The underlying conviction of the British newspapers about the Presidential Election seems to be, Obama will win the race. They just don’t dare to say it out loud. In a way it is understandable, there have been so many surprises in this overlong campaign, so why not another momentum change in the last four weeks? Personally, I do not think there will be another upset, if only because the McCain surprises have lost almost all of their charm. His first one, the nomination of a woman as running mate could have been a real game-changer, had he made a wiser choice. By all means the perfomance of Sarah Palin is painfully inadequate. Whatever the pundits say, she was an abject failure in the debate. She so obviously skirted the questions to spew forth her talking points it was an embarrassment to watch. I am not an American, but I am a woman and really, to me this is insulting. John McCain’s second attempt at mavericking the race by theatrically suspending his campaign, racing to Washington to “fix it”, was another failure. So what on earth can he think up now that will change a race that has Obama leading 264 to 163 in electoral votes (111 votes toss up with Obama leading in six of the eight remaining toss-up states). Going dirty is the only remaining option, William Kristol has already done the “journalistic” groundwork for that and the McCain campaign has already gone there, but my guess is that people have moved on and mostly made up their minds. Barack Obama will win this race.
But then, who am I? Let’s have a look what the big boys and the big girls in journalism have to say:
The Peach State has already begun early voting, and it will not have lowered Republican blood pressure one little bit. 30% of Georgia’s voters are African-American, but that group has cast 40% of the votes so far.
FACED with the threat of a decisive victory for Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, his Republican rival John McCain is preparing to take the gloves off and “get tough” in the closing weeks of an increasingly aggressive election campaign.
The McCain camp will pull all the stops and unbury Rezko, Wright and the weathermen, but I’d be surprised if Obama wasn’t prepared for that. That would be serious political malpractice.
The Sunday Telegraph knows of at least three occasions in the past month when members of his inner circle have said they fear he is doomed. Voters have flocked to Mr Obama in the economic crisis, and Mr McCain has lost the lead in several key swing states that he must win if he is to have any chance of victory in November.
A former McCain strategist, familiar with the senator’s tactical discussions, told The Sunday Telegraph he would pursue the “nuclear option”, attacking Mr Obama personally in the campaign’s last four weeks.
The same expression “nuclear option” was used by Hillary Clinton during the sunset of her primary campaign, so I expect this to be dirty and really unpleasant, scary even, but not a game changer anymore.
In her defence, Sarah Palin has needed a little assistance in making such a swift transition from saviour of the McCain campaign to what looks like final nail in a coffin hardly in grave need right now of additional ferrous material. She’s done the groundwork herself, of course, with a series of sensationally inept media forays, but the real credit belongs to the comedian, actress and writer Tina Fey. If you haven’t seen Fey’s two Saturday Night Live skits, where have you been and what is wrong with you? Google them at once, and set aside a couple of hours to watch them over and over again.
Unlike Mr McCain, Mrs Palin knows little about national or international politics. But as a working mother of five who grew up shooting moose for the freezer, she appeals to small-town voters who feel condescended to by Democrats. And as a born-again Christian and passionate pro-lifer, she thrills social conservatives who have never warmed to Mr McCain. But she appals a lot of independent voters, who dislike her conservative views and worry about her evident inexperience, should she ever have to step into the 72-year-old Mr McCain’s shoes. The “Palin effect” was huge at first, but it quickly started to fade.
Mr Obama has addressed some of his weaknesses by picking Joe Biden as his running-mate. Mr Biden has been a senator for 36 years and knows a lot about foreign policy. His working-class roots appeal to some who find Mr Obama detached from their problems. But he has had less effect on the race than Mr McCain’s risky—and, some say, deeply cynical—choice of Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska.
The problem Senator Obama faces is that everything about his life story – his origins as an outsider, his academic achievements, his decision to eschew making money in order to lend a helping hand to the poor – reads as a positive to working-class negatives. His life story seems to put ordinary people to shame, and the more he repeats this story, the more they manage shame – as we all do – through anger and resentment.
And in a must read comment on the bailout Dean Baker blames the White House not only for the economic crisis, but for the politics of fear that have again been employed to push through Bush’s agenda. Worse, he says:
This is the first time in the history of the United States that the president has sought to provoke a financial panic to get legislation passed through Congress. While this has proven to be a successful political strategy – after the House of Representatives finally passed the bank bail-out plan today – it marks yet another low point in American politics.
I have nothing to add to that.