Monday, January 03, 2005

Originally published on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 1:32 a.m.

Candidates Don’t Inspire Supporters

Personally, I just don’t get it. On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, waist-deep in the political mud, hashing it out with fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama tells a Pittsburgh radio station that he doesn’t think he’s going to win tomorrow’s big election.

“I’m not predicting a win,” he told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA, as reported by FOX News and the Associated Press. “I’m predicting it’s going to be close and that we are going to do a lot better than people expect.”

Unless this is some type of pity ploy by the Illinois senator to have a big voter turnaround for him, Obama might as well throw in towel. But what’s really interesting is that he’s not the only candidate who has not really inspired his supporters when the chips are down.

As many will remember Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s infamous video speech, where he told supporters “though victory in the conventionally, politically sense is not available in the presidential race ...” He would later tell his supporters that he was still in the White House race.

However, those weren’t words of encouragement. Those sounded like the words from someone who knows he’s losing the race. The Texas congressman wasn’t telling his devoted followers “to keep up the good fight until I’m in the White House.”

And Obama didn’t even give an ambiguous message that Paul did. The Democratic titan just flat out said that he didn’t think he was going to beat New York Senator Clinton, who has a 10-percentage point lead over the Illinois senator, according to a Suffolk University poll.

Interestingly enough, Obama is having a hard time winning over small-town white folks. Gee, I wonder why? It couldn’t have been anything he said about small-town Pennsylvanians, could it?

While I have called out politicians for lying in my recent editorial, in this column I’m saying it’s OK to lie sometimes and about certain things. Namely, telling your supporters that your chances of winning a race are in the bag when they really aren’t.

Sure, polls are one thing and I don’t have much faith in them. After all, political polls have predicted a candidate a winner in the past only to have that person lose. And considering how for the last six-grueling months us Pennsylvanians had to deal with the mudslinging between Clinton and Obama, they have been in a dead heat in this race.

And this is the time for Obama to encourage his supporters to keep fighting for him. Telling them that his opponent will win the Keystone State isn’t going to make them go out to the voting booths in some madcap fashion. Unless that’s reverse psychology, but who in their right mind would try to use that when they still have a good shot of winning? Unlike Paul, Obama still can beat Clinton if he only pushed himself more. Saying something like that out loud almost makes it a fact.

Sure, Paul gets a free pass because, despite his good intentions, he is not a political titan in this race, no matter what his die-hard supporters may say about it. He knows he doesn’t have a shot at winning the White House or he wouldn’t have said victory wasn’t within his conventional grasp.

For better or for worse, people look to their political leaders for leadership, comfort and inspiration. Obama didn’t offer any of those things when he told listeners on that radio program. And if he can’t offer those vital three elements to Pennsylvanians, how can he offer them to the rest of the country?