In a Globe op-ed John Sasso predicted that Sen. Hillary Clinton would beat Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic primary and go on to win the general election. I don’t know if he’s right, but I think his reasoning is important:
Today Clinton has forged herself into a formidable political leader. She has undergone a remarkable journey. In the face of unending autopsies on her personal and political past, unrelieved targeting at both Democratic and Republican debates, the punishing demands imposed on a woman candidate, she is still standing unflinchingly in place…. This is the mark of thoroughbred candidates. They take the fire. They survive the wounds.
It’s the autopsies, targeting, and punishing that stand out for me here. Clinton has taken everything that could be thrown at her, from the vast right wing conspiracy to her own husband’s infidelity. She’s been knocked down, but she gets back up again. Her poll numbers may fluctuate, but there won’t be an October surprises.
No such luck for Obama. Up until now, his candidacy has been a love affair with the press and the country. He hasn’t been roughed up much. It’s not his fault. He’s a new comer. He’s exciting and charismatic as hell. But up until now, he’s only felt the love. He’s been idealized so long that the inevitable drag of reality can exert a vortex of downward momentum. Time will tell if Obama’s poll numbers continue to descend, but right now, things aren’t looking good.
Why are his numbers on the slide? I think because the rose-colored glasses are coming off. I don’t mean to say that Obama isn’t a great candidate. He is. But he’s not the second coming. He’s a real person, and people aren’t used to that fact. The last few weeks have revealed the fact that he has associated with sleazy people like Tony Rezko. The politician without a sleazy friend or two is the exception not the rule. But Obama was supposed to be the exception.
Worse for Obama, I think, is his connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is a bullshit issue, this connection, but it’s the kind of bullshit issue that American political campaigns are made of. How many Catholics love their church in spite of the idiocies spoken by the pope and his bishops? How many times have belove priests said stupid or disagreeable things on the pulpit? Rev. Wright isn’t any different, except that he has been critical of America, and his criticisms are particularly those of the African American community. Obama’s pastor problem is that the good reverend reminds America that Obama is black. And the Republican Noise Machine is on the job. This news story is not Clinton’s fault.