Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bon voyage, Obama!

Itinerary of Obama's excellent adventure:
Mr. Obama . . . will visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. On a separate trip, he is also planning to visit American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but aides declined to disclose those details for security reasons. . . .
"This trip will be an important opportunity for me to assess the situation in countries that are critical to American national security," Mr. Obama said in a statement, "and to consult with some of our closest friends and allies about the common challenges we face."
So this is definite: In July, Obama will hobnob with foreigners in five countries. Visiting U.S. troops overseas? Hey, that's still just in the "planning" stage.

Can't you just see the RNC ad in swing states? Any halfway competent consultant could storyboard this on a cocktail napkin -- Photoshop images of Obama and Big Ben, Obama and the Eiffel Tower, a little zigzaggy animation of Obama's route across Europe. A narrator with a posh accent doing kind of a "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" riff, the general idea being to portray Obama as a snob who'd rather hang out with a bunch of snooty European elitists than to mingle amongst ordinary Americans.

It's basically a rerun of the "windsurfing John Kerry" meme. And to highlight the contrast, while Obama's on the grand tour of Europe, the Republicans will send McCain out in shirt sleeves to visit steel mills in Pittsburgh, corn farmers in Iowa, auto workers in Michigan. A no-brainer for the "right-wing noise machine," you see? I'm sure Republicans are already icing the champagne for their "Obama Bon Voyage" fundraising parties.

UPDATE: Look at Rasmussen's Electoral College update and see if you think Obama's sitting in such fine position that he can afford to take a week off the campaign trail to go gallavanting across the globe. True, there are three red states (14 EVs) in the "toss-up" category, and three red states (32 EVs) in the "leans Democrat" column, but if McCain can just win over those six states, and hold everything in the "safe/likely/leans GOP" columns, he wins. In a 127-day campaign fought mainly over six states, then, McCain's prospects are by no means so dismal that Obama can laugh it off and go sip champagne in London, Paris and Bonn.

UPDATE II: Open Left's Paul Rosenberg does a bit of highbrow conceptualizing to express his nagging concerns. He cites Theda Skocpol's (equally highbrow) analysis:
Although Obama seems to be "up" in current national polls, McCain is actually doing a much better job of shaping the agenda to his advantage. . . . Abetted by the media's proclivity for dramatic gestures and horse race analysis, the McCain camp has done what it needs to portray their man as a fighting underdog focused on real-world issues.
Rosenburg's take:
Skopcol is saying, in effect, is that Obama is repeating his post-Iowa mistake of getting too ethereal.
I don't know about "ethereal," but he sure seems pretty damned cocky. What neither of these two liberal highbrows seem to get is that Obama's problem may be much simpler than their explanations suggest. At a time when Obama has every generic political advantage, he might be able to bury McCain now by turning on the afterburners in terms of ordinary campaigning.

Instead, his team has become overconfident -- imagining that winning on Nov. 4 will be like organizing for the Iowa caucus -- and thus allowed itself to be distracted by grandiose schemes: "We'll campaign in Texas, Wyoming, and Alaska! We'll showcase Obama's international appeal!"

If Obama takes that European trip, the GOP will skewer him for it. He'll take a huge hit in the polls, and be trailing bad enough by mid-August you'll start hearing talk about a "shake-up" at Obama HQ.

Worse still, now that the idiots at Obama HQ have issued a statement declaring their plans and itinerary for Europe, they can't cancel it (or even scale it back) without handing the Republicans a P.R. coup. Imagine the headline: "Obama cancels Europe trip; slide in polls worries Democrats." So much for the "inevitable frontrunner" meme, huh?

Obama's handlers have painted themselves into a corner, and if the McCain campaign brain-trust is reasonably competent (a mighty big "if"), this Europe trip is going to become an updated version of the Dukakis tank ride.

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