Change #1- The Republicans finally make “The Ten Commandments” a winner in political debate- through John McCain, no less!
For all the hype about change, Obama has reconnected the Democrats with their Inner Bourbon- they learn nothing and forget nothing. Obama’s astonishing summer reveals a party trapped in the freeze frame of their mid-term election triumphs, oblivious to the rapid pace of change since then.
By every yardstick, Obama’s trip to Europe was a flop, despite the media hype and the photo-ops. It was meant to underscore the Democrats obsession with playing up to the unpopularity of GWB and the Iraq war on the Continent. But of course Europe has changed enormously. Conservative, security-conscious governments have come to power in Germany, France and Italy, and they are focused on Iran, a subject where The One does not shine. In Britain, Gordon Brown is in deep trouble despite backing away from the close cooperation of his predecessor with the enormously unpopular President Bush. The American surge and the Maliki government have succeeded, underscoring the Brits’ own failure in Basra, and this undermines the whole narrative of London’s influential chattering classes. The Continent, however intrigued it might be by the prospect of an African-American president, has moved on.
Of course, Obama’s Magical Mystery European Tour also highlighted his disengagement from change on the domestic front. The Goreaclite hype of 2005-2006 is over. Americans are becoming increasingly convinced that they have been HAD on the subjects of Global Warming and energy. The former is being lampooned as an ersatz religion, brilliantly so in McCain’s fantastic ad. The latter is becoming an albatross around Democratic necks as American rebel against the doubling in gas prices and the anti-producer obsession of liberal policy elites.
The central thrust of Obama’s political strategy has been to cast John McCain as a continuation of George W Bush. This underscores the Dems’ cluelessness about change. Running against GWB was good political theatre in 2006. But he is not running in 2008. The GOP voters, in their wisdom, chose a man whose differences with the president in both policy matters and style are clearly visible to the public. What worked in 2006 is not working in 2008, and the dynamic of change has made the Dems’ “McBush” strategy a clunker.
And finally, there has been an enormous change in the perception of Obama himself. The image of the boyish charmer who wowed the public in 2004 and the earnest reformer who took on the Clinton Team has been transformed under the scrutiny that goes with the nomination. What has emerged is NOT the stuff of legend- a conventional and opportunistic Chicago machine politician, no stranger to associations with the unseemly and corrupt, silent in the face of outrageously nasty rhetoric emanating from key parts of his base, and a campaigner who looks increasingly jejeune, inarticulate and vapid on the stump.
There is an old saying on Wall Street that “the trend is your friend”. That may have been true for Obama and the Dems in 2005-2006. It isn’t now. They are still stuck in the comforting grooves of GWB’s past midterm blues, which are so yesterday. But ssshhhhhh! Don’t tell them. Let them find out on Election Day!