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February 15, 2007



Is Maureen Dowd carrying Ms. Clinton's water for Valenties Day? Speaking as a
New Yorker who is very impressed with Ms. Clinton I can definitively say: --

But it hardly matters. Obama is actually so well positioned as a persona that
Dowd's surprisingly venomous-yet-shallow attack will likely backfire like all
the rest of the recent flurry of anti-Obama jabs that have "suddenly" emerged
now that he has declared. These sorts of attacks won't stop, because Obama
deeply disturbs both the republican and the democratic establishment even as
he impressively transcends them.

Yet my sense is that Obamas Teflon is apparently so good that not only does nothing stick, attacks and sometimes odd compliments even reflect back and stick on the issuer! I really regret
sounding rather crass, obvious, and even a bit neo-racist, but in Obama I
suspect we could be - and apparently increasingly are - looking at the
emergence of "The Tiger Woods of American Politics".

We should not be surprised by this. It must have utterly shocked and perhaps
frightened Ms. Clinton's camp to discover how strongly Obama polls with
Clinton's so called "natural" constituency - women. While for the Republicans polling of
Christians reveals Obama has the best standing of any Democrat of that constituency that has unnaturally become theirs. Especially
after Clinton lost the last few news cycles to Obama, they HAD to do
something. The whole media establishment on BOTH sides will now be lining up
to get their "licks in" as Obama runs the bizarre American gauntlet of media
distortion euphemistically referred to as the free press. But Obama has
serious advantages to wield that no other candidate has.

Is it a coincidence Dowd's "hatchety" article seems custom written to
undermine Obama with Women - right down to the revealingly obvious line about
the "sliding wedding ring"? On Valentines Day no less? Did Obama forget to
send Dowd a card or flowers? Dowd's gossipyness almost reads like a vindictive
description of a bad blind date in college. To this reader, there seems
something more going on here than Dowd's usual smarmyness.

Perhaps it's unlikely, but it would come as no great surprise to me to
discover that the article was "arranged" or "encouraged" in some way. Ms.
Clinton's organization does not leave many stones unturned, and she has quite
a formidable machine already built up here in the Times home state. I'd be a
lot less suspicious if the editorial was in the LA Times or ChiTrib!

Don't ever, ever, ever underestimate any Clinton. She knows (or thinks she
knows), what she's doing, and nearly always has her stuff together. Always
does her homework and it gives her great confidence. I've met her and spent
time with her personally, and she definitely has that factor that leaves you
saying "wow". When all the dust settles, don't be too surprised if she's the
one who winds up sitting in the White House.

Hillary's as smart as they come, methodical, and tough as nails behind the
obviously highly scripted, quite square, "Miss Conniesque" veneer. I mean real
REAL tough like Truman or T.R. or Daley. But she's much smarter and more
organized than any of those three. Clinton's weakness? Unlike any of them, and
just like many people from her culture, Clinton has deep feelings, but she has
major problems with how to manifest her emotions. All of us men will be
waiting until hell freezes over for her to "let her hair down", "lighten up"
or really dance like she means it. Even this serious problem Clinton is able
to paper over pretty well when she remembers to skip all the theatrics, get
off the high horse and use her superbly keen and charming wit, especially the
self-deprecating side of her sense of humor.

One major advantage Obama has over the entire field, is that he is more "free"
than anybody in this campaign and people can sense it and are excited by it.
He has little or nothing to lose, and he knows it, but surprisingly, has yet
to overplay it. He truly does seem to have a fresh perspective on the
divisions in the nation - which gives people hope. No other candidate has the
"hope factor", "empathy factor", or the "vision thing" like Obama. He is
nimble and fluid and hard to pin, little record, good judgment no baggage,
unbeholden, has genuine flair, and just has great phrasing and stage presence
which are critical skills for leadership. But Obama will still has to overcome
the inevitable "Howard Dean Scream moment" when the media will amplify some
tiny excess of humanity into the entire fiber of his being.

