Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Contrast is Clear with Obama/McCain

The line of the night came from none of the candidates this evening but rather from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. He said, 'the rule has to be, if you can, always speak before Barack Obama, not after Barack Obama.' As anyone who watched the two speeches (clips above) will say, John MCain learned this the hard way.

The image seen around the country tonight and will be shown around the country for the next week will be great for Democrats. The young, dynamic, Barack Obama standing alone on stage in front of nearly 20,000 cheering people in Wisconsin. The crowd was young, it was old, it had white people, it had black people, it had a true representation of America. In the middle of that crowd was Barack Obama. The old, static McCain surrounded by a group of insiders.

In watching John McCain's speech I was reminded of Iowa where the contrast that Obama gives voters was first shown to voters. After Obama's win in Iowa, Hillary Clinton took to the stage and had all the Democratic establishment behind her on stage. Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, Wes Clark, Tom Vilsack were among the people the Clinton camp used as props and validation.

That same night Obama went to the stage with his wife and two young daughters. The picture was a young, dynamic candidate who was supported by a wide range of supporters. That crowd only needed Barack Obama to impress and inspire them, not well known endorsers.

The result of that speech, and more importantly that image, changed the Clinton campaign. If you watch her speeches now and they try to mimic the look of the Obama events. She stands on stage alone and surrounded by supporters much like Obama does now.

McCain has been so worried about getting the 'conservative base' on his side that he is losing his individual identity. That individuality made him popular in the mainstream of the country and unpopular amongt the conservative base of the party. He now has lost the balance of the 'maverick' he was known for. In the 2000 primary and early in this primary you saw McCain on his own.

You do not see McCain on his own much anymore. Most recent McCain events of McCain have been him surrounding himself with the slowly coming around to his side Republican establishment. With McCain you now Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, and recently Gary Bauer. This is not the McCain that independants have grown to love and respect and he looks smaller on the stage with these guys.

Then there was tonights speech where he followed Obama. It looked like that Clinton Iowa concession speech mentioned earlier. He was in a bland ballroom and surrounded himself with the establishment, just like Hillary did. Over his shoulders he had Senator John Warner and Congressman Tom Davis. Both are good men, Republicans that I have respect for, but they're both old and both are retiring. He also had Crist and my favorite was former Senator George Allen who lost reelection in Virginia in 2006. Allen you might remember, called a reporter 'macaca' and lost his race as a result.

I don't believe I saw one African American, one Hispanic American, and the average age on the stage had to be near 60 years old. The contrast could not have been more clear. There was no diversity and almost no youth. McCain looked and sounded stale and following Obama it looked even worse.

While both candidates swept the primaries of the evening the image of Obama versus McCain has to scare the Republican party. The Obama event looked like it was the place you had to be at and he looked powerful in his ability to stand alone. McCain looked like he was speaking at a stuffy Country Club.

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