Obama Takes “Victory Lap” in Philadelphia?

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OBAMA STETSON TWN.jpg
I have heard from two attendees who along with 198 other business and social leaders had dinner with Barack Obama last night in Philadelphia.
One said that the whole evening “looked like a victory lap to me.” The other attendee agreed with that assessment.
Overconfidence and the posture of inevitability KILLS campaigns.
Obama and his team better get out of the “we have already won” mode real fast or John McCain and his campaign may pull off yet another risen from the dead miracle.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “Obama Takes “Victory Lap” in Philadelphia?

  1. Kathleen says:

    DavidT…I was not a Hillary supporter, but the fact that 18 million Demz voted for her, made me think she should have been picked, for the sake of party unity and strength of the ticket…of course he couldn’t say No way, no Hillary, I realize, but he could have said simply that she wasn’t on the short list, rather than let the MSM carry on… I agree though, that it was a delicate matter…
    Perhaps many party operatives and pundits didn’t think she would be the pick, but so many women hoped and prayed she would be and reading the body language, between them, especially their joint press statement, did make it seem likely.. and so many people would have been celebrating…. now there is great sadness in a lot of voters…for example, my lawn guy sent me an email saying his lady friend cried the whole day Hillary wasn’t picked and is now voting for McCain…he wanted to know if she the exception… I can understand crying all day, but not voting for McCain.. I do know that when a person has an internal conflict, they sometimes avoid making a choice by not voting at all….I’m worried that a lot of women will stay home on election day and cry that day too. This is why I cite this as an example of what seems overconfident to me…perhaps I was paying closer attention to the nitty-gritty details than the average voter because the DNC Consultant with whom I work was a Hillary supproter…she tells me to be practical and vote for Obama, so does Dennis Kucinich.
    Thank you for your courtesy in this discussion..so many get angry and impugn your integrity and intelligence, if you disagree…I’ll just say that JFK didn;t much like LBJ, but for the sake of party unity and winning, he picked him. I think that was the smarter move…confident enough to pick a strong contender, but not overconfident he could win without him. Without this meldown, Obama could still be behind in the polls. Let’s pray you’re right and all will end well. My kids are all voting for Obama.

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  2. DavidT says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response Kathleen.
    In terms of the msm speculating on Hillary being a vice presidential candidate I guess I view things differently. I think the Obama campaign would have more offended the Clinton supporters by saying “No way, no Hillary” early on as you put it. I don’t think that was an option.
    However while some parts of the MSM may have speculated on whether she might be chosen, I think the vast consensus was that that was very unlikely.
    So while I understand why you might have felt he should have put her on the ticket, given that he chose not to I don’t think he could have handled it in any way that wouldn’t have made those who ended up unhappy with his choice and his campaigns approach to the vice presidential nomination any happier.
    Thanks.

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  3. Kathleen says:

    DavidT..I don’t know of any compelling evidence either…it’s an impression one gets from little things…yes I would be upset with Hillary if she dissed any other candidate and actually complained to one of her advisors when she mentioned all the other candidates, except Dennis Kucinich..same with Bill Clinton when they both praised McCain, but didn’t even mention Kucinich.. she started including Dennis…
    It wasn’t just the timing of BO’s Veep choice,announcement 3 a.m., but this followed two weeks of allowing the MSM to speculate about Hillary as his choice, knowing full well she wasn’t even on the short list…in a sense it felt like he was pretending she had a chance, to milk interest in her candidacy… during this time he was effusive, they had their Unity in NH event and closer to the Veep choice, their press offices sent out joint statements…while others actually on the short list were hovering around their phones waiting for the call, Hillary was out stumping for him…all of which gave her supporters false hope…he should have said No way, no Hillary, if that is what not including her on his short list meant….so it felt especially unkind to poke fun at her 3 a.m. t.v spots as his final statement on it. Since the Veep is always the next candidate, he was effectively ending her presidential path
    I have always planned to vote for Ralph Nader because of impeachment…I vote in a deep blue state so my little vote won’t upset any victory parties….I prefer it when D’s win, overr R’s, as a rule, all things considered.. I have a Congressman who did suport the petiton for impeachment hearings…thank heaven for small blessings.
    Maybe we should ask Steve if his friends were always BO supoprters or were they supporting one of the other candidates in the primaries…

