Monday, 21 April 2008

Obama the Orthodox

A few weeks ago I wrote that the impact of the protracted Conrad-esque Primary campaign would be to normalise Barack Obama. David Brooks of the New York Times analysed it brilliantly on Meet the Press yesterday. He described how Obama has become an orthodox liberal and orthodox politician over the last few weeks.

In some respects the former is more concerning than the latter. I suspect the anti-liberal attack will not be as effective in a year where the American economy is rocking and the Iraq occupation shows no sign of any conclusion.

The main problem though is what happens when the candidate assumes office. As Brooks pointed out, some of the positions being adopted in these primaries are going to prove impractically limiting in office. Withdrawal from Iraq regardless of the circumstances and absolutely no tax increases for anyone earning less than $200,000 were two commitments made in Wednesday's debate that will soon provide unnecessary obstacles to a new Democratic President (I can see early betrayal coming on....) For Hillary's part, she placed Saudi Arabia under America's security umbrella. For me, this was the stupidest thing said by any candidate in this election so far.

As Robert Novak noted, Obama's post-partisan appeal is being undermined in this process. Once Hillary finally falls he will quickly have to re-discover some of the transcendent appeal that launched his campaign into the stratosphere earlier this year.

What of Hillary? Well, it would be amazing if she doesn't win tomorrow. But increasingly her function in this campaign seems to be to remind independent voters that Democrats are conventional Washington politicians really.....

Her new Chief Strategist, Geoff Garin, who seems like a genuinely nice guy, someone with real integrity, revealed the strategy, also on Meet the Press yesterday. When pressed what was Hillary's path to the nomination, his response was basically that the campaign was just going to stay alive as long as possible and see what happens. Does survival count as strategy? Whether it does or not, the longer it continues the more orthodox Obama seems. Maybe that is strategy after all......

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