Even here Obama has a bit of a hole card. Everybody - even his most committed
enemies say, the KKK or the Arayan Brotherhood or Maureen Dowd - still have a
place in their heart where they are secretly pulling for Obama. Of all the
candidates only John McCain has a little of this also, But McCain does not
handle it as well as Obama, and has much more old "baggage" (i.e. experience)
to go with it. Therefore, most all of the attacks on Obama - especially the
more vicious ones - seem to ultimately rebound and leave the sympathetic
public loving him more, because he is so emotionally intelligent and deft.
Obama seems not afraid to genuinely show or to say "that hurt me", and somehow
everybody protectively rallies around him. Yet when he says "that makes me
angry" everybody says he's showing dignity pride and strength. "I inhaled?"
Obama wins praise for honesty. And if he says nothing? Everybody just fill in
the blanks for themselves. Nobody seems to notice or care much.

Speaking of caring, in the end, I almost don't care who wins the next election
- Democrat OR Republican they are all better than what we have now, which is
truly the worst Presidential administration ever, in my near half century of
life. Any one of the current crop of candidates would be a major improvement.

Don't kid yourself and underestimate Obama either. This Obama candidacy is no
fluke and is not by accident - Obama really IS on to something about the
contemporary American Psyche. Obama also really IS this skillful in
successfully dominating news cycle after news cycle for months on end with no
end in sight as well. This is a serious and highly potent combination that
lesser candidates have ridden all the way into the Presidency.

Proof? Neither the great mean Maureen nor the great Clinton machine waste
their choicest scathings on mere "soon-to-self-destruct-anyway" pretenders.
Those two genuine sharpies have just tipped their hand that they have already
figured out that Obama is the real thing, and a real threat to be dealt with.

Sure, Obama was lucky, but many people in politics have had Obamas luck, and
have not done with that luck anything near what Obama has done so dazzlingly.
In fact, hardly anyone ever has. And that is a quite serious matter. Obama has
the ability to "work the clay" of everyday good luck, into an entrancing
inspiring sculpture of art the just so happens to draw the biggest and most
enthusiastic crowds among all the contenders. Once it was luck - now it's

Everyone is asking. "What makes Obama so great?" "How did he do all this?"
Having spent 18 years in Washington D.C. I have a simple answer regarding the
Obama magic. As I said above, just like Mr. "Silent Majority", Obama has
tapped into something deep in the contemporary mass American Psyche. He is
also a master at what Washington insiders call "Positioning". Not so much on
issues, but emotionally as a public persona, as a political "figure", a
"story". You know: "The man from a place called Hope" type stuff. Obama is so
superbly positioned as a persona that even when Joe Biden was apparently
clumsily trying to COMPLIMENT Obama, Obama himself hardly had to lift a
finger, and it all backfired on on Biden. The oh-so-experienced, "articulate
and clean" Delawarian Senator basically was put in the position of having his
own campaign blown up and very near in complete ruin - by the reflection of his
own hand! And Obama's finger.

Obama is so superb at political "positioning" right now that, even if
everything Dowd reports-alleges-speculates is true,it doesn't hurt Obama that
much, and could very likely help him in the long run. In fact, the Dowd attack
may ironically broaden Obamas base and make Obama more legitimate to everyone,
as well as more attractive to males, to the center, and to the right. All
while making Dowd look pretty speculative and "hatchety". Obama's persona
positioning - like Ronald Reagan's is very dangerous to attack or even to
comment on. Yet Obama himself is already joking about it.

That is truly brilliant positioning on Obamas part, when you have a chance -
as Obama now does - to make a Maureen Dowd attack blow right back onto her.
Amazingly, the "inexperienced" Obama has already crafted his image with such
ingeniously reflective Teflon that he appears well prepared for this sort of
inevitable attack contingency. The oft-repeated cry of "inexperience" helps
with those who were looking for an easy excuse not to vote for Obama anyway.
To the politically perceptive, Obama's relatively blank slate is really one of
the most potent factors that has allowed him to seize the moment to position
AND reposition himself, rather than being burdened with a restrictive media
pre-position for him like all his hackneyed rivals. Obama has nearly succeeded
in positioning his "inexperience" as one of his greatest strengths.

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