Obama needs more than change and Bill to win

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:44 p.m. CDT, Friday, October 10, 2008

Barack Obama announced Sept. 10 that Bill Clinton will be campaigning for him down the stretch. It's about time. Aside from Hillary Clinton's  Unity, N.H., appearance, this is the first time the Democrats have displayed any teamwork. Because of his solo campaign, Obama is neck-in-neck at the polls with John McCain. America is at war and in a recession; even the military-industrial complex has failed over the past eight years.

The Democrats have a majority in the Congress and a caucus majority in the Senate (do I count Joe Lieberman?). Yet Obama has only teamed up with his campaign managers and Joe Biden. Poor politics. Biden is fine; he's a good speaker, experienced, but he hasn't had to square off against an incumbent since 1972. And John McCain is a much tougher foe than Cale Boggs.  

It doesn't matter that McCain isn't the incumbent — the Republicans are. Obama spent his summer squaring off against the strong man in a party of weak links. He faintly associated Bush and McCain through black-and-white pictures and "same old politics" slogans, but his "change" campaign has not defined what it is America's supposed to be moving away from. Let the tic-tac nit-picking of John McCain and Sarah Palin's records be one play. Not the whole playbook. Obama needs to bring the entire Republican Party into the fold. Really just usher them all in for snapshots:

Sen. Bob Ney, R-Ohio: Pleaded guilty to corruption charges, 17 months in prison.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: Indicted on a seven-count corruption charge.

Former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas: Indicted on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Former Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif.: Convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion, 8 years in prison.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska: Under federal investigation.

J. Steven Griles, former No. 2 in the Department of Interior: Pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice charges.

Former Vice President Chief of Staff Scooter Libby: Convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury (his sentence was commuted by President Bush).

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez: Resigned, and since then has only found work giving speeches.

Senior Justice Department officials: Broke Civil Service laws in connection with the firing of seven U.S. attorneys.

In 2000, George W. Bush promised to bring ethics back to the Oval Office, implicating Al Gore by association with Clinton's scandal. Bush ran now-sadly-ironic ads saying he just wanted the American people to believe in their government again. That Clinton's actions and Gore's politics were unrelated; it didn't and shouldn't matter in a campaign. They are in the same party. Clinton and Gore did the same in 1996, linking Republican Newt Gingrich to Bob Dole.  

Obama's ads connecting McCain to Bush ("Oh, him again?") are uncreative and inadequate. The Illinois senator should be convincing voters not only to back him but the whole party. I thought prominent Democrats would have been blazing blue campaign trails across the country by now. Through coordinating well-known and skilled politicians, Obama would present himself as a leader of an entire party, not just a campaign. He needs to request (or require) Democrats like Jim Webb, Ken Salazar and Ed Rendell to speak on behalf of "change." Touch voters locally. Remind them there are more important issues than hog hoopla. Bypass the ridiculous Charlie Gibson-Bill O'Reilly-Chris Matthews-Jon Stewart filtration system that turns elections into speed dating.

The trickle-down corruption of the past eight years is too vast for Obama to address alone. And leaving a first-term senator out there against the much louder, more aggressive Republican campaign team is just silly. Bill Clinton campaigned for "change" in '92, dominating George H.W. Bush; he will do nothing but help the ticket. Obama needs the Democrats in office to start doing the same.

Greg T. Spielberg is a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism
and a former assistant city editor for the Columbia Missourian.

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Jim Dog September 17, 2008 | 1:22 p.m.

Hey Greg,

I am interested in where you get your "facts". For your information, the United states is not in a recession. The economy is not even flat. The FACT is that the US economy is GROWING. Google it.

So by the end of the very first paragraph, you immediately lost any credibility as a Journalist, but I thought I would read on for entertainment purposes. And entertaining it was. My favorite part? How you conveniently left out gems like Democrat congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana who is under indictment after federal investigators found $95,000 worth of cash in his freezer. Or how about pretty-boy John Edwards cheating on his dying wife. Yeah - the democrats are above reproach.

Seriously - are you *really* a grad student in Journalism? I would feel much better about Ole Mizzou if you tell me you aren't...

(Report Comment)
Leroy Jenkems September 17, 2008 | 1:45 p.m.

And how about Rangel? How many houses does he own? How much taxes on them did he fail to pay? And this guy helps write the tax code.

(Report Comment)
Connie H September 17, 2008 | 6:56 p.m.

What does that have to do with Obama?

(Report Comment)
Leroy Jenkems September 17, 2008 | 7:26 p.m.

Hello?!? The columnist wanted to list all of the Republican ne'er-do-wells to make a case for electing Obama. It's only fair to list Rangel and the other Dem crooks.

See if you can follow along next time Connie.

(Report Comment)
Greg T. Spielberg September 17, 2008 | 8:21 p.m.

Jim, Leroy and Connie,

Appreciate the dialogue. Jim, I agree; we are not in a textbook definition of a recession. Recession, I think, means different things to different people.

Warren Buffett said, "from a commonsense standpoint right now we're in a recession." (Business Times Online, March 3)

JPMorgan Chase & Co's CEO James Dimon said, "The recession just started." (, May 12)

Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, said, "We're in a chronic recession, or worse." (Reich's blog, May 20)

The Economist newspaper/magazine writes, "To the average person, a large rise in unemployment means a recession. By contrast, the economists' rule that a recession is defined by two consecutive quarters of falling GDP is silly ... . In fact, America's GDP did not decline for two consecutive quarters during the 2001 recession." ("Redefining Recession," Sept 11)

On the politics side: I don't think Obama would help his campaign by bringing up Edwards, Rangel or Spitzer. Do you?

I also discounted personal/sexual "missteps," which is why I left out Larry Craig and Mark Foley.

Thanks for discussing.

(Report Comment)
Connie H September 21, 2008 | 8:00 p.m.

Leroy Jenkins, maybe you should try to follow the article. The persons noted had been charged, convicted or admitted to crimes, with the exception of Gonzales, who was so tainted that he resigned.

If you want to list Dems in the same position, fine. Last time I checked, Rangel had NOT been charged or convicted of anything. You follow?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 22, 2008 | 5:12 a.m.

Ya the Republicans are in total denial of all of this as well:

(Report Comment)
Leroy Jenkems September 22, 2008 | 6:07 a.m.

Hey, Connie, Rangel admitted his guilt. Obviously you did not check. Check yo' self.

(Report Comment)
David Dean September 24, 2008 | 5:21 p.m.

"Bypass the ridiculous Charlie Gibson-Bill O'Reilly-Chris Matthews-Jon Stewart filtration system that turns elections into speed dating." Great line, and great read.

If the McCain-Palin ticket wins, I don't know if I will more sad about the state of our government, and our country, or the fact that middle America, or the average American, is as dumb as I'd hoped them not to be. (Ex: Jim Dogg, or the overused phrase: "google it")

(Report Comment)

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