Big O losing big mo?
By Lisa Fabrizio
Poor Barack Obama. In the space of a few short weeks, he has gone from liberal savior with a 15 point lead over John McCain, to a mere mortal in a dead heat in the polls. He has alienated some of his base by flip-flopping on issues like the FISA vote, partial-birth abortion and most importantly, stating that he will continue to "refine" his Iraq War policy.
In addition to his change of position on issues, he's been slapped down by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his plans to conduct a photo-op at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, had his call for bilingualism rejected by 83% of voters polled and been vocally castrated by his predecessor as the so-called voice of American blacks.
Even worse for him, a recent CNN poll showed that support for Obama among Democrats has dropped five points in the last month. And the number of Clinton backers who say they will not vote for Obama has risen to nearly one third over the same period; so much for the healing of old wounds and repairing party unity.
How could this have happened in such a short time? What went wrong? The problem for Obama is that of any far left candidate; he must run to the center during the general election season in order to attract blue collar Democrats and Independents. Whether or not the candidate is actually sincere during this period is often of no consequence; everyone expects it as a part of the electoral process.
What's different this time is Obama's portrayal by the media as a transcendent figure, one who is expected to float high above the dirty business of common politics. The first warning signal should have been his decision to forgo public campaign financing after solemnly pledging that he wouldn't. His explanation that "the system is broken" sounded suspiciously like an old McCain campaign slogan.
To those for whom Obama is an almost religious icon, the thought of him soiling himself by compromising his stances and breaking his promises, is a letdown of almost Biblical proportions. But such are the consequences when a candidacy is based on a cult of personality rather than practical experience or a concrete platform of ideas.
It is indicative of the liberal mood of late, that they can sense that some of Obama's ‘power' has gone out of him. A case in point is the Democratic response to the cover of a recent New Yorker magazine, where his wife is portrayed as a black power chick with a machine gun while he is attired in Middle Eastern garb. The cartoon--set in the Oval Office and intended to ridicule far-right "distortions"--also features a portrait of Osama bin Laden on the wall and an American flag burning in the fireplace.
A few short months ago, the left would have applauded such a grand exposé of the fear and loathing tactics of the knuckle-dragging opposition, but times have changed. And indeed, had liberals not gone off the deep end over this, the vast majority of Americans who never read the New Yorker would never have seen it. But now the fear is that the Obama phenomenon is not big enough to overtake the ignorance of the great unwashed in Middle America who might take the images in the cartoon to heart. Andrea Mitchell summed this up by haughtily suggesting that the cover "is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended." That liberals can dish it out but can't take it--even from their own--is nothing new. What is new is the way in which their base is in a great sate of unease and grumbling, even though they have such a godlike figure as their head.
So can Obama get his mojo back? Is he a reliable liberal or not? Should his backers still believe in him? Oddly, the most sensible answer comes from his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright who told us that, "He does what politicians do…He goes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician." If liberals can only accept that image of Obama they might yet salvage the election; if not, their Denver convention might just be the site of a mile-high fall from grace.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!