I would love to be guarding against overconfidence. The polls are favoring Barack a bit more. But there is something bothering me. One minor thing. One major thing. The minor thing is the work in progress business. The major thing is getting the message right. And I mean correct, on target, effective, zinging. WINNING.
Alright, let me take each of these issues.
Why not? It is a Democratic year. I’ll tell you why. It could be a Democratic year and our divided electorate could just figure that we do not want THAT Democratic a year and put McCain in as a BRAKE on Democratic excess. This would be accompanied by a campaign that had Barack so involved in answering charges that the message would get lost in the counter-punching.
Worst case? Maybe. But the electorate is not that dumb. Unless we have an image of Barack that makes serious sense to a clear majority, McCain will benefit from exactly what people went for with Clinton. Whatever they say, the boat will not rock too much. We are ready to move, a little, not a lot.
2. The Work in Progress Business
I believe Barack when he says he is a work in progress. I believe the Senates (in Illinois and DC) were too small for him and that he was almost destined to be the right person at the right time. But for WHAT?
Do not throw stones at me. I am just a messenger, someone who offers out of concern some hard truth. The hard truth is that the American people might be willing to settle for nominee. As in my first point, the majority might be willing to pat itself on the back for being tolerant and open-minded, but not really interested in drilling down and carrying this to a serious conclusion.
As I type these words, I really don’t believe they are fully persuasive. But they do give me pause. Barack IS a work in progress and what I see happening is a move toward becoming a WINNING Democratic nominee after a succession of LOSING nominees that go back decades. The lone exception, Bill Clinton, is an anomaly and also a fixture of the gridlock politics we have become used to.
3. Getting The Message Right
This is el kahuna grande, the brass ring, the main chance and it ain’t there yet. It ain’t there big time. It need not be there yet. We have two to four weeks to hone out of Barack’s fine and, on occasion, interesting and visionary proposals, a five or ten minute statement of just what Barack will do as President.
It is for this reason that my headline says: Barack needs Brian Schweitzer NOW. Sure I think Schweitzer should be on the short list for VP. But that will be TOO LATE.
I want Barack and Schweitzer to spend enough time together so that Schweitzer gains enough admiration for Barack that he can say what Barack is all about and why he should be President. If Schweitzer can do that Barack’s chances of winning become almost a lock.
Conversely, I want Barack in this process to become immersed in ways of relating to Brian — enough so that he can say what he is about in a way that Brian can own as OK.
I am talking about some serious mutual consciousness-raising.
Schweitzer was an outsider winner in Montana, a despiser of special interest money, a truly committed egalitarian when it came to education, and a do-as-I-do environmentalist. He irrigated a big swath of Saudi Arabia as an engineer. He has about an 80 percent popularity rating in RED Montana.
I predicted the Obama phenomenon before I ever heard of Barack. It goes back to Jacques Derridda’s statement that the only way beyond stasis that is terminal is something new.
That is bigger than being a New Democrat. Barack is a work in progress when he walks away from being locked into the homiletical model of the past — of Wright and Pfleger, when he espouses the concept of transcending ego enough to work with others communally, and when he wins the freaking Democratic nomination almost single-handedly against profound odds.
Now that work in progress needs to MORPH into a message that WINS. And it will happen with the help of Brian. I do not mean Monte Python’s Brian. Montana’s Brian.
I read this to my wife and it seems I may need to explain. She wonders why the points require Brian Schweitzer. It is because, more than anyone else I know, Brian Schweitzer can talk to and win the very people Barack has had difficulty talking to and winning. I have two pages already that explain my interest in Schweitzer.
WESTERN STRATEGY PAGE
Another Salient Schweitzer Piece
From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro: Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid delivered a blunt, broadside attack on McCain’s temper in an interview this afternoon with MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell. McCain, he said, “doesn’t have the temperament to be the president of the United States. Everyone who’s ever worked with John McCain knows of his temper. It’s explosive to say the least.” SOURCE
OBAMA ON THE ISSUES — GO TO THE SOURCE, NOT WHAT YOU HEAR OUT THERE