Monday, March 17, 2008

Numbers Game

Barack Obama had a particularly bad week with the Rev. Wright problem and the ongoing Rezco trial in Chicago both being given heavy coverage in the press. I happen to think that Obama's continuing relationship with Rev. Wright will be a problem going forward and his line about not having known about the offensive statements just doesn't ring true. It seems that the timing for this particular revelation is particularly interesting coming on the heels of the Ferraro dust up from last week. I'm not suggesting that the story was planted, but given the fact that these clips have been available on youtube for a year, the timing does seem somewhat curious.

Regardless of the how's or whys, the story is now out and the negative attack against Obama is starting to have an effect. For the first time, he is actually behind John McCain in the RCP average (average of a group of polls). The Clinton campaign is going to make one final argument to the super delegates and that is one of electability. Remember that Hillary Clinton's negatives have remained exactly the same throughout the campaign. She is disliked by about half of the country. Obama's negatives were hovering in the 20's before Clinton started the "scorched earth" strategy. In order to present the case that she stands a better chance against McCain in the fall, she has to make sure that there is a torrent of negative press against Obama. She has to bring up issues (real or imagined) every day in order to keep the press in attack mode. And so far, it's working to perfection.

As I said in my last article, you have to almost admire the genius of the Clinton campaign at this point. Despite many missteps in the past, they have their campaign running like a well oiled machine at this point. The string of comments from her campaign team are nothing if not consistent. They attack Obama every day, but scream bloody murder if the Obama camp questions them on any issue. The latest being tax records and earmarks. The Obama camp has asked for transparency from the Clinton camp regarding these issues, but they were met with charges that the Obama campaign is trying to go negative. The Clintons have also not released the records about who donated to Bill Clinton's library, but once again, it is the Obama camp that hasn't been forthcoming with information. The Clinton camp answers every question with an attack that then muddies the waters. It is almost as if Lee Atwater had been resurrected and had taken control of the Clinton campaign.

In the next couple of weeks, the Clinton campaign will continue to tear down Obama as much as possible. It won't help them win the numbers game as far as delegates, but it will help them win the perception campaign. If they can show that Obama is truly unelectable, then the super delegates will have to turn to them as the only alternative. She is also going to get the endorsement of John Edwards before the NC primary. It is hard to believe that someone who complained that Hillary Clinton was the politics of the past will actually endorse her, but that is exactly what John Edwards will do. The endorsement will come after Hillary wins in Pennsylvania, which will allow him to be a surrogate for her for two weeks before the NC primary. I'm not sure what Hillary had to promise him in order to secure his endorsement, but it's really got to be something good (cabinet post, VP, Supreme Court?).

This will end with a badly damaged Obama (albeit still with a significant delegate lead) heading into the convention with Clinton still harping on the electability issue. I predicted a while ago that the convention was shaping up to make '68 look like a day at the beach and there has been nothing to change my mind since then. The Republican party, which has led us into a quagmire in Iraq, overseen record deficits and pushed us to the verge of a possible domestic economic disaster, will somehow come out of the general election with a firm grip on the White House. Only the Democratic party is capable of snatching defeat squarely from the jaws of victory. You can't really blame the Clinton camp for where the Democratic party currently finds itelf. She is only taking advantage of the situation. She is doing everything that she can to win this nomination. The question really becomes is the Democratic party willing to do everything that it can to salvage an opportunity to win in the fall?

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