There Is No Plan

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Transformative. This Week’s Word Du Jour.

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Every week we’re presented with a new word du jour. This week it’s “Transformative”, as in, “wow, that election was way transformative.” The herd of sheep that used to be the Press have made it their own and now it’s everywhere, replacing such gems as “game-changer”, “meltdown”, and “bailout”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as happy as anyone that the GOP brats can no longer continue trying to drown the puppy that is the United States. But let’s not be too hasty about how “transformative” this election was. Perhaps a little trip down memory lane might help.

Cast your mind back to early September when Sarah Palin was doing her pitbull thing at the GOP Convention in St. Paul. Seems like so long ago, but after that performance, McCain’s numbers spiked and all of us got just a little panicky. Was Obama’s message weak? Was the campaign going to adjust? To their credit, the Obama people told us to chill. They said they had a plan.

I think Axelrod and Plouffe ran an outstanding campaign, but I doubt the Obama campaign “planned” for the credit crisis that hit on September 15th when Lehman Brothers was misguidedly allowed to fail after Fannie and Freddie were bailed out. I doubt they planned for the utter mismanagement of the credit crisis that followed, in which a wave of panic threw everyone’s 401Ks into the pit of the storm. It’s unlikely that they planned for the market panic, the ineptitude of the bailout package, or the GOP’s backslide at the last minute. The electorate went from concern about the economy to utter panic, and the result was that Obama’s cool demeanor gave him traction, and McCain’s fearmongering got him nowhere.

The election might have been very different without the economic catastophe. The voters would have been far more receptive to McCain’s populism. It’s hard to see how Virginia or North Carolina would have been in play. It’s hard to see how Pennsylvania would not have been. Calling Florida and Ohio would have been very difficult indeed. My guess is that the polls would have shown a 1-2% lead for Obama at best. He probably would have squeaked out the win because of the power of his ground game, but maybe not. And if he had won by a point would we be talking “transformative”? No, we would be heaving a huge sigh of relief that we’d avoided 8 more years of the GOP nightmare.

Obama was a truly great candidate for President and nobody else could have been as effective, but let’s not forget he got really lucky. We’ve already dealt with the economy, but just for fun let’s just list the other ways;

  • The “Macaca” Incident

On August 11, 2006, Senator George Allen of Virginia twice used the term “Macaca”, a racist slur against a Democratic campaign worker filming him at a rally. The video made it onto YouTube, and a storm began. Caught between alienating his base by apologizing, and disgusting the North Virginia moderates, Allen rolled the dice and refused to admit the slur, judging that his support in the backwoods would be enough to carry the day against the DC Suburbs. He was wrong by 9,309 votes. And with his loss went the obvious Presidential nominee, a bullish but charismatic senator, who could appeal to moderates, while holding impeccable right-wing credentials. Allen against Obama could have been very different.

  • Steve Schmidt

When McCain handed over control of this campaign to the dark side, he made a faustian bargain with the base of the party which never liked him. But if he’d stuck to his guns and faced down the Christian right who threatened a floor fight at the convention if he chose Tom Ridge for example, he would have been in a far better position with moderates. It would have been a truly “Mavericky” moment to watch him lash out at the Evangelicals, and isolating them as he took control of the GOP in one fell swoop. Sure a segment of the base would have been outraged, but far more would have been impressed by McCain’s true grit. That would have set him up nicely to claim the center as Republicans need to do to win.

  • Palin

As a corrollary of McCain’s weakness was his ridiculous decision to add Sarah Palin as his running mate. Her failure to deliver moderates has been well-documented. But she was the power behind the upswing in GOP numbers after their convention, totally defusing Obama’s tour de force in Denver a few nights before. For days she struck fear into Democrat hearts. What turned her into a liability can be summed up in one word. Couric. Never has a more inane interview been more damaging. It was a disaster. It’s been rumored that she refused to prepare for that moment. If she had things might have been very different.

No Credit Crisis, No Macaca, No Steve Schmidt, No Palin. And the result no “transformative”.

History might look at this race very differently.

Written by coolrebel

November 9, 2008 at 12:26 am

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