The demolition of the Obama phenomena is now well underway, and the only matters remaining to be resolved are timing, deniability and how far the destruction needs to go.
Meanwhile, the denouement of Act One must be accomplished with pathos, transcendence and redemption. After unbelievable trials and tribulations, beat up and counted out more times than Rocky, the future Queen Hillary will in the climatic scene be transformed from Plucky Pauper to Proud Princess.
In the process, the comeuppity knight will be vanquished to his subservient domain by an onslaught of trials and misfortunes. Reverend Wright and the “bitter” imbroglio are merely love taps compared to the barrage of insinuation, inuendo and incriminating evidence which will appear between now and the convention. How far it will go depends on Obama himself and whether he hopes to salvage a future in the Democratic Party, as well as on how much sleaze it takes for the American public to decide they’d better take a pass on this guy, at least for now.
We all know that Hillary’s hit team has a lot more ammunition in the armory. Barack Obama is running up against one of the signature conundrums of the media age; anybody interesting and inspirational enough to make a good President has probably done something which, were it widely known, would disqualify him or her from winning a national election.
Clearly, Obama is not alone in having transgressed in his youth. John McCain was reportedly a wild man as a hot-shot fighter pilot, and even Dubya has admitted to having had a drinking problem and at least trying other “substances” in his admittedly misspent youth. The only exception to this norm seems to be Hillary, who has apparently been fastidiously circumspect in all of her actions since she decided she wanted to be President at age 11.
But Obama admits to having been a regular user of pot and blow, and has the unfortunate burden of having grown up in the electronic generation. This means that somewhere out there there is a photograph, or a video, or a tape recording of Obama doing some bad things with some bad people. During his college years the Ivy league campuses were awash in drugs of every description and provenence. During his years as a community organizer in the South Side of Chicago the streets were awash in a kaleidoscopic variety of groups, cults, angels and devils. If his Pastor was damning America, one shudders to think what his more profane associates were saying.
It’s not that we think that Clinton staffers are locked in a secret research center pouring over ancient video and tracking down old Obama homeboys to gather dirty tidbits. We are convinced they already have the goods, and have had them for quite some time.
All that remains to be resolved are timing, deniability and how much ammo needs to be used. In politics, as in baseball and sex, timing is everything. Obama has shown an amazing resiliency, and if a bomb is dropped too early its effects could pass before the convention. We expect a gradual cascade of escalating mini-scandals will be the most effective.
Of course, none of these scandals can be traced back to the Clinton campaign or the effects could backfire. In this day of electronic trails and millions of nosy bloggers anonymous leaks are harder to achieve, but not impossible. Plus, Hillary does a credible “Who, me?”
Finally, a lot depends on when Obama sees the writing on the wall and slides back into line. If he does so before the really heavy artillery is brought out he can salvage his career and his image and probably nail down a cabinet post in the Clinton administration. If not, he goes the way of Gary Hart and Thomas Eagleton.
The scriptwriters’ idea is to reconcile in the final scene of Act One, to gather together all of the new voters energized by both campaigns, to mobilize the fundraisers and the canvassers and the bloggers and to march forward to face the Evil Warlord in Act Two. Like a hit network TV show this script was written long ago, yet we sit rapt, week by week, and watch the story unfold.
If you think this part is good, just wait for sweeps week.