- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

DIG DEEPER

“With top Dems fearing Barack Obama is in a hole, the Obama campaign has made a weird decision. It’s going to dig that hole deeper, harder and faster,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“No more Mr. Nice Guy, Obama vows. He’s going to really start hitting John McCain now. He’s going to make voters understand that McCain equals four more years of George Bush.

“It’s a weird decision because Obama has been doing exactly that for four months. The problem is not that Obama hasn’t hit McCain hard enough or linked him to Bush often enough. The problem is that he hasn’t done anything else,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“How about a new idea? How about putting some meat on the bony promise of ‘change’?

“And what happened to that post-partisan uniter who took the country by storm during the early primaries by offering an optimistic vision for America? Why not bring him back?

“Apparently that Obama has left the building. He’s been replaced with a party man who sees the other side as evil and beneath contempt.”

‘IN A BAD PLACE’

“After the past 10 days, it is not remarkable that Mr. McCain has caught up with Mr. Obama. It is amazing that Mr. Obama is still roughly even with Mr. McCain,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“There is no denying that Mr. Obama is in a bad place, that he must now be considered the underdog, that he’s wearing Loser-Glo. The slide started with the Rick Warren interviews in August, just as America was starting to pay attention. Verdict? McCain: normal. Obama: odd.

“Then Mrs. Palin, and the catastrophe of the Democratic and media response to her. Books will be written about this, but because it’s so recent, and so known, we’re almost not absorbing how huge it was, and is. Here was the central liberal mistake: They used the atom bomb just a few days in. They used it so brutally, and yet so ineptly, in a way so oblivious to the true contours of the field, that the radiation blew back over their own lines. They used it without preliminary diplomatic talks, multilateral meetings or Security Council debate. They just went boom. And it boomeranged,” Mrs. Noonan said.

She added: “All of this was unacceptable to normal Americans. They experienced it as the town gossip spreading rumor and slander before the new neighbor even got to put down her bags. It offended the American sense of fairness. And — it still lives! — gallantry.

“Most crucially, the snobbery of it, the meanness of it, reminded the entire country, for the first time in a decade, what it is they don’t like about the left. Really, America had forgotten. Mr. Obama’s friends reminded them. Unforgettably.”

NOVEL THEORY

Liberal pundit Frank Rich, in his New York Times column Sunday, advanced a novel theory — that political powerhouse Sarah Palin would dominate an administration led by a noodle-spined John McCain.

“With all due deference to lipstick, let’s advance the story. A week ago the question was: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? The question today: What kind of president would Sarah Palin be?” Mr. Rich said.

“Sarah Palin appeals to the conservative base. But she also appeals to Americans who are longing for a glorious past. … I do not agree with Sarah Palin’s political views, but I see how her life can be attractive in a society that is losing [so many] very basic securities.

“It’s an urgent matter, because if we’ve learned anything from the GOP convention and its aftermath, it’s that the 2008 edition of John McCain is too weak to serve as America’s chief executive. This unmentionable truth, more than race, is now the real elephant in the room of this election.

“No longer able to remember his principles any better than he can distinguish between Sunnis and Shia, McCain stands revealed as a guy who can be easily rolled by anyone who sells him a plan for ‘victory,’ whether in Iraq or in Michigan. A McCain victory on Election Day will usher in a Palin presidency, with McCain serving as a transitional front man, an even weaker Bush to her Cheney.

“The ambitious Palin and the ruthless forces she represents know it, too. You can almost see them smacking their lips in anticipation, whether they’re wearing lipstick or not.”

GREAT UNMASKING

“The important political point is that McCain is controlling the conversation of the election,” Peter Wehner writes at www.commentarymagazine.com.

“He has stripped Obama of his mythological standing and has begun making a strong case that he and Palin, rather than Obama and Biden, are the authentic agents of change in this election. Obama is also in a dangerous place for a politician: constantly explaining himself and declaring, in an obvious state of frustration and confusion, ‘enough is enough.’ If this continues for the next seven weeks, McCain will probably win,” Mr. Wehner said.

Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director, made an interesting analogy this morning. He spoke about how for years people claimed the Miami Hurricanes were a dirty team and they won championship after championship. I actually don’t think either the McCain campaign or the Obama campaign are particularly dirty. And the effort to portray Republicans as the Party of the Mean (in contrast to Democrats, the Party of Issues) is a tired liberal talking point,” Mr. Wehner said.

“One other observation: The ferocious response Sarah Palin’s nomination has provoked among the political class is turning this election into one based on a cultural narrative rather than an economic debate. The dripping condescension that some of Palin’s critics are demonstrating toward her is boomeranging.

“She is becoming a heroine to many Republicans, who are as energized as I can remember in defense of Palin. And in attacking Palin, many Democrats and liberal commentators are mocking her faith, worldview and life experiences. In that sense, a great unmasking is taking place. A wide swath of liberals are revealing their arrogance, their cultural elitism, and even their ugliness. It may be therapeutic. And it may also cost them the election.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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