According to NBC and the New York Times, Democrats have put enormous pressure on Barack Obama to start hitting John McCain in a more personal manner and to get his momentum back in this race. Team Obama says that the “bed-wetting” will not knock them off their game plan, but according to Andrea Mitchell, that may change. Sources in the campaign tell her that they will start getting personal with John McCain and perhaps Sarah Palin, starting today:
Senator Barack Obama will intensify his assault against Senator John McCain, with new television advertisements and more forceful attacks by the candidate and surrogates beginning Friday morning, as he confronts an invigorated Republican presidential ticket and increasing nervousness in the Democratic ranks.
Mr. McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate and the resulting jolt of energy among Republican voters appear to have caught Mr. Obama and his advisers by surprise and added to concern among some Democrats that the Obama campaign was not pushing back hard enough against Republican attacks in a critical phase of the race.
Some Democrats said Mr. Obama needed to move to seize control of the campaign and to block Mr. McCain from snatching away from him the message that he was the best hope to bring change to Washington.
After back-to-back attack ads by Mr. McCain, including one that misleadingly accused Mr. Obama of endorsing sex education for kindergarten students, the Obama campaign is planning to sharpen attacks on Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin in an effort to counter Mr. McCain’s attempt to present himself as the candidate of change with his choice of Ms. Palin.
If nothing else, this should be entertaining. How much lower and personal can one go than to accuse opponents of being racists? Obama’s already trotted that out four times this summer, the last time just a week ago.
How does one go “personal” against John McCain in a way that makes any sense? My guess is that Team Obama will go back to the “temperament” meme, arguing that McCain is too much of a hothead to have his finger on the button. Unfortunately, Obama has his own “temperament” history, one which may negate this line of attack altogether or at least dilute it to the point of ineffectiveness. Further, McCain’s been on the national stage for decades and has never had a moment where people saw him as irrational, and even the targets of his anger say that it always had a tactical purpose.
Democrats have tried going “personal” against Palin already, with disastrous results. Every kind of smear has been aimed at her, from being nothing more than a pregnant pants-suit to a slut to a bad mother, and so on. Where has that taken the Obama campaign? On an unprecedented slide in polling that they now have less than eight weeks to stop, let alone reverse.
Obama started this campaign on a promise of New Politics. He betrayed that by breaking his pledge on public financing, and almost immediately afterwards began weeping about the racist Republicans and the John McCain campaign. The farther Obama walks away from his New Politics pledge, the weaker he becomes. Because without that, voters have no reason at all to vote for a man with no experience at all.
Obama’s listening to the same people who did such a great job opposing George Bush in the last two elections. He should have stuck with the Clintons.
Update: Jake Tapper ridicules this new theme, and says he’s heard it before, and before, and before:
But just so you know — this is by my count the 4th time Obama’s campaign has officially or unofficially made such a declaration that Obama will “take off the gloves” and fight back.
That’s a lot of pairs of gloves.
The Isotoner campaign, one might say.
How is this different? Tapper notes with a heavy dollop of sarcasm that the Obama campaign will shift to a new, unveiled attack on McCain as … being the same as George Bush.