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Obama's Real Problem

Sunday, 20 April 2008 10:50 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As the bitter Democratic primary caboose careens into its latest stop in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, has anyone noticed what has been happening in this amazing race?

The real story is that ever since Sen. Barack Obama’s come-from-behind win in Iowa last January, Democrats across the country have been trying to slam the brakes on his inevitability as the nominee.

And even though the math says Obama has won the nomination, a huge swath of the party does not want to accept this fact.

For most of the campaign, the press spin about Obama has been warm and fuzzy. Sen. Hillary Clinton has been knifed by the liberal media with a thousand little cuts, each questioning her person and candidacy.

The press spin is that Hillary’s determination to stay in the race is now due to sour grapes — a solely personal motivation on her part as she has been blindsided by the neophyte Illinois senator. But Hillary’s fervid electoral support is much more than a function of any personal motive. Indeed, Obama has problems of his own. Big ones.

Typically, primaries are over almost before they begin. One clear front-runner emerges and the party, the activists, and donors rally around their candidate. That did not happen this time because of Obama’s unique set of problems.

Consider that the Democrats are set to back a nominee who has not won any of the “big” blue states, with the exception of his home state of Illinois. California, Texas, Ohio, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts . . . and probably Pennsylvania will join Hillary’s list as well.

Obama has consistently done poorly with key constituencies of the Democratic Party: union members, Hispanics, wage earners making less than $50,000 a year, and older females. They don’t want Obama as their nominee and they stubbornly won’t fall in line.

In primary after primary these core groups have voted against Obama. Even in his home state, Hispanic voters backed him with a slim majority of 52 percent.

These groups vote against Obama despite the math that says he has the nomination.

They vote against him though he is outspending Hillary by 3 to 1 in states like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

They vote against Obama even though the media talking heads seem to overwhelmingly favor him.

Obama has cobbled together an unusual recipe of success mixing the African-American voting bloc with the Moveon.org liberals of his party. These two groups, substantial as they are, normally would not have given him the nomination.

His new cookie mix has worked because he has outspent and outmaneuvered his rival in caucus states. Caucuses are notoriously open for manipulation by small, well-organized groups.

As he sprints to June and the end of the primaries, however, Obama is being crippled. His woes have nothing to do with the fact he is black or even inexperienced. They have everything to do with how Obama has identified himself.

He is an unrepentant liberal.

Many Democrats know that when they nominate an unrepentant liberal like George McGovern, Michael Dukakis or John Kerry they lose. Always.

Obama has claimed a real desire to reach out to Republicans and the other side. He likes to tell how Republicans “whisper” to him they are voting for him.

Nice story, but where's the beef?

Obama has not reached out. Ironically, Hillary has been labeled as the polarizing one. But the truth is, she has a record in the Senate of reaching out across the aisle. Ditto Bill Clinton. Just last year Bill Clinton was interviewed by me — despite Newsmax’s long history of criticizing him.

Obama, on the other hand, has shown no signs of crossing the bridge. He has yet to offer voters a Sister Souljah moment where he distances himself from the far left he made his bed with to get the nomination.

He had the opportunity during the Rev. Jeremiah Wright brouhaha, but chose to continue embracing his former pastor though he distanced himself from his fiery words.

Yes, some of the criticism of Obama has been unfair, including outright smears. He is not a “secret Muslim,” and he did not avoid putting his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance (the Pledge had finished when the picture was taken). I have looked into the Tony Rezko matter, and Obama is as clean as a whistle.

There is much about Obama I like. He is intelligent. His plan to invest in the country’s crumbling infrastructure and a new effort to back alternative energy are laudable. But most of his solutions are old, tired liberal ones that have proven failure rates, such as higher taxes, negotiating with rogue states, and cutting key defense sectors like missile defense.

Usually, once a candidate nabs the nomination he must run to the middle. And fast. By the time Obama gets the actual nomination in August, however, he will have little time to prove himself to middle voters. He should be doing that now . . . though he seems to have little interest in doing so.

Even The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, usually sycophantic toward Obama, warned Sunday of his lackadaisical approach to critics: “Obama has to prove to Americans that, despite his exotic background and multicultural looks, he shares or at least respects their values and understands why they would be upset about his associations with the Rev. Wright and an ex-Weatherman.”

Translated from Timesspeak: Obama has to show Americans he is not a Lexus liberal. Even Dowd knows an unrepentant liberal can’t win Ohio come November.

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As the bitter Democratic primary caboose careens into its latest stop in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, has anyone noticed what has been happening in this amazing race?The real story is that ever since Sen. Barack Obama’s come-from-behind win in Iowa last January, Democrats...
Sunday, 20 April 2008 10:50 PM
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