Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack on Obama - New York Times

Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack on Obama - New York Times: "After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum."
POLS 101:

The real problem for Clinton is that she has run her campaign badly (with enormous help from her ham-fisted husband, who has made matters much worse for her, but I'll talk about that another time). Her chosen strategy, as she herself stated repeatedly, was to have the whole thing over by Super Tuesday with an early coronation. This was pure arrogance. She was not prepared for a marathon. Obama was.

Or, to use a boxing metaphor, this is like Ali vs. Foreman. Foreman went for the usual quick, brutal, knockout and was unprepared for a long fight. When Ali got past round 3 or 4 it was all downhill for Foreman, who practically collapsed on his own in the eighth round.

So what happened? Clinton didn't have organizational strength in the states that came late in the calendar, but Obama did. And she spent way too much money up front, so she had to lend money to her campaign from her own funds just to keep going. The money she spent didn't get the job done in Iowa, which was Obama's foot in the door.

Now, in this lengthy primary campaign, the fact is that Obama has more organizers, more signs, more events, better scheduling (he actually shows up, unlike Clinton on some occasions), a clearer message that fits the candidate and inspires voters, and on and on. It isn't just charisma and good speeches that Obama brings to the table, although he has those too. He has a better organized campaign. Yes, Clinton has what for many people is a deeply annoying personality and a harsh, screechy voice that feels like fingernails on a chalk board. But those are only superficial problems that she could overcome with a good campaign. The problem is that she has so far displayed none of the supposed managerial expertise that she claims to have, and that she claims Obama lacks. And if that is her focus, she is still in denial. The simple fact is that Obama has completely out-managed the candidate who is running on her managerial ability. I think Shakespeare called that being "hoist with his own petard."
(follow the link to see a picture of a real petard--it means "getting blown up with your own bomb.)


Daniel said...

Prof. McKenzie,
I really enjoy your blogs. It's a very good example of thinking critically about these news stories. I'm in your 100 level course doing blogs, and I'm trying hard to do it right. Now I'm going to go write a blog about what I saw on C-Span today. Thanks. See you in class.

Dan Brown

Evan McKenzie said...

I'm glad you are reading and commenting. Feel free to chime in whenever you want to.