Super Bowl Redux
Posted on July 24, 2008
Barack Obama is on a roll. His speech in Berlin -- before a couple hundred thousand Germans -- has been largely praised by his friends in the media (I thought it was kind of flat and pretty presumptuous, but what do I know?). He successfully landed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Jordan without any serious injury, and the US military provided some nice pictures to the networks.
John McCain, on the other hand, is struggling. His most memorable picture is with George Bush the First, in a golf cart, nonetheless. They looked like two guys just finishing up their gin game at the country club. Just about any story about the McCain campaign is talking about how screwed up it is. People are complaining about the lack of message, the lack of organization, the lack of good pictures, etc. The only exception was the funny commercial they put out about the blatantly obvious media bias for Obama.
Things don’t look better for McCain on the big stage. President Bush can’t do anything to change the negative perceptions that most Americans have of him and his administration. The economy is struggling. More banks seem to failing, more people seem to be declaring personal bankruptcy, prices seem to be getting much higher for basic commodities. The Republican brand isn’t improving and probably won’t for a while, despite the fact that Congressional Republicans are making some progress on the issue of gas prices.
Yep, it is all very, very bad for John McCain.
Except for one thing. Obama is just barely winning, according to the latest polls. According to a Fox poll, the game is tied. And according to a story by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, McCain is gaining in key battleground states like Minnesota and Colorado.
How can McCain be gaining when he has done nothing right? And how can Obama be losing steam when he seems to be doing everything right?
Perhaps St. Barack the Great is not as saintly nor as great as the pundits would have him. Sure, he has raised a lot of money, but so did Phil Gram in 1996, and look what happened to him.
Some races are won because of the technical features of the campaign. The Gore-Bush race is one example, where Bush’s superior turn-out efforts barely eked out a victory. Some are just waves started by the force of personality. The Carter-Reagan is a good example of that kind of campaign.
The race is confusing because Obama has both the electric personality and the smooth campaign. McCain is a wooden public speaker and his campaign has been in transition from the first day he announced he was running again.
And yet, McCain is still in the game.
This kind of reminds me of the last Super Bowl. The Patriots were unbeaten and seemingly unbeatable. The Giants were unorthodox, often beaten and always bruised. The media had already given the Lombardi Trophy to the Pats, figuratively if not literally.
But they played the game anyway, and we knew who won.
Same thing could happen here. McCain has no chance of winning, except for the fact that hewill probably win, infuriating the left and disappointing a couple hundred thousand Germans who today pulled themselves out of their favorite Biergartens in time to hear Obama give a flat yet seemingly popular speech.