Douglas MacKinnon

Reality two: When Mr. Dole was running in 1996, Mr. Gingrich was the powerful speaker of the majority party who was not going anywhere anytime soon. It was relatively easy for the Clinton machine to infer that if Mr. Dole got elected, Mr. Gingrich would be lurking behind him, pulling some strings. But come Jan. 20, the American people have every expectation that President Bush is going to fade completely from the political landscape.

Reality three: While the Obama campaign is counting on its "third Bush term" line to be popular with the fringe left, it knows it's a gimmick that fails to address two serious problems: "Hillary Clinton/Ronald Reagan" Democrats and a number of Hispanic voters.

If nothing else, the Democratic primary has proved that political correctness and the truth do not always go hand in hand. The vote in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky has undeniably demonstrated that Mr. Obama is not going to win a significant number of white "working-class" votes.

But there are serious warning flags on the horizon for Mr. Obama with regard to the Hispanic-American vote. As a Republican married to a Hispanic-American, I have endeavored of late to speak to as many Hispanics as possible. What I have learned is that a number of Hispanics are not going to vote for Mr. Obama - period. When history is made and a minority becomes president or vice president, they want that person to be Hispanic. To those who would claim that this observation is false, petty or even racist, I would suggest they bury their partisanship or ignorance and start asking some off-the-record questions.

As Barack Obama and his campaign continue the transition into general-election mode, they will utilize their expanded stage to continue to loudly, predictably, and breathlessly warn of a "third Bush term" under a President McCain. As they do this, they may find themselves in a blind panic as they try to bridge what may be a fatal schism in their own party.

Hackneyed slogans aside, the mathematical obstacles facing Mr. Obama are formidable. Without large numbers of working-class whites and Hispanics in his corner, it's going to be tough indeed to get to 270 electoral votes.


Douglas MacKinnon

Douglas MacKinnon is former White House and Pentagon official who spent three years working in a Joint Command.

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