How Republicans might sink Obama
In 1976, they nearly beat Carter with the fear card.
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Like Obama, Carter was promising hope and change. But the yearning for change was epidermal, and something more powerful was lurking deeper in the American psyche then, and I suspect, now. Connally played the fear card, the fear of the unknown candidate and what foreboding tragedies Carter's thin résumé in national politics might produce.Skip to next paragraph
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By the time Americans voted in November 1976, Carter had to stay up till nearly 3 o'clock in the morning to learn if he had really won. With polls closing so rapidly in Ford's favor, had the campaign lasted another week, I suspect Ford might well have won the presidency on his own terms, despite Watergate, embarrassing revelations about CIA scandals, and the humiliation of Vietnam.
Should he ultimately become the Democratic nominee, Obama's credentials currently seem paper thin. A one-term senator from Illinois, he appears as inexperienced as he is telegenic. He talks of getting out of Iraq in his first term, but he has not explained how.
Does he realize that powerful interests such as the Israeli lobby, Saudi Arabia, and Big Oil may see a continuing American presence in Iraq in their interests and they are more than capable of thwarting the intent of an inexperienced first-term president?
To extricate more than 100,000 US troops from Iraq, Obama will have to get the US defense establishment in his corner. That's not an impossible task, but it won't be easy, given the Pentagon's traditional allegiance to Republican presidents.
Surely, if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, not long after he becomes his party's candidate, a latter-day Connally is going to ask indignantly, "Who is this Barack Obama? What does he know about keeping the oil flowing in the Middle East? Does he understand that militant political Islam is waging an open-ended war against the West? What are his qualifications for dealing with China after the Olympics honeymoon ends? And how prepared is he to negotiate with disillusioned American allies as well as a resurging and belligerent Russia?"
Obama is basking in the glow of tinselly primary victories now. But even if he defeats Hillary Rodham Clinton, he faces a very hard sell if he is to move beyond the current popularity contests where smiles serve as a substitute for substance.
If he cannot pass the Connally test and convincingly tell voters who he is and what he will do, the Republicans will have him for lunch in November.