The idiotic GOP elitism meme and the Democrat silly elite-shyness

September 15, 2008

There is one pattern that somewhat disturbs me in the Democrats/Obama Campaign communication: the fact that, instead of calling GOP demagogy for what it is and explaining to voters why it is demagogy, they indirectly validate that demagogy by avoiding a tough fight on some subjects.

A very speaking example is the “elitism” meme that the GOP uses and overuses again and again. When Republicans say Obama is an elitist, what he and his surrogates answer is that he’s the child of a single mother that, at a time lived on food-stamps as she completed her education, that episode of his biography being supposed to invalidate the elitism-accusation.

To me, that seems a poor response. The simple fact that Obama has had a top notch Harvard Law School education definitely qualifies him as a member of a certain elite, and there’s nothing he can do against that. Yet, why should that be a negative in his profile? EVERYBODY would be proud to have kids that succeeded in their studies the way Barack did! So instead of shying away from that ill-minded accusation of elitism, Obama should use it as an advantage, in a clever way of course, not in an arrogant fashion.

The Democrats need to state the obvious to voters: POTUS is a function where you deal with the highest, head-aching complexity, especially in the world we’re living in today. Therefore, it is paramount that candidates who make a bid for that high office be people who are intellectually trained to have a fair grasp of that complexity.
John McCain and, to a larger extent, Sarah Palin use a rhetoric of oversimplification on issues, notably national-security (By the way, I think it is due to both demagogy and cluelessness! McCain has made a lot of gaffes talking about national security, unfortunately, neither the press nor the Democrats have cared to scrutinize them properly).

Informed people obviously know how bogus their logic is, but it is not the case of misinformed average voters. The responsible way to deal with that for Obama and the Democrats is to develop a pedagogic yet non-condescending message to Americans, explaining them how scared they should be about the McCain/Palin world views.
The debate is not on elitism, it’s on competence.


Democrats, fight the Palinomania!

September 12, 2008

It is undeniable that the GOP presidential ticket is enjoying an impressive shift of momentum after the RNC and in all likeliness, that shift is mostly, if not exclusively due to McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. This very point, actually, might be re-assuring for the Obama Campaign as it would give a clear target to regain momentum: kill that rampant “Palinomania”. Yet that is easier said than done and that’s probably why the Obama Campaign appears to be so awkward currently.

Actually, there is not one Palin-effect but two of them, of quite different nature. The first one is to perform reconciliation between McCain and the GOP Conservative base: polls reveal that people registered as republicans have gotten tremendously more enthusiastic after the RNC. But what hurts Obama the most is the second one: Palin’s appeal to independent white women. As far as this demographics formerly leaned heavily towards Obama, it is out of the question that their brutal switching to McCain/Palin has any ideological or policies basis. Palin actually pulls the ticket to the right so in political terms she should logically be repulsive to independents ; Mrs Palin’s appeal is very obviously an identification phenomenon.

Yet, I wouldn’t attribute it to “identity politics” – I might be wrong, though, and then it would mean Obama is toast… But I don’t think any republican woman on McCain’s ticket would have carried the same effect. Palin attracts those voters because she’s very good at posing as a mainstream middle-class American woman (which she hardly is!) and also because, well… she’s a Babe. But there’s a lot to worry from the McCain camp because Mrs. Palin has in her, ingrained, the seeds of repulsiveness with the very demographics she has conquered: 1) She’s incredibly vacuous and unqualified for the job, 2) her political positions are basically extremist right-wing and 3) her ethics is suspect.

These are the angles where the democrats should attack consistently. They need to figure out how to emphasize Palin’s incompetence without sounding sexist, they need to point out that Palin is anything but a moderate – especially as far as women issues are concerned.

The point about ethics, though, should perhaps be kept aside for the time being. It is very possible that the “Troopergate” investigation findings lead to Palin’s indictment, but even if it doesn’t, it will do some damage, the role of the democrats will be to make sure that the damage is amplified enough to resonate on voting day.

Currently Obama and the Democrats are sort of tip-toeing regarding the Palin-effect. Some even dismiss it on the basis that McCain is the target, not Palin. I beg to differ, they are overthinking the case. If they wait for the media to focus the election coverage on issues, they are just naïve. That won’t happen. Palinomania won’t vanish by itself; it takes strong actions to counter. The media and the people want more Palin, so, Democrats, give it to them, but in a way that allows you to regain momentum.