With the Democratic convention in full swing, Sen. Barack Obama faces a real problem. He has been letting the Republicans define him negatively. John Kerry and even Al Gore did the same thing in the past two presidential races.
This campaign should be no contest. The economy is sinking by the day. Jobs and home ownerships are vanishing across the country. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue with heavy costs in blood and treasure. Moreover, voters tell pollsters President Bush will not be missed when he leaves in January.
In addition, even GOP stalwarts admit that Democrats will pick up seats in both houses of Congress, assuring them continued power (if they use it) on Capitol Hill.
So why is John McCain running even in the polls with Obama? One reason is that the senator from Illinois chose to vacation in Hawaii while the GOP battered him wall to wall with speeches and TV ads. There was no response from Obama on the sandy beach multiple time zones away.
Obama should have taken off for a weekend at home or at least on a beach in Florida or California. It was no time to rest.
The Democrats don't seem to realize there is no holiday for the opposition in a nasty fight. The battle is 24-7 when the swift boat smear gang reappears in a slimy book about Obama. The party's ticket can take a vacation after the election.
The Democratic campaign has another handicap. Obama's nomination is a major breakthrough for diversity, but some voters will cast ballots against him because of his skin color. And they will surely not tell pollsters for fear of being called racist.
Yet, the party has to recognize the extent of the voters, not restricted to the Deep South, who feel that way. It is just a fact of life.
Obama has a lot going for him. He has energized young voters of all colors in big registration numbers. His age of 47 is a stark comparison with McCain, soon to be 72. The debates should be a better platform for the Democratic nominee.
Obama cannot be timid about attacking McCain. Those GOP charges of his being an elitist are laughable when McCain can't remember that he and his wife own seven properties. Talk about elitism.
Bottom line: If voters elect McCain based on such issues as the absence of a flag on Obama's lapel, they will get what they deserve—more of Bush-Cheney wrapped in a so-called maverick package.