Time to fight back



Bryan Kerns

It’s time to fight back. If Barack Obama wants to win the presidency, he needs to start fighting back.

Enough with all of this lofty rhetoric about hope and change. By now, everyone should realize that Obama is a politician like the rest of them. He may have some new ideas about policy, and he may dress it up in his exquisitely crafted elocutions at his events and rallies, which are stage-managed as well as musicals in Vasey Theatre, but in reality, Obama is running for president, and he needs to start acting like it.

Let’s put first things first and recognize that neither candidate in this election is going to fundamentally change Washington during his campaign. Candidates govern differently than they campaign. Clearly, candidates who lose never see the side of the desk that matters when it comes to governing.

There’s one thing Obama needs to do if he wants to be the one with his right hand in the air in Washington on Jan. 20, 2009.

He needs to stop running against Sarah Palin. Until he does that, she will continue to be the story. She is a non-factor in this race – or at least should be. Her selection was the best political decision John McCain could have made, and eventually, this will come to be a fact that the voting public accepts.

It was a purely political decision, and the judgment McCain showed is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s notoriously well-documented impulsivity.

That, however, is where the benefit Palin provides ceases to exist. The decision was cynical at best and casts a horrible light on McCain to everyone but a segment of the narrow Republican base that Bush and Karl Rove constructed in 2004.

Recognize that name, Rove? Thought he was gone? Nope! Guess again! His former top aide, Steve Schmidt, is now the puppeteer of the McCain marionette. That’s what it seems the senior senator from Arizona has become – a mere marionette in this nasty game of politics.

The McCain of 2000 is only a fleeting memory of better, more civil days. His campaign in South Carolina was buried by false accusations that he fathered a non-white child out of wedlock. Rove and the Bush campaign denied involvement, but nonetheless, the charges stuck, and McCain was dispatched from the race soon thereafter.

So, Obama is running against a new McCain, someone who hired a disciple of Rove and is now jumping into the ugliest of ugly campaigns.

Obama needs to counteract that ugliness with some good old-fashioned negative campaigning of his own. He needs to run McCain’s name through the mud a little bit. However, he needs to stick to the truth – something McCain’s recent advertising seems not to be doing. If Obama can fight to a draw with McCain on the negative campaigning, then he stands a chance of recapturing his original advantage.

That original advantage is the fact that this seems to be a “change” election – whether or not either candidate can deliver real change. Part of what gave Obama such a large head start was his ability to give a phenomenal speech. He needs to start doing more of that as well. Forget the open stage and the rolled-up sleeves and the hand microphone.

That’s McCain’s schtick – Obama is not a stump speech type of guy, and he needs to realize that. He’s a Harvard-trained attorney who is most likely comfortable in formal situations.

Call him effete, call him elitist, but he connects with voters best when he’s reading off a teleprompter and giving a classic formal address.

If that means he gets pegged as unable to speak off-the-cuff, so be it because there’s only a narrow segment of the voting public that cares about something like that, and they’re not going to vote for Obama anyway for any number of reasons.

It’s time for Obama to start fighting back, and he needs to do it on his terms. If he really wants to win, he needs to start acting like it.


Bryan Kerns is a sophomore honors and humanities major from Drexel Hill, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].