Politico: Dem rivals set to go nuclear on Obama

The big announcement’s tomorrow. Is the messiah ready for his Passion?

In interviews, strategists in both parties pointed to four big vulnerabilities: Obama’s inexperience, the thinness of his policy record, his frank liberalism in a time when the party needs centrist voters, and the wealth of targets that are provided by the personal recollections in his first book, from past drug use to conversations that cannot be documented.

Beginning with his announcement for president on Saturday, the long knives will be out for Obama from three directions: Reporters, perpetuating the boom and bust cycle of a ravenous media culture, will try to make up for the fawning coverage of the past. Democratic rivals see him as the easiest mark among the major contenders, and want to get him out of the way. And some top Republicans think the party would have a better chance with Sen. Hillary Clinton as the nominee, since she is a known quantity while Obama can try to define himself as anything he wants.

Officials at the top of both parties calculate that Obama has risen too fast to sustain his popularity in the cauldron of a presidential campaign. Democrats talk of “vapid platitudes” that could produce a “soufflé effect” – an implosion as journalists and activists begin probing for substance behind Obama’s appealing promise of “a different kind of politics” and “a new kind of politics.”…

Says another top Democrat: “Once the shooting war starts, he’s not going to be able to get away with these grand pronouncements.”

None of the four “big” vulnerabilities is especially big. Clinton was inexperienced and had no foreign policy credentials when he was elected. The drug use actually works in Obama’s favor by playing up his biggest advantage, i.e., the fact that people can relate to him, unlike unctuous multimillionaire trial lawyer Lionel Hutz and the glacier you and I know as Hillary. His liberalism is problematic, but we’re not exactly in a golden age for conservatives; if the war sours, people might be ready for a deep blue candidate. If, that is, they vote according to his policies at all: I saw an article two days ago (which naturally I can’t find now) about how most voters vote according to the candidate’s visceral appeal, not his or her platform. Good news for Barry O, not so good for Mrs. Bubba.

You know who’d make this race reallllly interesting?


Exit question: Just how low will GOP turnout be come November 2008?