By Lance Thibert
While I am among the first to point out the fallacies in the oft-spouted “both parties are the same” mantra, recent events have humorously, if superficially, made the two presidential campaigns seem like mirror images of each other. The Democratic ticket has a charismatic figure at the head, and an experienced senator in the second slot. The Republican ticket has the experienced senator at the top, and the charismatic figure pulling number two. Support for these two tickets is evenly split:
“In the latest CNN survey of several recent national polls, Obama and McCain are locked in a dead heat at 45 percent each with 10 percent who remain undecided with 50 days remaining until Election Day.”
Take the recent financial collapse on Wall street, both candidates are attacking Wall street for it’s failures, as any good politician will do, yet the seem to be doing it in the exact same way, calling for more regulation. Interestingly enough, both are massive beneficiaries of Wall street political donations. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Though, for those of you concerned about it (I am), it appears that the worst economic damage may have been done, with no other major firms failing, and a surprising amount of order in the markets. That doesn’t erase the fact that it’s been the worst day in 7 years for the market. With the economy as a political issue favoring Obama, a savvy campaign would jump all over this and make it a headline for a few weeks. McCain is weak here, his record on economics isn’t good, and when he said he would read Alan Greenspan’s book, he probably didn’t figure that Greenspan would come out against his tax plan.
(Does anyone else find the voice on the above ad to be horribly annoying?)
However I digress. Indeed both campaigns have taken to using the same slogan, “change we need“, as McCain, being McCain, has decided to fight Obama on his own turf, attempting to seize the mantle of “change” from the Democratic candidate. After Hillary Clinton’s loss attempting to run on experience, and after months of being ignored for trying to run on experience, McCain has apparently decided to use Obama’s campaign as a model for revamping his own.
I would assume this is probably the cause of the two campaigns being similar looking on the surface. Of course, McCain will probably keep his old attacks around on the fringes, labeling Obama a “celebrity” and conveniently forgetting the GOP’s storied history of nominating “celebrity” candidates..Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan, Schwartzenegger, and John McCain. Perhaps…being a political celebrity may not be so bad after all.
If Obama is going to pull ahead, he may need to take the advice of James Carville: get mad, which he may already be doing. Both McCain and Obama have at times portrayed themselves as “above politics” or “post political” and “uniting figures” when in fact, both campaigns have seemingly taken the “old politics” and made it nastier, louder, more divisive and much much more expensive.
So perhaps in a sense, both campaign’s packages look the same, are delivered in much the same way, and cost about the same, but have very, very different contents when opened.
In a further digression, here is a candidate match game thats a decent use of about five minutes of your time. As Professor Robinson pointed out in class, the website http://www.270towin.com/ gives an excellent idea of what states each Canididate must win. For all the attention that’s been paid to Ohio and Missouri as bellewether states, my money is the good old Nevada will probably be a deciding factor in the race. Leonid Balaban’s entry goes far more in depth on the electoral map, and paints a good picture of just how close the election may get.