The latest "What were they thinking?" moment has now come and gone. Obama has retired his political sign-cum-Presidential Seal. After its debut last week, it has been quietly relegated to the dustbin of history.
I confess to a kind of confused wonder at the Obama campaign. On some key things, like ground organization, the campaign has been tremendously well-run and impressive. In fact, I think his organization on the ground was what allowed him to blind-side the Clinton campaign, which was clearly being run on the assumption that she would coast to victory early. That's what gave him his Iowa victory, which was the moment he became a real possibility. He's been aggressive on the attack in an effective, although frequently dishonest, way, which has kept first Clinton and now McCain on their heels. And his fundraising is obviously extraordinary.
On the other hand, they've already burned through $240MM to win the primaries and they show no signs of slowing down the spend. His decision to forego public financing is hard to understand given that the GE is only 8 weeks and $90MM is a lot of money to spend in that time.
And there are the constant gaffes (e.g., Samantha Powers, Austan Goolsbee) where people affiliated with the campaign say things that directly contradict the message and are then thrown under the bus. The awful way in which he handled the Wright situation was also remarkably bush-league, given how well the rest of the campaign is run. And I am still trying to understand how Obama's first national ad buy is for a commercial that claims he passed legislation extending health care for when troops when Obama didn't sponsor the bill or even vote for it. Somebody fire that ad director, because that is just handing ammo to your opponent.
It's a curious mix of tremendous competence and total sloppiness. And that's why you get dumb shit like the seal. No, I don't think it speaks to anything about Obama, outside of a possibly disturbing tendency to believe his own hype, but it sure makes for election fun.
StinkRock content: Good article in today's Times about Obama's connection with the ethanol lobby. Enjoy.