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14 September 2008
The Obama campaign seems to go from bad to worse
As Barak Obama and his men start to trail in the polls the Democrats are beginning to fight amongst themselves: "These guys are on the verge of blowing the greatest gimme in the history of American politics. They're the most arrogant bunch I've ever seen. They won't accept that they are losing and they won't listen," said one senior Democrat to the Sunday Telegraph.

How could this situation have come about? It seems to this writer as if the Obama campaign really expected the Republicans to behave according to a script that was written by Obama and his team. Now that things have changed thanks to McCain's decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Obama camp has been left floundering.

One is reminded of the comment made by the Duke of Wellington towards the end of his life when he was asked to compare the way Napoleon handled his army with his own. Wellington replied that the French system was like a magnificant horse's harness that served very well until it broke. Wellington went on to say that his harness was just an old rope, and when it broke he tied a knot in it and carried on.

This is the problem that Obama has. His strategy has been based on Napoleon's system, and not Wellington's. He can't manouver to recover lost ground because the strategy that was mapped out before the campaign began doesn't take into account events like the choosing of Sarah to take the number two spot on the McCain ticket. Or McCain's decision to start the negative campaigning so early in the race. Barbara Walters may have criticised him for that, but how many people will listen to her when compared to the millions who will see the TV adverts?

It is not that Obama failed to plan for these eventualities; it is that he seems to have planned too much. As the Duke of Wellington could have told him, you have to be prepared to improvise and decide strategy literally on the march.



I think that's a very fair observation, but I'd add one caveat. The 'senior Democrats' criticising Obama seem, by all accounts, to be predominantly Senators.

Those people, apart from an occupational requirement of overweening ego even greater than barristers (for instance) are the superdelegates who blasted Hillary Clinton and elevated Obama. In part they did so to ensure their own sway over someone they saw as more clubbable and controllable than Clinton.

Secondly, they all like to think that their relatively safe positions and the fact that republicans in senate races (if there are any) are in trouble near them give them a right to hold forth on national strategy.

Thirdly, They really don't have a 'dog in the race' as it were. Congresspeople are primarily associated with money; senators with lofty things in their own minds, though of course not when it comes to 'pork'. McCain-Palin would mean superficial emphasis on cutting spending and a party-lines fight that would change little; Obama may, in a troubled four years, try something serious and lose a Democrat Congress. That last point is in contradiction of the first, earlier one.

What's happened, I think, is part of the general collapse of a 'left' of the sort that you've been writing about for a while now Exile. If people don't share ordinary people's values, or experiences, and don't share their economic interests--cheap globalised goods mean foreign workers--and don't like most of the people in their country, the working people of that country won't elect them.

That's part of the legacy of the left-wing politics since the 60s that you know far more about than me, but it's obvious in Germany, and America, and would be in Britain were it not for a distorted electoral system and the iron grip of the London media.

Sorry for the long comment. Excellent posts on the American election, by the way.

14 September 2008 at 10:56  

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