Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tactics Without Strategy - Obama Throws Gasoline on His Own Funeral Pyre

By Ned Barnett (c) 2008

As I write this, Barack Obama has just responded to his pastor, Reverend Wright, over Wright's incendiary comments made Monday at the National Press Club. Previously, I've have suggested that Senator Obama (and his wife, Michelle) are so in-control that everything they say reflects an underlying strategy. For example:

  • When Michelle said that she'd never before been proud of America, and when she told a major magazine reporter that America was a mean country, she was fulfilling a carefully-wrought strategy - one that worked! (see this blog's archive - February 2008)
  • When Senator Obama - speaking of his two daughters and their potential future out-of-wedlock pregnancies - advocated on-demand "convenience" abortions, even for minors; and when in the same statement he identified babies as a "punishment," he was fulfilling another carefully-wrought strategy, another one that worked! (See this blog for "No Foolin ...")

However, in this case, I think the still-leading Democratic candidate is reacting without a strategy, and this "tactics-without-strategy" approach is a disaster waiting to happen.

If nothing else, his response suggests that Senator Obama is far better in a controlled situation than in a spontaneous crisis - it is as if he is validating Senator Clinton's often-mocked "3 a.m. phone call" strategy by demonstrating that Senator Obama is not quick on his feet.

A quick review is in order.

On Saturday night, Reverend Wright gave a masterfully egotistical performance before the Detroit NAACP - in some ways, Wright's NAACP presentation was even more incendiary than his Monday National Press Club performance. Yet Senator Obama's reaction to this talk - which seemed to validate the views of racial segregationists (among many other time-bombs) was notable - was missing in action.

On Monday morning, Reverend Wright launched his widely-viewed press conference; seven hours later, Senator Obama gave a "tarmac talk" about Wright's talk that was brief, tepid and lacking in emotion. He merely said that he didn't agree with Wright, and that Wright's views didn't match Obama's own views.

However, when overnight poll numbers showed that Wright's "magical mystery tour" - as Bill O'Reilly derisively called it - Senator Obama staged an angry-response press conference that intended to distance himself from Reverend Wright. This press conference came more than 24 hours after Wright's press conference, and more than 18 hours after Obama's initial, tepid and dismissive response - one that didn't "play" with the public.

This doesn't speak well for the Senator's ability to respond and react quickly to a breaking crisis, something that Presidents are expected to do.

It goes further - not only did Senator Obama wait more than a day longer than needed before he responded, he left the door wide open to his opponents, those who want to keep the pot boiling. Senator Obama said, in essence, "this isn't the man I knew 20 years ago." However, Wright's own record shows that he'd been preaching "black liberation Christianity" for more than 30 years. By the time Obama first met Wright, the pastor's views had been established and his reputation as a bold conspiracy-theory critic of the American status quo had already grown well beyond Trinity Church.

You can be sure that reporters, bloggers and "opposition research" teams for his two opponents are already combing the archives, looking for proof that Reverend Wright today is EXACTLY the same man Senator Obama met 20 years ago. Once they find this proof, the whole question of Senator Obama's judgment will come back into play - a judgment that's been challenged by a number of decisions and associations with others.

  • Twenty years ago, he couldn't "read" the views of a well-know black liberation theologian - and it took 20 years and a series of public humiliations before Obama did see through to the core of Wright's own core.
  • Thirteen years ago, he couldn't understand that Bill Ayers was an unrepentant home-grown terrorist who was proud of his bombings when he held his first political fund-raiser in Ayers' home.
  • Six years ago, in the aftermath of Ayers' ill-timed September 11, 2001 interview in which he said he said: "I just wished we could have done more" Senator Obama didn't see a problem in continuing to give "tag-team" public lectures and serving on foundation boards with Ayers.
  • Three years ago, Obama bought a house at well under market value through the good offices of indicted political fund-raiser and real estate developer Tony Resnick, long after Resnick's shady background and tactics had become widely known in Chicago - including among Chicago's media.
  • Earlier this year, Senator Obama still didn't understand the implications of his friendship with Ayers when he let stand a spokesman's claim that Ayers and Obama remained friendly.
The bottom line - Senator Obama spoke today without a strategy - he waited too long to say too little, but in his spontaneity, he left the door open for his critics to continue criticizing Obama's judgment about his friends and associates. When this particular 3 a.m. crisis call came in, Senator Obama hit the snooze button and rolled over for another 40 winks.