Debate anxiety for Barack Obama: Stop channeling Susan Estrich.

Haven’t seen a political piece on this idea yet, although one about “back to the ’80’s” comes close.

Since the Obama-Romney debate, I can’t help but think back to the 1988 campaign, where Michael Dukakis, with a 17% margin, essentially folded. Why? Because Susan Estrich was a terrible campaign strategist. Students of campaign history may recall that Dukakis had a previous manager, John Sasso, who had a lot more fight in the belly. For some reason of a trumped-up scandal, Sasso was replaced by Estrich. There went the campaign.

When Bill Clinton first appeared on the scene in late 1991, he found fighters to help him manage his campaign. They came in the form of James Carville and Paul Begala—fresh off the thumping that Harris Wofford gave to Dick Thornburgh in the November 1991 special U.S. senate election in Pennsylvania. (This was the one held after Senator John Heinz died in a plane crash that year.)

Carville and Begala had fight in them, and I feel it was infectious. It really helped Wofford go from being pointy-headed liberal to everyman populist. (I know. I was there.)

There are some in the party who insist that every candidate fit the mold of Adlai Stevenson. But Stevenson was a loser. He could win Illinois, but that was it. People do not want to elect “the Professor”. In the first debate, Obama showed up like a professor. Then, acted like he really didn’t want to be there.

I hope I see a fighter tomorrow.