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Tilting at Windmills

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February 5, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

REPORT FROM BOSTON....A friend of mine was at the big Obama rally in Boston last night and sent along a few impressions. Take 'em for what they're worth:

  • 90% of the people there were younger than I am [he's 49] and most were under 30.

  • Lots of blacks and a surprising number of Asians, but a largely young white audience of equal gender.

  • I was surprised how down his supporters are on Hillary. They seem to dislike her as much as Republicans.

  • Given his oratorical gifts, his stump speech could be much better. He needs Ted Sorensen.

  • Was watching the faces of Ted, Caroline, Deval and Kerry and they sure seem to like him a lot.

  • The biggest applause line of the night was Ted Kennedy's booming voice telling the crowd that in one year's time the Bush administration will be over.

  • Barack's biggest laugh of the night came when he talked about his lineage being traced to Dick Cheney.

  • Barack's most disingenuous lines are when he panders to the Edwards supporters. The gratuitous populism just seems cheap next to his grander ideas.

  • None of the five or six Larouchies working the line outside were able to convince me to join the group to prevent the "biggest greatest economic collapse since the fall of the Roman Empire."

My friend and I both used to do a lot of PowerPoint presentations back in the day, so the bullet point format here is pretty appropriate.

Kevin Drum 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

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Comments

"Lots of blacks and a surprising number of Asians, but a largely young white audience of equal gender."

Yes Kevin, but they are all misogynists, remember? Every one of them. Didn't you read the distinguished professor Stanley Fish's NYT column?

I think the American public wants a solemn ass as a President, and I think I'll go along with them.
--Calvin Coolidge

Posted by: Adam on February 5, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Edward's concern for the downtrodden dismissed thusly? Man, how callous.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 5, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"I was surprised how down his supporters are on Hillary. They seem to dislike her as much as Republicans."

You are suprised? Really?
Read any "progressive" blogs lately?

Posted by: w2 on February 5, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Aloha,
-Obama graduated from Punahou School in 1979.

So did my mother, al beit much earlier.

Needless to say folks in Hawaii are quite caught up in the buzz of the election.

While we tend to emphasize the fact that Obama is black, I feel it's more fitting that some of his schooling was at Punahou, in a State that has a huge native population, not negroe, nor white.

I'm also unabashedly bias since my birthplace is Honolulu.

The ethnic crucible of our country is more than who is what skin color, for in a sense, the USA is a vast melting pot.

I see Obama actually enabling many folks to look beyond color/race/gender and focus on who we are as humans.

He isn't running as a "black" canidate, but rather as someone who is showing us all a way to transcend our petty differences.

Aloha

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 5, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as a Clinton supporter I will gladly vote for Obama in the general, but this just shows that the same cannot be expected from Obama supporters.

Posted by: Tang on February 5, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Populism ≠"grander ideas"?

Sorry, that equation doesn't work for me.

Posted by: Phil Barron on February 5, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like our friend from Hawaii will vote for Obama based on his race -- well then why is it wrong to vote for HRC cuz she is a woman. Everytime HRC supporters mention something like this Obama camp cries foul and the race card.

Not buying it one bit - he is running on the 'black' card - even if he himself never says the word --- his camp is.

He is too green and I am sick of the Oprah factor and inspirational talking - get real. We need someone who knows how to lead and make decisions. The best candidate is HRC....PERIOD!

Posted by: abc55 on February 5, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, as a Clinton supporter I will gladly vote for Obama in the general, but this just shows that the same cannot be expected from Obama supporters.

Oh gosh Tang, and Kevin too, its just the emotions of the moment, competitive juices, us against them and all that. Plus, remember the young tend to put the peddle to the metal, so to speak, and over emote.

This jaded old politico will shout for, support and vote for Obama now, and if need be cast a vote for your candidate in the fall if need be.

In short you two, get over it!

Posted by: Keith G on February 5, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

The best candidate is HRC....PERIOD!

