Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rope-a-dope

Obama made a conscious decision in this campaign not to cede the issue of foreign policy to John McCain. Indeed, he has relished the opportunities to talk about his vision for how America should present itself to the world. This is a refreshing change from past Democratic Presidential candidates, many of whom firmly embraced the conventional wisdom that Democrats can't win these fights and thus should avoid them at all cost.

I really don't know why people should be so surprised that this strategy appears to be working. Obama is shifting the window of what is considered “acceptable” opinion on foreign policy. What was derided as naivete 12 months ago is now being discussed as a serious alternative to the neo-con/neo-liberal approach.

This is what happens when you have a candidate who doesn’t listen to the “experts” on what a Democrat needs to do to win a foreign policy debate. Obama has laid out a compelling alternative approach and has refused to wilt in the face of the expected negative reception.

Think Ali vs. Foreman. Everyone expected Ali to go down when Foreman came at him with those massive arms. Foreman hit Ali with everything he had and Ali refused to go down. He just absorbed the blows and continued fighting. Foreman didn’t know how to deal with that. All his previous opponents adopted the “avoid his blows” strategy. But it's hard to avoid blows in a full fight. That strategy inevitably failed the minute Foreman connected. Ali took a different approach. He used the ropes and his forearms to absorb the force of the blows. After several rounds, Foreman wore himself out and gave Ali the opening he needed to hit back.

That's how you win a fight against a "superior" foe.

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