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Lulling McCain

A few people are arguing that the fact Obama has slipped in the polls over the last month is not really a real problem for Obama, but rather it is just smart strategy, and Obama is outsmarting McCain by getting him to expend all his resources early, and Obama will come back and crush him later when he is tired and has nothing left.

Obama’s Rope A Dope
(Deannie Mills, Huffington Post, 20 Aug 2008)

I have been thinking a lot lately about Ali’s boxing career and especially his “rope-a-dope” strategy.

And I think it’s come to life again, in the Obama campaign.

Obama has taken many body blows during this lengthy campaign, first from Hillary Clinton and her many surrogates, and now from John McCain and his two surrogates, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Recently, during the only real vacation he’s had in two years, the McCain campaign released a different sneering smear-ad pretty much every day of the week.

The fight’s over!

But, see, all this tongue-wagging really fails to take into account that this political boxer may actually have a strategy of his own. Call it, roping a dope.

All summer, during the early rounds of the fight, most Americans have not been paying that much attention while McCain has landed one body-blow after another. When they do look up, they see a fighter on the ropes, holding up his fists to protect his face, maybe getting in a jab or two in self-defense.

He’s weak! they cry. He’s getting the crap beat out of him!

But is he? Is he REALLY?

Right now he’s got a fortune in the bank, no debt, more money pouring in every month–and while that’s going on, he’s working hard to unify a party exhausted and irritated at one another after the tiresome primary season. Call it lots and lots of working out at the gym, strengthening those abs so they can withstand the hard punches.

Meanwhile, his trainer stepped in before the match and loosened the ropes–meaning, it may not be readily apparent simply because the campaign hasn’t trumpeted it loudly to media far and wide–but hard-hitting Obama attack ads have been quietly playing in swing states all over the country, delivering sharp jabs to McCain. They don’t smear McCain’s character or make up baseless crap about him or pretend that Britney Spears matters worth a damn to anybody in this country except Britney Spears–but they deliver sharp counterpunches on McCain’s weakest policy positions, and they’re landing more than a few bruises in the states where the fight hangs in the balance.

By the time we get to the last couple of rounds of this fight, Obama is going to come full-on into his own. He will get his strength and stamina from US–all of us out here who are in the ring with him. We will be energized and, to coin a phrase, “fired up and ready to go.”

And when that happens, most of the country WILL be watching. They’ll see a tired old man throwing ineffectual, wild punches.

And they’ll see a fighter in his prime, dancing away from the ropes, landing the knock-out blows.

Hmmm. There are possibly some good points in there. But I’m not sure I really buy it. I’m not sure that in this kind of game, which is of course NOT boxing, that it is ever the “smart thing to do” to let your opponent take the momentum and lead the media narrative for a month.

2 comments to Lulling McCain

  • matt

    i’ve been thinking about this too…wondering why all i hear about lately is mccain. maybe it’s more about taking a break and focusing on things like who’s gonna be his vp versus wasting his time in august trying to build a bigger lead. why not save your energy since you’re ahead in the first place.

  • Abulsme

    I was ready more today about this all being “according to plan”. Maybe. I continue to have doubts about the wisdom of that plan if that is true though.

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