Friday, October 17, 2008

Staying Cool and Irritating Your Opponent

Gotta love Obama's coolness messing with his opponents' minds:

Mr. McCain, who had appeared composed and confident up to that point, responded by veering into heated denouncements of Mr. Obama’s loose ties to Bill Ayers, the former Weather Underground leader, and the community organizing group Acorn, which has been accused of voter fraud. Mr. McCain did not explain what Acorn was, probably confusing many viewers, and he never regained control of the debate.

“All of these things need to be examined,” Mr. McCain said about Mr. Ayers and Acorn.

To which Mr. Obama delivered a final hit that reflected that many Americans are more concerned with the economy than with Bill Ayers.

“I think the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Senator McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me,” Mr. Obama said.

While Mr. Obama is known for giving stirring speeches before stadium-sized crowds, less recognized is his shrewd oratory against his opponents. He has been able to turn a relative weakness — his inexperience in government and politics — into a strength: Messrs. Clinton and McCain and their aides have held Mr. Obama in low regard at times, seeing him as an untested upstart, and so his easy-going manner and ongoing success have unsettled them that much more.

“Never let ‘em see you sweat: Barack Obama has mastered that concept, and it has thrown off political opponents for the past 20 months,” said William O’Reilly, a Republican political consultant in New York. “It prevented John McCain from knowing when he was scoring points last night. McCain needs to trust his instincts. Senator Obama will never look wounded, but that doesn’t mean he’s invulnerable.”

The Clintons came to believe that during the Democratic nomination fight, their advisers say, but it did not stop Mr. Clinton from lapsing into some undisciplined behavior.


October 16, 2008
On the Trail

Staying Cool and Irritating Your Opponent

From Bill Clinton to John McCain, Senator Barack Obama has proved adept at driving very smart politicians out of their comfort zone, leading them to make comments or embrace tactics that end up backfiring.

Maybe it was one tsk-tsk too much, but at Wednesday night’s debate, something seemed to snap inside Senator McCain after listening to Senator Obama’s cool, high-minded lecture about inappropriate conduct at Republican rallies.

“What is important is making sure that we disagree without being disagreeable,” the 47-year-old freshman Democrat told the 72-year-old four-term Republican. “What we can’t do, I think, is try to characterize each other as bad people.”


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