Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The 21 Century Candidate

E.J. Dionne's column is a must-read. He summarizes how Obama ran a brilliant campaign.

Obama understood better than any other Democrat that a vast new progressive movement, called into being by antipathy toward Bush and outrage over the Iraq war, was waiting for leadership. Yet Obama knew that the often-irate legions of the blogosphere needed to be fused with a soft-spoken center weary of partisanship and division. It was another unlikely marriage that Obama sanctified.

All this created Obama's opportunity. But every campaign offers make-or-break tests, and the key moment this time came on Sept. 24, the day McCain suspended his campaign and proposed postponing the first presidential debate so the candidates could devote themselves to work on the financial bailout.

Obama quickly rejected McCain's suggestion, McCain backed down and Obama established himself as a leader. When the debate took place two days later, Obama's calm, deliberate performance confirmed his leadership skills for millions in the ranks of the uncertain.

Howard Dean had the savvy to make the netroots into a political force. (Jerome Armstrong of MyDD invented the term.) Dean could race money and communicate online. He lacked Obama's immense speaking and people skills.

Obama was the candidate of change that didn't change campaign tactics. Obama's self-discipline did not allow him to be flustered by the news cycle or change his message. When faced with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy, Obama addressed the sensitive subject of race. and never attempted to deny being a member of Wright's church. Obama was able the weather the storm by directly facing it. John McCain has spent his campaign denying previos statements and stances on issues. There was a candidate that didn't blink and it wasn't John McCain.

The Obama campaign successfully used grassroots organization, netroots, the Democratic Party establishment and advertising to make a successful campaign. Their blog outreach was weak. The Obama campaign believed that the progressive bloggers would surport Obama the nominee. They were correct.

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