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  4. DavidT says:

    Kathleen,
    Overconfidence is not good I agree. I just am not clear where there compelling evidence of this. I wish everyone felt that the behavior of the Obama operation was appropriate at the event Steve mentions. But that a few were not and claimed he was taking victory laps is not very convincing to me. Do the local newspapers where you live or tv stations or political operatives treat this election as over? Will the story on November 5th in your community be bigger than the story today?
    I regret that the Obama people turned you off. I didn’t realize the 3 a.m. vp announcement was intended as a slap at Hillary. But even if it was pointed that way is that substantial enough for you to really turn off of him. If Hillary had done something similar if she had been the nominee would that have bothered you?
    As for sensitivity to Hillary’s supporters other than this I find myself perplexed. It may be true that he didn’t pick her as vp. It also may be true that he didn’t reach out extensively to her fundraisers. But from what I saw he was about as effusive as one can be in praising her, her achievements, and the achievements of her husband.
    One last thing. Sounds like you wouldn’t have voted for Hillary since she wasn’t an impeachment supporter. I do think for the wiretapping and extra-constitutional stuff considering impeachment is reasonable. However in terms of tackling so many tough issues we have in front of us I think doing so will undermine efforts to mend some of the division, will take attention away from the issues that affect the daily lives of most Americans, and will be spun such a way by the Republicans that we’ll lose far more than we’ll gain by doing so.
    Thanks for your candor in expressing your views. I hope you still decide to vote for Obama in spite of your misgivings.

    Reply

  5. Kathleen says:

    I agree with Steve…confidence is one thing, overconfidence is another…subtle difference but perceptible to the sensitive and aware….anything ‘”off-putting”‘ is not good…
    I sensed an overconfidence when he chose to mock Hillary by sending out his text message Veep choice at 3. a.m… it waa confident enough to not chose Hillary who got more votes than he did, but to slap her in the face by doing it at 3 a.m., was overconfidence…. I’m sure the Palin bounce gave BO some pause for thought as he lost his lead…then he went to the Clintons for help, which they gave despite his lack of sensitivity to her and her supporters…this financial meltdown is helping his numbers, something he had nothing whatever do to with….
    My preference for Presdent is Ralph Nader, but I always try to talk myself into supporting a D because I can do the math, ..but that cocky and totally unnecessary head fake over the Veep thing was a complete turn-off to me. My enthusiasm flatlined…besides I will only vote for those candidates who support impeachment, which leaves BO out of my voting equation.. and the attitude of some Obama supporters and workers is a little too disdainful at times for my taste…instead of appreciating being told what is bothering a voter, they get all condescenidng on you.

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  6. ... says:

    2/198 = Unrepresentative sample.
    Red herring?

    Reply

  7. DavidT says:

    Steve,
    You are right that the Obama Campaign should take the campaign seriously and not declare victory until November 5th. However because a few of your contacts expressed complaints about how the Obama campaign operated at this event is as flimsy a rationale for this post as I can think of.
    You may not be a journalist but you’re a very smart guy. The frustration for me is not that you aren’t toadying to the Democrats national effort but that you’re taking silly potshots with so little evidence at their foundation.
    The MSM is now focusing again on the Obama campaign’s remarkable grassroots efforts. To me that the Obama campaign, aside from your example, appears to continue to hum and will be looked back upon as the best operated Democratic campaign in modern times greatly overshadows a few disgruntled persons at the fundraiser.

    Reply

  8. Bartolo says:

    “One said…The other attendee agreed with that assessment.”
    Tiny sample; Modo style gossip. This is how malicious memes get started.

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  9. toutatis says:

    Zathras: #1, the hat was handed to him during the primary in Texas, late February?, and he tried it on. It’s quite an old photo. #2 It makes him look great. I love him in the hat (which is why I rmember it so clearly–I e-mailed it to all my friends–and we are all east coast-DC area). And that is just a matter of taste, of course. But I’d be willing to bet that this photo is what allowed him to score the majority of delegates in Texas when it really mattered.

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  10. Zathras says:

    There may be something to what Steve Clemons says here. Why else would Sen. Obama deliberately make himself look ridiculous wearing a cowboy hat?

