Lou Aguilar’s column today listing the top ten reasons real men vote for McCain hits a problematic vein for Obama. A distillation of Aguilar’s reasons points to one of the fundamental reservations many voters have with Obama — that he projects weakness; not the vacillating, flip flopping weakness of your garden variety politician, but the screaming, flashing, neon light on the forehead weakness that’s an enticement to bad guys around the world. It’s why he polls so poorly on security issues.
The perception isn’t just limited to “real men”. Everyone has a tendency to size someone up at the initial encounter, whether it’s before a sporting event, a business meeting, a high school debate or a labor negotiation. When someone concludes that his adversary is weak it often fuels one’s aggressive instincts. In everyday encounters the results may be unfortunate. On the world stage they can be disastrous or nearly so–Kennedy/Khrushchev, Carter /Brezhnev, Cater/Khomeini being just a few examples.
Obama’s statements, attitude and demeanor as well as his policies suggest a weakness not seen in a presidential nominee in generations– at least since Adlai Stevenson. Even when Obama tries to talk tough it sounds either silly or plaintive.
It may say something unflattering about human nature but everybody gets it. However unsophisticated, it’s as basic as this: any ten year-old kid in my neighborhood in inner-city Cleveland would prefer that Hillary Clinton escort them to the corner Seven Eleven than Barack Obama.