Thursday, October 30, 2008

Has Obama Changed The Political Landscape?

There have been many moments in this campaign that have stood out as pivotal moments – especially for the Obama camp. From the beginning of his presidential candidacy, Obama has made his run symbolic. He announced his bid for president on a freezing day in February 2007 standing on the ground of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln delivered his famous "House Divided" speech ( against slavery in 1858.

"I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness -- a certain audacity -- to this announcement,"Obamae said. "I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change."

Hence, his message was simple -- Change!

Obama was obviously the underdog as a freshman senator from IL. In the Democratic Primary, he was running against a formidable opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton – formally known as the Clinton Machine. She started her campaign as the frontrunner with the biggest purse in the first quarter. Obama made it clear that he would not be taking money from lobbyist or corporate entities. Although the opposition was laughing, it wasn’t long before his online fundraising efforts began to pay off with big dividends. Obama use the model of Howard Dean who ran in 2004 and enhanced it greatly.

While Obama was running as the candidate who happens to the Black, the Senator from NY attempted to help America define him as the Black Candidate, though. It wasn’t long before clips began to run of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright in loop on the 24 hour news channels. Because Rev. Wright describes his message as Black Liberation Theology mainstream equated it and Obama as being a Black Radical. At that point in time, Obama decided to change the trajectory of the race. In March 2008, he delivered a speech, ‘A More Perfect Union,’ at Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA which was across the street from Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution of the United States was signed.

“But I have asserted a firm conviction — a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people — that, working together, we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.”

Into the General Election, Senator John McCain, taunted Obama on his foreign experience. He noted that Obama had not been to Iraq and suggested that they go together. Obama declined. He later made the trip on his own terms which meant that he not only went to Iraq, it became a European tour, with a stop in Germany. He drew a crowd of 200,000 people in Berlin at the Victory Column at Tiergarten Park where he delivered “A World That Stands As One.”
“People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.”

Then, there was the Democratic Convention. Obama’s acceptance speech was scheduled to be 20,000 seat venue of the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Just weeks prior, the Obama camp requested a change of venue to Invesco Field which has a seating capacity of 76,000. This was unprecedented, but it was more inclusive than the Pepsi Center.

"We cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done... At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future."

Obama's fundraising efforts, speeches and web savvy has earned him clout in the Democratic party -- regardless of Presidential win. His stance on not accepting money from special interests or lobbyist has changed how campaigns will be run in the future. Based on his campaign endeavors, it will be interesting to see what will happen in 2012.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is The Republican Brand In Trouble?

I never thought I would see the day when members of staunch conservative families such as Goldwater, Nixon, Eisenhower and Buckley would cross party lines to support a Democrat. Well, that’s exactly what has happened. Chris Buckley (son of William F. Buckley) C.C. Goldwater (granddaughter of Barry Goldwater) and Julie Nixon Eisenhower (daughter of Richard Nixon – daughter-in-law of Dwight Eisenhower) have all given their support to Senator Barack Obama.

Then, there are the former members of the Bush Administration, Colin Powell and Scott McClellan who are endorsing Obama.

In addition, conservative columnist and radio talk show hosts are riding the wave of Obama – Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Kathleen Parker and Michael Smerconish.

Former Republican elective officials, Massachusetts Governor Bill Welch, Iowa Representative Jim Leach, Maryland Senator Mac Mathias and Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee have openly given Obama a nod.

There’s something profound happening in presidential politics of 2008. This is astonishing when major players break rank.

Although most conservatives were not happy with the nomination of John McCain, they were initially willing to show a united front and support their candidate even though they were skeptical about his pick for VP, Governor Sarah Palin. While they were supporting him and waiting for the Democratic primary to end, McCain became complacent. With all the down time, the campaign did not work on their ground game. When it appeared that the Democratic Nominee would be Obama, it was as if they didn’t think they would have to work hard. My guess is that the McCain campaign was relying on race being a defining factor of voters which would have been true in the past.

While conservatives are crossing party lines, there is also dissention in the McCain camp. There are reports that staffers started distributing their resumes in an act of defeat; advisors are calling the VP candidate, Sarah Palin, a diva; and staffers are also leaking information that McCain and Palin were not speaking to each other on a recent ride on the “Straight Talk Express.”

If Senator McCain loses on November 4, 2008, what will the Republicans do? As their numbers shrink, how will the brand persevere?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Was Sarah Palin Fully Vetted?

A caller on Cara Live who identified himself as the ‘Black Conservative’ wanted to know sources regarding Sarah Palin’s vetting process.

As noted, most Presidential candidates have a committee that review potential VP candidates. In addition, the candidate usually decides on someone that they are familiar and comfortable with as their political partner. It has been of question whether Governor Palin was actually vetted, especially since it is a known fact that Senator John McCain only met Governor Sarah Palin once in January at a Governor’s Conference in Washington.

Reports during the RNC gave an indication that they were still scrambling in an attempt to vet her.

Although, Palin energized the base of the Republican Party at the convention, she lacked luster in coming weeks because of mainstream interviews which caused concern of her knowledge for the position. She was unable to answer questions such as publications that she reads, Supreme Court decisions that she’s in disagreement and stated that her foreign experience equates to her being able to see Russia from her home.

Marc Ambinder reported in The Atlantic a piece titled “What McCain Didn’t Know About Sarah Palin,” Below he states that the campaign didn’t know the following:

1. The campaign “bragged that Palin opposed the famous "Bridge to Nowhere," only to learn that Palin supported the project and even told residents of Ketchikan that they weren't "nowhere" to her. After the national outcry, she decided to spend the funds allocated to the bridge for something else. Actually, maybe it's more fair to say that coincident with the national outcry, she changed her mind. The story shows her political judgment, but it is not a reformer's credential.”

2. “Though she cut taxes as mayor of Wassila, she raised the sales tax, making her hardly a tax cutter.”

3. “She denied pressuring the state's chief of public safety to fire her sister-in-law's husband even though there's mounting evidence that the impetus did indeed come from her. Ostensibly to clear her name, Palin asked her attorney general to open an independent investigation—the legislature had already been investigating. (I am told that the campaign was aware of the ethics complaint filed against her but accepts Palin's account.)”

4. “McCain's campaign seemed unaware that she supported a windfalls profits tax on oil companies and that she is more skeptical about human contributions to global warming than McCain is.”

5. “They did not know that she took trips as the mayor of Wasilla to beg for earmarks.”

6. “They did not know that she told a television interviewer this summer that she did not fully understand what it is that a vice president does.”

With the above noted, it is hard to believe that Gov. Palin was vetted by the McCain campaign. Unfortunately for them, she was vetted by news outlets and the general public.

Because of her unplugged comments, it appears that with only a week until the election, the campaign is trying to use her as a scapegoat of a potential loss. Is this fair? Probably not, when the process started with them in vetting.