Feature

Barack Obama’s big challenge

What the Democratic nominee can say to reach the audience he needs

This is Barack Obama’s big moment, said The New York Times in an editorial. The Clintons have left the stage, and now it’s up to the Democratic presidential nominee to explain why he’s the one who can solve this country’s problems. He’ll have to go beyond declaring that President Bush’s eight  years have been a disaster, and “make the case unequivocally that his ideas and his party’s ideas are the best way to recover from that disaster.”

Obama isn’t running against Bush, said Gary Andres in The Washington Times. Obama will turn off the very swing voters he needs to defeat John McCain if he uses his big acceptance speech at the Democrats' convention to hammer the spurious “McCain is Bush” mantra. “Americans despise attack politics,” and that’s what Obama’s attempt to link McCain to Bush amounts to.

Obama’s best bet is to talk about himself, said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. His “exotic background—his unique melange of Kenya, Kansas, Hawaii, and Harvard—makes the job of presenting his life story particularly important.” In these tough times, he needs to find a way to convince voters that he feels their pain, and he has to do it in a way that doesn’t feel “phony.”

That will be hard to do on “the showiest stage in convention history,” said Byron York in National Review Online. The voters who will make a difference won’t be moved unless he offers substance, but the party faithful will enter the stadium expecting a show.  Unfortunately for the candidate, it won’t be easy to please everybody.

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