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  11. Cathy Johnston says:

    Come on…someone said, someone felt, someone thought. This is not your usual high standard.
    Here in Ohio he is working his butt off.

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  12. Ben says:

    I live in West Philadelphia and I attended the Obama event on 52nd Street and Locust Street. I do not think that the event was a victory lap in the least. People who live in West and North Philadelphia were dismayed that Obama did not visit these areas (which overwhelmingly support him) during the primary. There is a latent understanding that he was focusing more on the suburbs because that is where he needs to convince people. But Obama should not ignore his base. At the rally yesterday, people were so excited to see him and finally feel like he was speaking to his base rather than trying to coddle the (mostly white) suburban community.
    Obama’s visit to Philadelphia was an overdue acknowledgment of his base, not a victory lap.

    Reply

  13. kim says:

    I’ve run campaigns at the local level, this race is far FAR from inevitable and thinking so is a danger. However, I have not gotten that feeling from anything the Obama campaign does PUBLICLY, and I think that the diner you reference was really not a public event. I doubt that the inevitability issue will rise to the public in spite of your excellent blog.

    Reply

  14. arthurdecco says:

    Mr. Murder, have you acknowledged Joe Biden’s horrific, criminal LIES about the Middle East in his last exchange with Ms. Palin?
    …Biden – Source or Fountainhead…?
    You have to be joking.
    More a plugged toilet than anything else

    Reply

  15. Mr.Murder says:

    He said he wasn’t experienced enough to be President about two years also. Which Obama will finish this contest? That’s what is important.
    Biden actually won my vote, bankruptcy bill aside.

    Reply

  16. varanassi says:

    steve has a blog, everyone. he has to write about something.
    but i wouldn’t worry about someone *other* than barack obama being elected president of the united states.
    my only concern is his safety. damn palin, maccain and their operatives who have actively worked to equate barack obama with an arab terrorist in the minds of voters. to some extent it’s working and mccain/palin/schmidt/davis/salter have inspired many angry, dare i say, murderous, supporters.
    if you ask me, they are all doing the devil’s work right now.
    God please continue to bless and protect Barack Hussein Obama.

    Reply

  17. Lynne says:

    Steve, I just spent five hours in a room full of people making calls to a swing state for Obama and plan on joining a room full of people to do the same thing again tomorrow. Believe me, nobody in the campaign is thinking inevitable! In fact, we are constantly warned not to get complacent even in the face of wonderful polling numbers.
    Barack Obama is a careful man, and it shows in the way his campaign is organized and run. Nobody within the campaign is taking anything for granted!

    Reply

  18. roger says:

    Can’t let go of Hillary, huh?

    Reply

  19. Jim says:

    Steve is demonstrating that MONEY speaks loudly.
    In a real democracy, observations of two people would not receive such extraordinary consideration.
    Steve is fixated on his argument that these are “major donors who paid their way into the largest fundraiser in Pennsylvania’s history”.
    When are We The People going to change the way campaigns are financed, thereby putting everyone on an equal footing?

    Reply

  20. Toutatis says:

    C’mon, Steve. A snarky comment from fewer than 1 percent of the attendees together with an almost year-old photo and you expect us to believe you were just innocently passing along info? I guess you can’t handle a confident man.
    And confidence is what President Obama is blessed with, along with a great deal of humility and compassion. He said almost 2 years ago that he was going to run for President and that he was going to win. And he is.

    Reply

  21. Bil says:

    EXCELLENT anticipation Steve.
    It’s a REAL scenario. An overconfidence sticker somehow stuck to
    the Obama campaign even if a spin-lie would HURT.

