently argued, Obama should have allowed the development of a sophisticated Tier Two attack strategy, which then would have been ready to respond to the Palin selection, pre-empting the media's inevitably superficial celebrity infatuation distraction. Palin quickly should have been defined as the corrupt, unprepared, unqualified, theocratic extremist she is, and any cries of misogyny would have been pre-emptively neutralized because it would have been clear that the problems with Palin have nothing to do with her gender, her being a mother, or any other irrelevant personal matters.
But here we are, with a candidate who looks much weaker than the blogs made him seem, last winter and spring, a campaign strategy that some of us never liked, unexpected fundraising problems, and an election that I always said would be closer than the fanatics understood. This election has yet to be decided, and that should not be the case. The media will do their part to make the upcoming debates seem closer than they probably will be, and Palin probably will be judged on the same sliding scale that had the pundits declaring Bush equal to or better than Al Gore, mostly because Bush successfully learned how to pronounce foreign leaders' names, and because Gore was simply too conscious of the fact that he was much smarter than both Bush and the pundits. But the political winds, overall, still blow to Obama's advantage. He is still not only the smarter, more articulate candidate, but the only candidate who is trying to honestly and pragmatically address important issues. Which doesn't mean he will win. But it does mean he still should. But the tragedy of this election year will not be ameliorated by that still likely Obama victory. This should have been the change election of Obama's rhetoric; but his own political strategy ensured that it wouldn't be.