Sunday, May 11, 2008

Find Your Best Advisor

Barack Obama will face some challenges this fall, no matter how Rosy you may find the outlook for Democrats. And he'll need good advice to make the best plans for success. So who would any Democrat turn to when looking for sage words? Why, Newt Gingrich of course!
Dear Senator Obama,

Your campaign has been brilliant. It has given you more support and more momentum than most analysts expected a year ago. Keeping things simple and vague has worked so far, and it might work all the way to the White House. "Change you can believe in" is a great all-purpose slogan. It allows every person to fill in his or her own interpretation of what it means. In some ways, it's reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's 1976 promise to run "a government as good as the American people."

The challenge you will face in the next few months is stark. Do you want to remain vague? You might win—but you might find that, in winning, you have a "victory of personality" with no real policy consequences. Or do you want to provide specifics? If so, your victory could be a clarion call from the American people to Congress to join you in achieving your goals.

Ok, it may sound a little crazy for a member of the Donkey Tribe to be looking to the former GOP speaker of the house for hints and tips, but Newt's been around the block a few times and may be on to something here. As long as you stay vague and focus on positive imagery like hope and change, you deny your opponent the ammunition he desires to pick apart your platform. And it may just be that this is the kind of campaign you need to get across the finish line in November.

The problem with this, of course, is that you then need to show up in January after the inaugural balls are concluded, the balloons popped and the banners taken down, and actually get to work. And if you surprise a whole bunch of your supporters who thought you would do certain things, your support erodes. Getting into the office in the first place is critical, certainly, but you need to maintain that coalition of support through your term to actually get anything done. Failure to manage that feat leads to a one term president.

So, Senator Obama... don't trust Newt's intentions too much, but you may want to give some thought to that advice.

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