Conventions in recent years have transformed into attention getting parties for candidates but nothing in the past will top the "look at me"fest that Barack Obama has planned for his party. Instead of holding the climactic day in the convention hall, Obama wants to issue free tickets to try and fill a 75,000 seat stadium. He plans to show the country, the world, and most importantly the Democratic Party how much the people love him.
Obama hopes to garner the same kinds of press accolades that he got when he spoke after a massive rock festival. The press gave him the credit for attracting tens of thousands of attendees who had really come to see free music. How will this play with the Democratic Party, though? Party conventions serve another purpose other than anointing the next nominee for the presidency. They also function as rewards for hard working, cash donating, or long time faithful party members. All of a sudden the restricted club will be completely open to the public on the most important day. How will the old Democratic machine politicians react to this?
Obama also faces a serious problem. Certainly the backbone of his support thus far has lain with the antiwar crazies to whom he promised a definite end date on Iraq. He also slammed Bush's refusal to agree to a timetable that might encourage terrorists to lay low until the danger is gone. Now gas prices have taken center stage as an issue and the Democrats do not fare well here due to their refusal to allow expanded drilling. Iraq has stabilized; its government and military gain more confidence monthly while the violence plummets.
As a result Obama recently announced that as president he will not stick to a set timetable, but evaluate the situation as it develops. Smart thing to say, but his statement almost precisely mimics the stance of President George W. Bush. Iraq itself may make this a moot point because they themselves want to set a plan for US troop withdrawal. If President Bush comes to an agreement with Iraq on this issue and the country remains stable, the war cannot be defined as anything but a success. The extreme anti-American anti-war crowd will not stand by a candidate that admits in the least that President Bush's policies actually succeeded. On the other hand, mainstream America knows success when they see it.
Meanwhile John McCain has started campaigning aggressively. His style differs strongly from President Bush's campaign in 2004. Senator McCain gives a speech, then walks into the crowd to engage the people one on one. His campaign runs opposite to that of Obama. McCain sees the opinion and perspective of each individual as important, something that reflects America's belief in individualism. Obama emphasizes the collective experience, making the individual feel part of something larger, but small himself. His Colorado extravaganza reflects a Benito Mussolini style that works well for sports fans and rock concert attendees, but is not conducive to stating a rational message.
The obstacles continue to pile up for Obama. Perhaps that is why he now calls himself the underdog in the race.
Let's give credit to President George W. Bush for making a courageous decision this week, overturning the executive ban that his father placed on offshore drilling and exploration. Anyone who knows anything about the current President Bush understands that this had to be a personally difficult decision. George W. Bush has always demonstrated a sincere and powerful loyalty to his father and the legacy of that presidency. To personally repeal a measure his father imposed must have been gut wrenching.
However President Bush understands that times have certainly changed. In the first Bush's presidency, gasoline prices hovered around a dollar a gallon on average, lagging far behind inflation. Now they drive inflation and threaten to undo twenty-five years of prosperity. It is not to go back to relying solely on cheap oil that we must do this. The US should continue expanding its use of native natural gas and oil as well as coal while also generating more power from wind and solar sources. Diversification brings stability.