1. Jesse's comments in re castration:

Before I saw the video, I wondered if the whole thing had not been staged. If Barack Obama can schedule alternating bi-weekly tiffs with Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al from now through Election Day, he will be well served.

After seeing the tape, I am convinced that Jackson's comments were sincere and unintended for mass distribution. Also, I doubt Reverend Jackson is selfless enough to throw himself in front of a high-speed media bus to help out Obama (or anyone, for that matter). That has never been the Jesse style. No conspiracy.

Why does this help Obama? Jackson's genuine frustration with Obama points to the potential danger an African American president presents to the civil rights industry. More specifically, Obama's tendency to go "Bill Cosby" on the seedy side of black culture offers hope for a watershed moment in American life. Just as only Nixon could have gone to China, only a "black" president can hold Black America accountable.

Analysis: advantage Obama.

2. Barack's comments in re culture and language:


He is embarrassed that Americans are so deficient in foreign language and made sport of "English only" proponents. If you watched only FOX News and listened only to conservative talk radio, you might think this was the story of the week.

It wasn't.

Not much to say about this really:

The mainstream media gave Obama a pass on this potentially controversial crack (no surprise there). Sometimes an MSM-ignored story bubbles up into the public consciousness of its own momentum (Reverend Wright, Tony Rezko, the San Francisco comments). Of course, it certainly helped in those cases to have the Clintons calling in favors and manufacturing buzz to draw attention to Obama's miscues, but those days are over. THAT LUXURY IS GONE.

This story does not seem to have legs. Perhaps this is just more evidence (about "Exhibit #426") that cultural conservatives vastly overestimated the issue of immigration et al as a hot-button concern for a critical mass of heartlanders. No doubt, assimilation and American culture are vitally important to the survival of our nation, but these rabid anti-immigrationists always seem to grab this sword by the wrong end.

Analysis: no impact.

3. Phil Gramm's comments on the economy:


Gramm observed that the country was not in a true recession but a "mental recession." He also accused Americans of becoming "a nation of whiners." Gramm: "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Not that the facts matter in this case, but Gramm is right (indisputably on the first count and, in my view, fairly accurate on the second). The technical definition for a recession among economists (and Gramm, for the record, is one: PhD, Economics, 1967, UGA) is two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Again, during an election year, the facts matter much less than the perception, but last quarter the American economy achieved some anemic growth. In re the "whining," who can really argue against that? Nevertheless, Phil should have known better. Insulting the electorate is never a winning strategy.

What makes this so devastating, however, is that Obama took a screwball comment and hammered it out of the park.

Obama:

"I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil. We donít need another one when it comes to the economy Ė we need somebody to actually solve the economy. Itís not just a figment of your imagination, itís not all in your head! Letís be clear...gas and groceries... 438,000 lost jobs over the past six months...the typical family has lost a $1,000 of income in real terms since George Bush took office....

"This economic downturn is not in your head. When people are out there losing their homes and property values are declining, thatís not a figment of your imagination and it isnít whining to ask government to step in and give families some relief!"

"I think itís time we had a President who doesnít deny our problems Ė or blame the American people for them Ė but takes responsibility and provides the leadership to solve them. And thatís the kind of President I intend to be. "

Analysis: DEVASTATING.

I remember the afternoon in March 2004 when I first heard the John F. Kerry "I voted for it before I voted against it" sound bite. I could not believe it. After I took measures to assure myself that it really happened, I thought: "We just won this election." Karl Rove reportedly had the same reaction when he heard it. It was devastating.

Am I saying that the Gramm assertion is tantamount to that infamous Kerry game-turning fumble? Not exactly. The Kerry quote came from Kerryóthe candidate himself. Even worse, Kerry never could admit to himself that his comment was a gaffe.

An Aside: the most devastating aspect of the Kerry blunder was the he never got it. He is still defending it. If you invite Kerry on TV to talk about anything, he will eventually get around to explaining how he was perfectly in the right and anybody who cannot accept that is either evil or dumb. Kerry remains the gift that keeps on giving. My hunch is that he will be good for a few more priceless gaffes before the first Tuesday in November.

Back to point: how devastating is Gramm's comment? Pretty devastating.

It is a template. Read Obama's comments again: GOP denies your misery. You need a fighter. You need a fixer. These guys don't care, but I do. I can help. These guys won't even try.

Pretty devastating.

It is classic Democratic Party candidate boilerplate strategy--and it works. It is 1992 all over again. Similar to that election, the economy this is not great--but not the Great Depression either. But a handsome, charismatic, and glib agent of change is running against an out-of-touch older generation statesman who does not have the capacity to "feel your pain." It's the Economy, Stupid!

The good news is that it was not McCain who said it, and he disowned the remark quickly. But it is out there. Obama is smart enough to run with it, and the mainstream media is complicit enough to boom it.

In the Final Analysis: Pretty Devastating.