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Is Barack Obama too smart to be President of the United States? Are Americans afraid to elect a leader who might actually know what he (or she) is doing?
George W. Bush certainly doesn’t qualify for membership in Mensa. His predecessor, a native-born Southern governor from a red neck state, had a beer belly, a fondness for beer and Big Macs and put chasing White House interns ahead of others affairs of state.
Maybe Obama can better win the hearts and minds of America’s mindless if he deep sixes the coat and tie, dumps the stump speech about real issues, and starts tossing back boilermakers and chasing women.
In other words, give Americans what they want: Fewer real ideas and more shuck and jive.
Yes, maybe it has come to this.
Notes Roger Simon in The Politico:
Having had the national media at his feet for more than a year, Barack Obama now finds them at his throat.
The fault is his. He has disappointed us. He is not winning every voting bloc in every state. He cannot close the deal.
Running against an older, white candidate, Obama has been losing the older, white vote.
Zounds. What did we ever see in this guy?
The Bubba voters, the NASCAR voters and the Joe Six-Pack voters don’t seem to like him. (This is according to exit polls, whose accuracy is an open question but whose results are the crack of media analysis.)
Pennsylvania proved to be the turning point. Even though it had been clear since the earliest polls that Obama would lose Pennsylvania, the press was shocked by Obama’s loss of Pennsylvania.
The significance of this loss becomes clear when you see it as part of a larger picture: The superdelegates, the party insiders who will decide the nomination, are watching events very, very closely. And what do they see?
Obama has now lost the popular vote in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. He has been hurt by the irresponsible statements of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and Obama insulted small-town Americans when he accused them of “clinging” to guns and religion.
But Simon goes on to say:
Hillary Clinton has accused Obama of being “elitist and out of touch.” (And Clinton should know: She lived in a governor’s mansion for 12 years and in the White House for eight, and you can’t get more in touch with real America than that.)
So far, however, there has been no great stampede of superdelegates to Clinton. (Since Super Tuesday, Obama has picked up 87 and she has picked up seven, according to his campaign.) Which just goes to show how out of touch and elitist the superdelegates must be. Or else, how politically savvy they are: They don’t find it shocking that Obama can’t win every demographic group in every state.
Not that he has to. No Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has won the white vote. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton found that if you win enough of the white vote and an overwhelming percentage of the black vote, you can get to the White House.
Obama has modified his stump speech to try and broaden his populist appeal. He wants to show ordinary Americans that he is “one of us.”
To which Simon notes:
But what about Obama’s bigger problem? Comparisons are already being made between Obama and Adlai Stevenson, who was an intellectual (read: loser). Obama used to teach law at the University of Chicago, one of the brainiest universities in the country.
And Americans don’t want presidents who are too brainy. (Obviously.) We would rather plunge into foreign wars or fall off economic cliffs than have presidents who know too much. That is because braininess is elitist, and being an elitist is the worst thing you can be if you want to be president.
What Simon is saying is that Obama may be too smart to be President because too many Americans are too dumb to know what they need in their leaders.
Wouldn’t it be more refreshing if Obama was saying what he used to say: that it is wrong to “slice and dice” voters into isolated groups and that it would be good for America to emphasize what unites people and not what divides us?
Yes, it would but don’t count on that happening and this week’s resurfacing of Jeremiah Wright may be starting to work against Obama.
Writes Nedra Pickler of The Associated Press:
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is going after his critics on an incendiary tour that is doing his one-time congregant, Barack Obama, little good.
After weeks of staying out of the public eye while critics lambasted his sermons, Wright made three public appearances in four days to defend himself. The former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has been combative, providing colorful commentary and feeding the story Obama had hoped was dying down.
“This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright,” Wright told the Washington press corps Monday. “It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition.”
Wright’s tour couldn’t come at a much worse time for Obama, who is campaigning for white working class voters in Indiana and North Carolina. Many of Wright’s most controversial comments are angry condemnations of the United States for its treatments of blacks – thoughts that were applauded by the black church leaders in his audience Monday but risk offending white voters.
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Monday suggests the Wright controversy may be hurting Obama among whites. His Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing better than Obama among whites in head-to-head matchups with John McCain. Among white respondents, Clinton gets 43 percent to McCain’s 48 percent. Obama gets 38 percent to McCain’s 51 percent.
Obama moved Monday to try and stem the fallout from Wright’s latest pronouncements but some wonder if the damage is already done:
Writes Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times:
If it was not clear before Monday, Senator Barack Obama said, it should be clear now: His presidential campaign has no control over what the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his former pastor, says or what he does.
“He does not speak for me,” Mr. Obama said. “He does not speak for the campaign. He may make statements in the future that don’t reflect my values or concerns.”
“I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we’re not coordinating with him, right?” Mr. Obama said.
But some wonder is Obama waited too late to stem the tide that is rising against him. Democratic insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that doubts are growing among superdelegates and Clinton’s unrelenting attacks, combined with the Wright issue and other questions, raise increasing doubts about Obama’s electability.
“All that matters is beating McCain,” says one Democratic strategists. “We’d put the devil on the ticket if he was leading in the polls.”