    Reply

  22. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks POA — but it’s cool. A lot of folks read blogs for different reasons. TWN is being read by lots of folks in the DC establishment, and even Obama’s team understands that the value of the blog is a unique assessment of politics and policy.
    Some folks are invested deeply and passionately in Obama winning this race and don’t want to hear the negatives or the missteps. They want “loyalty” and “support” from pundits. I won’t play that role in the way that CNN, Fox and other studios are lining up stooges on one side of the political aisle and another. I don’t like that trend and don’t want to be part of it.
    I do want McCain to lose this race — I can’t agree on his national security approach. But Obama needs to actually win — rather than have macro factors and McCain’s own implosion result in him getting the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania.
    Some folks resented my stating that Obama has to do X… Well, I believe it, which I why I wrote it. I feel that even as badly as McCain’s camp is doing right now, a lot could change in a short time. I’m not predicting it will — but it could — and overconfidence and “inevitability” are classic turn-offs to voters and diminish enthusiasm and passion just before an election.
    So, my intent was quite positive — but campaigns with thin skins very defensively worn — are not confidence builders.
    So, again, no disrespect to hard working campaign workers. I just want the guy you are working for not to fall into an inevitability/victory lap like posture. If you think it’s good for him to do that…then you are entitled to your views.
    But if I see more evidence of it, this blog will slam that behavior. It’s reckless — and not the way to run a race with this much volatility.
    — Steve Clemons

    Reply

  23. CAROL says:

    I don’t know why you think Sen Obama would become cocky….I just see him as a very confident man and why shouldn’t he be…..with all this crap McCain and Palin have thrown at him and he still stays above the fray…he has every right to feel good about himself.
    Sen Obama has shown more grace and respect than McCain could only wish for as he has shown himself to be less than honorable throughout these past days!!!!

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I don’t understand what fuels these attacks against Steve. He simply related two people’s conclusions, and included his own warning about over confidence. I think the warning is appropriate, and timely. These are tumultous and unpredictable days, where anything can happen. If I was an enemy of the state, and intent on doing grave harm to the United States, I would strike now, while our economics are in shambles, and the country is so divided. A biological, nuclear, or chemical strike, at this time, could well send this nation into absolute chaos, and make the reigns of power available to any that have the balls and the resources to snatch them.
    And “enemy of the state” does not neccesarily mean a “jihadist”.
    Even an event of lesser scale than I describe above could well shift sentiment into McCain’s lap.
    Further, our electoral process is still corrupt, and just as insecure as it was during 2000 and 2004. A close race is too easily corrupted towards one side or the other, and it may well be that Obama will need a landslide just to offset the numbers of fraudulent votes cast, or real votes erased.
    I concur with Steve. Now is not the time for Obama to get cocky. If anything, he needs to step up his efforts, capitalize on McCain’s ridiculous “mood swings” and erratic campaign moves, and underscore Palin’s on the record corruption, vindictiveness, and unsuitability for office.

    Reply

  25. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for all of your comments — but bit of advice to Obama’s team and his major supporters: stay open to feedback. If major donors who paid their way into the largest fundraiser in Pennsylvania’s history think that there was an atmosphere of inevitability — something Hillary Clinton was derided for — then they should listen to that feedback.
    I appreciate your comments — but I’m not interested in just reporting or commenting on what folks want to hear….and Bill R — I speak about politics and policy. You are welcome to your judgment….but my point stands. Overconfidence and triumphalism before a race is finished can be harmful — and the notes I posted were from Obama supporters who paid a lot to attend that dinner.
    You may not like their views — but they are what they are, just as your perspectives are your own.
    I stand by what I wrote — entirely.
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  26. leo says:

    Please don’t remind me of the Obama pseudo-Presidential seal non-issue again, please.

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  27. Joy says:

    I’ll agree with everyone else. Perhaps what they saw was confidence, but he has never exhibited anything less. Believe me, here on the ground where supporters are working feverishly to get out the vote, this campaign is not taking anything for granted.

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  28. JD David says:

    I agree completely with other comments. I’ll put my faith in Obama’s team any day over your friend’s and your perceptions. Pretty thin basis for “Obama had better . . . “.

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  29. John Hart says:

    Your friend’s impression is based on what exactly?

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  30. Bill R. says:

    Steve, when you start saying “Obama had better…” it really stinks. You are a great policy wonk, but a terrible pundit. Fact is, you don’t know jack about politics. You talk to a couple of rich guys who attend a fund raiser and think you know something. The perception out here is far from “victory lap.” Everyone out here in real life knows its going to be a tough, nasty three weeks. And the corporate media will keep up the narrativ that it’s a real cliff hanger. So, please go back to policy discussion and stop with the false punditry act. You won’t qualify as anyone’s campaign manager, and you make a terrible armchair general.

    Reply

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