Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack to Basics

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama will tonight in Denver, formally accept the Democratic Party's nomination, in front of 70,000 fawning supporters.

The indoor arena where the rest of the Democratic convention was deemed too small. Thus Obama will deliver his soaring oratory on America's inequalities and its pandering to big business, from a football stadium sponsored by Invesco, an investment management company.

Once Obama had finally seen off the Clinton electoral machine, he appeared to be a dead cert for the Presidency. However recent opinion polls has McCain back on parity, and in some cases even forging ahead in a remarkable turnaround.

For this reason alone (but also for plenty of others), Obama's speech tonight takes on vital resonance for a campaign which has been faltering in recent weeks. It is crucial that his message of 'hope' and 'change' delivers the typical bounce in the polls, because if not the Democrats face the real risk of failing to win an election that they dare not lose. It is not clear how the party could recover.

From my perspective as a non-voting onlooker, Obama seems to resemble the wild nymph that you are only too pleased to date on a noncommittal basis, but who is now daring to speak of marriage.

Cocktail party chatter has seemingly given way to ballot box reality. Instead of commenting upon his electric charisma, the media has begun to pick at Obama's slightly unnerving self-confidence. His wife Michelle's down-to-earth demeanour (she often comments on Barack's morning breath and how he leaves his dirty socks around), is now interpreted as 'weirdness'.

John McCain meanwhile is benefiting largely from doing nothing except continue to reassure both nervous independents, and even former Clinton supporters that America's future is safe in his hands (or at least safer in light of his age and experience).

His relatively liberal social policies (at least by Republican standards) are not so liberal meanwhile to scare off the core religious right who would sooner give up their guns that vote for Obama. The recent fall in the oil price and the surprising resilience of the US economy (despite overwhelming negativity) are also benefiting the incumbent party.

Perhaps it's just an inevitable mid-campaign slump which will soon turn around, beginning tonight? Obama continues to use the Internet to its fullest, generating enormous campaign sums from small donations, whilst utilising highly-motivated volunteers across the nation to spread the message, and ensure high turnout. McCain readily admits he doesn't 'get it'.

Nonetheless, can a man with such disappointing support from so many core sections of the electorate really do enough to swing those vital states he needs to secure the White House (Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio etc.)?

His urban sophistication does little to reassure white blue-collar voters, or aspirational Hispanics. It would be easy (and wrong) to wallow for example in Manhattan's Obama lovefest, but then to extrapolate those trends across the nation.

Nonetheless, he still has several weeks to work on those groups. Tonight however will offer his most important chance yet to begin to add real policy meat to the bones of his core message of hope. Expect less "Yes we can," and more "how we will." The world will be watching.


At 2:12 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

Chicago is also a Obama Lovefest. So, how did you think he did?

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I thought he did ok but looked a little nervous for the first time. Most of his policies are sensible but it's not clear to me how he will pay for them.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...


At 4:06 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It's alright for you, living in your offshore tax haven! I've got a wife and kid to feed.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thought you were a philanthropist


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