Thursday, January 3

:: The Right Wing Will "Gore" Obama

Kids - do not try this at home!
Its not unusual to see Obama supporters post comments like this:
Can it be that Obama’s message of unity and inclusiveness have an impact on the minds of potential voters? Can it also be that a candidate who refuses to be roped into a divisive conversations about race but rather talks about the need the address issues facing ALL Americans is actually getting through?
One can’t reasonably blame Obama for the ‘hype’ around him. What he brings to the table is an honest, non-manufactured, intelligent, and universally inspirational face to help rekindle a broken country. What’s so bad about that? His ability to bring folks together goes beyond the masses but should translate similarly to those that would conceivably work under and with him in government, where the real work is done — not unlike that of an effective CEO.

Part of the Obama mystique is the idea that he transcends race, party identification and other cultural lines of demarcation. He is the candidate with the audacity to hope that Americans will come together to solve our nation's problems. He has the unique capacity to unite black and white, Democrat and Republican, lion and lamb.

Perhaps I'm just far too bitter, but I predict that if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee it won't take long before he's seen as a divisive, race-baiting, polarizing figure. Unless you've got a couple of very, very unusual lions, the only time time you'll see them lying down with lambs is when they get tired of eating standing up.

I must clarify that I don't think Obama is a bad guy. I'm impressed by his ability to inspire. I believe he is motivated by the desire to do good. I want to see him continue to grow, continue to lead, and build a movement that stands up to the spiteful lies of the GOP.

But I must also add that at this point I do not trust him on women's issues and LGBT issues. Women's issues - which in this country is practically a euphemism for reproductive rights - and LGBT issues have always be stigmatized. In the interest of presenting a "balanced" picture, the press continually pits normal, common-sense groups like Planned Parenthood against whack-jobs from the Christian right, to give another example, pits normal, common sense groups like Human Rights Campaign or PFLAG against whack-jobs such as the Phelps family. The result is that perfectly reasonable opinions are framed as an extreme. Time after time, I've seen women's and LGBT issues thrown overboard in the interest of "bringing people together." I don't trust Obama not to go down that path. Historically, the Democratic party has stood for equal rights, with the tacit understanding that some rights are more equal that others.

Further, I am irritated beyond belief by his adoption of GOP talking points that will only make it harder for him to campaign later. That's a two parter -validating the GOP talking points is irritating, and knowing they will come back to haunt him is doubly irritating. He makes rookie mistakes. Maybe this is a generational issue, but I watched the Clintons get caught off guard by the viciousness of GOP and their allies. I don't want to experience it twice. She may stumble occasionally, but she doesn't set traps for herself to be caught in later. Obama, by vociferously denouncing the "special interests" he will need later on for support (for example) will be hoisted on his petard.

And this bring me to the electability issue. I do not believe that Obama is un-electable. I do believe - very, very strongly - that he is no more electable than any other candidate or former candidate. Not Gore. Not Biden. Not Dodd. Not Clark. Not Richardson. Not Edwards. And certainly not Clinton.

In all likelihood, Obama will not be able to campaign as the man he is. Instead, he'll wind up campaigning as the man the GOP tells us he is. And I am not just talking about the GOP distorting his image with Republican voters; nor am I talking about independent voters. I think this will happen with a sizable number of Democratic voters. If history is to be our guide, the GOP will turn his biggest virtue - his clarity of purpose and ability to bring people together - into his biggest weakness.

If a group of Democrats can be convinced that Hillary Clinton, a woman with a long list of accomplishments, is nothing but a trifling gold digger, believe me - a group of Democrats can be convinced that Obama is a hustling con artist and closet racist.

I further submit that a group of Democrats can be convinced that the billionaire owner of a corporate empire is the standard bearer of independence from "special interests" (Bloomburg).

Look at how one of John Edwards' strongest points - his advocacy for individuals wronged by powerful corporations - has been turned into a weakness ("greedy trial lawyer"). Some Democrats now talk about his success as if it were evidence of a character flaw.

One of Gore's most unassailable qualities was his honest, straight-arrow character. Yet the GOP convinced many voters- Democrats included - that he was a compulsive liar. Kerry's most unassailable quality was his patriotism and his record as a war hero. The GOP convinced many Democrats that he was a coward and traitor.

Since Obama's strongest appeal is that he is a moderate who will bring different kinds of people together, it won't take long for the GOP to have some Democrats believing he is a divisive radical with a hidden race-based agenda.

Here's how:

A GOP operative sifts through a list of his supporters, chooses one who once said something racially inflammatory, and sends it to Drudge with a demand that Obama distance himself from that person.

While Obama is on the defensive, the operative sends Drudge the name of a second Obama supporter who once made an inflammatory racial comment. Repeat.

At this point, if they haven't done so already, the mainstream press will report on the "growing scandal" involving allegations of racism. They'll use the Drudge material as their source. If criticized for participating in "smear tactics," watch the mainstream press claim they aren't causing the controversy, they're just covering it.

Wait for some well-meaning Obama supporter to write a blog post calling the controversy racist - after all, what white Republican candidate is ever asked to repudiate the ideas of one his suppoprters? The operative will then seize on that comment to say Obama is playing the race card to deflect criticism. Make sure all the GOP allies on the cable news channels and right-wing radio shows get the talking points.

When Obama explains that the blogger doesn't represent the campaign, the GOP allies reply in a jaded tone that "everyone knows" the blogger is a "secret operative" of the campaign. Nobody wants to say otherwise - they don't want to look "naive."

A chorus of pundits will speculate about Obama's "apology. When the campaign issues a statement, they will ignore or it parse the words to make it sound as if they agree with the statement. The operative will wait for the campaign to issue a clarifying statement, then send out the talking points claiming that small differences in wording mean Obama is flip-flopping or "backtracking."

At this point we will be stuck in the loop of the mainstream media covering the "turmoil" at the Obama campaign as they "reel from the allegations." Instant scandal. Instant "race problem." And most people - including Democrats - will have formed their impression without hearing more than a few words from Obama himself.

Now, this isn't rocket science. I haven't "discovered" anything and I don't have any special media expertise. I haven't been on a campaign payroll since 1995. This is just a matter of observing what's already been done to Gore, Kerry, Clinton and Edwards and drawing the obvious conclusion.

Its as easy as that. Again, it doesn't mean that Obama is un-electable. But he certainly doesn't have the advantage his supporters think he has.

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