Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hell Hath No Fury: Watching the Obama campaign alienate half the electorate

The Democrats are in a very serious strategic bind: if they attack Palin, they anger women voters. If they don't attack her, they have to stand by helplessly and watch as her political star continues to rise. This is why the Palin pick will, in the end, prove to have been a political master stroke.

The Obama campaign strategy had been premised on completely different political fault lines. They had solved their woman problem when Obama defeated Hillary in the primary. But defeating Hillary was a manageable problem. Many women did not identify with Hillary. There was simply little danger that a significant percentage of women would ever see her--Washington insider that she was, as like them. That, and Hillary was a good girl and fell in line with the Obama campaign at their convention.

Besides, the Republicans wouldn't nominate a woman anyway. They thought.

Then came the Palin nomination. Now the Democrats are in a fix. The political realities have utterly changed, and the campaign strategy that they spent the past year formulating is completely obsolete. Still they appear loathe to discard it. If they don't, they're cooked.

The political world is totally different than it was just two weeks ago. There are things you could have said then, that you simply can't say now. Despite this, however, they just keep saying them. I have already said that I think Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark was not an intentional slam on Palin, but a gaffe--but it's looking now like it could be a very costly one. Just Palin's appeal to women could put the Republicans over the top in the fall, but it is mistakes like this that could ensure it.

If you combine Palin's appeal to women with the anger at Obama's campaign that is already palpable because of what are perceived as unfair attacks on her, there is already enough momentum to propel the Republicans into the White House once again.

Take a look at this:



I'm tellin' ya folks, this could do the Democrats in. You can talk all you want about Palin's lack of experience and qualifications, and for all I know that may be right. That still remains to be seen. But all of that will be irrelevant if, because of politically inept Democratic attack rhetoric against this woman, the tick off half the electorate.

If it keeps going the way it's going, she won't have to win her debate with Biden. There will be millions of women rooting for her. If she wins, they cheer Palin; if she loses, they boo Biden. If there is one person in this campaign I would hate to be right now, it's Biden. He is in a no-win situation.

I literally don't know how the Democrats escape from this pincher movement the Republicans have performed.

So here's the question: Assuming I'm right (and my analysis isn't too much different from that of Willie Brown, Mayor of San Francisco), what should the Democrats do? If you were advising the campaign, how would you tell them to proceed from here?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMtcW2Hq5iE

Martin Cothran said...

I changed it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me that I have an appointment at Lens Crafters tomorrow.

kycobb said...

Martin,

I would advise the Democrats to run against McCain. He's the republican presidential candidate who is promising more of the exact same policies Bush has been pursuing for the last eight years. In regards to Biden debating Palin, Dalia Lithwick on Slate gave him good advice-he needs to play it absolutely straight. No sighs, eyerolls, or patronizing-just stick to the facts on the issues.

Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee said...

You're not going to get any traction by offering Jimmy Carter's failed policies of the 1970s as a substitute for Bush's failed policies over the past eight years.

Obama does best when he rides the highly unspecific clouds of "change" and "hope". When he has to get specific, it brings him down where the rest of us live, where his halo can get mud splashed on it.

It reminds me of the Robert Howard "Conan" series -- the books, I mean. When Conan had to fight something supernatural, he always reasoned, well, it has to materialize into something to attack, and when it does, the sword ought to work just fine.

It's not like raising taxes, protectionism, and wringing our hands when enemies attack hasn't been tried before. As soon as those recommendations are trotted out, they'll go down just as they had been uttered by a mere mortal instead of our midlands messiah.

kycobb said...

Lee,

Obama wants to CUT taxes for the middle class, not raise them. All McCain has to offer is making Bush's tax cuts for the rich permanent. That is an issue that Obama should win.

Lee said...

Bear this in mind, and if you do, you'll be the first liberal in history to do so:

Taxes are optional for rich people. Always.

That's why we call them rich: they don't have to work for their money, their money works for them.

In fact, if you're rich enough, you don't need to generate an income. Even if you do, you don't need to generate a *taxable* income. E.g., throw your money into tax-free municipal bonds, a great tax shelter, and live off the interest. $10 million at 3% = $300,000, tax free. I could live on that.

Now, if you're rich, of course you try to do better than 3%. Regardless of the vehicle, however, whether stocks, junk bonds, real estate, business holdings, making more money usually involve incurring more risks. In a good year, it's not unusual to make 15% in the stock market, but then you also need to understand you can lose money as well.

And then you'll pay taxes on such investments. So your 15% just turned into about 10%. Still, that's more than double what you'd net on municipal bonds, but you incurred a lot more risk to get it.

Now, let's say the tax is raised to 50%. Now you just netted about 7.5%. Or to 70%, in which you just risked your bundle and netted 5%. Do you see how high tax rates might make a rich person less likely to invest his money in stocks?

Sure, you've hurt the rich guy, and if that's what turns you on, you have the pleasure of knowing he has to settle for his summer home in the Hamptons this year rather than buy that condo on the Riviera. But if he responds by putting more money into tax shelters, you've hurt the economy, *and* not raised any additional tax dollars to boot.

The evidence suggests that raises capital gains tax rates, beyond a certain percentage, are counter-productive from a tax revenue perspective, for this very reason. Charles Gibson posed this scenario to Obama, and Obama acknowledged it, but said he is still in favor of the tax increase because of "fairness."

In other words, it's a tax that raises no extra revenue and hurts the economy, but that's okay because it's "fair".

Do you see any cause for concern?

kycobb said...

Lee,

Thats the kind of argument republicans made in 1993-Clinton's tax increases were supposed to kill economic growth. Instead, we had a boom which created goob paying jobs for ordinary Americans. If your logic was accurate, we should have seen tremendous economic growth after the Bush tax cuts. Instead income has stagnated and job creation doesn't come close to matching the Clinton years. What GOP supply-side theory ignores is that there has to be demand, which requires growing the incomes of the middle class rather than the wealthy. Its not about "getting" the rich.

Lee said...

> Thats the kind of argument republicans made in 1993-Clinton's tax increases were supposed to kill economic growth. Instead, we had a boom which created goob paying jobs for ordinary Americans.

You mean the boom that followed Clinton's signing of the bill that cut capital gains rates in half, from over 30% to about 15%?

> If your logic was accurate, we should have seen tremendous economic growth after the Bush tax cuts.

I think we did pretty well, considering there was, if not a recession, certainly an economic slowdown in 2000 and for the next year or two.

> Instead income has stagnated and job creation doesn't come close to matching the Clinton years.

It did, but you didn't notice. Gotta watch those income statistics, in any event. They're tricky.

> What GOP supply-side theory ignores is that there has to be demand, which requires growing the incomes of the middle class rather than the wealthy. Its not about "getting" the rich.

If you want to help the middle class, you can't avoid helping the rich, too. In any event, supply comes first. Nobody wanted an iPod until Apple invented one.

Martin Cothran said...

Kycobb,

When did the "Clinton boom" start?