Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama's "Dean Scream"?

Say Howard Dean and most Americans will think back to that high-pitched "YeaAHah!!!" he boomed for all of West Des Moines, and indeed, the world, to hear. That was defiantly the moment his chance at the Democratic Nomination took a dive, but I don't believe that was the reason.

People didn't really like Dean all that much; his positions on many areas were bordering on communism, his supporters were creepy and potentially unreliable, he wanted to make national fights out of local issues, he probably wasn't all that viable in a race against a determined Republican president, he didn't know much about international relations and he came off as a bit of a jerk to a lot of people. Wow that was a long sentence, but those were the real, complex reasons behind Dean's downfall. The scream was just the moment, something undeniably tangible that people could easily point to rather than explain all those other reasons that Dean didn't sit well in their guts.

Obama gave a pretty good speech this week, maybe even a great speech. It told us what we should all already know - some ethnic groups in America don't get along all that well and there are sometimes legitimate reasons behind this ill will. Mr. Obama doesn't really have any particular solution for this problem but never the less honestly talking about race in America doesn't hurt anything. So why are people, particularly democrats, reacting to this speech badly? Some will say its racism but those people are silly, any objective analysis says Obama's racial makeup has decidedly aided his campaign. I think this was Obama's Dean Scream Moment.

Obama is in many ways a Democratic candidate flawed in the same ways (though not to the same extent) as Dean was. He has an army of young volunteers who while enthusiastic are often not only poorly informed but also not registered to vote and will probably be made mince meat of by the efficient RNC cadres. His positions are not just left of center, economically they're left of left of left. He has no foreign policy experience. He too is looking to make federal issues out of state decisions. Above all else the Obama campaign of propelled by a naive optimism that more and more democratic leaders are seeing could be less effective than the tried and true Clinton machine.

I thought Obama's speech was at worst empty rhetoric, certainly there was noting bad about it but this opinion is not shared by many influential democratic bellwethers.

After February 4th there was a long stretch when all that was in the news was this unprobable swath of Obama victories which built momentum and enthusiasm. But that is over now, the voters and the Democratic party have a month and a half to sit back and as if they really want a state senator from south Chicago to be running the most powerful nation mankind has ever seen.

Obama is still in this, but after this speech I predict a chilling effect. I think donations will slow, the media will be more critical, he will get rocked in Pennsylvania, Indiana will not look good for him.

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