I wonder whether Obama’s triumphal world tour isn’t going to backfire on him at home.
If you read between the lines, it’s possible to come to the conclusion that the McCain campaign isn’t really comatose—or that it’s comatose like a fox (lousy metaphor, I know). McCain may be giving the Obama campaign just enough rope to hang itself with the force of its overwhelming ambition.
How do lines like Obama’s “People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time” play in the real or the proverbial Peoria? As communication professor Linda Hobgood says:
To get that crowd size and those backdrops … it does give you pause. Who is he appealing to who is not going to vote for him already? Which voters will come over to him by virtue of this moment, by virtue of this speech situation? To tell you the truth, I can’t come up with too many.
Neither can I. And he might even lose some, if this commenter is at all typical:
I actually am beginning to think that McCain’s campaign may be playing this just right. I get the sense that Obama’s european tour will actually do 2 things – (1) cause McCain’s base to rally and (2) cause a backlash amongst the vast middle.
For example, I have never been a huge fan of McCain’s and have been toying with the idea of not voting. I certainly never thought I would ever donate a red cent to his campaign.
I was so disgusted by Obama’s speech in Berlin and the arrogance and implicit anti-americanism of it, not to mention the extreme leftism implied in everything he said, and of course the media’s ridiculous campaigning on Obama’s behalf, that I actually went to McCain’s web-site today and donated $100. I also signed up to (potentially) do some volunteer work.
If I am even remotely representative of conservatives, McCain’s base just became enthusiastic – not necessarily for McCain, but for defeating Obama.
Also, the “water-cooler” talk I have been hearing from wishy-centrists is that they are put off by Obama’s European tour and the media’s fawning over him.
So, I would not be surprised if at the end of this campaign people are pointing fingers at this European trip as the moment when Obama lost the presidency.
When John McCain suggested Obama might want to take a look for himself at Iraq and what’s been going on there in the last couple of years, no doubt he imagined that it would be a typical fact-finding visit rather than the initial leg of a worldwide campaign tour: photo-ops with the troops, rather than addresses to adoring crowds of 200,000 in Germany. McCain can be forgiven for not having foreseen that Obama would take his bait “with vigor” (and then some)—to use a Kennedyesque phrase, but with hindsight Obama’s reaction comes as no surprise. He seems unable to resist the temptation to showboat to the world, and the idea that prematurely claiming the mantle of the Presidency without earning it could be the sort of “audacity” that people in this country would find offputting is one that Obama apparently never entertained.
But egomaniacs can be like that.
One of Obama’s most salient characteristics has been an extremely impatient ambition. He has rarely stayed long in any one job before beginning to set his sights on the next—the Illinois Senate being the sole exception, and it’s not really a good example because he did try a run for US Congress after one term, only staying in the Illinois Senate for a second go-round because that bid failed (his only political defeat to date).
Obama’s “citizen of the world” rhetoric would go over well if he were running for President of the EU (or, to be technical, of the European Commission), or for Secretary General of the UN. But he’s not—at least, not yet. Of course there remains the distinct possibility that Obama is planning his post-Presidential career before he’s even elected President, which would be in line with his previous job moves, always one step ahead of himself.
Otherwise, I’m not so sure it’s wise. To many US voters—and not all of them dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, either—Obama’s remarks and demeanor strike a warning note that the McCain campaign has attempted to exploit with contrasts to McCain’s “country first” message. One doesn’t have to be an isolationist to think that Obama focuses too much on what Europe and the world may think of us, and to be worried that his emphasis is wrong—especially for a man who has barely made any sort of mark on the world stage other than a series of photo-ops.
[NOTE: If you're not familiar with the origin of the title quote, it's here.]