the case for

Why Obama Will Win

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged about politics, and so I thought I’d share with you what has been knocking around my head lately as I’ve observed the presidential campaigns. There is still a long way to go until November, and all sorts of things are possible. But if you asked me today who I think will win in November, my answer as of today is Senator Barack Obama.

Here’s why.

Winning presidential campaigns have a metanarrative, a transcending story that can be remembered and recited. Winning candidates are branded well. Losing campaigns muddle along without telling an overarching story, seemingly changing themes every week. Losing candidates get caricatured.

Think though modern presidential campaign history:

2000 – George W Bush: restore honor and dignity to the oval office
1992 – Bill Clinton: build a bridge to the 21st century
1988 – George HW Bush: a kinder, gentler America
1980 – Ronald Reagan: it’s morning in America again

What’s important here is not that you agreed with the story or the policies of the candidate. It’s that the candidate had something to say and said it in a way that drew the majority (or at least plurality) of Americans in.

The losers simply didn’t. What comes to mind when you think of losing candidates? It’s the caricatures not the metanarrative of their campaigns:

2004 – John Kerry: swiftboat
2000 – Al Gore: Sore Loserman
1996 – Bob Dole: ED
1992 – George HW Bush: it’s the economy, stupid
1988 – Michael Dukakis: the tank and Willie Horton
1984 – Walter Mondale: a 49 state landslide
1980 – Jimmy Carter: the misery index

Come back to today. Which campaign is telling a story? Which has a brand that is compelling to Americans? And which is being caricatured? Which has an integrative motif for its campaign and is staying on message? And which seems like it is muddling along?

2008 – Barack Obama: change you can believe in
2008 – John McCain: old

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The Case for McCain

For the first time in my life, I am officially undecided about the presidential election. Part of me still hopes for a late-entry independent run from someone who believes in limited federal government and low taxes. But short of that happening, I continue to ponder what I am going to do this fall.

If I touch the screen (pull the lever, dangle my chad) for Senator John McCain, it will be for a simple reason that can summed up in one word – civility.

For years politicians have talked about “politics as usual” and “changing the tone of politics.” And while the Clintons and the Bushes used these phrases, partisanism grew deeper and the tone of political conversation got shriller. And the outrageous claims made about political opponents moved to the ridiculous. Democrats are not aiding and abetting the enemy when they question the President’s war strategy. And Republicans do not want poor children to starve or die when they oppose the expansion of government programs. The things that get said these days are simply unbelievable.

And then there is John McCain. He, along with Joe Lieberman, is the most purple politician of our generation. When he campaigned, President Bush talked about being a uniter not a divider. Senator Obama speaks the same way about redrawing the electoral map by bringing people together. But neither have done it. For a multitude of reasons -many of them outside of his control – President Bush will leave a deeply divided Washington. And Senator Obama has the most consistently liberal voting record in the Senate.

But John McCain … John McCain is actually a bipartisan, annoyingly so at times. I am deeply opposed to Campaign Finance Reform, but it was a truly bipartisan effort. I am deeply opposed to the Immigration Bill, but it was a truly bipartisan effort. I am deeply opposed to the Gang of 14, but it was a truly bipartisan effort. The last two decades have been characterized by sharply divided Congresses, but on the rare occasion of a compromise, you will find John McCain.

Because of his role as Republican Maverick, McCain has gotten to know and worked with Democrats more effectively than any other Republican. And as a result, he seems to genuinely respect them. Because of this, his speeches are full of compliments for his opponents. He quickly distances himself from those who use extreme rhetoric about his political foes. He doesn’t take the political potshots at his opponents of which many of us are weary.

If America is going to have a renaissance of civility in her politics, it seems to me that a person like John McCain can help to usher it in. And that will be the reason I vote for him – if I vote for him.

Go Dem, Old Man

Hey, I’m back. And in the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging a bit about McCain’s VP selection. To get started, here is Jonah Goldberg’s interesting and compelling argument that Senator McCain ought to pick a Democrat like Joe Lieberman or Sam Nunn as his running mate. Enjoy.

Obama Makes the Case for Electing McCain President

In this article, Senator Obama is quoted as saying the following,

We need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, independents and Republicans together to get things done.

If this is what America needs – and I am not necessarily ceding that point – then isn’t he making the case for Senator McCain rather than himself?

John McCain has been the most bipartisan politician of his generation, the very thing that makes a lot of people in his own party wary of his presidency. His legislative accomplishments – getting things done, as Senator Obama might call it – is full of bringing Democrats, independents, and Republicans together.

McCain – Feingold
McCain – Kennedy
McCain – Edwards
McCain – Liberman

In contrast, Senator Obama was named by National Journal as having the most consistently left-leaning voting record of any senator. That’s not the mark of someone who brings people together from across the spectrum to get things done. And what is his list of bipartisan legislative accomplishments? There is no Obama – Lott, Obama-McConnell, or even McCain – Obama for that matter (McCain always has to be listed first as the sponsor of a bill, I think.)

This quote has me wondering, is Senator Obama going to vote for Senator McCain?

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