We’re in this position because our presumptuous nominee (I propose that we’re okay saying it, now that he’s no longer presumptive) has been revealed as an empty suit, and a terrible candidate, to boot. He’s a one-trick (unity) pony, whose trick has been trotted out once too often. His sole and only schtick – standing at a podium in front of huge crowds and offering himself as their mirror – is already so yesterday that nobody can even work up much energy praising it anymore. Witness the speeches at this convention. All anybody could say on his behalf is that he isn’t John McCain.
Problem is, John McCain cannot be made to serve as an objet d’haine. His brand is set, and it doesn’t matter how many gaffes he makes, most people simply will not loathe him. Not only that, it’s political folly to believe that Bush can be hung around his neck. All one need do is look at the polls – at Bush’s ratings, and at McCain’s – to see that that dog won’t hunt. I don’t care if he has voted with W 95 percent of the time. Most Americans believe he’s the alternative, not the successor, to the Boy King.
Obama could count on CDS in the media and the shrillosphere to keep pumping adrenaline into his flagging effort during the primaries – and even there, it faded fast at the finish. But there’s no comparable animus to tap re McCain – as was evident over the past three nights. “More of the same” isn’t exactly a rallying cry to go after the hated opposition.
Hillary’s speech was remarkable, as was her candidacy, as is she. The speech was, as has been universally acknowledged, a case study in passion, maturity and smarts. Obama has style, Hillary has class. But she wasn’t able, any more than any of Obama’s actual acolytes... any more than the game but unimaginative Joe Biden... any more than the ever-fabulous Bill... to summon up a serious argument for his candidacy. You can’t make a silk purse out of the air pockets in a sow’s ear.
You can’t talk about his ideas – because he has none to speak of. You can’t talk about his record or experience – ditto. You can’t talk about his character or leadership – same thing. All you can say is, “He’s a Democrat.” And say it. And say it.
So, here we are. The Obama campaign will try to make him a Democrat, and the McCain campaign will try to make him a neophyte. I’ll put my money on the latter.