Deepak Chopra: Why Obama Needs to Reach Deeper

September 13, 2008

Deepak Chopra provides excellent insights about Election 2008.  Here’s his copywrited blog post dated 10SEP08 in its entirety:

The race has changed, now what? All reports indicate that the Obama camp is rife with confusion about where they stand in the face of the meteoric rise of Sarah Palin and John McCain’s ability to bring the Republican Party together. Neither one was remotely anticipated. This is more than a bump. I think Obama needs to recognize that the tide has decisively turned in McCain’s favor. Palin is shooting down the turnpike, and unless Obama puts up a big hand to stop her, McCain is going to ride her coattails to the White House. The tire is deflating on the Democrats, and once enthusiastic supporters are becoming disheartened.

Right now, complacency is the enemy. The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate have been quiescent for more than a year, on the assumption that letting George Bush hang himself would be enough. It wasn’t, and as a result public disapproval of Congress is as high or higher, than disapproval of the President. Obama can’t afford to rest on his past message. Right-thinking Democrats view Palin as absurd and obnoxious, but she isn’t going to hang herself, anymore than Bush did. Kerry showed himself to be sorely lacking at just this juncture in the 2004 campaign. He had every reason to win, but he didn’t find the means to turn those reasons into a win. He wasn’t alert and flexible in the face of change, and he acted like Gentleman Jim in the face of Swift-boating instead of fighting back with honest outrage.

McCain made two brilliant changes at the convention. He energized the radical right, knowing that he couldn’t win without them. Palin isn’t a joke to a sizable swath of the electorate; she’s a champ. Second, he pretended to repudiate Republican corruption, in essence slapping the party in the face. Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that they deserved it, so in one stroke McCain appeared more honest; he signalled that integrity trumped party loyalty. Independents liked that, and now they are trending toward him.

From the beginning, Obama has had two prongs to his campaign strategy. The first was change, the second was throwing out the scoundrels. McCain has undercut both quite effectively. Therefore, Obama is unlikely to win by repeating the same message, that McCain is basically a third term for Bush, since Independents don’t yet trust Obama to be their alternative to Bush. Obama has to be as flexible in his message as McCain has been.

He needs to show genuine outrage at the Republican smear campaign and call McCain to task personally for allowing it.

He has to unleash a woman like Hillary Clinton to attack Palin as a huge step backward for women. The Hillary camp needs a strong motivation to back Obama, not a grudging one.

He or Joe Biden must forcefully make Palin look extremist.

He needs to run on more than vague optimism. I don’t think that means handing out policy statements, which are as bloodless as planks in the party platform. It means more emotion and visceral opposition to everything Bush stands for.

The bottom line is that for America to turn the page, Obama has to turn the page on his campaign first. As a general call to the troops, asking for change worked in the primaries; it woke people up. But Hillary Clinton’s momentum in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia showed that a more visceral appeal was needed, and will work. At this moment McCain looks plausibly like a change candidate, and so Obama must fight against him and look like he’s fighting. The essential problem which runs deep, is that Republicans operate on the assumption that Democrats will lose, while Democrats operate on the fear that Republicans can’t be beaten. That has to turn around or we will be handed a self-fulfilling prophecy in November.

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NYT Editorial: Gov. Palin’s Worldview

September 13, 2008

There are serious questions about the choice of Sarah Palin to be Vice President and about John McCain’s ability to lead our nation.  What follows is a copywrited editorial comment from the New York Times dated 13SEP08 that embodies the concerns of many Americans:

September 13, 2008
Editorial

Gov. Palin’s Worldview

As we watched Sarah Palin on TV the last couple of days, we kept wondering what on earth John McCain was thinking.

If he seriously thought this first-term governor — with less than two years in office — was qualified to be president, if necessary, at such a dangerous time, it raises profound questions about his judgment. If the choice was, as we suspect, a tactical move, then it was shockingly irresponsible.

It was bad enough that Ms. Palin’s performance in the first televised interviews she has done since she joined the Republican ticket was so visibly scripted and lacking in awareness.

What made it so much worse is the strategy for which the Republicans have made Ms. Palin the frontwoman: win the White House not on ideas, but by denigrating experience, judgment and qualifications.

The idea that Americans want leaders who have none of those things — who are so blindly certain of what Ms. Palin calls “the mission” that they won’t even pause for reflection — shows a contempt for voters and raises frightening questions about how Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin plan to run this country.

One of the many bizarre moments in the questioning by ABC News’s Charles Gibson was when Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, excused her lack of international experience by sneering that Americans don’t want “somebody’s big fat résumé maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment where, yes, they’ve had opportunities to meet heads of state.”

We know we were all supposed to think of Joe Biden. But it sure sounded like a good description of Mr. McCain. Those decades of experience earned the Arizona senator the admiration of people in both parties. They are why he was our preferred candidate in the Republican primaries.

The interviews made clear why Americans should worry about Ms. Palin’s thin résumé and lack of experience. Consider her befuddlement when Mr. Gibson referred to President Bush’s “doctrine” and her remark about having insight into Russia because she can see it from her state.

But that is not what troubled us most about her remarks — and, remember, if they were scripted, that just means that they reflect Mr. McCain’s views all the more closely. Rather, it was the sense that thoughtfulness, knowledge and experience are handicaps for a president in a world populated by Al Qaeda terrorists, a rising China, epidemics of AIDS, poverty and fratricidal war in the developing world and deep economic distress at home.

Ms. Palin talked repeatedly about never blinking. When Mr. McCain asked her to run for vice president? “You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission,” she said, that “you can’t blink.”

Fighting terrorism? “We must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.”

Her answers about why she had told her church that President Bush’s failed policy in Iraq was “God’s plan” did nothing to dispel our concerns about her confusion between faith and policy. Her claim that she was quoting a completely unrelated comment by Lincoln was absurd.

This nation has suffered through eight years of an ill-prepared and unblinkingly obstinate president. One who didn’t pause to think before he started a disastrous war of choice in Iraq. One who blithely looked the other way as the Taliban and Al Qaeda regrouped in Afghanistan. One who obstinately cut taxes and undercut all efforts at regulation, unleashing today’s profound economic crisis.

In a dangerous world, Americans need a president who knows that real strength requires serious thought and preparation.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company


A brief respite from this divisive campaign

September 13, 2008