Thursday, October 30, 2008

Your skeleton key to the election

The blogs and even the McCain campaign are making a great deal currently of the Los Angeles Times' suppression of the Khalidi video. Valid conclusions about the LA Times are certainly being drawn, but a valid conclusion about the LA Times does not translate exactly into one about Obama. The feeling on the right, simply put, is that Obama is disguising who he really is and that the press is helping him do it. Is Obama disguising who he really is? Not exactly. I would say that he tends to proclaim his identity in vague or symbolic ways, connecting with like-minded voters, while making periodic statements that confuse potentially unsympathetic voters. One one hand, many have remarked on the "socialist realism" of his campaign posters. On the other, marriage should be between a man and a woman declared one of the few senators who declined to outlaw partial-birth abortion.

Consider Obama’s rhetoric about change, for instance. Yes, it is vague, but how does one strike out in a new direction on the heels of a conservative administration? By veering sharply to the left. Consider also Obama’s frequent assertion that McCain is no different from Bush. Yes it capitalizes on Bush’s low approval ratings, but it also implies something: From a centrist point of view, McCain stands out from Bush. From a point on the political spectrum somewhere between Nancy Pelosi and Bill Ayers, McCain and Bush don’t appear to be that different. Obama’s true political identity is clear for anyone who makes the effort to see it, especially if Obama also wants it be seen—that has been his strength.

The press not only seeks to cover Obama favorably, they have grasped his campaign strategy and they have worked to augment and reinforce it. Obama appeals to a certain restlessness and desire for novelty. McCain’s best hope lies in the deployment of effective counter-symbols and counter-gestures. The press has instinctively sought to dismantle and undermine McCain’s attempts to deploy counter-themes, such as his own maverick image, and counter-figures, such as Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.

The weakness of Obama’s strategy of hiding his leftism in plain view is that it is eventually bound to be seen through. Time and familiarity can overcome shallow failures of insight, so time is on McCain’s side. The political center of gravity in America is towards the center. Eventually Americans will realize that they won’t get the sort of policies they favor from a figure of the far-left. There is not much time remaining, of course. This is a close election—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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