Instead of complaining that the Obama campaign was the biggest fairy tale he’d ever seen, Bill Clinton should have remembered Frank Sinatra’s musical admonition: fairy tales can come true. As the old song said, they can happen to you if you’re young at heart. On the other hand, they can happen to the other guy.
Which is just what happened to Bill and Hillary. Following the script they wrote back when Bill was governor of Arkansas, they ran all the way to Iowa in January of this year, where someone was waving a magic wand at Barack Obama. And the fairy tale they’d planned to be this episode of the endless Democratic campaign evaporated.
The Obama caravan leaves Denver with most of the problems it had when it arrived, with one obvious exception. The Obama fairy tale floated into Denver on a cloud of charisma. The rock star candidate was over-blessed, even burdened with it.
That problem was solved Denver. The Democrats found the perfect antidote to charisma: Joe Biden. Obama is Elvis; Biden is Jerry Springer. The two don’t belong on the same marquee.
Other problems remain for the Dems to try to solve, and Republicans to use to their advantage. On Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton’s 2012 presidential campaign began. Her speech was very good politics. She did all she needed to do, but left her “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits” ready for the next round. Michelle Obama, whose eyes on Hillary during the latter’s speech could have frozen the bearings of a tank engine, may have been the person who saw that most clearly.
Bill made the most of it, as he always does. His Wednesday night speech was all Obama could have hoped for. Clinton was at his ease, comfortable and speaking forcefully but vaguely. He accused McCain of being wrong on the two big issues of our time: how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America’s place in the world. He claimed Obama had all the skills to solve those problems, but — of course — specified nothing.
Barack Obama didn’t get the convention he wanted. Party unity eludes him, and not just because of the Clintons. For four decades, the Democrats have divided the nation with their identity politics. They are paying the price this year, because the racial, sexual and other identities that unified under their “diversity uber alles” banner now contend among themselves. They may yet unite to defeat McCain, but his opportunities are now waiting to be seized.
The Democrats’ convention was dull, made doubly so by the endless prattle of pundits that was heard more than even the prime time speeches. The Clintons and Joe Biden gave the only rousing speeches before Obama took the stage to part the waters at Invesco Stadium. Obama soars, Biden gores and bores. The Democrats told people they needed to vote for Obama-Biden but didn’t explain why. McCain and his running mate can say, in compelling terms, why Americans should vote for them, and draw clear contrasts. McCain can yet keep the Dems divided and unify his own party. All the tools are there.
As we go to press, Sen. McCain has yet to name his running mate. He has a deep bench to consider, and can wave the right hander in to throw the hard fastballs. If he chooses Cong. Mike Pence, former Sen. Fred Thompson or another solid conservative with the requisite campaign skills, he can gain a huge advantage. If he chooses a pro-abortion running mate, he loses that opportunity to unify the party. If he chooses an unknown such as former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman or Virginia Cong. Eric Cantor, he may surrender the opportunity of the vice presidential debate.
A vice presidential candidate without long experience and considerable skill in debate won’t do well against Biden. McCain cannot afford another Gore vs. Kemp debacle.
The Democrats seemed proud of their lack of a vision for our nation. As James Carville told HUMAN EVENTS chief political correspondent John Gizzi, “If you want to hide something from me, stick it in a party platform. I haven’t the foggiest idea what’s in that thing!” McCain can and must do better.
He — and all the conservatives on the program — can describe how they will build upon the American dream that the Democrats want us to believe is faltering. Obama wants to raise taxes and create new entitlements. McCain does not. Obama believes — as Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said on Tuesday — that the most important barrel of oil is the one you don’t consume. McCain and his running mate should both say that the most important barrel of oil is the one that can be drilled for here in America, freed of the Democrats embargo on American oil.
The Republicans must emphasize the future of our courts. If Obama is elected, the Supreme Court will remain unbalanced toward liberalism for the rest of our lives. Joe Biden opposed Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Obama will appoint only clones of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
McCain and the rest can describe how they will restore America’s place in the world by leadership and strength, facing down Russia, defeating radical Islamism, restoring NATO and shunning the false hopes of the despot-dominated UN. Leadership means making tough choices, and McCain can name the tough choices, and say how they will make them to benefit America, its allies and its interests.
All the predictions of a Republican disaster this year aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Barack Obama is definitely beatable. All it will take is for John McCain — and his running mate — to make a conservative case for strength and leadership at home and abroad. If they begin on Monday, they’ll find their strength in the American voter.