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No More Mr. Nice Guy

Michael Goodwin thinks the promised ballistic counterattack by Barack Obama is a bad idea:

That rant might be comfort food for the nervous base, but will likely alarm independents who already aren’t sure about Obama. By further scaring them with scorched-earth partisanship, the Obama team will only cede to McCain the label of the real independent. Indeed, even as Sarah Palin has rallied the GOP base, McCain himself has ramped up efforts to secure his brand as a maverick willing to cross party lines. Obama’s response appears to be surrender of the high ground. The decision to stick with a mostly-nasty approach should finally end the myth that the Obama campaign is a flawless machine. It had an extraordinarily appealing candidate, a message of change to an unhappy nation and made brilliant tactical decisions that defeated the Clintons.

This latest offensive by Obama does seem to be a repeat of the error of his Denver speech : too negative and nasty and devoid of a message which would appeal to the key Independent voters in swing states. Perhaps the Democrats have convinced themselves that it was Sarah Palin who snuffed out the Obama Convention bounce. But the reality is that Obama’s bounce even pre-Palin was minimal, evidence that the firework drenched Denver message didn’t really do the task of reaching beyond Obama’s natural base of ultra-liberal voters. So why double down now?

Three factors are at play. First, the Democrats have convinced themselves that absent Palin they would be doing fine. Denial is a powerful political narcotic and has the unfortunate effect of depriving one of the self-awareness needed to correct course. Second, the Obama camp is under tremendous pressure to avoid — you know what’s coming — being Swfitboated. The demand to “fight back” and not be”bullied” is deafening no doubt so the Obama camp complies, fearing that their base will otherwise complete its emotional breakdown. Finally, Obama doesn’t have many options. The “Bush clone” tactic is of limited use, the “change” message has been stolen and his own economic program is a mish-mash of big government programs and flip-flops (e.g. this week his tax increases are on hold).

The irony is that the guy with the supposed problem with temperament is riding above the fray. The New Politician looks like he is channeling Bob Dole. You can guess which of them is resting easier at night.



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