CAMPAIGN 08, OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Seizing the initiative

Why McCain might win

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama show few signs that they’re aware of it, but the general election campaign has already begun. And appropriately for the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, the pair have begun to destroy each other like the two crazy Irish cats of Kilkenny. The upshot is that both of them are already losing the general to John McCain. By the time the Democratic convention rolls around in August and the nomination is finally awarded, the battle may already be over.

Obama’s advisers point out, rightfully, that the Clinton campaign started this downward drift toward mutually assured destruction, Democratic-style, with its now infamous “red phone” ad before the critical Ohio and Texas primaries. Subtly but with devastating impact, the TV commercial raised questions about Obama’s preparedness to be commander in chief. The Obama campaign responded by effectively branding Hillary Clinton a liar about her own record. “As far as the record shows, Sen. Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue—not at 3 a.m. or at any other time of day,” top Obama adviser Greg Craig—a former close friend of Hillary’s—wrote this week in a widely circulated memo.

Winning elections is about setting the agenda and, while creating a positive image of oneself, negatively defining one’s opponent in the minds of the voters. This is happening for McCain—having Obama defined as unready and Hillary as lacking in integrity—without his having to lift a finger. If the current campaign keeps up—and there’s every sign it will—it’s likely that by summer irrepressible doubts about both Dems will have been lodged in the minds of the electorate. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — Barak Obama — like most successful people — has been credited with possessing an excellent sense of timing. If there was ever a time when he desperately needed to seize the day, this is it. How can he do it?

Take the high road — no one should expect anything less from a candidate who presents himself as a unifier and natural leader — and call for a closed-door Democratic summit. He needs to reach out to Hillary Clinton and say, “I want to sit down with you and Howard Dean and for the three of us to arrive at a consensus about how we move forward in such a way that we ensure that when the party has a nominee, he or she will be able to lead a unified party.”

This isn’t about asking either campaign to accept defeat before they are ready to do so. It just means that they agree to pursue victory without doing so at the expense of the party.

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3 thoughts on “CAMPAIGN 08, OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Seizing the initiative

  1. halfnhalf

    In so far as I can determine, the Clintons–both of them–have no loyalty to anyone but themselves. If she can achieve the nomination (“first female nominee for president in history”), she has won regardless of how the election in November turns out. Just look at Geraldine Ferrero who is still given accolades for being the first female vice-presidential nominee. And no one mentions how lacking in judgement she was as proven by her supposed lack of knowledge of her indicted-pled guilty-husband’s troubles. In view of all that, who’d put Ferraro on their finance committee. Oh, and like the Clintons, the Ferraro-Zaccaro’s wouldn’t release their tax returns, primarily because he hadn’t filed them.
    So anyone who thinks Hillary will do anything for party unity is fooling themselves. It’s all for one, one for one, with the Clinton’s.

  2. Paul Woodward

    If Obama was to take the initiative in this way, he puts Clinton in a bind. If she spurns the invitation, she merely reinforces the growing perception that her personal ambition extends to the point where she’s willing to sink the party. If she accepts the invitation, he still garners the honor of being the one who showed leadership by taking the initiative. Clinton’s likely to feel she has to respond positively not because she cares so deeply about party unity, but after having floated the joint-ticket fantasy she can’t very well turn around and say, “but I can’t even sit down and talk to him.”

  3. Enzo

    I think your suggestion is excellent, Paul, and he seems to be moing in that direction already:

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