Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Matter of Mismanagement

In reviewing the Democratic candidates' hopes for change upon official entry into the 2008 presidential election, they appear more as twins than rivals. There are few policy differences. They both supported the continued construction of a fence at the border between the United States and Mexico (which, I pray, contained some other set of provisions beyond just that because, quite frankly, how could they possibly have voted for such a xenophobic border policy without other things going on in the bill???). They both express continued support for the Roe v. Wade decision. They both advocate a reauthorization and extension of the assault weapon ban. They both want to take a bite out of No Child Left Behind.

Provided the aforementioned, I, along with many other American voters, am having a tough time picking a side. I struggle on a daily basis, finding flaws in each candidate, and ending up with a pretty even pro/con list. But I wonder if my gut reaction, say if I were held at gunpoint and forced to pick a candidate, is more contingent upon campaign management and public image than the issues?

I never thought of myself as one of those fickle, image-obsessed, mainstream media-reliant voters. I always choose candidates based on their voting records, their resumes, and their plans for the future. But with a race as tight as this one, I find myself looking for other things. One of them is campaign management. Though I realize it's out of the candidates' control to an extent, I have come to recognize how vital the proper steering of a campaign can be, especially as the momentum fueling Hillary Clinton's camp has begun to screech to a halt.

Despite Hillary's depth and extensive qualifications, the dog-eat-dog, hypercritical tone her campaign has elected to use as verbal artillery against her opponent has become tiresome. But a part of me wonders: is this all her fault, or simply a case of poor campaign management?

In a piece in the Guardian today, the UK paper covered the latest news that Obama's campaign was encouraging Clinton to concede considering Obama's recent wins in Hawaii and Wisconsin, noting that most of the negative campaigning could be taking its toll on the Democratic base, causing a greater shift in Obama's favor:

The Clinton campaign also appears to have miscalculated with a last-minute burst of negative advertisements in Wisconsin. The Clinton campaign had accused Obama of plagiarising his speeches from the Democratic governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. But the attacks appeared to have alienated undecideds, who turned towards Obama.

Is there enough time for Clinton to change her course between now and the big votes in Texas and Ohio? With the Clinton campaign running a little low on funds and even lower in time, the shift of Clinton's team from Alpha- to Under-dog is filling this race with more suspense than many voters had expected, keeping us glued to our tv sets to find out what happens next.


Please note that the next major political contests will take place in Texas and Ohio on March 4th, though early voting has already begun in Texas. The next Democratic debates are scheduled as follows:

1. 2/21/08: Austin, TX

2. 2/26/08: Cleveland, OH

3. 2/28/08: Houston, TX

- Wendi Muse

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