February 15, 2008

Obama v. Clinton: Momentum is Bulls*#@t

Between the imperatives of work and family and the super fast pace of developments on the campaign trail, blogging has been an exhausting draw for my time. But with a free moment handy, I've got some thoughts and predictions.

The contests ahead: Wisconsin, Hawaii.
Presumably, Hawaii is a slam dunk being Obama's boyhood stomping grounds, though I hear the state is pretty much a political machine dominated state. The Clinton strategy has been built to a degree around piggybacking on the backs of pre-existing political networks favorable to them. Its why they have gotten their clocks cleaned in caucus states, no organization on the ground. But machine politics provides a good environment for HRC's campaign, so its possible she might do better than expected, but I predict Obama wins it. As for Wisconsin, I'm calling it for Clinton. The polls have Obama ahead, but the demographics perhaps favor HRC, but then again, Obama has already won a state just like it (Missouri) demographically. But being a northern state, I think the dynamic is different. I don't think momentum counts for anything in this campaign. The talking heads on cable say that word like its going out of style, but if nobody has figured out that people are taking a lot of time with this and getting right down to the wire to make their decisions, they are not paying attention yet.

Texas & Ohio - I predict Obama loses both. He may close the gap, but I don't think he gets all the way there because momentum is bullshit. Best case scenario, he splits them with her. Again, the demographics seems to favor her and her back is to the wall. Underestimating her would be a mistake, especially since they have made it clear that they will do whatever is necessary to win it at the convention up to and including any strategy necessary to secure superdelegate votes. Furthermore, his tentative frontrunner status I predict means he will begin to face more withering fire from the so far fawning media. That honeymoon is going to end at some point soon. He's set for an old fashioned showdown with Clinton in Texas with a Feb. 21st debate and he had better be loaded for bear. The "where's the beef critique" has dogged Obama throughout the campaign. I predict he will be pressed hard to demonstrate policy chops in that debate and he better eat his Wheaties. His prep team needs to make sure he is ready. I suggest a few screenings of the Great Debaters to get up for it. He does not have to be, nor should he try to be a policy wonk. Thats Bill and Hillary. What I want to hear from him, and what I think he needs to do is to capably lay out his philosophic and conceptual approach to the big issues and be able to defend them against the primary counter arguments. If he can do that and demonstrate that his understanding of issues is not merely superficial, I believe he will do fine. In all other respects, he needs to clean her clock in that debate. A performance on Feb. 21 like his performance at the last debate will not close the deal. Texas and Ohio are Obama's opportunity to put his eye of the tiger on display. Its killer instinct time baby. The rhetoric and oratory has been great. Now, he's got to bring it.

I predict a close loss in Wisconsin coupled with losses in Texas and Ohio will blunt Obama's momentum and prevent him from drawing out a lead, and we will witness the political equivalent of Ragnarök and Armageddon at the convention.