Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Wisconsin Win (and now the hard part)

And now comes the hard part.

In this compressed primary run and 24-hour news cycle, concern that Obama would never "catch on" in time has been replaced with worries of whether he can "hold on."

Full focus is happening now. It's hard to tell from today's coverage that Obama actually won last night.

Now the campaign is a cult, a band of lunatics, it's a delusional mass poised for shattering disappointment, it's an unwashed phenomenon wanting a washing.

All of which is true, but happening so fast that by the time July comes around, everybody will be in love with Obama once more.

Journalists and columnists are raising the hard questions and, reduced to a completely defensive posture, Sen. Clinton is attacking Obama with all she's got (which ain't much).

She should, of course, step down for the good of the party.

Instead, invisible Bill and Shrill Hill continue to enjoy the good graces of establishment media and political types whom allow them to define the race's terms and write their own ticket.

Now we've got the "firewall" in Ohio and Texas, which implies they are hers to lose, which is true only to the extent she's lost everything else. The prevalent do-or-die script was cooked up a few weeks ago, which should have tipped us off about Hillary's true chances in Wisconsin.

Everybody, but the voters, has taken this bait, because the voters made up their collective mind on who the next president will be, even as the slime machine overtook their choice.

The Clintons' is an admirable gambit. Who else could be literally trounced in every region of the country, and Polynesia, and still claim to be contending?

John McCain, of course, knows what Sen. Clinton doesn't and has taken to assaulting Obama with an eye to the general election, which kicked-off this morning after Hillary's "major" address ridiculing the Illinois senator.

The oldest candidate in the country's history, McCain can't run from that so he'll bank on it, citing his "experience" and "service" in a political season where those virtues have, to date, shown little appeal.

Clinton and McCain have already pushed Obama a little off his game, forcing him into a more boring victory speech last night laden with the kind of "specifics" that have put Clinton on the path back to Capitol Hill where she can draft helpful solutions like a good Democrat.

In doing so, he lost a chance to fire-up a new wave of supporters following another big win in Wisconsin. Obama shouldn't fix what is not broken. He should continue to give good speeches because good speeches are good politics.

Presidential campaigns are not the domain of "specifics." They are broad-stroked, themed affairs whereby the country decides in what direction it wants to go.

We are still betting on Obama's train pulling the United States, and the rest of the world, in a direction opposite that pointed to by those representatives from the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain (R) and Clinton (d).

Presidential campaign "plans" rarely come into play once the bunting and banners are down and the legislative haggling begins. And nobody can predict the future.

After all, what was George W. Bush's "terrorism plan" during the 2000 campaign? The man was a walking tax cut-for-the-rich beneath the shadow of the still-standing Twin Towers.

Obama and supporters need not get into a back-and-forth regarding his legislative accomplishments. He's a junior senator who has been running for president since he got into that club and shouldn't be embarrassed about his charmed political life.

Were "legislative accomplishments" (ie: passing laws) a true measure of what we wanted in a president, we'd be choosing between Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WVa) and Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss), which, thank heavens, we are not.

John McCain, for all his years in the Senate, has a rather thin layer of "accomplishment" to boast about and, if he wants to make a big to-do about it, maybe Obama can bring up the Arizona senator's role in the 1980s savings & loan fiasco.

There's an experience Obama can "bank" on.

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