Sunday, March 16, 2008

Buyer's Remorse?

Barack Obama is locked in a dog fight with Hillary Clinton heading toward the convention. April 22nd will be the last "big state" contest between now and the convention and while Obama will likely maintain is delegate lead (with an interesting boost from his Iowa win), he is leading in the popular vote and the number of states won. But he has had a tough week, and as the slog grows longer and tougher one has to wonder if his coalition might crack at the wrong time.

Problem number one....his pastor. Obama's Chicago pastor, the man that married he and his wife and baptisized their children has said some pretty horrendous things in the past. Obama maybe youtube proof but his pastor isn't. This is a problem because it feeds into one of the insidious core doubts about his candidacy, that he somehow dislikes white America, and seeks to fundamentally change the direction of governmental policy against it. Such fears are racially motivated and not even subtly so, but while Obama has played above the fray this kind of video has the comment boards lit up. We bloggers are not neccesarily journalists, but it would be inappropriate not to include a clip. I think it's important to note that the clips was titled on youtube "Barack Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright is anti American Racist"

It's hard to quantify whether the broadcasting of such comments and association of them to Obama, in tandem with the string of racially motivated comments made about his singing the national anthem, dressing as a muslim, being Jesse Jackson, or the Geraldine Ferraro mess (included below), have had an effect but consider this. In Ohio and Mississippi, while possibly unfair barometers, his support among white voters has fallen from the mid-forties to below thirty percent (below 40% in Ohio, below 30% in Mississippi).

UPDATE: covers the rebuttal of Wright's Church

So these things in mind, lets talk about problem number two, Tony Rezko. Currently on trial for extortion among other crimes Rezko's dealing as an entrepreneur and land developer are suspect to say the least. He has had dealings with Senator Obama that were once thought to be minor, with respect to campaign finance and a land deal. But reports that Senator Obama is admitting a larger role for Rezko as a campaign backer, especially from his days in Illinois. His dealings and relationship with a questionable figure make Obama less than bullet-proof as a politician of change.

We have yet to see what kind of negatives this will draw to Obama as the Pennsyvlania contest draws nearer. One wonders if his image as a new face free of character blights will continue to carry across America? What does the nature of his detracors' arguments say about the state of race relations in America. The lack of experience argument sticks to some degree, but having successfully warded that off the Obama campaign finds itself under seige and most of the attacks are back-handed racial jabs. Are Obama's people losing faith or is he becoming a victim of celebrity media coverage? A figure being built up to be torn down?

I will reiterate my previous unsolicted advise for the Obama camp. He needs to get out there with a rhetorical flourish to match that of his Jefferson-Jackson dinner. He needs to reestablish why he is a change candidate and why these attacks are symbols of the old ways. Too often we have seen attacks from surrogates, and denials from the candidate. That strikes too much of the Clinton play book. If Obama is to be different than he must be different all the time not just when he is the underdog in this fight.

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