Blum’s Advice for Obama
John Morton Blum, among the nation’s most distinguished and influential political historians of the last century, might be out of the business of actively campaigning for presidential candidates. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t watching as closely as ever. And, at the moment, he doesn’t like what he sees from the Obama camp.
"I’m not very optimistic about the election," Blum said in a phone interview from his Connecticut home yesterday. "I think Obama’s losing ground."
According to Blum, a Roosevelt scholar and author of "V Was For Victory," Obama is stuck in primary mode, when both he and chief rival Hillary Clinton were purposely vague on policy in order to stem criticism over their specific plans. That vagueness, Blum said, "gives him wiggle-room, but it’s not very persuasive."
Instead, the professor emeritus at Yale University, said Obama needs to do a much better job both defining his strategy and portraying McCain as a third-term extension of the Bush administration.
As if on cue, Obama yesterday blasted McCain for following the Bush model of bowing to the big oil companies over energy policy. From today’s Washington Post:
Obama, campaigning in Ohio, said a McCain administration would be "four more years of oil companies calling the shots." Arguing he would do more than McCain to reduce gasoline prices, the senator from Illinois repeatedly attempted to connect McCain to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, both former oil company executives, saying "after one president in the pocket of the oil companies — we can’t afford another."
"Remember that when George Bush took office, he had an energy policy, he turned to Dick Cheney and he told Cheney, ‘Go take care of this.’ " Obama told a crowd at a gym in Youngstown, Ohio. "John McCain’s taking a page out of the Bush-Cheney playbook."
With Bush’s approval ratings hovering below 30 percent, it shouldn’t take a political historian to convince Obama he’d do well to keep that up.