It seems as though everyone has seized on Barack Obama’s comment about “putting lipstick on a pig” yesterday&mash;and Glenn Reynolds has the links to prove it.
At first, I figured that there was no way that Obama could have been that stupid—he would never be dumb enough to make that big a gaffe. But in context, it does sound like he’s calling Palin a “pig” and then goes on to compare McCain to an “old fish.” That also seems to be the way that the audience interpreted it.
This was an incredibly dumb move by Obama. It was an unforced error, and comments like that are enough to sink a political career. Obama is a gifted rhetorician, but without the crutch of a teleprompter, he makes mistake after mistake after mistake. He’s as gaffe prone as President Bush, and now the media is starting to take notice of this.
Obama’s campaign is making mistakes at the worst time. Not accepting public financing means that he has to do 40 fundraisers this month—time that could have been spent on the campaign trail. What’s worse about that is that the message that a Democratic donor wants to hear is not going to be the message that a swing voter wants. Obama cannot afford to swing to the left now. but his need for cash forces him to play to two audiences while McCain can play to independents.
From the beginning, I’ve said that Obama has never run a truly competitive national race. The bruising primary with Clinton seemed to have shown that he could handle it. Now, I’m beginning to wonder how much of that victory was the collapse of Clinton rather than the skill of Obama. Obama has spent the first part of this week on the defensive, which is not where a candidate should be. He’s making errors, looking foolish, and undercutting his claim to be something more than your typical politician.
Obama’s idiotic “pig” comment doesn’t itself mean all that much. What it does suggest is that Obama’s mouth is becoming a problem for him—and with less than 60 days to go in this election, a major unforced error can be fatal.
UPDATE: The overly whiny way that Obama is handling this situation doesn’t suit him. Comparing this to “Swift Boating?” Is that any way to make this controversy go away?
Obama is clearly rattled now, and coming off as desperate and whiny doesn’t make Obama look like a strong leader. Obama does not play well on the defensive, and it shows.