Saturday, March 08, 2008

How Obama Can Win and Win Strong

I am aware of the delegate math.

I know that, unless the Clinton team runs roughshod with regard to superdelegates, the numbers are unassailable.

However, for Obama to not only win, but to win strong, and thus to be in the best position for the general,
he must step outside of the box created when Clinton tactics were applied to his own admirable stance.

By declaring himself the candidate of the new politics, putting the politics of Rove et al. aside for a politics of honesty, straight-forward decency, and strength, he has putatively left the field open for Clinton et al. to lob innuendo after innuendo. If he responds, he is in violation of his commitment to the new; if he continues with his current path of non-response, he will be taken down by a series of attacks, that however false or fantastic, will eventually raises doubts in the mind of the electorate as to the validity of his new politics, and will, in the great viscera of the electorate, so responsive and so easily changed, appear "weak."

If he attacks, it is said, he betrays himself; if he continues on the same path, he is whittled down by rumor and insinuation.

Clinton's current strength is her ability to attack, however true the nature and content of the attacks. Obama must turn this very behavior into its own negative. To do so, Obama must relentlessly name what she is doing and anchor it--calling for an "end to the era of 'kitchen sink' politics, i.e.:

"It's about time that we left the era of "kitchen sink" politics, of distortion and insinuation, behind us. We have all seen it before this--a period where it was often difficult to tell falsehood, rumor, and misinformation from truth. It was this type of politics that contributed to a war in which we have lost the best of our national treasure, our nation's men and women. It is this type of politics that our opponents not so long ago decried. And it is this type of politics that, more than anything else, signals weakness--the inability to base one's statements and actions on the firm ground of truth, on our collective and honest dedication to the construction of a new and positive future--and instead, on a retreat into the politics of personal destruction.

It's time to take out the dirty dishes; It's time to empty the kitchen sink. After an era where it was often difficult to distinguish fantasy from truth, it's time to put that era behind us, to base our future efforts on a strong and honest desire to build a new and better future."

What Obama can create is his own "There you go again" moment--one that will both define Clinton (after all, someone has to do it), and at the same time place the Clinton camp in their very own box, of their own making: A box where any attack will be immediately associated in the voter's mind, and will be accompanied by a roll of the voter's eyes, as another example of Clinton's "kitchen sink" politics; of the chaotic, inconsistent, contradictory and frantic willingness to say or do anything to be elected, be it the changing of one's personality, tone, degree of honesty--or one's degree of tolerance or gusto for the politics of personal destruction.

Without a single attack, this demonstrates the nature of the Clinton camp: in a moment of crisis, and in danger of loss, rather than respond with strength, principle and authority, they throw the "kitchen sink" at the issue, abandoning principles and frantically strewing innuendo as they do so.

With powerful moral force, it names exactly what the Clinton camp is doing, and anchors it both to the politics of the past Administration, and to the very political tactics that Clinton herself has denounced and disavowed. In addition, it provides direct evidence--thus far, the only direct evidence--of how a Clinton Administration would likely govern in times of chaos, crisis, and other "3 a.m. moments" (thus disempowering her already shaky claims to superior foreign policy judgment): With a "kitchen sink" approach of tumultuous, changing, disorganized and contradictory attack, rather than with consistent purpose and moral authority.

Obama must persistently name what the Clinton camp is doing rather than complain--and he must then link it to the very essence of an old politics that has been lived through by all of us, and denigrated by most over the past 8 years.

Thus named, and thus defined, Obama can then invite Clinton up to the higher ground--to a debate based on policy and principle--or she can choose to stay in the box that she and her camp have created.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman