Patterico's Pontifications


A Democrat Strategist Named Peter Feld Has Made Two Very Perceptive Observations As Warnings To Obama/DNC In The Last Two Days.

Filed under: General — WLS @ 1:54 pm

Posted by WLS:

Over at Radaronline yesterday, he had a piece up commenting on the real trouble the recent poll shifts protend for Obama over the next 8 weeks.  Among his observations were the following:

If you hide behind electoral maps or statistical projections at your favorite number-crunching site, and ignore the national polls because “it’s 50 state elections,” you’ll be lulled by projections based on weeks-old data, often conducted by middling polling operations. And you’ll miss what’s happened.

This election just flipped.

It’s not “over,” and Obama is far from doomed. But important dynamics were established over the summer, and especially the past 10 days, that help McCain tremendously.

Panic isn’t helpful, but neither is denial. Actually, a little panic at Obama HQ would be prudent. An absence of panic means no lessons are being learned.

The biggest threat to Democrats winning the presidency—despite an economic agenda much better than the GOP’s for the disengaged, downscale voters who decide elections—is always the decades-old perception by those voters that Democrats aren’t “like them”—that they’re culturally alien.

Obama has struggled all year with looking like he “gets” the lives of those whose votes he needs. By choosing Palin, Republicans set a trap that made that vulnerability critical.

Commiserating with Iowa farmers about the high price of arugula at Whole Foods wasn’t too swift. Much worse were the off-the-record comments about bitter people in small towns clinging to their guns and religion.

When the Republicans rolled out the real deal, Wal-Mart mom Palin, Democrats took the bait.

First, they opened up a very unhelpful debate over experience. …. Making the obvious attack on Palin’s experience only shifted the battle to McCain’s best territory.

But the main damage was cultural…  It was so obvious to all the smart people supporting Obama that a small-town mayor is unqualified for leadership! They swapped mocking e-mails, cackled that Palin was a Quayle/Eagleton disaster who’d soon be off the ticket, and argued that the recklessness of her selection demonstrated John McCain’s mental instability. [GEE, I WONDER IF HE”S TALKING ABOUT ANYONE WE KNOW? —  WLS]

And instantly, they undid all Obama’s success in winning new consideration in the small towns that resisted him in the primaries, and that had been insulted by his “bitter” remarks.

….so blinded by derision were the Democrats, and the media, that they completely missed the launch of a “new Ronald Reagan” a family-values superstar cooked up, under the radar, in the Republicans’ Alaskan Frankenlab.

So now, McCain and Palin cast themselves as America’s team, and Obama as the exotic community organizer from Hawaii who bugs people to go to meetings.

When Palin’s background and “redneck” origins were so savagely ridiculed by Democrats, her mockery of “community organizers” came off as admirable gumption. She was fighting back. 

Barack Obama has never needed to win swing voters. His entire career has been based on appealing to core Democrats—from his organizer days, to his state Senate career, to his 2004 speech to a packed Boston convention hall, and his US Senate race that same year (he had no serious Republican opposition), to his stunning series of primary and caucus victories earlier this year. 

But the problem isn’t only Obama himself, it’s those around him who live in the same bubble, who think a good way to connect with average American voters is to stage a mass rally—more than double the size of Obama’s largest U.S. crowd—in a foreign country. 

This is the thinking that loses elections. The new rash of polls is a wake-up call.

Today Feld has further cautionary advice for Obama’s team over at

I wouldn’t have counted on Maureen Dowd to illustrate the cluelessness of the liberal media who are losing the election for Obama. But she did.

The conceit of today’s Dowd column — burdened, as so many of hers are, with an ill-fitting pop culture framework (My Fair Lady, this time) — is that Sarah Palin’s interview later today with ABC’s Charlie Gibson is a moment of high peril for the putatively unprepared VP candidate. Dowd mirthfully suggests a few questions for Gibson to ask Palin, such as:

“Why was Sarah for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against the Bridge to Nowhere, and why was she for earmarks before she was against them? And doesn’t all this make her just as big a flip-flopper as John Kerry?”

It’s a question a lot of the fight-the-last-war press seems to be asking. 

 Clarence Page still expects America to wake up and notice that McCain didn’t vet Palin sufficiently. Like Dowd — and the Obama campaign — Page believes that when Americans learn that Palin once supported the bridge boondoggle she now boasts of stopping, her selection will “backfire” on McCain.

“Bridge to nowhere” is an apt name for this Obama strategy. What Obama (“You can’t just make stuff up!”) and his sputtering media supporters miss is that the “for-it-before-I-was-against-it” quote damaged Kerry, not because America hates a flip-flopper, but because it captured exactly what made him seem so ridiculous.

It was a line Kerry had used on himself, something Palin would never do.

Palin may be many things — unprepared, phony, right-wing, LensCrafter model, aerial wolf-hunter — but she’s not John Kerry. Her appeal is visceral, not logical.

The swing voters who have to decide between McCain and Obama recognize themselves in her, something the Obama campaign considers unimportant. The indignant, sputtering media think that they can undo that appeal with careful fact-checking of Palin’s record.

Good luck — if someone doesn’t wake up soon, it looks like you’ll have the chance to fact-check Palin for the next four years.

I point this out only because it highlights in my view the extraordinarily bad tactical decisions the Obama campaign has made just about everyday since the end of the Dem convention. 

I posted a few days ago that when comparing the Obama selection of Biden and the McCain selection of Palin, you could see exactly how it was that the GOP wins national elections and the Dems lose them. 

McCain has been one step ahead of Obama and his press posse since the convention.  He stepped on Obama’s post-convention bounce, pretty much taking Obama’s acceptance speech off the front pages with his selection of Palin. 

By keeping Palin under wraps while she’s being briefed-up, he’s only fueled the press’s sputtering about their lack of access to her.

And they completely miss the mood of the country. 


34 Responses to “A Democrat Strategist Named Peter Feld Has Made Two Very Perceptive Observations As Warnings To Obama/DNC In The Last Two Days.”

  1. There is so much substance to this post but I especially liked the last sentence:

    And they completely miss the mood of the country.

    That is Obama’s biggest problem. Americans want change but that doesn’t mean they want Obama’s kind of change — more and bigger government. Palin offers another option — a leaner, smarter government. I don’t know which kind of change Americans will vote for but their interest in Palin suggests they haven’t decided Obama is the one.

    DRJ (7568a2)

  2. The indignant, sputtering media think that they can undo that appeal with careful fact-checking of Palin’s record.

    How disappointed they shall be when they find it won’t work due to facts actually being on her side…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  3. Underreported, out-of-left-field development: dramatic strengthening of US dollar recently. Gold down to $763. Euro down to $1.40. Traders fleeing commodities for USD. This in spite of the FNM/FRE debacle! Might have implications for the election, if reported and noticed.

    gp (78ea4b)

  4. With Biden saying Hillary is more qualified than he is today, I wonder what Bonasera Obama will talk to the Godfather…I mean Bill Clinton about tomorrow?

    Will Obama ask Bill Clinton (and Hillary) to be his friend?

    Would Hillary even take it at this point?

    Joe (dcebbd)

  5. The MSM’s (and camp Obama’s) whining about not making Palin “immediately available” also is quite tone – deaf, considering the trash they’d leveled at her in less than 72 hours after her nomination. Obama’s looking more like Kerry every day.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  6. After reading the article above, I get the feeling that the McCain/Palin team have someone on their staff that is almost “mind reading” what Obama/Biden have planed next (kind of like a pitcher that is tipping off his pitches by how he holds the ball in his glove). Also, their ability to stay above the fray when it comes to off the cuff comments that Obama or his team make, while being respectful of their opponents (remember the McCain’s message on the night of the DNC congratulating Obama?) show me that they are taking the “high road” during the campaign.

    The fact checking and attacks by Obama’s camp seem to show a campaign in “Chernobyl” mode – and they are clueless on how to handle it, and second-guessing themselves on a few things (like vetting Hillary and alienating both Clintons). I’m sure that tomorrows meeting between Bill and Barry will be interesting, to say the least.

    fmfnavydoc (ba43d6)

  7. The dumbest thing that the Democrats keep doing is trying to change the minds of the swing voters who like Palin.

    They need to learn from McCain’s judo-like response to swing voters’ admiration of Obama’s youth, vigor and attractiveness. He successfully turned things around becuase he gave those voters what they wanted, in the form of Palin and promises of “change.”

    The Obama team is basically doing what didn’t work against Obama, what had Obama up by five to ten points over the late spring and early summer. Namely, they’re trying to convince the swing voters not to like Palin.

    The attacks on Palin will never work, just like the swing voters never stopped liking Obama over the summer, despite all of the attacks on his character.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  8. Oh Yeah, dead on blunt analysis of why the republicans specialize in winning prez elections and dems specialize in whining about losing them.

    Basically, for decades now the dems have been bringing a knife to a gun fight and i simply dont understand why they keep doing this.

    james conrad (6bb6e6)

  9. Father: muslim with communist leanings.

    Step-father: muslim with communist leanings.

    Mother: radical hippie chick with communist leanings.

    Preacher Rev. Wright: USA hating, black “liberation theology” nonsense.

    Good friend: William Ayers, radical, hippie terrorist.

    Wife: Michelle, USA hating, chip on her shoulder besides having a middle class, Ivy League education.

    Hmm, yes he’s a “good American” isn’t he?

    McCain-Palin by a comfortable margin.

    The “community organizer”, aka, the Messiah with a thin resume, is literally flaming out before our eyes! One year experience in the Senate, and he decides to run for the presidency.

    Las Vegas odds-makers are now saying McCain-Palin have a 70% chance of winning. And the percentage is going up.

    Nov. 4 won’t even be close.

    RSSG (f6cafd)

  10. That is a powerful article.

    Here, on the other hand, is an example of how they will not get it. How dare you try to tell us anything? We are the brightest, richest, smartest people on earth with the highest SAT scores and you are all dumb. Funny how the dummies always seem to outwit the high SAT folks.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  11. RSSG, All of that stuff you just said about Obama was in the public eye by the end of May, and yet Obama had a lead as big as McCain has now until the VP selection process.

    That sort of talk works with the converted. But none of what you just said worked with swing voters. They’re turning to McCain/Palin because they see Palin there, not because they’re turned off by Obama.

    The swing voter is undecided precisely because he or she isn’t moved by all of the negative stuff out there. If you were moved by the negatives, you’d have taken a side long ago.

    The reason Democrats are spewing all sorts of negative stuff about Palin is that it’s cathartic for them. They can’t understand why the swing voters ignore them, or are even turned off.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  12. It is not an Alaskan Frankenlab–Sarah Palin was created in Rovenstein’s castle.

    Jeez, I am starting to channel Andrew Sullivan now. That is scary.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  13. has the following odds:
    Obama -132 (56.9%)
    McCain +108 (48.1%)

    The line has definitely been moving towards McCain the last two weeks

    nek (98cc03)

  14. Re: fmfnavydoc

    What’s happening is that Team McCain have cracked Team Obama’s OODA Loop, and is disrupting it. They Observe what Team Obama does, and most importantly Orient to what the data they got back. The Decision that they know Team Obama will make makes their own Action easier, thus forcing Team Obama to play defense, and not in a friendly court.

    BigFire (194640)

  15. These are some very astute observations. If this guy is a respected Democrat consultant, why don’t they listen to him?

    Because they’re too busy acting like sharks in a feeding frenzy. They can’t see through the blood.

    And that is one reason why they keep losing elections. Until they separate themselves from the rabid mindless Left, the Democrats will never win the White House.

    They are not the mainstream they think they are. Sarah Palin is.

    TheMadKing (f38d45)

  16. Great post. Now, quit giving them hints!

    JD (5f0e11)

  17. Just as the Dems pray (well, a few of them) daily that W not die else Cheney becomes prez, so too, do I pray that nothing happen to Joe Biden.

    At this point, the only way BHO pulls this out by his own acts, is to get HRC on the ticket.

    Ed (f35a20)

  18. I have a feeling that they’re laying a trap by having Palin continually repeat the Bridge to Nowhere line. The Dems think they’ve caught her in a lie so it’s like waving a red cape at a bull. But not only will she be able to explain to Charles Gibson how she actually did ultimately kill it, she can then drag Obama and Biden into it in front of a huge audience since they each voted twice in favor of the earmark.

    Randy R (643dde)

  19. “But not only will she be able to explain to Charles Gibson how she actually did ultimately kill it,”

    She did not kill it, Congress killed the funding,

    Sarah Palin:
    “Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project,
    and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island,” Governor Palin added. “Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”

    Jar@my home computer (6b0755)

  20. Letsee: one person can only vote present ,has no Bills attachedto his authorship, and detests a large segment of the population -conjoins himself wih a person who knows everything but knows nothing- thats a real disaster in the making.If it wasn’t for the mainstream media this election would not be close.

    mike191 (d74112)

  21. With the comments we are seeing from the Obama campaign and its surrogates ( like the vile disgusting remark about Palin’s only qualification for VP nominee being she hadn’t had an abortion ), not only are the McCain / Palin inside the OODA loop of the Democrats but they are getting them so frustrated that they are showing their basic, vile disgusting nature.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  22. McCain and Palin are most certainly in Baracky’s melon.

    JD (5f0e11)

  23. But this advice is suffused with its own heedless arrogance and liberal presumption: that Palin is essentially a totally artificial thing, something created in a lab. They never get it, even when they’re scolding each other for not getting it.

    rrpjr (fb0748)

  24. #19

    Yeah that’s the ticket.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  25. I was at Wednesday’s rally in Fairfax. It was incredible, believe me. The word I would use is “Inspiring”. The energy, optimism and enthusiasm there was something I won’t soon forget.

    I have pictures on my homepage COMMON CENTS:

    Steve (126192)

  26. Excellent original reporting, Steve. Thanks for covering the story and sharing it here.

    DRJ (7568a2)

  27. I’m guessing Feld didn’t attend Harvard. Not saying he couldn’t have but given the lucidity on display, it’s unlikely.

    Actually, I kind of hope he did. But were that the case he’d probably be listened to and BO wouldn’t be in his current predicament.

    Chris (6b9f67)

  28. And they completely miss the mood of the country.

    This sentence is a great summary of the change that has become increasingly apparent over the past two weeks. At the DNC, Obama talked about his crusade to “change America”. At the RNC, McCain talked about “changing Washington DC”.

    Except for the Code Pink Left, most Americans are actually quite proud of America. We don’t think America needs changing. The problem is the inability of politicians in Washington DC to think beyond their own interests and work together on behalf of America. Obama has never challenged his party’s leadership to effect change – the choice of Biden reinforced his reality. McCain has worked with and against both R’s and D’s – the choice of Palin reinforced his reality.

    Pedro (6bf781)

  29. Spot-on, Pedro. That is a huge difference and one that hadn’t consciously registered with me in this cycle.

    Chris (6b9f67)

  30. Feld’s accurate & succinct appraisal of the Obama campaign & the Democratic Party’s response is completely spot-on while being both humorous & appropriately alarming.

    It’s a wonder that he never bothers to ask himself why is it that only one party is bothered addressing the majority of Americans or the military outside of photo-ops, speeches or political attacks.

    PMain (77f948)

  31. I think there is also something to be said for the absence of the Clintons. Now, the media can and will focus more on Obama himself. Then, Palin enters the fray. He was successful at running against Hillary. He has yet to prove successful at running against a real contender for the presidency.

    Carolynp (a200f6)

  32. “He has yet to prove successful at running against a real contender for the presidency.”

    All this talk about who’s been vetted and whatnot, while the chosen one himself hasn’t really ever won an election not really. He’s never really had a tough interview either, not that I’ve seen. Say what you want about Palin, when are the D’s going to vet Obama?

    Early on he dismissed any “digging” into his Chicago past. You hardly have to scrape the surface to find something bad. The digging would be if you were looking for ANY kind of success.

    As far as I’m concerned, all the R’s have to say is “what has this man ever done?” and they should win. It’s a testament to the near insanity of our beloved MSM that we even know the mans name.

    Who is Barack Hussein Obama? And why are we even talking about him?

    The reason that Palin was such a great choice is because Obama is such a weak choice in the first place. By picking someone so young and green, Mccain simply pointed out how ridicules the Obama presidency would be. She’s not qualified, but by comparison to the chosen one, she’s Winston freaking Churchill.

    xerocky (cf0c5e)

  33. The Emperor has no resume.

    Stevie Ray (c32960)

  34. #6 and #14

    Doggone it, BigFire, you beat me to the OODA comment.

    For anyone who missed it, a nice overview of the concept is at this link.

    W. Krebs (2aa0cc)

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