Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why McCain Should Win

Of all people, Karl Rove shows why today in an incredibly sharp analysis of the two Democratic candidates:

The Democratic Party has two weakened candidates. Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

And what of the reborn Adlai Stevenson? Mr. Obama is befuddled and angry about the national reaction to what are clearly accepted, even commonplace truths in San Francisco and Hyde Park. How could anyone take offense at the observation that people in small-town and rural American are "bitter" and therefore "cling" to their guns and their faith, as well as their xenophobia? Why would anyone raise questions about a public figure who, for only 20 years, attended a church and developed a close personal relationship with its preacher who says AIDS was created by our government as a genocidal tool to be used against people of color, who declared America's chickens came home to roost on 9/11, and wants God to damn America? Mr. Obama has a weakness among blue-collar working class voters for a reason.


  1. A very, very interesting read. I actually went to the link and read the complete article. Mr. Rove makes some very good points about both candidates.

  2. Let's not forget that Mr. Rove robbed McCain of his nomination in 2000 in favor of an absolute disaster.

  3. I think it's a disingenuous treatment of the last few weeks. Obama has always been behind Clinton with blue-collar whites. "Bittergate" did not significantly hurt him in PA. If anything, Obama narrowed the gap in PA in the last few weeks.

    Of course the Republicans are going to try to paint him as a Stevenson. That's what they do to Democrats*. "Oh, he's an out of touch intellectual elitist. He's a girly-man who probably doesn't even know how to use a drill." But here's the thing -- Obama doesn't fit that mold. He's smart like Stevenson, of course, but it's not intelligence that sinks the egghead candidates, it's a lack of charisma and an air of elitism.

    The last few elections, Democrats played into the Stevenson mold -- and Kerry (a mediocre intellect for a presidential candidate) proved that it has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with looking like the out-of-touch, elitist egghead with no charisma. Gore didn't quite fit the same mold, but Republicans were able to cram him in by establishing the "I created the internet" narrative. And, of course, Gore has no charisma by the standards of presidential candidates.

    Obama may be smart, but he has charism and he just doesn't feel like an elitist. Gaffes like "bittergate" won't stick in the long-term because they just don't fit the overall picture, just as Clinton could get away with saying something stupid or McCain has gotten away with so many mistakes about Iran and Iraq. These ticky-tack issues only hurt when they play into the larger narrative.

    Put McCain and Obama next to each other and Obama's just not going to come off as elitist or out of touch. McCain might come off as kinda dumb (or, relatedly, getting senile.) Obama's looks and charisma, especially next to McCain, will guarantee him a 10+ percent victory.

    (*Democrats, of course, generally go with the story that the Republican candidate is kinda dumb. The current president obviously fit that narrative to the tee, which is why the last two elections were even close.)