Air War

Yesterday, once again, Obama threw a punch which landed him on the canvass. More self inflicted blows followed.

Is this any way to run a campaign?

The day started filled with audacity, but not hope. Obama, who strutted his 6 foot frame at the 2004 Democratic convention fantasizing himself to be basketball player Lebron James “with game, baby,” was defending his Chicago turf with steroid bluster. Obama decided to speak with the Chicago press, finally, to denigrate Hillary Clinton’s qualifications to be president. “The only person who would probably be prepared to be our president on Day 1 would be Bill Clinton — not Hillary Clinton,” said the newly minted Lazio Lebron.

The macho bluster blew away with a Freudian slip reminiscent of Banquo’s unannounced visit to Macbeth: “I’m sure the Clintons can raise much more money than us,” Obama said. “She was president…”

“She was president…” is the reason why Obama decided to launch his air war yesterday.

When we wrote A Thing Of Beauty we described what a well run campaign Hillary has organized. The candidate is not only excellent but demonstrates that excellence day after day. (By contrast, Bill Richardson is an excellent candidate on paper but his performance on the campaign trail has been flawed.) The Hillary campaign is not only on target with the candidate’s communication skills, but it is on target on policy, on field organization, on rapid communication and response, on hiring of personnel, on landscape preparation, on understanding the electorate, on resources distribution among early states, on signage, on scheduling… well on just about everything.

Poll-wise, Hillary is becoming the equivalent of Secretariat. Hillary is pulling away from the field nationally and in just about every state. Iowa is the only state where Hillary fluctuates from #1 to statistical ties, or even slightly behind. Current poll averages have Hillary and Edwards within approximately 1% of each other. Obama can see how this is going. Although Obama is from neighboring Chicago, Illinois he is slipping behind.

Add to these woes the storm that is coming. No we don’t mean the Rezko trial. We mean the Hillary campaign rolling out its well planned efforts to win Iowa:

“It’s official now: former President Bill Clinton will campaign for his wife, Hillary, in Iowa, from July 2 through Independence Day.”

Knowing the Hillary campaign will dominate the free Iowa airwaves during the July 4 holiday Obama did what all desperate candidates do: pay for what you can’t get for free.

Obama joined Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Christopher Dodd with television commercials airing in Iowa. John Edwards also launched his effort in New Hampshire. Obama, the media darling for these many months, is going paid media to repair his self-scorched image. Hillary meanwhile continues her climb by sheer hard work. The Hillary website now beats the Obama website in popularity. Obama’s supposed core consitutency, Young Democrats prefer Hillary to Obama. African-Americans still support Hillary over Obama.

On the same day it was launched, the air war was blasted out of the skies:

“A day after a new television ad debuted for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) aimed at Iowa voters, the union official in it was removed from the spot at his request.”

“Chicago-based Tom Balanoff, the president of SEIU Local 1, was in the original version of an ad about Obama’s years in Chicago as a community organizer. It was released on Monday, along with another spot featuring state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) — who is backing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president — who talks about Obama’s bipartisan efforts while they served together in Springfield.”


“SEIU communications director Steve Trossman said Balanoff was under the impression his interview would be “used on some Web stuff” and not packaged for a commercial.”

Not nice to burn your own friends.

Meanwhile the McCain endorsing Republican featured in Obama’s Democratic primary advertisement bought his own baggage to Obama’s air war.

“Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson said Tuesday that Sen. Kirk Dillard should explain to fellow Republicans in the legislature why he appeared in an Iowa TV ad touting Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Watson said he was disappointed that Dillard, the former chair of the DuPage County GOP organization, agreed to the ad for Obama, who once represented a Chicago district in the state Senate. He called on Dillard, a Senate Republican whip from Hinsdale, to “address why he did this and the ramifications of it” in a meeting with the Senate GOP lawmakers Wednesday.”

“Dillard contended the ad, in which he speaks of the bipartisan cooperation exhibited by Obama in the Illinois Senate, is “not that big of a deal,” and actually helps Republicans. “The bigger message being sent is that we know how to cooperate, and the current crop of Democrats needs to have an infusion of Republican input because it’s just gridlock and economic chaos coming out of Springfield,” said Dillard, a supporter of GOP presidential contender John McCain of Arizona.”

Dillard praises Obama’s cooperation in the Illinois Senate. What was this cooperation?

We wrote Obama’s Present To Pro-Choice Opponents back in April. We wrote about the April 18, 2007 decision by the United States Supreme Court

which returned abortion and the reproductive rights of women back to the center stage of political life with its ban of so-called “partial birth” abortions. It also returned the Supreme Court itself as an issue. For the first time since Roe v. Wade the court rejected the sensible Clinton position – both Clinton’s – of “safe, legal, and rare”. Right-wing Republicans delighted in the decision which will now be used as a major weapon when they move into state legislatures to attempt to make abortions dangerous, illegal and nonexistent – and to hell with the health of a woman. As Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention stated “This decision is a powerful and timely reminder of presidential elections and their pivotal impact on the makeup of the Supreme Court.”

We wrote back then about Obama:

In 1997, when it mattered, when he actually had a vote not just a microphone, when the issue of partial birth abortion came before the Illinois State legislature Obama twice gave a “Present” to abortion opponents. On House Bill 382 and Senate Bill 230 – bills that prohibited “partial birth” abortions, Obama took a dive. Like a character from Dr. Suess, Obama did not vote “no,” he did not vote “yes,” he gave a “present”. Obama did not take a stand in 1997. He did not take a stand in 2001. Then House Bill 1900 and Senate Bill 562 – on parental notification, Obama instead of voting “yes” or “no” voted – “present”.

The Associated Press in a recent article called The Unknown: Is Obama Ready? described these Obama “Presents” this way:

“Obama could be as calculating as they come. He promoted himself as a defender of abortion rights, but he encouraged fellow Democrats to vote “present” on abortion bills. Friends say the strategy was designed to protect lawmakers, including Obama, with designs on higher offices.”

The same article quoted Republican Kirk Dillard, of the Obama advertisment, as saying:

“Obama has a great intellect and the leadership characteristics of our great American presidents,” said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Republican who befriended Obama in Springfield. “But the unknown is the administrative and foreign policy experience.”

“His negotiating skills and an ability to understand both sides would serve the country very well,” Dillard says in one of two ads Obama’s campaign will start airing statewide Tuesday in the early voting state of Iowa.

Ripublicans love Democrats whose idea of compromise and negotiation mean voting “Present” instead of in opposition.

Obama’s Iowa Air War reminds us that on policy, Obama’s just Hot Air.