If one listens closely to the rhetoric coming out of the Obama campaign, it appears that the Illinois senator is running more against President Bush than John McCain. While so called conventional wisdom touts such a method with Bush's current poll numbers, history tells us taking on the so called dimwit in the White House can prove troublesome for Democrats.
In 1994, George W. Bush, then the soon to be former managing partner of the Texas Rangers was thought to have no chance against incumbent Democrat Ann Richards, who had been dubbed as "Mrs. Texas." Bush shocked the political world and launched his bid for the White House by soundly defeating the favored incumbent at the polls.
Six years later, Governor Bush faced Vice President Al Gore, who led by wide margins in the summer polls, but who lost a narrow defeat to Bush after Bush fared better than expected in the Presidential debates. Regardless of whatever one thinks about the controversy surrounding the Florida vote, in July of 2000, there was simply no way George W. Bush could come close. Yet, his DUI arrest released in October and his other failings did not prevent him from taking the White House.
In the summer of 2004, America seemed fed up with President Bush and John Kerry seemed to be on his way to the White House. However, Bush made his moves and prevailed by winning the most popular votes of any candidate for President of the United States in history.
Now, in 2008, Bush can not run for a third term, yet Barak Obama and the people around him are making the general election about Bush. Again, it seems the smart thing to do on paper. However, given Bush's past ability to overcome challenges and rise above expectations in election years, the Obama campaign's insistence on running against Bush seems ripe for backfire. The President of the United States and those around him know how to fight a political street fight, and they will not just roll over for Obama.
Indeed, it could be a huge mistake for the Obama people to run against Bush instead of McCain. Bush and his people are used to facing long odds and beating them. Do not be surprised if the President and his people act to check Obama's attacks against them. Those folks know how to win when it counts. Just ask the supporters of Ann Richards, Al Gore and John Kerry.
As such, the Obama campaign's strategy of running against President Bush might not prove to be the political boondoggle they hope for. For, making this election about President Bush could be far more dangerous for Obama than simply running against John McCain. The Bush people know how to win. They live by the saying from old Oakland Raiders' great Al Davis, "Just win, baby."
Obama's people should take note. They, as things are now, are choosing to run against a man whose people know how to win. Obama and his would be well advised to stick to running against McCain and leave the Bush folks alone.