As the Barack Obama Traveling Hope and Change Show pulls into Reunion Arena today, his campaign has to be looking for a change in the wind.
Hillary Clinton’s prospects for winning our state March 4 are alive and well, partly because Texas Democrat politics and demographics favor her, and partly because Mr. Obama is having what professional observers call “a really bad week.”
First came the harmless but odd YouTube montages of peculiar fainting spells at his campaign events, with the candidate repeatedly offering water and presumptuous claims that the fainter “will be all right.”
Senator, healer, medical clairvoyant – and they say his résumé is thin.
Then came the sheepish admission of his theft of inspiring rhetoric from Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign for Massachusetts governor. Again, not a big deal, but an embarrassment an heir apparent to his party’s presidential nomination does not need.
The topper came as Mr. Obama’s wife delivered the shocking insult that nothing in the last 25 years had made her proud of America.
“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country,” she said. That quote may be seen as a tribute to the history-making impact of her husband’s ascendancy. Except that she said that was not the prime source of her newfound admiration for the country her husband seeks to lead. So one is left wondering where Michelle Obama has set the bar.
She became an adult, at least technically, in 1982. Women and minorities already had made enormous strides since her birth. And that continuing progress, which finds us today with unprecedented social and economic advancement for Americans of each gender and every race, leaves the potential first lady cold?
Democrat and Republican Congresses and White Houses have seen America awaken from some profound societal slumber during Mrs. Obama’s lifetime. I don’t think she is too stupid to know this. I think she is sadly hemmed in by the portrayal of America required by the Democrat Party in 2008 – that America is a sinister, noxious place that only can be rescued by them.
On the Republican side, the small but controversial quandary is whether to hand John McCain a big Texas victory that will propel him more forcefully toward the Minnesota convention that will officially anoint him in September.
The alternative would be to cast a Mike Huckabee vote that shows Mr. McCain that he has much discontent to smooth over.
That would be so January.
This race is over. Republicans do not help themselves by staying in tantrum mode or lapsing into outright denial. Does anyone doubt that Mr. McCain got a snootful of righteous skepticism the last few weeks? The ball is now in his court.
The likeability that oozed from Mr. Huckabee when he still had a chance has largely dissipated. Now, he is the quirky relative who won’t leave the party when everyone else has gone home.
And nothing compounds futility like a big dose of narcissism and revisionist history. He has grown fond of invoking 1976, when Ronald Reagan campaigned against Gerald Ford right through the convention doors of Kemper Arena in Kansas City.
In a year of ubiquitous attempts to invoke Reagan memories, this is one of the clumsiest. First, unlike Mr. Huckabee, Mr. Reagan was favored by a large, vocal GOP contingent that actually gave him wins in several significant states, including Texas. Second, the delegate count was too close to call when the 1976 convention opened.
This is not 1976, and Mike Huckabee is not Ronald Reagan. He is not going to win the 2008 Republican nomination and now has sadly morphed from an affable candidate who earned a worthy percentage of his party’s favor into a distraction bordering on annoyance.
Texas will go a long way toward determining whom Mr. McCain will face on a debate stage this fall and in a vital election Nov. 4. He has a lot of work to do, preparing for a Democrat opponent while comforting Republicans still uneasy about him.
Neither of those important missions is helped by the continuing nipping of a rival at his heels.
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