Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Texas-Sized Scare in Camp Obama?

Dear Team Obama,

Welcome to March Madness! While that phrase is generally reserved for the upcoming winner-take-all NCAA Basketball Tournament, it also captures what lies ahead in our quest for the Presidency. It is in the spirit of March Madness that I don the Coach persona and say to all of you, "Huddle Up!"

First things first. Did the headline get under your skin? Are you offended by the Breaking News caption? I hope so. I need your undivided attention so that you might hear these two facts:

1. This Campaign doesn't need a Savior. It's not broken and doesn't need fixing; and
2. Turn off the tv. If the headlines are too distracting, then turn off the tv.

Here's a quick recap of where we stand:
1st Quarter - Team Obama started fast with a victory in Iowa. The Clinton camp answered our initial charge with a New Hampshire win.
2nd Quarter - The game turned physical, but after much jostling Team Obama went into halftime having put together 12 consecutive victories.
3rd Quarter - The Clinton camp mounted a furious rally culminating with "must wins" in Texas and Ohio.

Here we stand, poised for what promises to be one heck of a 4th quarter. We don't need major overhauls or panic-based decision-making. If we execute these 4th quarter adjustments, victory will be ours!

Adjustment #1 - Remain Fundamentally Sound
We have run the best campaign bar none. This campaign has set a new standard for mobilizing and deploying 21st Century ideals and strategies in a political landscape stuck in the 20th Century. Let's just keep doing what we're doing. Also, let's lose the obsession with being the front runner. Watching too much TV will have you craving front runner status. But, AMERICA LOVES AN UNDERDOG. Plain & simple.

Adjustment #2 - Be Street Savvy
This 4th Quarter push for the Oval office will require us to be Street Savvy. Much like playground basketball, the campaign fouls will be hard and physical. Senator Obama might appeal to the referee. But, Barack Obama? He knows streetball. There's no calling foul when you get hacked, no demanding the ball. Shrug off the foul, then make them pay in the paint. Make them pay by converting Super Delegates. Make them pay by mounting more wins. For every hard foul, get your butt up off the floor and make them pay! Got it?

When the play turns extremely aggressive (and it will), I need everyone to remember that politics and basketball are team sports. We must not lose our MVP to silly fouls, but we also cannot be pushed around either. I need enforcers to lay down the law. Remember, a stealthy-concealed, well-planted elbow to the ribcage will back off the most fervent opponent. The fundamentals of engagement are: (1) initiate, but never retaliate; and (2) smile/elbow/keep it moving. Who on Team Obama is willing to play this absolutely vital role? Do I need to bring Dennis Rodman out of retirement?

Let's lose the trash-talking. This constant political bickering is akin to trash talking and we all know that excessive arguing might land us a technical foul. Keep your head in the game and remember that the trashtalker doesn't do so to hear themselves talk. They do so to take you out of your game. If you're engaging them, then you're not hearing the voters. More important, you can't hear me and that will not be tolerated.

Adjustment #3 - To Thine Own Strengths Remain True
We can expect them to mount an all-out assault on your strengths. Sounds crazy, right? It's actually brilliant to turn ones' strength into a liability. Expect them to continue with the "who do you want answering the phone in the middle of the night (hence he's not ready)" strategy. But, their real focus will be on dismantling your strength as a communicator.

In this 4th quarter, we will counter their great speaker/low substance claim by conveying to the American people what we already know for sure. Barack Obama is a great communicator. And whether it be our President, our CEO, our teachers or our loved ones, we know that effective communication is the key and without it chaos ensues. When the crisis phone rings at 3am, we need a President who can communicate (also known as speak AND listen) effectively. Effective communication will unearth important little gems of information like "are there or are there not weapons of mass destruction?" The ability of our President to glean information is much more critical than their willingness to go to bed every night, fully-trousered so that they can be ready to answer that early morning call like General Alexander "I'm in Charge" Haig!

Adjustment #4 - The Solution is Green
I've read the post-Texas political analysis. According to the political pundants, we might have a race problem on our hands. Heck, even the streets worry that Latinos won't support our man. This is why it will be critical that we disengage from the media and engage our voters. If you do so, you'll learn what many of us on the front lines already know. The problem isn't black vs. white, black vs. brown, educated vs. uneducated or rich vs. poor. The disconnect is rooted in green. The Street Savvy truth is this: those groups listed above have been positioned to fight against one another in the battle over limited resources at the State and Local level.

Those at the lower end of the economic ladder are pitted against one another for the basic necessities of life. They're battling for funding for educational, healthcare, aftercare, and just about every basic service you can imagine. The present divide & conquer model afflicts all affected parties with a scarcity mentality. They are smart. They are intelligent. They desire nothing more than the fulfillment of the American Dream in their lives. But, the current system reduces them to hunters & gatherers.

I challenge you, Team Obama, to meet with local leaders/organizations/non-profits to see if my observations hold merit. If they do, I challenge you to address the real issue and craft an action plan that not only wins voters, but heals the economic-induced rift between the have-nots and the have-nots.

Team Obama, before you take to the court for this historic push to the White House, you must remember that Champions are forged through fire.

For many of you, this final push will be the most intense challenge you've ever encountered. We have in Hillary a worthy, hungry and determined challenger. Punch her and she instinctively punches back. One look in her eyes and you know that there's no quit in her. And we really don't dislike her at all. Unfortunately, it's not her time. Now Is The Time for Barack Obama. We want him, our Nation needs him and the World welcomes his arrival onto the geo-political landscape.

The 4th quarter between two great competitors is wrought with ebbs and flows and this campaign will be no different. We must execute. We must stay focused. We must do the little things well to ensure victory. But, in the end, it's about character. Will we withstand the heat of the battle and never lose faith? Can we execute our plan even as our opponent mount yet another comeback? I say to each of you... we can and we will! What we accomplish in this 4th quarter will impact our children's children. Let's give them a world that we only dreamed could be. Team Obama on 3!

Signing off, your coach - That Johnson Boy!

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