Commentary Magazine


When Is Too Much, Too Much?

Ross Douthat mulls:

I’d really like to know which genius on the Obama campaign thought it would be a good idea to have their candidate conduct a major campaign rally in Europe with three months to go till the election and their candidate, despite an incredibly favorable climate and a fumbling opponent, still clinging to a 2-4 point lead in the polls?. . . But photo ops are one thing, Beatlemania-style rallies are quite another – and having your candidate appear in front of tens of thousands of adoring European fans when your campaign’s biggest problem, as John Judis puts it today, is that “Obama remains the ‘mysterious stranger’ rather than the ‘American Adam’ to too many voters who are put off rather than attracted by his race and exotic background” strikes me as the height of political folly.

As to the first point, I think it quite obvious after the faux seal, the screaming domestic mob scenes complete with fainting Obama gals, the planned ten-year presidency, and all the other arrogance indicators, that the “genius” is the Great Obama himself. Either that, or he’s a powerless pawn in the greatest scheme ever in American politics to create (without the candidate’s consent) a political cult. America is just too small for Him, and the natural extension of his egomania is to go international.

As to the second, there is always the danger that some voters will be turned off by the love-fest with European throngs: bragging about international popularity didn’t get John Kerry very far. (John McCain is obviously trying to play off this with his domestic “Berlin” radio blitz.) I find it hard to figure out which voters are going to be moved by a massive show of affection by Germans for Obama. Voters who think he’s “not one of us” are going to be irked and the folks who are genuinely concerned about foreign policy smarts and credentials aren’t necessarily going to be wowed by a mass rally.

So who exactly is this supposed to grab? The media’s attention, of course. But I think he already has that constituency sewn up.