Obama's Glass Jaw?


Ana Maria Cox, quoting a Republican strategist:

In a general, Obama won't be running against Clinton, he'll be running against McCain, a politician that has actually taken political risks and endured the wrath of party hacks in order to make progress on real issues: "What has Obama done? Show me a single issue or piece of legislation where Obama has done something politically unpopular in order to move forward toward a greater goal." I pointed out that this argument hasn't made much of a difference so far. Ah, replied the adviser, "That's because Clinton can't show that she's done it, either." What's more, he said, the press will stop giving Obama a free ride in the general. McCain will be out there, holding court on his bus or his plane, providing unfettered access to both reporters and voters, and journalists will no longer be able to ignore Obama's lack of access and lack of interaction with real people. In fact, it'll be the only thing they talk about.

To which Ezra adds:

Obama's allergy to taking questions -- both from the press and from voters -- is actually an undercovered part of this campaign. Where Clinton does townhalls, Obama holds rallies. Where McCain constantly hangs out with reporters, Obama has little to do with them. They like him, to be sure, but if they continue to feel frozen out, that could change.

All along, I've made the argument that nominating Hillary is the play-it-safe strategy for the Democrats, because while she has a lower ceiling than Obama she also may have a higher floor. Now that McCain is the presumptive GOP nominee, there seems to be an assumption that the Democrats just have to nominate Obama, because you need the guy with the higher ceiling if you're up against a media-darling and moderate-friendly candidate like the Arizona Senator. And maybe that's so. But if Obama does have a glass jaw, if his candidacy is a bubble waiting to be pricked, a strong Republican nominee like McCain is precisely the guy to do it. And if I were a Democrat, the fact that Obama's campaign seems to want to keep their candidate away from debates and town halls and the media horde would make me just a tad nervous about the general election.

Just to be clear, I don't think he's a bubble candidate; I think he'd win in the fall, and probably handily. But the kind of campaign he's running does seem more vulnerable to a well-timed GOP offensive, a sudden reversal of fortune, or a press corps that wearies of his messianic shtick than the sort of dogged, cautious, get-to-51-percent war of attrition that it looks increasingly like Hillary won't get the chance to wage.

Photo by Flickr user Joe Crimmings used under a Creative Commons license.