Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Speak for yourself

Mitchell Bard in the Huffington Post makes an observation, leading to a question:

A new threat to Barack Obama's campaign has emerged, and it has nothing to with race, offshore drilling or the surge: Obama is losing the battle of the surrogates. Which raises a question: Is this any way to pick a president?

We will give Bard the benefit of the doubt, in the hope that he doesn’t simply see the question raised solely because his preferred candidate is on the losing end of the stick here. That is, if Obama’s surrogates were cleaning the clocks of the McCain surrogates, he would still be equally concerned with the idea that using surrogates to help determine who should be president would be equally flawed.

Hope is not dead on the un-Obama side of the aisle!

Now, after documenting several instances of Obama surrogate incompetence, Bard makes this point:

McCain's representatives are doing a far better job than Obama's proxies in these debates. And, more importantly, McCain's people are doing better than McCain himself would have done in these appearances, while Obama's surrogates have not come close to performing at the level their candidate regularly achieves.

We agree that the Obama surrogates are underperforming the McCain surrogates. But as for the candidate himself, it is not for nothing that some are referring to the Democratic candidate as Obamuh. Nor is it not for nothing that many have joked repeatedly about Obama’s self-inflicted flesh wounds when he goes off the teleprompter.

Obama in extemporaneous speaking situations? It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!

Bard would, sensibly in our opinion, rather not have the campaign fought by surrogates:

Should we be judging the candidates by their stand-ins? Does Fiorina's and Ridge's debating skills mean that McCain would be a better president than Obama? And does the inability of Reed, Kerry, McCaskill and Pelosi to speak compellingly on television mean that Obama shouldn't be president? Even more to the point, as voters, are we served by listening to these surrogate debates? I would argue we are not.

Bard’s solution, offered because he sees no way out of the surrogate battles due to a 24/7/365 news cycle, is that Obama needs to more carefully select surrogates to represent him.

Fair enough.

But you know what else Obama could do? Obama could reduce the need for surrogate battles by giving the insatiable news cycle more fodder by … wait for this … direct candidate battles.

I don’t know, like say, a series of 10 town hall style debates where it is the two candidates taking the questions, giving their answers, articulating and defending their positions, instead of surrogates on their behalf.

But Obama avoids town halls assiduously. He uses phrases like, “anytime, anywhere” and “right here, quick draw” regarding debates, but only from a safe distance where words are never threatened with having to be backed up by deeds.

And one in particular stands out. Obama declined a military town hall on August 11th in Fort Hood, TX, due to “a scheduling conflict”. It now turns out that the conflict consists of an August 8-15 vacation to Hawaii.

But don’t worry, while on vacation, John Kerry will be holding down the news cycle fort. Or if Bard’s suggestions reach Team Obama, Joe Biden. Good luck with that.


  1. Welcome home, VIMH!

    And thanks for the good wishes, Elliott. It's been an exciting trip so far, not least because She Who Makes My Heart Beat Faster When She Drives has rented a vehicle in a country where they intentionally drive on the wrong side of the street.

    I had intended to respond earlier, but I seem to have discovered TM's mythical land of uncertain internet connections.

    I hope things are going well for y'all back in the States.*

    *Yes, I know it is only ninety miles away.

    ...but Cuba is closer.

  2. Obamuh

    I am fond of "Obamao." (Or at least I was until I typed it out; I think it sounds better than it reads.)

    Welcome home, VIMH!

    Did the VIHH ever leave home?

    That aside, let me join in the good wishes at what I presume is the successful end to your tortuous summer driving.*
    *But not as tortuous as Walter's! (And you thought I could make it through without a footnote in homage.)

  3. Thanks guys!

    The road trip was great. We used the extra six bucks that Obama helped us save in gas money to get an extra bowl of soup at the Cracker Barrel in Lafayette, LA^. Thanks Obama!

    Walter, I hope you are having a wonderful time in the surf and sun. Don't forget the sunscreen!

    ^ Anyone know how to find an asterisk on a BlackBerry to do a proper footnote?

  4. Oh and Elliott, I hope your stay in Wichita was most enjoyable.

    I have fond memories of Wichita. The site of my near baseball fame. A story for another time^.

    ^Or you could probably find it in the JOM archives.