Monday, August 4, 2008

Ok, it’s official. I’m getting nervous. (Part 1)

I know the polls seem to be tightening up, but that’s not even the reason I’m worried. I’m nervous for two main reasons: Obama’s attacks on his own brand, and secondly the constant fury of bullshit that he’s about to face. I’ll break this into two parts with Obama’s message today, and the other attacks that he's taking tomorrow.

While I’ve written quite a few times about disagreements that I’ve had about Obama’s specific policies, and this isn’t about that. This is strictly about winning and losing, regardless of the merits of the positions he took, or why he took them.

I’m used to having disagreements with our nominee, and not understanding some of his decisions. But what I really didn’t see coming was his ability to damage his own brand in a matter of weeks after so successfully building it up over the past year and a half.

Obama’s strength lies in his message and his narrative which successfully encompasses all aspects of his campaign, issues and speeches. His ability to keep his message of post-partisanship while successfully hammering Republicans was one of my main worries for the general campaign… but never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be so successful at preemptively dismantling his own brand for no logical reason whatsoever.

In politics, keeping a successful brand and narrative is one of the most difficult things to pull off, especially during an election season. Obama’s success up to this point was his ability to convince people like myself that while I may not agree with him on specific issues, he’s believes what he believes, and not like most other politicians who go back and forth on positions between the primary and the general just because of which way the wind’s blowing. I actually still think this is true on most of the positions he took in the primary, but it doesn’t matter what I think. The cat is out of the bag and he has completely opened himself up to being tagged as “just another politician” the very thing his message was so successful in avoiding in the past.

Now did he have to change his positions because he was getting hammered in the press and his poll numbers were plummeting? Was this a last ditch effort to stop the bleeding? No, and this wasn't like John Kerry being taken down by a concerted attack that took place over 3 months. These moves started long before the increased attacks from McCain last week. FISA, the death penalty position, the NAFTA comments, and most recently the drilling comments were all came when he was leading in the polls, and his previous positions on these issues were popular with the American public! This isn't John McCain lying about criticizing Bush on Iraq because public support for the war is tanking… THERE SIMPLY ISN’T MAJOR PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE POSITIONS THAT OBAMA HAS TAKEN. PERIOD.

So forgetting about what’s right and wrong, this stuff doesn’t make sense. This isn’t me being a purity troll and being upset because Obama isn’t progressive, because that isn’t new information. This is me losing my mind because regardless of what a great idea offshore drilling might be, these are all stupid moves for someone trying to win an election. And this is an election that is an even bigger gimme as the one we blew 4 years ago, and this time we have candidate with immense political talents, as opposed to… well, John Kerry.

But that isn’t enough, because while I may have thought that Barack could coast to victory based on his opposition, I really wasn’t counting on him actively sabotaging his greatest asset, his brand, along the way for shits and giggles. There is a massive margin of error on his side, and he can screw up a lot more over the next three months and still secure a comfortable victory. But the one thing he can’t screw up is his brand as the anti-politician. He’s staked the race to that one, and if he continues to tarnish that we will be in a much closer race than should be anywhere near possible.

And if you think I'm looking at this stuff too closely, check out the first line of an AP story about Barack's energy policy today:
In a reversal, Barack Obama is proposing tapping the nation's strategic oil reserves to help drive down gasoline prices, his campaign said Monday.
And from Open Left on Friday:
Obama said he might support more drilling if it were paired with comprehensive energy conservation measures and alternative energy development. So what's the headline?

Obama shifts, says he may back offshore drilling

I'm sure the Republicans are going to praise Obama for his flexible stance now that he's decided to push a compromise with their oh so practical agenda. There's no way they will use this to push the idea that he's unprincipled. They wouldn't dare set up a web site called

Not the rest of his plan, not the merits, not his thesis, not McCain being openly bribed to change his position on the issue. The lead of the article is his change of position. The HEADLINE for the other article is "Obama Shifts". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that isn't good news.

Look out for part 2 tomorrow.


  1. Yeah, this has been getting weird. Like you I'm really not sure why he would do this, given how well the whole thing has been going and given his strength in staying in character so far.

    Guy really doesn't need to get nervous, his opponent doesn't have the slightest clue as to what the fuck is going on.

  2. yeesh, I just don't know if I can go through all this again. my first reaction was to say that maybe this wasn't as worrying as you first thought, J, but the more you made your point the more it became evident that you're right.

    it's just that after all the anxiety and stress that I went through just for him to beat out Hillary to win the nomination, I feel too drained to keep up with the daily back-and-forth between the actual general election campaigns. can we please get to the conventions & debates and get this thing the hell over with?