LOL. I am glad you put a period in all caps at the end there or your incredibly incisive point might not have been nearly as convincing.

Posted by: brent on February 5, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Seeing Kerry made me want to vote for Clinton. And vomit.

Posted by: Hostile on February 5, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

My health insurance just increased $70 a month. I suspect that is the sleeper issue. If Obama doesn't do it today, he won't win this.

Posted by: Gary on February 5, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think Keith G really meant "chill," and it's good advice. For a Presidential candidate, Hillary's a very decent person as well as an exceptionally smart person -- both are -- and over the course of a campaign when people really see her in action directly, rather than as filtered either through Rush and Hannity or certain left-leaning blogs, 75% of that negativity will dissipate. This is a case where, contrary to what we've been led to expect, the emperor actually does have clothes.

Posted by: urban legend on February 5, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

If the wingnuts on the right and far left hate her guts so violently, Senator Clinton must be doing something good.

Posted by: jen flowers on February 5, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Funny Kevin should mention PowerPoint. I was just thinking that if Obama could make the abolition of PowerPoint a plank in the Democratic platform this summer I might just consider switching parties.

A random point: I'm not particularly impressed with Obama's rhetorical gifts. He's not bad compared to most modern politicians, and anyone who doesn't need a guide dog to find his way from one end of a complete English sentence to the other would be a nice change after the last seven years. But Obama's greatest asset is his voice and the way he uses it to move through his speech, not the way he uses language. His speeches -- setting their content aside -- are a pleasure to listen to; Mitt Romney's are a chore, Hillary Clinton's an absolute trial. Just the thought of having to listen to that voice most every day for four years send a chill down my spine.

John McCain's distinction as a speaker is that one cannot set the content of his speech aside. It takes no more than a few minutes to tell whether he is delivering material he felt it necessary to recite in public or he is saying something he believes in his heart. In the latter case he can move, but his more routine speeches make you want to hit the "mute" button.

A random question, and I don't think I'm the only one this has occurred to: would Romney have been better off in this race if he didn't go by "Mitt"? I know his given name is Willard; that's not ideal for a candidate, but it's no more unusual than Dwight, Barry or Ross. Romney has tried awfully hard in this campaign to leave the impression that he is something he isn't, and I have to believe that awful moniker has something to do with this.

Posted by: Zathras on February 5, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I was at the large Meadowlands rally early earlier in the day. He's closer to neck and neck in Jersey than Mass, so it maybe mattered more. Many women, black and Hispanics present; not many young white yuppies. No pandering to Edwards folks, and no mention of Hillary.

Strongly disagree on the oratory thing; that reflects a wrong take, I now think. He is very much a process person, an enabler, a group builder. I've worked with a lot of top people around the world as a UN development manager, and although the process leaders are rarer than the end-point leaders, they tend to come out with many more break-the-mould outcomes. Great oratory realy doesnt fit with the process model. (Right, Powerpoint Man?!)

I went to the Meadowlands sceptical; and came away thinking, now this could be REALLY interesting.

I took a lot of shots of the rally which may speak to you on these lines. They are posted here:

http://www.megatractor.com

Posted by: Fast Pete on February 5, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

"But Obama's greatest asset is his voice and the way he uses it to move through his speech, not the way he uses language."

You said it Zathras, it's how he speaks as much as what he speaks. He's an ex-smoker now, but 30 years of nicotine and smoke have produced vocal chords that any radio/tv personality would kill for.

Posted by: Dilbert on February 5, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Phil Barron,
Your "equation" doesn't work for me either.

Posted by: matt on February 5, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Barack's most disingenuous lines are when he panders to the Edwards supporters. The gratuitous populism just seems cheap next to his grander ideas.

Pardon us peons for obscuring Obama's magnificent, grand ideas.

Posted by: kc on February 5, 2008 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Barack's most disingenuous lines are when he panders to the Edwards supporters. The gratuitous populism just seems cheap next to his grander ideas."

Barack's gratuitous grander ideas seem cheap next to Edwards's populism.

