I had my suspicions over the last 4 weeks about what, exactly, the Obama campaign was up to while they allowed Hillary Clinton to go out in her blaze of glory. In case you were hiding under a rock, the Obama campaign gave Sen. Clinton a free ride in the last several primaries once the May 6 contests allowed the superdelegate drip-drip to become a steadier flow to Obama's side.
The news reported Obama giving speeches in November's "battleground" states and making appearances in Washington... but occasionally, the candidate was reported to be "at home in Chicago." At first, I was frustrated by his lack of presence in West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico. My favorite cable news talking heads, especially Mr. "Regular Guy" Chris Matthews, were equally puzzled. In the last few weeks, I heard Mr. Matthews wonder aloud, "Why doesn't he just go out and talk to these people?" Meaning, of course, the 'regular' people who were turning out in droves for Sen. Clinton.
The answer? Apparently, Obama had bigger fish to fry. The same way he took a vacation over Easter for a little rest and then came back with a strong series of policy proposals and the now famous Philadelphia Race Speech, Obama has made use of his campaign 'downtime' in an incredibly smart way. He lost the end-of-primary battle to prepare for the General Election policy war.
Today's economy speech and the promise of more program specifics in the very near future show that Obama is like that kid in high school who read Shakespeare over Christmas break because he knew it would come in handy later in the year. John McCain has been spending the last several weeks trying to convince his party to unite behind him (oh, and if you could please write a check, that would be great, too...) So, he's stuck pulling an all-nighter the night before his term paper is due -- desperately trying to understand the economy so he can say something meaningful about it. And here strolls in Mr. Obama from Illinois with a clear plan of where to take this country's economy. Very smooth.
Could it be that all along Obama has been paying attention to those of us who make the country run? (I mean, the ones who really make it run -- people who fight fires and teach children and fix your car so you can get back on the road... nurses and factory workers and secretaries... oh, yes, and moms, too.) We're paying attention to the economy like we never have before. I can't get out of the gas station without paying less than $50. I can't get out of the grocery line without paying less than $200. Is the economy my #1 issue? You bet.
Prices and Jobs are the pivot-points of the American family. Our home money situation is the single factor that tells us if we're moving up or down. Chuck Todd on MSNBC asks which candidate the American public trusts more on the economy... I feel like I'll choose the candidate who can tell me the last time they bought their own gallon of milk. Oh, and by the way... which cost more, your last gallon of gas or that trip to the dairy case?
I want the next President to be that kid who did his homework over vacation, when no one else was paying attention. And I bet Barack Obama realizes that the surest way to win over the trust and faith and votes of the American People is to speak to us with specifics. Sound policy will win over supporters of any other candidate on the ballot.
I look forward to hearing more from this candidate.
*More politics articles and discussion can be found on Illini Family Politics