What Obama Must Do

Experience is one of the many things that might contribute to good judgment, but it is not a proxy for it. Experience by itself means nothing. The real question is who has better judgment?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

1. Sear into people's minds that experience means nothing. It is not end in and of itself. It is only a means to an end. Experience is supposed to lead you to having better judgment, but very often it does not.

The two most experienced government officials of our lifetimes were Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Their experience did not help them to have any better judgment, so it was wasted. The most experienced politician of our lifetimes was Strom Thurmond. Do you think his experience helped him?

The goal is good judgment. Experience is one of the many things that might contribute to good judgment, but it is not a proxy for it. Experience by itself means nothing. The real question is who has better judgment? Say it again and again. Judgment, judgment, judgment. Pound it home.

2. If Senator Clinton was named Senator Hillary Smith would she be the front runner today? No way in the world she would be. You know it, I know it and every American, if they stopped to think about it for a minute, knows it.

Make them stop and think about it for a minute.

Some might say that's unfair because her last name is not random. Since she was married to the president, she was in the White House for eight years. But think about what that argument means. We're supposed to be impressed that she was the First Lady for eight years?

People will say she was intimately involved in policy at the White House. Remember after her healthcare plan failed, the Clinton administration repositioned her as the person who took care of the china at the White House. Not China policy, but the china people ate off of.

The Obama campaign can't find dozens of quotes from those years where the administration repeatedly said she had no hand in shaping the president's policy?

This might seem unsavory to some people, but we're not playing patty-cakes here. Obama is down by over 20 points in the national polls despite his recent surge. Does he want to win or not?

It is a perfectly legitimate question to ask whether Senator Clinton has any experience at all besides being a senator for a short period of time (where she was completely ineffectual in stopping the worst and most unpopular president in US history). Does being a First Lady really count?

3. Speaking of not playing patty-cakes, when is Senator Obama going to make an effective case that Senator Clinton is the most right-wing Democratic candidate in the race? I'm not saying she's Joe Lieberman, but based on her voting record and her record of non-leadership in the Senate, she is to the right of all the other Democratic candidates.

I don't think she's a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. And I'm positive she would make an infinitely better president than any of the Republicans running. But there is a reason why so many progressive activists are frustrated with her. She buys into Republican talking points and sometimes votes that way, especially before the election season was upon us. A flag burning law? Really?

Does Obama not realize that he is in a Democratic primary? And that most of the voters in that primary think Hillary Clinton is the most liberal of the candidates, not the most conservative? It might help to point out that the opposite is true.

Remember, the American people don't necessarily know what you know. It's your job to make them aware of the facts that might help you and hurt your opponent.

Side note here: It might seem that I am a little antagonistic toward Senator Clinton here. I am. It's because she has done a terrible job of fighting against the Bush administration. Has she even really tried? What has she led on? But Senator Obama's record on this front is not very encouraging, either.

It's not that I am against Senator Clinton and wildly fond of Senator Obama. Some of the political strategies I am suggesting here might be uncomfortable to some people, especially Democrats who are not fond of fighting dirty. But if you want to win, you have to throw a couple of punches - especially if you're down.

Challengers don't have the luxury of running of positive, soft campaigns It's a recipe for guaranteed failure. Front runners stress positive campaigns because they don't want to be criticized. They want a cake walk. It's the challenger's job to prevent that.

But how do you run a positive campaign for change - as Obama has repeatedly said he wants to do - and still fight tough ...

4. Tell us why you love America. Tell us why Bush and Cheney let down that vision of America.

Start every speech by telling us what's great about America. The constitution, the liberties our founding fathers risked their lives for, the hope of a better, brighter future. Then tell us about the dark clouds Cheney and Bush rolled in that fought against this vision of a grand America. How they chose torture and first strike wars and spying on innocent Americans over the better angels of America. How they made the shining city on a hill a little less bright.

You don't fight against Cheney and Bush because you want to divide America; you do it to protect America.

But this strategy would be purely rhetorical for Senator Obama since he has done almost nothing to oppose the Bush administration, either. In the cynical world of politics, however, he can still blame Senator Clinton more for this since she was in the Senate longer while Bush was president. She was the biggest Democratic name in the country and she stood by while Cheney turned the lights out.

What might help this stance is if Senator Obama actually located his balls and actually took on the Bush administration. Then he could make this case a lot more effectively. If you're wondering how he can do this, I have a simple suggestion. His name is Senator Russ Feingold. Do what he does. Put your gift of oration behind his gift of courage.

It's not a matter of being the most liberal candidate, or calling for the quickest withdrawal from Iraq or advocating for the greatest number of social programs. It's about a willingness to fight for America.

The new FISA bill is being debated now. Make a stand. Don't let the Republicans and accommodationist Democrats put telecom immunity in the bill.

Iraq funding is coming up. Tell us how you're going to fight back against giving the president another blank check. Then actually do it. Back up your words with action. Show us what you got.

You don't have to be the furthest to the left on the issues. But you do have to be the strongest fighter for the issues you do believe in. That's what a leader does.

Then you can say you have the judgment necessary to take on the president and show us a better way. That as a leader you can bring us out of the darkness and back into the light.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Popular in the Community