I GUESS THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING…. Chances are you’ve seen the pic showing Barack Obama delivering a speech, with a mock caption that reads, “Everyone chill the f*** out. I got this.”
At times, it was hard to accept this, wasn’t it? For those who focused more on trees than forests, and were sensitive to the slightest shifts in the daily political winds, there were plenty of times when even optimistic Democrats looked at the campaign and wondered whether Obama really did have this.
Are you sure it’s a good idea to hold a rally in Germany?
Are you sure you want to campaign in non-traditional states, instead of investing everything in the major battleground states?
Are you sure it’s wise to avoid the kind of sleazy attacks the Republicans are using?
Are you sure you want to forgo the convention center and deliver an acceptance speech outside, before 75,000 at a football stadium?
Are you sure you can afford to take a week-long vacation in the middle of the campaign?
Are you sure it’s won’t look funny to broadcast a half-hour ad in prime time on practically every network?
As the developments of the last 12 hours sink in, it’s probably worth taking a moment to note that Obama and his team were sure. Every time the campaign implicitly said, “Trust us; we know what we’re doing,” it turns out, they really did.
There were occasional missteps, but I’m trying to think of a modern presidential campaign — especially a Democratic one — that was as disciplined, innovative, and unflappable as this one. None comes to mind. As the New York Times reported today, “The story of Mr. Obama’s journey to the pinnacle of American politics is the story of a campaign that was, even in the view of many rivals, almost flawless.”
[Obama’s campaign] tolerated no drama and did not endure a single staff shakeup, in contrast to the turmoil that marked the Clinton and McCain campaigns. Mr. Obama kept himself, and his team, on an even keel — a character trait that paid immense dividends in the closing stages, when his understated approach to the economic crisis came off to many voters as steady leadership.
“It was perfectly run; it made few mistakes,” Mr. Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s strategist, said of the Obama campaign…. Mr. Obama, Mr. Schmidt continued, “was a once-in-a-generation orator. A good debater. And an eloquent message. He was the beneficiary of favorable media coverage. Ice-cold disciplined about the execution of his campaign message. He was an extremely formidable candidate.”
In his speech in Chicago last night, Obama expressed his gratitude to “the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics.” It sounded deliberately hyperbolic, but only a little.