Friday, October 10, 2008

Why gamble?

Barack Obama is buying major air time on multiple TV networks. The question is: Why?

He's running away in the polls. McCain keeps flailing in desperation as his campaign goes down in flames. At the poker table, we'd say that he's on tilt, but craps is his game, so I guess we're stuck with him crapping out. (And I don't know enough about

Conventional political strategy would keep Obama doing what he has been doing, pressing his advantage steadily and incrementally. Buying a half hour of national TV time, simply because it's a big step, looks risky, and most campaigns that are leading become increasingly risk averse.

I don't think Obama is doing just because he can afford the cost and McCain can't answer. (How do you Republicans feel about Reagan's killing of the Fairness Doctrine now?) I don't think Obama is trying to pump up turnout enough to get the Democrats to 60 Senate seats, though I hope that's one outcome.

I think there are two things going on. For one, Obama and his people have proven to be one step ahead of conventional thinking since our interminable election season began. They've seen how risk aversion often leads to stagnation and loss. They've got a clear path to the basket, they trust in their candidate's ability, and they're going to finish this fast break with a slam.

The other factor is more important. The economy is committing suicide, where every individual actor is rationally retrenching and that sends the whole cascading over the falls. There's no one home in Washington who can calm the sweeping, blinding fears. Duhbya's approval rating is in Cheneyesque territory. He couldn't calm Barney, no matter how far south he's willing to scratch Barney's belly.

Obama cannot wait until January 20 to lead the country. Come what may, for the good of America, presumptuous or not, he has to start now, or he'll be the first black President of economic rubble.

He's doing it because it's his responsibility now, and there's no one else who can possibly do it. No one else has the stature. It's just a bonus that he will not only look Presidential but actually be Presidential doing it.

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