WEBCommentary Editor

Author: Bob Webster
Date:  September 16, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

Obama's "September Surprise?"


While liberal smearing of McCain and Palin continues unabated, is the Obama campaign looking to staunch the bleeding with a "September Surprise?" It would be easy to pull off. Remember the McGovern campaign's desperation in 1972 with Sen. Tom Eagleton on the ticket? Eagleton was replaced when it was revealed he had undergone psychiatric treatment. The switch didn't help McGovern any more than it would help Obama.

There is some interesting speculation on the response of the Obama team to their free-fall in the polls post-Palin. The initial response has been to dispatch to Alaska teams of lawyers tasked to dig up (or manufacture?) dirt on Sarah Palin, make slick radio and TV commercials smearing Palin, and work the blogosphere to encourage McCain to dump Palin. Of course, when I refer to the "Obama team" I include the "usual suspects" in the Obama media (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc., ad nauseam). If there were any remaining doubt about the heavy bias in the media (bias that began in earnest in 1964 and has peaked with the media attempt to elect Obama), this election is removing any vestiges of such doubt. When this election is behind us, perhaps the public will pause to ask whether the global warming campaign has been similarly propagandized by the media. If they do, they'll learn that they've been lied to and facts distorted just as severely as with the election campaign.

What options does the Obama team have? As I see it, there are several:

There are certainly other possibilities, but these four are basically the only viable options available.

Let's consider each and their likely outcome:

Do nothing, take the high road.

While this might prove to be the best option, it is unlikely to be the option chosen. Why? The rapid deterioration of Obama's poll numbers has the Obama team off their stride and acting with such urgency that the most rational choice appears to be the least appealing. There is a sense of a desperate need to "do something" and to do it quickly. There is a real concern that when the debates come and Obama is off his TelePrompTer and Biden must square off against Palin, things will get even more ugly for the Obama campaign very quickly. Consequently, it's probably a pretty safe bet that this option will not be pursued.

Take the low road, step up the attacks.

This is the easiest and quickest response, and, in fact, that is what has been observed since the Democrat National Convention (DNC) ended. The anticipated Obama "convention bump" in the polls was severely blunted by McCain's brilliant selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his VP candidate the morning after the DNC closed. Palin's selection obliterated any significant Obama surge in the polls and, in fact, produced a McCain surge that has seen McCain gain a comfortable lead among likely voters and achieve a statistical tie (or better) among all those polled. That is an astonishing achievement for a campaign that had been all but written off as having no chance. Clearly, the Obama campaign, stung by the McCain-Palin polling success, is fighting back the way they do best. By smearing and lying about their opponents. Remember, the Obama campaign had built up quite a bit of hubris when they thought they were invincible (not too unlike what we witnessed with Hillary Clinton's campaign in the early days of the primaries). Hubris tends to cloud judgement and attach blinders to those who are overcome by it. When the smearing produces the opposite effect (rising McCain-Palin poll numbers), they simply step up the smearing as though that would somehow turn things around. Despite the best efforts of the Obama media who will declare all debates clear victories for the Obama ticket, all their efforts to create an Obama surge won't work. At some point the Obama campaign will realize this and look for another option.

September surprise.

Depending upon how long it takes the Obama campaign to shake off the hubris and realize that the low road does not lead to the White House, they may look at the only "surprise" that might possibly pull their campaign out of the fire. The only really effective action would be to remove Sen. Biden from the campaign and replace him with Sen. Hillary Clinton. While this "surprise" may seem the only one that has much of a chance for success, it raises certain questions, namely:

I would rate the likelihood of a "September Surprise" that involved replacing Biden as just a 50-50 proposition. Too many unknowns and each involves risk. With his selection of Biden in the first place, Obama appears more comfortable with low-risk options.

A combination of taking the low road and a "September Surprise."

This is only as likely as replacing Biden on the ticket. It is unlikely that the Obama campaign will return to the high road. They've descended so far into the muck that it might be impossible to extract themselves before election day. At least voters will have a clear perception that a vote for Obama is a vote for four more years of the politics of personal destruction.

In the end, I suspect that there will be no major "September Surprise" from either campaign. The only "October Surprise" will come in the form of the boldness of the media in their final frenzy to toss more muck in the hopes of electing Obama. So we can expect more of the smear campaign from the Obama camp (with the media playing an increasing role) right up until election day. Meanwhile, we'll see more of the high road optimism and straight talk that we've come to expect from the McCain campaign.

Finally, one thing that gets little attention or discussion is the consequences of electing someone who, throughout his brief Senatorial career and primary and presidential campaigns, has been a highly partisan, very divisive figure. Obama's polemics fly in the face of his feigned campaign for national unity. After the long bitter campaign against Hillary (and Bill) Clinton, Obama has had difficulty uniting the Democrat Party. Given his long history of bashing Republicans and blaming them for every evil, is it reasonable to believe he will suddenly change his colors and become a uniter? He may pay lip service to that suggestion, but he is ill-equipped to carry out the task. McCain, on the other hand, has a long history of bi-partisan and non-partisan activity. He does not go around blaming Democrats for all the world's evils. McCain could bring a sense of unity to our nation and he would certainly not practice the politics of personal destruction. Something to think about if you want a return to civility in Washington.

Bob Webster
WEBCommentary (Editor, Publisher)


Biography - Bob Webster

Bob Webster, a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s) is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.

A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.


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