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As I sit here, unemployed with most of the potential employers in my field cutting back rather than expanding , I can tell you the economy sucks big time. The best way to turn things around is to show leadership and HOPE. But the Senator From Illinois is going from “interest group” to “interest group” selling FEAR. For example:

Obama is doing his best to scare the bejesus out of old people. His campaign is running ads warning seniors that John McCain’s Social Security policies will “gamble with your life savings.”

Another Obama ad says McCain supports “cutting Social Security benefits in half”—a claim that FactCheck.org called “a falsehood sure to frighten seniors who rely on their Social Security checks.”

And when Factcheck.org is critical of Obama it must be REAL bad. So why is this senator of change relying on the Old Democratic Playbook? And why does it seem to be working so far?


Obama Has Embraced the Economics of Fear

By Windsor Mann, OpEd Contributor
Examiner Staff Writer 10/16/08

There is a part early on in The Karate Kid: Part III where Terry Silver, the ponytailed guy who decides it would be fun to harass an 18-year-old boy and an elderly Japanese man, lays out his plan for Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi:

“I’m going to make them suffer, and suffer, and suffer. And when I think they’ve suffered enough, then I start with the pain!”

Silver’s plan sounds a lot like Barack Obama’s campaign strategy. Obama doesn’t want to inflict pain on Americans, of course. He just wants to remind them of the pain they are already feeling.

Here’s what I mean. The other day I said to a friend, “You’re turning kind of weird, like you have a crick in your neck or something.” He responded, “Now that you mention it, I think I do.” By suggesting that his neck should be hurting, I made it hurt. I was, quite literally, a pain in the neck.

Obama is similarly painful. Rather than feeling your pain, he wants you to feel your own. In a new campaign ad, Obama looks into the camera and says, “Instead of prosperity trickling down, pain has trickled up.” He then goes on to tell you how badly you are suffering.

Yes, it’s true. The economy is in bad shape. Nearly everyone agrees we are in a crisis. Eight in 10 are worried about the economy. For some reason, the more frightened you are about it, the more likely you are to support Barack Obama.

Voters who are “worried” about the economy prefer Obama to McCain by a 26-point margin (61-35 percent), while those who are “very worried” like Obama even more, by 51 points (73-22 percent), according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. I guess there’s something about losing all hope that makes people want it more.

“People are angry and shocked and worried about the economy and that is all helping Barack Obama right now,” explained George Stephanopoulos. To maintain his lead, Obama has to keep people angry and shocked and worried. He has to embrace the economics of fear.

It’s a bizarre approach for someone who earlier this year said, “We’ve got to overcome the politics of fear in this country.” How quickly things can change.

In a speech last week, Obama suggested that, without him in the White House guiding the economy, “it will be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home or the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college&hellip. Thousands of businesses could close. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.”

Not exactly a message of hope.

An avid reader of old Democratic playbooks, Obama is doing his best to scare the bejesus out of old people. His campaign is running ads warning seniors that John McCain’s Social Security policies will “gamble with your life savings.”

Another Obama ad says McCain supports “cutting Social Security benefits in half”—a claim that FactCheck.org called “a falsehood sure to frighten seniors who rely on their Social Security checks.”

Why is Obama, who spent the first half of 2008 denouncing the politics of fear, all of the sudden trying to scare voters? The candidate of change changed his mind, I suspect, because he decided it was time to face reality.

He recognized a basic truth: Fear is what successful campaigns are all about, and pretending otherwise is stupid and naïve. Candidates can’t be scared of scaring voters if they want to win. There’s a reason politicians use fear: It works.

Besides, it’s not necessarily wrong or inappropriate, either. Bush and Giuliani took a lot of flak for reminding Americans that terrorists want to kill them, which is pretty accurate as far as it goes. That it serves their political aims doesn’t make it false. One person’s scary story is another person’s presentation of facts.

Obama finally realized this, which is why he has climbed the polls in recent weeks to retake the lead. He has done it by scaring voters with bad news. If he is going to win the election, he will need millions of petrified Americans to do it.

It’s unpleasant but true. Bad news for America is good news for Obama, whose own prospects improve as others’ worsen. That’s why the candidate of hope is hoping for the worst. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen.

Windsor Mann is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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