If Democrats are going to win this election, they need to chain the Republican party to this economic crisis like a naked frat boy to a lamp post.
"Republican" needs to become a synonym for job losses, for four-dollar gas, and for home foreclosure.
By November 4th, it needs to look as dangerous to have John McCain in charge of American economic security as Karl Rove made it look for John Kerry to be in charge of their national security.
The sight of a petrol pump or a foreclosure sign should do for Democrats what that Bin Laden video did for George W Bush in 2004.
It needs to be not only an issue on which they win, but a galvanizing force for Democratic victory, and with around 40% of Americans rating the economy the most important factor in their decision, it should win Democrats the election.
In order to achieve this, the Obama campaign needs to generate a series of visual and verbal catchphrases that tether Republican government to economic misery.
They need to find an equivalent to "Hoover flags" -- the term coined by Democrats for the empty pockets of Americans forced into poverty under the Hoover administration, or come up with the modern day corollary for the "Hoover wagon" -- a car pulled by a horse, because the owner could no longer afford to pay for petrol.
The Obama ad on the economy that was released yesterday did the opposite of this. It ended as follows:
"I'm Barack Obama. I hope you'll read my economic plan. I approved this message because bitter, partisan fights and outworn ideas of the left and the right won't solve the problems we face today. But a new spirit of unity and shared responsibility will."
That tone worked in the Primary, but it's not right for the general election. Democrats need to get a hold of this issue and bang John McCain on he head with it like they were in some kind of manic Tom and Jerry cartoon.
Senator Obama is often too nuanced for the stump. He sounds too much like a pundit, and not enough like a leader. He needs to hold his professorial nose, and start being punchy, simplistic, and political. In fact, he needs to be releasing the kind of ad McCain released yesterday:
"You, the American workers, are the best in the world. But your economic security has been put at risk by the greed of Wall Street. That's unacceptable.... I'll reform Wall Street and fix Washington. I've taken on tougher guys than this before."
Democrats need to take a leaf out of the Republican play-book, and stir up some fear. They need to scrap the message of post partisan economics, and tell hard working Americans that they have been failed, and betrayed not by Wall Street, but by the Republican Party.
When I was campaigning on the doorsteps of Iowa for Hillary Clinton, I met a woman who told me she was supporting Senator Clinton over Senator Obama because what she needed was not "hope", but "help."
To people like that woman, who had to decide between paying her mortgage and her medical insurance, the abstract messages of change and hope, the redemptive and historic nature of Barack Obama's candidacy are moot points. The "movement" has passed them by, because they are simply looking for the candidate who is going to help them pay their bills.
If Senator Obama is going to connect with those blue collar men and women in states like Ohio and Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, he needs to let them know he is offering them that help. And even more importantly, he needs to show them that John McCain isn't.