By Scott Tibbs, August 15, 2008
Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown made an interesting observation earlier this week that matches a conclusion I came to a few weeks ago. This election will, ultimately, be a referendum on Barack Obama.
On paper, this should be a year where the Democrats regain the White House. We have a very unpopular incumbent Republican President, and that has many people looking to move in another direction. The Republican candidate, John McCain, has serious problems with his party's conservative base. The Democrat running for President is a young, charismatic, likable individual who has attracted an enthusiastic following. So why is Obama not farther ahead? Why is he not in position for a decisive victory?
First, Obama is not a known commodity. He only burst onto the national scene in 2004 when he spoke at the Democratic convention and went on to dominate carpetbagger Alan Keyes for an open U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. As the United States deals with Islamic terrorism, a weak economy, and energy independence, does Obama have the experience needed to be President? McCain, for his many faults, is a known commodity. He ran for President before and has been a high-profile figure in the Senate.
Russia's imperialistic invasion of Georgia, stirring memories of Soviet imperialism and strikingly similar to Nazi Germany's invasion of the Sudetenland, probably worked to McCain's advantage. Older Americans, who have doubts about Obama already, may be more comfortable with a Cold Warrior in the White House should the Russians continue acting like the old Soviet Union. Throw Islamic terrorism into the mix, and national security may be an advantage for Republicans again despite the unpopularity of the war in Iraq.
Then there are questions about Obama's ideology. Obama's vote against a bill prohibiting infanticide is but one example of cracks in the reputation he has attempted to build as a "moderate". That he famously had the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate is another. Obama's campaign web site reveals traditionally liberal positions such as support for increasing taxes at a time when the economy is sputtering, support for amnesty for illegal aliens, support for more government spending and support for federal hate crime legislation.
If John McCain wins this November in spite of the political trends favoring a Democratic victory, the results should not be seen as an endorsement for McCain but rather a repudiation of Barack Obama. Four months ago, I was convinced that Obama would have a comfortable victory over McCain. I am not so sure now.
But I am still voting for the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr.