Why Obama Wonby Ronald Pecorry Editor Satire and Comment
Joy Worldwide as Great Nation Starts New Chapter
(Atlanta-Nov 4 2008) Almost a year ago during the Republican primaries, I wrote that John McCain would win the 2008 presidential election. At that time he had been written off as a candidate and his political obituary had been published. While he did pull off a huge comeback and win the primary he failed to win the national election. I'm proud to have voted for Obama and below I outline why he won.
1) The Extended Democratic Primary Campaign
For the past few years there was universal belief that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic candidate for President in 2008. At the start of the Democratic primary campaign Obama was not very well known. However, week after week he was front and center on television in debates, news reports and commercials. The extended air time he got during the unusually long campaign allowed his message to be heard widely and the public slowly but solidly became comfortable with him as a potential national leader.
Had there been a short Democratic primary campaign with an early Obama victory, he would have lost a tremendous opportunity to showcase his intelligence, calm demeanor and inspirational oratory skills. Instead two great candidates, Clinton and Obama, sparred in one of the greatest political campaigns in memory and Obama emerged in victory with an imposing national stature.
2) The choices of Sarah Palin and Joe Biden as VP Candidates.
At first impression the choice of Sarah Palin was an inspired move. A maverick cut from the same cloth as McCain, she was not a part of the Washington inside track, giving her huge appeal to American voters. Palin's first major appearance at the Republican National Convention was a triumphant, rabble-rousing success. Populism aside, her conservative values secured the vote of the large minority of the Republican base that do not trust McCain. The choice of Palin locked in the votes of that essential part of the Republican base.
Palin has natural political instincts and the ability to win over a crowd. As the Governor of a US State there is not doubt she has leadership capabilities. However she is presently grossly ignorant of national and world affairs. Her personality may very well have been strong enough to overcome her lack of knowledge. However, instead of being allowed to be herself and charge around the nation, her handlers locked her up for two weeks in debate school after the primary, critically destroying her momentum and her self confidence.
When she was released to Katie Couric, she stumbled badly and gave a disastrous performance. While the Republican base could forgive her for this, many of the right-leaning democrats or independents who were attracted to her maverick reputation, were scared away by her ignorance and confusion. It was impossible for them to not to ask with fear, "What if she becomes President?"
She regained momentum towards the end when she stopped listening to her assigned advisors. However, it was to late for this campaign. If she can figure out how to overcome her reputation for being uninformed, she has a national political career ahead of her, especially if the Republican party fragments after the election into socially conservative and fiscally conservative parties.
Biden, although a relative unknown, proved during the VP debate that he is ready to be President if ever needed, making a clear contrast with Palin.
3) Early voting
The ghost of Florida 2000 came out in 2008 giving rise to extensive fears of last minute disenfranchisement and drove many to exercise the right to vote early. By polling day, 47% of Floridians had already voted and more North Carolinians voted early than had voted on polling day in November 2004. Given that the victims in 2000 were mainly democratic voters, the surge in early voting strongly favored Obama who loudly encouraged people to get out and vote.
4) George Bush
One never knows how history will judge a president. Perhaps Iraq will stabilize and a great democracy will flourish. If that happens history will be kind to Bush. If not, Bush will be regarded as one of the worst presidents to have ever served.
More importantly, one cant underestimate how poorly he is viewed today. Clinton handed him a budget surplus and a happy nation. At the end of Bush's term the nation is bitterly divided between red and blue states. There is a massive budget deficit and every economic indicator is heading south while the military is mired in two endless wars. 9/11 pushed Bush out of his depth and he sank unceremoniously.
The desire to forget about George Bush as quickly as possible pushed voters away from McCain and the Republican party. In the 2000 Republican primaries we saw that McCain was very different from Bush, but Obama's continuous linking of McCain-2008 to Bush worked to favor the democratic candidate.
5) Obama - the man himself, his temperament and ability.
Let's not forget the qualities of Obama himself. A Harvard educated lawyer, a Senator, and clearly a highly intelligent man, he showed impeccable temperament throughout the campaign. He was consistently unflappable in debates or when subject to bitter personal attacks.
Through an extended campaign, he persuaded the majority that he was capable of leading the country and was the better choice. He will take power over a divided country with a weakened economy and it remains to be seen if he can really effect change. But it needs to be said - the public preferred Obama to McCain. The race issue was over before we knew it and Obama got elected on the basis of his own personal capabilities. As simple as that.
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