Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 6 Comments
Beyond the cult of personality, his real power comes from being treated as the inevitable winner. As far as the press is concerned, Obama is the incumbent, the election is nothing more than a formality and these next few months are a celebration of his victory.
Too many people, even those who hate Obama, see his victory as inevitable. That's not because of the poll numbers, but the perception created by the media with its constant coverage of the Messiah from Chicago and its determination to create the perception that you can't fight the future and that the election is already over. That same perception was used by the media to steamroll Hillary. It's now being used to steamroll McCain. And while the media can't control what happens at the polls, it can discourage and dispirit the opposition.
While there has always been media bias, what we are seeing in the election of 2008 goes well beyond media bias, to outright election tampering. There isn't even any pretense at fairness, nothing beyond a media selected coronation. You can't even call it dirty tactics, it's an outright assault on democracy by the major corporations that control the news media. It has as much in common with conventional media bias as a coup d'etat has with poll tampering.
If the media wins, it defeats democracy and fulfills its dreams of being able to decide who becomes President or not. If the media wins, the perception of McCain as doomed to lose and Obama as the certain winner will follow voters into the voting booth. For McCain to win, the media must lose.
That is why defeatism is the greatest enemy of the McCain campaign. To win McCain and the campaign must get a confident position across despite the media. That means going around the media where possible, cultivating small regional newspapers and radio stations in key battleground states, it means using bloggers and social media intelligently and constantly finding ways to communicate with the public as much as possible. For example a weekly or even daily video addressing the public streamed across video sharing sites would be a good idea.
It also means always having a clear and concise message and constantly creating "events" with a hook that target specific issues. If Obama is to make the campaign about his personality, McCain has to make it about the issues, which are his strongest area and which point up Obama's own weaknesses. McCain himself has spent too much time running on personality, but he will now be operating in a hostile media environment, a media that excells at distorting and destroying an enemy's image. He is going to have to put the issues first and put them out hard and fast to win.
If the campaign comes down to, who do you trust to run the country for the next four years, McCain will win. If the campaign comes down to, whose name do you recognize best and who seems to be a good guy, Obama will win. That's what he's been positioned to do, that's what his whole phony jolly personality exists for. It's meant to make him non-threatening and to deflect any serious questions about him and his record.
We've already seen that when the campaign gets hot, Obama melts. He doesn't do well under pressure, he doesn't know what he's talking about and he doesn't have the answers. He's a celebrity candidate whose answer to a problem is to put on a show. When his foreign policy credentials are challenged, he travels around the world and gives out free beer and sausages in order to get a crowd to listen to him in Germany. It's shallow, it's hollow and in the age of Big Brother and Paris Hilton, it works.
To beat that McCain will have to connect to the American people, to fight defeatism among Conservatives and shatter the idea that Obama cannot be beaten. Obama can be beaten. Obama has not won anything. And McCain can beat him and will, if he fights hard enough for it.
The Democrats want this to be a repeat of Clinton - Dole in 96. We have to make it a repeat of Bush - Kerry in 2004 instead. The Democrats want the McCain campaign to be an image of an old man toddling around and mumbling something, a respectable man but sure to lose. To fight that McCain has to be dynamic and aggressive, he has to be always in motion, always campaigning and always on message. The man who came from behind to win the Republican primary can do it. It's a matter of actually finding a focus.
The best hope for a Democratic victory in 2008 is for McCain and Conservatives to act and be made to act as if they're only playing out their part in Obama's March to the White House. That's the Dole curse. To beat it McCain must break through the invisible wall in the media and be prepared for the fireworks when he does, something that has already begun with the New York Times Op-Ed rejection. He must frame a clear choice between himself and Obama, based on his record and Obama's and his policies and Obama's. He must not only be prepared for the tidal wave of hate that will unleash, but ride it and even enjoy it, the way Theodore Roosevelt did.
If he can do that, McCain can do more than just win, he can enter the White House in triumph. If he can't, the country may well be doomed.