The 1st in an occasional series addressing his supporters and strategists. (UPDATE: If you actually are looking for Who's Running His Campaign go to the post dated July 14th, 2007, RUNNING OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN - Pt. 3, it has that information for you.)
Alright, so here's our first mistake: This household received 3 fundraising calls in two days.
Okay, fine, it's a race about money; moreso this year than ever. But in taking this tack, the Obama campaign cedes ground to the Clintons since it is not opposing moves to hold early primaries in many large states; e.g., moving California's primary up to next February.
Strategists likely advised the Senator these moves, overall, benefit him. Cash is flowing in, he's the other major player; it's simply the smart play. And the judgment has probably been made these moves are nearly impossible to stop. (We aren't so sure.)
So why is it important he oppose it? Senator O may well be able to compete with Hillary for money. Tom Vilsack dropped out yesterday faced with the likelihood there's no place in this race for less well-funded candidates. But there's two HUGE reasons he should resist letting the primary calendar become front-loaded next year and those reasons are:
1) Sen. Obama immediately becomes a "big money," machine candidate and he gets all that goes with it, bed-fellows like David Geffen who's no less sleazy than the Clintons. And Sen. Obama doesn't even get the luxury of time to pick, choose, vett and control these big-time bed crumbs. Which, for example, gets him into an immediate mud-slinging contest.
He also loses a critical opportunity to show political skill and savvy, and to do the right thing electorally. This is the very thing people are desperate to see. To see him stand for something, and organizing supporters around an objective. One with some populist appeal. It's a fight he therefore can afford to lose. Win or lose, it serves his and the country's wider interests.
And 2) the Democrats benefitted hugely in 2004 by having a long, hotly-contested primary race with a host of colorful candidates. Lots of air time, lots of talk. The country got to know the candidates. Kerry was hardly a household name. Neither was Dean. (Admittedly, both disappointed. But it's very difficult to get most Democrats to remember that losing an election to an incumbent War-time President by less than 200,000 votes in one state is astounding and this while the economy was in pretty fair shape, too).
Almost nobody but we political junkies knows who Barack Obama is at the moment. He's inexperienced; he calls it his biggest asset. That's cute. But he, above all, needs the time a dilated primary season would provide not just in name-recognition. He needs to be tested. We all want it. So that he can show that profile in courage. He needs to weather a long, fierce battle with grace and good humor, show endurance and fortitude, even lose and come back.
Letting the political calendar get squished into a month-long campaign awash in TV-ads plays directly into his opponent's hands. You're asking voters to step up and decide right then who should be the Democrat nominee. Winner-Take-All. They get one shot to get it right.
That's Hillary's ticket. In fact, it may be the ONLY chance she has. Asking voters all at once, cash on the barrelhead, to pick the nominee. Her, a known if very troubled quantity, VS. Barry Who?
I think she wins the nomination in that scenario. And the Democrats lose the election.
In that scenario, the Rose law firm, the last-minute pardon of international felons, Monica, Susan McDougal, and Paula Jones don't get mentioned til Hill is on her way to the convention with enough delegates to cinch her nomination and to tell the rest of us to eff off.
Do we really want to forget what the Clintons left us until we're heading toward a general election waiting for those ghosts and skeletons to get rattled by the Republicans?