September 18, 2008

Obama finds his groove

chillout.jpg After a few weeks of posts suggesting that the blogosphere had a better sense of how Obama should campaign than Obama did, I'm happy to note that today the reverse is true.

Yesterday when John McCain defended his economic bona fides by saying he is chairman of the Commerce Committee, "that oversights every part of our economy," bloggers responded by noting that the Commerce Committee does no such thing.

That's true, and fits the McCain is an out-of-touch liar narrative, but Obama saw a bigger opening and drove a truck right through it:

Proceeding through a litany of what he perceives to be McCain missteps, Obama mentioned that McCain had recently "bragged about how, as chairman of the Commerce Committee in the Senate, he had oversight of every part of the economy. Well, all I can say to Sen. McCain is nice job."

Obama then hit the "mental recession" buzzer, which he's done before, and followed with a pitch-perfect moment of political jujitsu:

So, then yesterday, Sen. McCain’s big solution to the crisis we’re facing is -- put on your seatbelts -- a commission," Obama said. "A commission! Well, that’s Washington-speak for 'We’ll get back to you later.'

Calling for a 9/11 style commission on the economy was one of the stupidest things McCain could have done this week, and it's nice to see that Obama is still hammering him for it. And that's not the only front he's attacking on. Two days ago, HuffPo's John Neffinger made the strong point that Obama's top talking point this week should be that if John McCain had his way, all that money being flushed down the toilet on Wall St. would include your Social Security savings too. Turns out Obama has been quietly running tough ads making exactly that point in key markets.

Keep in mind that all these attacks come along with an epic two-minute ad of Obama speaking directly to the camera about what his plan for the economy is, giving heft to his line that we don't need to study the problem, we need leadership to get us out it.

Posted by Daniel Radosh



But one minor thing I'm worried about is that he's making too many jokes. "Nice job" and "Old boys network = McCain staff meeting" are good lines and fit the McCain-is-not-change narrative, but he probably shouldn't be seen being flippant about a financial meltdown. If he can get in trouble for "above my pay grade," then this is something he's going to have to watch.

Well, I think the 2 minute ad, and he web page that goes with it, inoculates him to a great extent.

I disagree, Jared. The reason "above my pay grade" was seen as inappropriately flippant was that he was being pressed on a fundamental moral issue, and he was using the flippancy to avoid taking a position on a hard question.

The fact that the economy is in the toilet is not in itself a moral issue - moreover, it's one for which people want someone to blame, whether appropriately or not. And in these cases the one-liners are actually saying something. Being flippant insultingly tying McCain to the issue carries, in my opinion, a much lower liability.

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