Gerard Baker at the Times is right: “Barack Obama suddenly looks vulnerable. And the more the focus is on him, the less likely he is to become president.”
“There's trouble in paradise. Cancel the coronation. Send back the commemorative medals. Put those “Yes We Can” T-shirts up on eBay. Keep the Change.
“Barack Obama's historic procession to the American presidency has been rudely interrupted. The global healing he promised is in jeopardy. If you're prone to emotional breakdown, you might want to take a seat before I say this. He might not win.
“How can it be, you ask? Didn't we see him just last month speaking to 200,000 adoring Germans in Berlin? Didn't he get the red carpet treatment in France - France of all places? Doesn't every British politician want to be seen clutching the hem of his garment?
“All true. But as cruel geography and the selfish designs of the American Founding Fathers would have it, Europeans don't get to choose the US president. Somewhere along the way to the Obama presidency, somebody forgot to ask the American people.”
Baker points out:
So we arrive this weekend at the true starting line of the US presidential race and the rituals that begin the real election campaign: the selection of the vice-presidential running-mates, and the back-to-back party nominating conventions. A year and a half after the warm-ups began, the two remaining candidates are more or less tied. Senator Obama's summer lead in the opinion polls has evaporated. John McCain, that grumpy, grisly, gnarled old Republican, that Gollum to Senator Obama's Bilbo Baggins, might, just might, actually win this thing.
“The key to understanding the presidential campaign as it enters its phase of maximum intensity is this. The more the campaign is about the concerns of the American voter, especially the state of the economy but also the general anxiety about the direction of the country, the more likely they are to throw the Republicans out.
“But the uncomfortable truth for the many devoted fans of Senator Obama is that the more the race is about him, the less likely he is to win it.”
To read Baker’s thought-provoking analysis of the general election race in its entirety, go here.