Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama's Electability

Personally, I cannot for the life of me figure out how the electoral math works for Obama. Clinton has won New York, California, and Ohio. She will win Pennsylvania. She would win Florida and Michigan, obviously (or why else would Obama be opposed to a revote). But what do I know, apparently. Everyone else says the electoral math is on Obama's side.

I also think he's going to get totally attacked post-primary.

This editorial, which I've seen little reference to in the blogosphere, has also caused me great concern. I am excerpting it in total because I am concerned the link won't work.

Peter Navarro: My own ‘Obama experience’

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

IRVINE, Calif.

I WAS BARACK OBAMA before Barack Obama — sort of. My strong advice is that he should graciously embrace a “unity ticket” with Hillary Clinton at the top and himself as the vice-presidential candidate. The likely alternative is a McCain victory — and the ritualistic Republican gutting of a once promising politician.

My own “Obama experience” occurred in 1992, when, as a whiz kid, I ran for mayor of what was, then anyway, the sixth largest city in America — San Diego. Like Obama, I was a gifted orator who could stir a crowd. Like Obama, I had a Harvard pedigree and was full of new ideas. Like Obama, I also had a horde of grassroots supporters who could swarm precincts all over the city.

However, like Obama, I had never run much of anything, especially a major city. Like Obama, I was more prone to mistakes than most seasoned politicians. Like Obama, some of my positions were simply too liberal for the mainstream. Nor had I been fully “vetted” politically, which is to say there were yet some skeletons in my closet.

My own election result was what the writer John Barth might have described as a “para-digm of assumed inevitably.” As the white knight running against a gaggle of shopworn politicians, I decisively won the primary election and emerged as toast of the town. However, by general election day in November, I was toast.

What did me in is precisely what will do Obama in: Youth and inexperience flying headlong into the Republican meat grinder and spin machine. As a result of the mountain of mud thrown at me, almost half the city hated me by November while even some of my own staunchest supporters were disillusioned. I not only lost the race (albeit by a few percentage points). My once promising political career was effectively over — all because I reached too high too soon.

These same perils await young Barack and are precisely why a “unity ticket” offers the best long-term path for his political career. As the VP candidate, much of what the Republicans can throw at him, particularly on the experience issue, simply goes away, while his running mate Clinton has taken every possible hit they’ve ever thrown at her and remains standing tall.

Equally important for the strategic calculus, a Clinton-Obama unity ticket provides a much greater chance of victory in November. Clinton brings in women and Latinos while Barack appeals to blacks and Democratic and independent men. Clinton woos suburban and rural voters while Obama has a lock on the urban vote. While Clinton provides comfort to America’s seasoned citizens, Obama can pull millions of young voters out of a traditionally empty electoral hat.

Clinton also offers far better alternatives to moderates, independents and swing voters on two key issues than either McCain or Obama. McCain thinks we should stay in Iraq for another 100 years while Obama wants to get out yesterday. Neither position reflects the mainstream.

Mainstream voters generally believe that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. However, now that we are there, we need to maintain a large enough presence for a long enough time to avoid an Iraqi meltdown. That’s the Clinton position.

On the economy, Clinton likewise trumps both McCain and Obama — and by a wide margin. McCain is a self-professed economic ignoramus while Obama’s major adviser is even younger than he is and has little training in macro-economics. In sharp contrast, the Clinton macro-economic team oversaw the single most prosperous decade in United States history. By November, when we are likely to be in the nastiest of recessions, the Clinton economic touch is likely to be the Democrats’ trump card — but only with Hillary at the top to play it.

Absent a unity ticket, John McCain’s best campaigners leading up to the August Democratic convention will be Clinton and Obama themselves — with each now trying to rise to the top by punching down the other. If Obama is truly the great unifier that he claims to be, he will see the beautiful strategic logic of the unity ticket and do what no other member of his party can do — make the unity ticket happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's very simple: If you look at the head-to-head matchups over the past year, especially the Rasmussen and Gallup ones, Obama is consistently stronger than Clinton against all Republicans, especially McCain. (McCain is also the only one of the Republican candidates this cycle who had a chance of beating any Democrat. This is why the GOP has swallowed its pride and is backing McCain: He's literally their only chance to win.) The only times this has not been the case has been in the immediate wake of a Hillary-launched smear (such as her attack on Rev. Wright, which is particularly heinous because Rev. Wright not only helped save LBJ's life as a Marine corpsman at Bethesda, he was also one of the ministers who Hill and Bill used in September of 1998 to pre-emptively deflect the sewage about to ooze from the Starr Report).

Worst of all for Hillary: Her attacks may hurt Obama, but they hurt her worse, as the polls show.