How did Obama Win?

What makes Him Special?


Barack Obama was sworn into office as the President of the United States this week.  The coverage of this event world-wide has no precedent.  What is so special about him and how did he win?

The latter question is the easier one to answer.  The Republican Party was caught 'flat footed' in many ways:

  • The Republican Party did not expect John McCain to win the nomination.  The conservative right was never enthused with the strong willed centrist war hero.
  • Obama ran a 50 state race.  The Republican Party never expected that.  They were sure that the Democrats would push hard in key states, but leave solidly Republican States alone.  In other words, the Democrats forced the Republicans to cover the entire 'ice surface' and they were not able to defend everywhere and ended up defending nowhere.
  • Obama ran the first true Internet Campaign.  He was relentless and he remains so.  If you contacted his web site and gave a contribution or sometimes not even that, you got 3 to 7 emails per week, regardless of your country or ability to vote. The new President intends to keep that up and get at people via the net.  John McCain is not a Google person and his campaign was overwhelmed by Obama's use of technology.  George Bush does not know how to use the net either.  The Republicans ran a campaign that would be recognizable in 1952.
  • The Republican Party thought that the long, long fight for nomination by the Democrats would have them weak and bleeding when the nominations were finally decided. Just the opposite happened.  The list of strong Democratic candidates for President made the winner stronger, not weaker.  The message became clear and the organization just that ... organized.  In effect Obama's staff and 'feet on the street' volunteers got larger and larger and stronger and stronger.  It's like having a great sporting person go into intense training over a two year and more period to win an Olympic Gold Medal.  By contrast, the Republican Party came into the crucial August to November period disorganized and inept and the voters saw it. They just did not have the organization and voters saw that McCain is and would make a great Senator, but a questionable President
  • John McCain selected Sarah Palin for his VP and experts say she was a poor choice.  She became a character in an ongoing cartoon with her attempts to gain the spotlight.  McCain's strong message was given with distractions almost every day.  Everything around her seemed to implode as the public was exposed to her inexperience.  She complained about the media treatment, but made it worse in the process.  She was on stage and McCain off stage for much of the time.  Republican Party insiders wondered why McCain did not select one of many intelligent and experienced women?  The reasons for this selection of a woman he had met once, are hard to discern and will leak out over time.  The tremendous contrast with Hillary Clinton in experience and ability were dramatic.  The public thought that the Democrats had their act together for a change.

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22/01/2009 08:33 PM

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The more difficult question is: What is so special about this man?

When asked about him, many say they like his calmness.   His staff calls him "No Drama Obama".  He is icy calm.  His staff remarks on this all the time.  During the campaign, when faced with a crisis, he would tell his staff that he would speak to the people and if they did not believe him, he would not be President.  Any mistakes were faced and dismissed in due time.

He is able to communicate in a very simple manner.  At first his foes said he had no substance and was all oratory.  Well, words are important.  Facial expression is important and calm delivery of ideas is the rarest of gifts.  He never talks down to people and he does not make light of  issues he is not expert in at present.  The Republicans began to fear his oratory more and more and tried to pin the "Elitist" on him.  The American people said to themselves... ok here is a black man whose father left at age 2 and whose mother and grandparents raised him in lower middle class family.  He came out of that to Harvard Law School and went back to Chicago to work with people not Wall Street.  The people thought.... hmmm elitist eh?

He gets the best people around him and reaches out to the opposite side and listens to them.  Right before inauguration, he met for dinner with the top conservative media people for dinner and he listened to them.  He has charmed many with his strong cabinet selections

He is smart.  This time the American people were concerned with intellect.  After eight years with a guy who would be fun to have a beer with, the voters wanted someone they felt was smarter than themselves. 

The US wanted an A student to lead them.   It's what we hope to see in our doctors, teachers and leaders.  We like them smart, but able to listen and able to communicate in a calm way.  Can you imagine selecting a doctor for a vital operation on how much fun he'd be at the pub or how quirky and strong willed the healer was?  No, we want the doctor who graduated at the top of the class and specialized in our ailment and will listen to us... fix what ails us!  We'll tell you when you've got it right.

He seems to understand the problems and the fact that he cannot solve them without help from experts. He has assembled a very powerful group to aid him.  Hillary Clinton, the first of equals.

He understands that two wars, health care, jobs, the environment and the economy are interconnected.  All have to be attended to at once.  The entire patient has to be treated.  Stop the bleeding and heal the entire patient.  Find and suture the wounds.  The patient in this case may be the world.

He understands that although the US is a superpower, sheer military might is not enough.  He knows that the US has lost respect and has been diminished.  Human rights, diplomacy, research, economic aid and military power have to work together.  The US needs  a return to self respect and needs to respect their own often quoted ideals.  Symbols are important.  He harps on hope and self respect.... restoration of respect in a great nation starts with hope.  Listening to your old allies and friends respectfully is what everyone wants and expects.  Meet all eye to equal eye.

The new man understands that most of the US problems are world problems.  The new President seems to understand in a very real and basic way that the world is not all uniform.  It is not all evil and good divided at a border or in religious beliefs.

The US cannot force things on other peoples.  They cannot wish Democracy on a people.   The 'long gaze of Uncle Sam' is to be used, but not abused.

Obama is calm, he is smart and he has good people.  Let's wish him good luck, he's going to need it.


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