Closing the Enthusiasm Gap

In my column at Townhall today I talk about the enthusiasm gap in the presidential race and one way to help close it.

There is definitely an enthusiasm gap in the 2008 presidential election. Obama has moved supporters to tears. John McCain has too, but for different reasons. Hillary moved herself to tears – just when it was needed most.

With a string of eight consecutive state primary victories, Barack Obama has strong momentum. The excitement surrounding the candidacy of Obama goes beyond mere momentum though. It is fueled by raw emotion and is going to be a powerful thing to beat. Hope and change, like puppy dogs and sunshine, are hard to oppose. So what are a former First Lady and Vietnam POW to do? How do they capture some of that excitement, or at the very least find a way to dampen that Obamania?

I think an exciting VP choice might help, but more than anything, the message that “hope is not a strategy” needs to be told. One of my favorite VP possibilities, Michael Steele, put it this way a year ago:

For years, I sat in audiences and listened as politicians tried to win over voters, especially minority voters, by talking about hope. “Hope is on the way”, “keep hope alive”, “hope you have a nice day!” But our communities demand more from its leaders than “hope” because hope by itself is not a strategy. Hope doesn’t protect you from terrorists, hope doesn’t lower your taxes, hope doesn’t help you buy a home, and hope doesn’t ensure quality education for your kids. What we Republicans can speak to and the kind of leadership Americans demand (and we can provide) affords every citizen the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality and their hopes into action for themselves and their families. Without action, hope passively waits on others to solve problems. Without action, hope looks to next year instead of doing the hard work required today. Without action, hope is powerless to transform lives.

Dean Stephens agrees with me.

John Hawkins’ column about Obama’s Hallmark message is a great companion piece to this. John writes:

“The Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.” — Paul Krugman

If even Paul Krugman is willing to publicly admit that Barack Obama is a human featherball — a slick, smiling, substance-free empty suit who excites gullible dimwits by repeating the words “change,” “unity,” and “hope” over and over — then who am I, a mere conservative blogger, to disagree?

Incidentally, this is what Democrats mean by change: the ideas of Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, and Dennis Kucinich being mouthed by a young, black man instead of an old, white man. It’s sort of like the Democratic idea of diversity, which encompasses a white man, a white woman, and a black man espousing the exact same liberal ideas. But, before it’s too late, maybe some of Barack Obama’s supporters should try to pin him down on exactly what kind of “changes” he supports before he gets into office and pushes a trillion dollar tax hike, partial birth abortion, and giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. My guess is that isn’t exactly the sort of “change” that most of the country is hoping for.

Read it all.

Daniel Ortega on Barack Obama
The Further Adventures Of The USS Flyswatter, Conclusion