Thursday, February 28, 2008

Examining Obama's Strategy Going Into November

I definitely think the Obama camp is making a strategic and perhaps tactical error in engaging McCain on the issue of Iraq. For this however I blame HRC. This shows the reason why she needs to throw in the towel now. His focus on the war is fighting on McCain's turf and can never be good for him. Moreover, he cannot use the same tactic he uses on HRC in the primaries to defeat McCain in the fall. The democratic base strong opposition to the war worked in his favor, but the general population is less inclined to look at the past than focus on what will be done going forward (check John Kerry's loss in 2004 to an unpopular president). It is obvious the McCain/Republican strategy going forward is to:

A. Define Obama and drive up his negativity by framing him as unpatriotic and weak on defense. For the unpatriotic charge it appears McCain is currently reticent but I expect him to seize on it as soon as he is 10 points down in the poll like HRC is seizing on the Islamic stereotype now.

B. Frame the war in terms of national security and pride while pretending the economy don't exist. This is a strategy that relies on McCain's strength/

To win, Obama must however do the following to counter (I suspect the smart people around him already know some of these points, but a need for consistency of message is making them fight off HRC and McCain for now with same judgment vs. experience tactic that have been very successful in the primary but whose efficacy I doubt in the General Elections)

1. The war is the Economy Stupid! : Obama should inevitably tie the war to the economy. He should remind people the inevitable connection between a war bleeding $12b a month and their mortgage, rising gas cost etc. He should even claim the price of oil will come down dramatically if the crisis in the middle east is not encouraged by US involvement in the war. He should ask McCain for his plan to fix the mortgage crisis, cut energy costs, fix healthcare etc. He should use McCain's word that he knows nothing about the economy against him, and tell America we need a domestic president that knows and understands America needs. We need a man who can be president of the USA first before being the president of the world…read, National Pride.

2. Define McCain as a Liberal, Wasteful Spender on War: There is no better place to get a bad McCain definition than from the right. The right already labeled McCain a liberal, and Obama should seize on it. He should label McCain a tax, war and spend liberal. He should define him as a deficit spending, fiscal undisciplined liberal. A simple question will do: " how does McCain intend to finance his 100 years war?" McCain will stumble on this point. Then Obama people should answer it for him: borrow from China, and Saudi Arabia one of the world's biggest sponsor of Islamist groups. This will alienate McCain from his base that cannot stand him already and the center that is looking for an alternative

3. Corruption and Ethics: McCain thinks this is his strong suit, but I think not. Remind America of the Keating Five affair; remind America of his close associations with lobbyists running his campaign; pin point the corporate jets and even show his hypocritical stance on campaign finance reform. Frame him as old corrupt Washingtonian versus good young guy from the Midwest. McCain will bristle and will lose his cool: That is where you want him.

4. Inconsistency: McCain camp calls him a maverick. Part of the downside of this label, is its remarkable lack of consistency and contradictions. The Obama camp must exploit this. Call him irresolute on the issues. Tag him flip-flopper. Question his conviction and character. Use the issues of tax cut he first opposed and supported (just to win the primary), the gay marriage he first supported and then opposed (to win over the right). McCain will again bristle at this point because he doesn't take kindly to being called out for whom he is truly is- But that is where you want him.

For it to work, these four labels have to be used consistently across board: Ignorant of the economy, tax and war liberal, corrupt old guard and inconsistent flip-flopper


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