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Should Conservatives Really Want to Run Against Obama?

Written By : John Hawkins
May 2, 2008

Rather notably, the de facto general of the conservative movement’s 2008 battle strategy, Rush Limbaugh, called for a one day operational pause in Operation Chaos, his plan to make the Democratic slugfest between Obama and Clinton as long and as bloody as possible.

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Why the operational pause? Limbaugh said it was because of damage that Jeremiah Wright’s jeremiads and the aftermath had done to Barack Obama’s campaign,

My first gut reaction, my instinct, in listening to the audio sound bites of Obama today throwing Jeremiah Wright off the planet, he didn’t throw him under the bus, he put him in the space shuttle and he sent him to the space station so he can pal around with the Russians that are up there. Then I watched during the bottom-of-the-hour break here, I decided to watch the Drive-By Media coverage of this, because it became obvious to me — see, I read the stitches on the fastball; I can read between the lines, and I know that most of the Drive-Bys are in the tank for Obama.

What I think I saw an indication of, I watched Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington, discussing this, and Matthews was full of praise, and he accepted every theme Obama brought up, and he said Obama was dead right. “Why do we have to have this preacher inserting himself in the presidential campaign for the last three days? Obama rightly said he’s not talking to him any more, may talk to him later, but Obama was dead right on, on this.” Matthews is missing the whole point. Obama coulda done this in church the first time he heard the guy. We all now with common sense realize here that Obama did this out of political expediency today to save a dwindling and plunging campaign.

Limbaugh, being Limbaugh, cut right to the heart of the matter with those two paragraphs that describe the utter devastation that Wright has wrought on Obama.

Originally, Barack seemed to have quite a bit of appeal to white independents, moderate white Democrats, and even some Republicans. Why? Because he billed himself as a post-racial candidate. Here was the “black leader” whose example would repudiate Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, prove that America isn’t a racist country, and put the whole race issue in America’s rear view mirror once and for all.

But, now? That beautiful, harmonious dream has been shattered into a thousand pieces. The anti-white, anti-American, conspiracy-theory-spouting reverend that Obama has been closely associated with for 20 years, is implying that Barack really shares his views, but that if he “did not say what he said, he would never get elected.”

Consider how many of the themes that Obama has run on have been shattered by this incident. Obama claimed to be the post-racial candidate, but his campaign has devolved into an ugly racial scrum that has probably left a lot of white Americans wondering, with good reason, whether Obama is secretly hostile to them.

Obama told Americans he could unify the country, but his candidacy and the Reverend Wright issue are tearing the Democratic Party apart. If he hasn’t even been able to bring his own party together yet, how can he possibly unite the country?

Then there’s Obama’s answer to the charges that he’s not qualified to be President. His reply is that his judgment is so sound that what he lacks in experience can be made up by his superior decision-making. Really? The guy who claims that he had no idea Jeremiah Wright is such a radical after spending 20 years sitting in the man’s church has great judgment? If he really had great judgment, he would have moved on to a new church 19 years, 11 months, and 3 weeks ago at best or would have switched churches before he decided to run for President at worst.

These hammer blows have had great effect on Obama’s campaign and must be giving the super delegates who will decide the race a major case of heartburn because pretty clearly, it is now Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama who would be the stronger candidate against John McCain in November.

When you look at the demographic groups both candidates are capturing, you’ll find that Barack is dominating amongst black Americans, highly educated white, liberal Americans, and young voters. The first two groups will go heavily for the Democrats in November no matter who the nominee is and young voters are notoriously unreliable on election day.

On the other hand, Hillary has run stronger than Obama in most of the swing states and is winning over middle-class white voters, the older white voters, Hispanics, and female voters, all of which are demographic groups that the Democrats desperately need to do well with in order to win in November.

Furthermore, the conventional wisdom — which is that Obama’s voters will defect to McCain or sit home in November if their man loses — has been contradicted in poll after poll. It is Hillary’s voters, not Barack’s voters, who are considerably more likely to become reluctant McCain backers or alternately sleep in on election day if their girl Hill loses the election.

Additionally, if Hillary manages to claw her way back from oblivion to capture the Democratic nomination, that act in and of itself will significantly strengthen her candidacy. Keep in mind that Hillary doesn’t have much more experience than Barack, doesn’t have great national security credentials, and is perceived, correctly, with having accomplished almost nothing in her adult life without her husband carrying most of the load. However, if she has the tenacity to overcome Barack Obama in a race where the mainstream media and many of the elites in her own party have aligned against her, many Americans would give her a certain amount of much needed credit for toughness, grit, and for showing grace under fire. Moreover, even most Clinton-loathing conservatives would be willing to admit at this point that if it came right down to it, they’d rather have her handling national security issues and phone calls at 3 AM than a snobbish empty suit with a glass jaw like Barack Obama.

So, where does this leave Republicans in November? Well, the good news is that in a year where there is a headwind blowing against GOP candidates, the Democrats have been savaging each other while conservatives have had time to come to grips with the idea of “President John McCain.” Moreover, McCain, for all his flaws, matches up better on paper against Clinton or Obama than anyone else who was running — and no other candidate Republicans could run would be more effective at pulling in independents in an election year when the voters are still sick of the GOP. That doesn’t mean McCain will win in November against Obama or Hillary, but it does mean that he has a very good shot at it, particularly if he gets to go toe-to-toe with Obama. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if McCain wins, then a dispirited conservative base will have to endure four years of John McCain. But, as Ted Kennedy would say in a situation like this, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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