Besides, the real softness of the campaign is not that Obama is a wimp. It’s that he has never explained how this new politics would actually produce bread-and-butter benefits to people in places like Youngstown and Altoona.While Iraq will be a problem for John McCain the economy is a real problem as Mark Silva explains:
If he can’t explain that, he’s going to lose at some point anyway.
As if the economy weren't already stepping up as a driving force in the 2008 presidential race, the Labor Department announced this morning that 63,000 jobs were lost in February.As Brooks points out Obama is being pressured to jump into the gutter with Clinton.
This marks the biggest slide since March 2003, and cements a two-month reversal in an economy that had added employment each month for more than four years.
It's another telling measure of the "slowdown'' in the economy that President Bush has described -- or perhaps the "recession'' that many economists say is already under way.
And the new February jobs-report adds another element to the campaign for the candidates hoping to succeed Bush in January.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, fresh from a strong primary victory in the economically challenged once-great industrial state of Ohio, is portraying herself as the candidate best prepared to serve as a steward of the economy. Sen. Barack Obama maintains that his ideas for innovation will help spur the economy. The Republican who will face one of them in November, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, is promoting a continuation of the Bush tax cuts as key to spurring the economy.
The consultants, needless to say, gravitate toward the tactical interpretation. And once again the cry has gone up for Obama to get tough. This advice gets wrapped in metaphors. Obama has to start “throwing punches” or “taking the gloves off.”If Obama wants to win the nomination and the general election he should all but ignore Hillary Clinton. He needs to start talking about specific economic proposals - progressive ones. He needs to point out the John McCain's only economic proposals consist of extending the Bush tax cuts and borrowing money forever to stay in Iraq. Brooks is right - if he jumps into the gutter with Hillary Clinton he will lose.
Beneath the euphemisms, what the advice really means is that Obama has to start accusing Clinton of things.
These attacks are supposed to show that Obama can’t be pushed around. But, of course, what it really suggests is that Obama’s big theory is bankrupt. You can’t really win with the new style of politics. Sooner or later, you have to play by the conventional rules.
As the trench warfare stretches on through the spring, the excitement of Obama-mania will seem like a distant, childish mirage. People will wonder if Obama ever believed any of that stuff himself. And even if he goes on to win the nomination, he won’t represent anything new. He’ll just be a one-term senator running for president.
In short, a candidate should never betray the core theory of his campaign, or head down a road that leads to that betrayal. Barack Obama doesn’t have an impressive record of experience or a unique policy profile. New politics is all he’s got. He loses that, and he loses everything. Every day that he looks conventional is a bad day for him.