Monday, September 08, 2008

panic not 

A reader at TPM makes some good points:

The McCain campaign wanted to frame this election on experience, but had to abandon that when the polls didn't move. The surge issue has likewise attracted no great interest. Although McCain continues to discuss it, as a theme, he has ditched it in favor of this murky "change/reform" theme. (By selecting Sarah Palin, the campaign has officially ceded the point.) This all works to Obama's advantage because if the discussion becomes one of change, it must necessarily shift to policy--the last place McCain wants to go. But he's backed himself into a corner.

Obama has run his general campaign with exactly the kind of pacing he ran the primary. It's not always clear why he's doing certain things because they don't correspond to the daily news cycle. That's because he has planned the entire campaign in advance. You can see how he's hit his marks as he's gone along: after he won the primary, he immediately tacked right and demonstrated his "working across the aisles" theme. The trip abroad was designed to elevate him to a presidential figure and deflate the claims of his inexperience. The convention was a way to simultaneously build momentum among the base and lay a foundation for elevating the discussion above Rovian BS and placing it directly on issues via the change argument.

We exit the convention right on schedule. Obama has set the table, and the Republicans have come to dine. I have little doubt but that the Obama camp feels it's right where it wants to be.

While overall I think this might err a bit on the side of thinking elections have anything to do with issues, the general thrust of it seems to me basically correct. Bounce and Palin-hysteria aside, its passably clear that the Republicans are not in control of the narrative. As with Obama's pre-VP announcement dip, this too shall pass.


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