Commentary Magazine


They Need Better Lines

The Obama camp is having a rough day. They are making a hobbled attempt to separate themselves from a hate-filled, sexist and racist video. Rather than say “We deplore it,” they, as Phil Klein points out, feel compelled to compliment the artistry of the person who composed this work of “art.” What audience do they think is listening to them? This is not a Hollywood fundraiser or a Democratic primary crowd. They have to corral working class voters and women. I’m sure the artistry is lost on them. Not a good move.

Worse still, the Obama camp is reduced to stamping their feet and whining for McCain to stop mocking them. What’s wrong with the new “Celeb” ad? They can’t say because all McCain is doing is holding a magnifying glass up to the Chosen One and asking if that’s really what a presidential campaign is all about. In place of a reasoned rebuttal (because there is none), the Obama camp goes into “outrage” mode. That’s how the McCain camp knows something is effective. (The other sign may be the poll averages.)

But this is a problem the Obama team created by deciding to go the international cult route. Imagine if one or more of the candidates for Prime Minister in Israel came to the U.S., staged a giant rally in Central Park, spoke of his delight in being a “citizen of the world” and made a fundraising video touting the goodwill mission. Wouldn’t both Israelis and Americans be horrified? The reaction would be: “What the heck is he doing here and why isn’t he back home making his case to his own voters?” And people would begin to buzz that the candidate had lost perspective, had dragged another country into national elections and now fancied himself leader of a new international order. And so it is with the Obama trip.

Free advice for the Obama camp: stop sounding like an egomanic, stop whining, change your position on drilling, go to some town halls and talk bread-and-butter issues. Otherwise it’s downhill from here.