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Sam Smith: The Perils Of An Early Primary Season

Morning Line: The Perils Of An Early Primary Season

By Editor Sam Smith

Those wise guys in the Democratic Party who rigged the primaries so they'd be done by Easter may be in for some unpleasant surprises. The way things are going, Obama will soon by out there alone, unprotected by a reasonably polite intramural game, facing some of the toughest, nastiest political hustlers around.

One reason for a long primary season was that you got to back track if something uncomfortable developed about one of your possibilities. Now an unknown candidate is going to be put up against the GOP hit squad for an extra long time.

It actually helps to know the person you going to nominate. Even Hillary Clinton felt compelled to hire private detectives to find out more about her husband before he ran.

Here's the cause for concern: there is already stuff floating around about Obama's past - particularly connecting him to anti-Israeli Muslims - that could have a serious effect on the campaign. Not out of McCain's mouth, mind you, but a click away on the Internet. Some of this is grossly unfair and probably a lot of it is plain wrong, but it is the sort of thing that a candidate with a long history wouldn't have to worry about much. Attacks on McCain's handling of his imprisonment will be largely sloughed off, for example, but Obama's past may not be.

Of course, the liberal myth is that we've got a saint running so we don't have to worry about such things. But politics doesn't work like that. What goes up fast can come down just as fast. Bear in mind that out of 15 major pollsters, by December Obama had only hit an average of 30% with three of them. He broke out of also ran status just in the past two months. And there are a lot of news deadlines between now and November.

Another thing to remember: the evangelical fervor by liberals towards Obama is not shared by the general public. Primary voters are special people; general elections are a different matter and Obama has yet to bust the 50% mark against McCain in more than a handful of polls. This isn't to say he can't but merely to point out that the road ahead may be much tougher than a lot of Obama fans think.


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