With the DNC starting, the real election season begins now. All that stuff that came before was just practice for these final 2 months. This is showtime, and frankly it’s all a big show meant for the press. The goal is to have an effective message that the press repeats eagerly, a process we can’t be sure of until it’s all over. Yet there are important things that have already happened to signal how the final push will go down.
I’ll start with the choice of Joe Biden as veep, a solid choice that shores up the obvious experience problem for Obama. What’s more important is that the ticket is balanced between the generations, with the whole world able to see that at least one 65 year old white guy is for Obama. It’s worth noting that Obama picked his intellectual and rhetorical equal, showing that he really isn’t afraid to be challenged.
In the end, however, no one picks the ticket because of the second banana. Dukakis tried to make a lot of hay out of his choice of Lloyd Bentson, calling attention to the horrible reception Dan Quayle got (unfairly, in my view). It didn’t work. The top of the ticket is still what matters, no matter what anyone says. The main issue in picking a veep is to not screw up in a way that gives the press something to harp on, and Obama didn’t do that.
What I find most fascinating is the idea of taking the veep’s real job, the constitutional role of President of the Senate, and turning it into a political position where he is the point man to get the agenda through an often recalcitrant Congress. Biden is an ideal choice for this with his experience, connections, and willingness to fight. This probably went through Obama’s mind when considering a veep because he’s a man who thinks things through to the end. I like this point even if it’s certain to be lost in the noise of the campaign.
At the convention, the biggest problem will be the supporters of Sen. Clinton. I doubt that they can do more than embarrass themselves, especially since Clinton herself is going to be as magnanimous as possible. Yes, I expect her to say something to the effect of “You know I’ll be back!”, but it shouldn’t screw up the delivery of the main message to the press.
Joe Biden gets to talk on Wednesday, and I expect people to tune in for this. He’s already relishing the veep job of hatchet man, so this could be a hoot. I think that enough people want to find out about him that viewership will be high and he’ll be able to deliver the message effectively without the press as interpreters. That will be nice.
Thursday is the big rock concert … er, the speech by Obama himself. People will want to hear this, and my only concern is that it will look too much like a cult gathering. But this will be where the main message goes out, and you can expect it will be delivered well.
After the show? If you want to know what comes next, you have to read about the opposition. The easiest way is to pick up the latest from Jerome Corsi, the man behind the Swift Boat attacks. Obama Nation is in the same vein, and this time he got his badly crafted smears published by Simon & Schuster. That may have been a fatal mistake because the increased visibility only increased the backlash against it.
It’s also important to monitor the web pages devoted to attacks. My favorites are An Obama Nation and Obama Who?, both of which have an air of desperation about them. They’ve settled on attacking Biden and questioning whether Obama’s birth certificate is valid, both of which are utter wastes of time. They appear to be in disarray, but we can’t expect that to last. Keep your eyes open!
What we can say is that things are about to change in ways that may at times surprise us. This is a very short season to launch everything in, but we can expect that the Republicans will not enter November with any ammo left unused. The DNC’s hope is for a good message well delivered. We’ll know by Thursday.