09 May 2008

The path to victory begins to emerge

"I didn’t get into this race thinking that I could avoid this kind of politics. But I am running for president because this is the time to end it."

So said the High Priest of Hyde Park in his victory speech Tuesday night. The likes of Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann and the staff of The Nation have found themselves starry-eyed by how inspiring this message sounds. But in order to actually believe that Obama is a different type of politician, one must willfully blind himself to the way in which the Changemaker has conducted his campaign so far.

First, after McCain had the audacity to point out that a senior Hamas official offered a public endorsement of Obama's candidacy, the junior senator shot back that McCain was "losing his bearings" -- a line usually directed at someone advancing in age who appears to be suffering from mental slippage. Secondly, Obama has gone out of his way at rallies and in campaign speeches to punctuate any remark about McCain with mocking deference to his "five decades of service to our country" -- obviously, pointing out that McCain has been around far too long. And third, Obama has a distracting habit of decrying the "politics of old," while simultaneously levying one of the following two generalities at McCain: he either "offers a third term of President Bush's failed policies" or "represents the politics of yesterday."

This M.O. is fascinating.

Over the summer and into the fall, the Chairman and I will dissect how exactly McCain can snatch victory from the jaws of what should be a landslide Republican defeat in November. But the first path is clear. Even putting aside Obama's laughably extremist record, McCain can go for the jugular and echo this remark from his top aide, Mark Salter:

"We have all become familiar with Sen. Obama's new brand of politics. First, you demand civility from your opponent. Then you attack him, distort his record and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy, and it is the oldest kind of politics there is."

And thus emerges have point number one. Obama's appeal derives from the novel idea of running on a "change" platform and claiming to rise above the normal partisan fray. It's a compelling idea, to be sure, as the Pope of Hope continues to ride the wave and has nearly buried Sen. Clinton in the process. But running a campaign based on platitudes is dangerous, especially when one's actions don't quite comport with the rhetoric.

During the Democratic primary, the Clintons proved that Obama can indeed be goaded into mudslinging. It's simply impossible for a politician to resist counterpunching when he repeatedly is being hit with dirt. And when Obama goes negative, his post-partisan image is exposed for what it is: A complete fraud.

Rarely has there been a candidate with more unaired dirty laundry than Obama. He is not a man frought with ethical issues, but inside the phony independent shell is a Pandora's box of material at which McCain can pound away.

If McCain doesn't wish to go negative, perhaps he should have stepped aside for Mitt or Rudy. The voters deserve to know how phony Obama's post-partisan message is. And McCain had better be ready to throw the kitchen sink at the Changemaker come August.

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