Wondering Out Loud

Obama’s fundamental problem

Just released by Zogby and Gallup are two polls that show this see saw race is still that. McCain has regained the lead in both – within the margin of error as almost all polls have been. As the polls are released and the ebb and flo continues, I asked myself, again, why isn’t Obama up by 10 points?

This time, I think I have an answer.

Obama has the star power, the charisma, the rhetorical skills (when giving a prepared speech). He has an opponent who’s old enough to have been drawing full Social Security benefits for 5 years and the bad luck of having an Albatross called George W. Bush hanging around his neck. If all that isn’t enough, we have an economy in turmoil and a sub-prime mortgage crisis that threatens shut down numerous banks. 

All of this, and more, should have Obama cruising toward an electoral landslide, but that aint happening. And here’s why.

The events of yesterday, which I posted about here, got me hearkening back to a few weeks ago when Russia invaded Georgia and the dramatically different ways the candidates reacted.

McCain took to the microphone and gave a strong statment condemning Russia’s actions. In no uncertain terms he placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Medvedev and Putin calling on them to “immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces” from Georgia.

Strong and forceful, it was the statement of a leader.

Compare that to Obama’s initial reaction:

“I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected. All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

He doesn’t condemn Russia’s invasion, rather he condemns the violence and urges and “end to armed conflict.” He asks both sides to show restraint – forget about Georgia’s right to defend its self. And he wants talks. Talks that include the UN Security Council where Russia would certainly use its veto power. He doesn’t demand Russia withdraw from Georgia. He doesn’t even suggest it.

Fast forward to yesterday and his I’ll-be-there-if-you-need-me reaction to McCain’s decision to leave the campaign trail and go back to DC to figure a way out of this mess.

Different scenario, same results.

I do believe Obama’s fundamental problem, the reason he’s not ahead by 10 points, is that he suffers from an acute case of can’t-make-a-decision-itis.

The man who voted “present” around 130 times in the Illinois State Senate assumes a deer in the headlights pose when he has to make a big decision. Especially when it needs to be made quickly.

People want a leader who makes decision, tough or easy, quickly and with conviction. Obama, in the two biggest opportunities he’s had during this campaign, has failed both times.

I think Obama is suffering from a lack of confidence and people see that. People who might otherwise vote for him are taking a second look and wondering if they can count on him to, when necessary, make a snap decision, especially when the safety of the nation is in the balance. They may not always agree with McCain, but his decisiveness is something they admire and want in a leader.

A leader must lead – obvious I know- but Obama has done nothing to prove he can. On the contrary, he’s blow the two big opportunities he’s had to step up, grab the moment and say, “Follow me.”

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September 26, 2008 - Posted by | Miscellaneous |

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