Barack Obama: from untouchable deity to struggling politician

I’ll say it.

I read a really on-point, interesting column in, seriously, the New York Times. ..I have joined semi-literate whites everywhere.

David Brooks took on Sen. Barack Obama, how the man had been raised on high as the messiah of U.S. politics and is now struggling with those unfair expectations.

See, Republicans are more known for quick primaries and getting behind a unified candidate, as has played out with Sen. John McCain. Now, McCain is sitting back, raising money and preparing for a general election, though some think it leaves the candidate less competitive.

On the other hand, big tent Democrat politics are more open to larger, longer and more competitive primaries. The thought is it sharpens the candidate, but, as Brooks wrote, this may be an exception.

If Obama could have won the Democratic Party nomination decisively and cleanly, he could have continued his role as this generation’s great unifier. He could have played the change and hope (that his Stalinistic graphics representations depict) to any Republican candidate’s role of the unchanged. The place he first took hold of after his often deified speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in July.

But, he hasn’t won decisively, and it won’t end cleanly.

The result is that he has had to act increasingly like any other presidential candidate in his fight with Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Obama is seeming more and more human and more able to be beaten by McCain. David Brooks wrote as follows:

He sprinkled his debate performance Wednesday night with the sorts of fibs, evasions and hypocrisies that are the stuff of conventional politics. He claimed falsely that his handwriting wasn’t on a questionnaire about gun control. He claimed that he had never attacked Clinton for her exaggerations about the Tuzla airport, though his campaign was all over it. Obama piously condemned the practice of lifting other candidates’ words out of context, but he has been doing exactly the same thing to John McCain, especially over his 100 years in Iraq comment.

Brooks noted a handful of mistakes by the Obama campaign, including issue-based promises that will restrict his calls of the future. Going on, Brooks wrote:

It was inevitable that the period of “Yes We Can!” deification would come to an end. It was not inevitable that Obama would now look so vulnerable. He’ll win the nomination, but in a matchup against John McCain, he is behind in Florida, Missouri and Ohio, and merely tied in must-win states like Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A generic Democrat now beats a generic Republican by 13 points, but Obama is trailing his own party. One in five Democrats say they would vote for McCain over Obama.

Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary is seeming more and more important. Clinton is still hanging on to a lead in most polls, and, though many say even a near-victory by Obama is a win, it is difficult to think Clinton would quit after winning the Keystone State, by even the slimmest of margins. If he does pull close enough to call it a win and move nearer to becoming the candidate, it seems much of the damage as been done. Obama can be lobbed as elitist, a John Kerry strike. McCain, a war veteran, can return to his populist roots by distancing himself from George Bush, knowing his conservative base is less likely to abandon him than liberals have done to the Democrats. Meanwhile, he could paint Obama as a bad bowling, stuffy-shirted San Francisco academic.

The old Republican trick of waiting on the Democrats to fail is looking eerily prescient.

Image courtesy of Funnimetric.

Leave a Reply