Posted by: Ross Best on February 5, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

abc55: Not buying it one bit - he is running on the 'black' card - even if he himself never says the word --- his camp is.

I'm no Obama fan, but in all fairness, how could he possibly run as a candidate without people noticing that he's black? And how can he possibly control everything his supporters say?

How, for that matter (the usual cheap jokes aside), could Hillary run without people noticing that she's a woman?

The best candidate is HRC....PERIOD!

Good. solid argument there - and this from someone who (God help me) favors Hillary over Obama. May the best Republican-Lite win!

Posted by: alex on February 5, 2008 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the link to your Meadowlands pix, Fast Pete! (February 5, 2008 at 6:39 PM)

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on February 5, 2008 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

i continue to be astonished at how so few care to peer behind the curtain.

fail to distinguish the real puppeteer of the democratic candidates. david rockefeller[of the family that created the cfr and the trilateral commission].

obama's foreign policy mentor is zbig brezinski[a rockefeller courtier who was attached to james earl carter by david rockefeller as his national security adviser]. either many don't know, or forget, that it was zbig who instigated the chapter of the great game that resulted in the overthrow of the shah, the russian invasion of afghanistan.

so, when you look at obombya, never forget that he is just the front-man for the rockefellers.

and of course, the rockefellers have all the democratic bases covered. hillary is another rockefeller puppet.

in this forthcoming election[assuming that there will be one], the rockefellers have determined that republicans will be ousted and that own the leading dem candidates. so, with any new regime, it will be business as usual.

but, never forget, at the end of the day, the rockefellers might decide that they prefer their republican lackeys[george & dick] and will countenance a third coup d'etat[after all, it is so much easier than constructing the illusion of democracy].

finally, there is this other little matter concerning obombya...that is his long-term financial counselor. according to web tarpley, skull&bones 1991. the secret society that brought you george walker bush and his benign coverage by the press. the secret society that stopped howard dean and replaced him with another boner who ran a campaign intended to preserve the bushit incumbency.

and then there is this other little issue that the purported democrats/progressives seem to discard, the institutionalized vote fraud that is rife in the polling places.

the amerikan election process is a complete fraud, i assert. an illusion of democracy. why is it that so many think it is not an illusion?

Posted by: albertchampion on February 5, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Barack's most disingenuous lines are when he panders to the Edwards supporters.

Do you mean this pander?

...Some political moments are so bizarre that you have to believe they actually are sincere.
One such moment came this weekend, when Barack Obama mocked John Edwards in a speech.
Obama had done it before, but that was before Edwards suspended his campaign last Wednesday.
…. In a humorous riff, Obama mentioned a debate in which Tim Russert had asked him, “What’s your biggest weakness?”
Obama went on: “Well, I’m always losing paper. And so I have to have somebody around me to help me file things and keep my desk clean.”
Obama then said Russert had asked Edwards the same question.
“And he says, ‘Well, I am just so passionate about helping poor people,’” Obama said dryly.…..
For the record, this is what Edwards actually told Russert his biggest weakness was: “I sometimes have a very powerful emotional response to pain that I see around me.”……

Posted by: Mike on February 5, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Obama last week at a raucaus rally in Phoenix. And indeed, I thought that his stump speech was little more than a generic laundry list that was populist more in tone than content. Saying you'll make health care affordable, or help everyone get a first-class education are crowd-pleasers but otherwise fairly vacuous. When Kevin says Obama needs some soaring rhetoric, I understand the sentiment perfectly. He's a gifted orator, but I found myself bored halfway through his speech.

Posted by: walt on February 5, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm...the HRC supporters seem to be getting a little testier...?
I've been canvassing for Obama the past 4 days and I was very careful to tell the HRC voters I encountered that whatever happens, we have good candidates. Not all Obama supporters are automatically anti-Hillary. I've been a little annoyed by some of her and Bill's campaign antics--I don't think they needed them--but it isn't fatal.

For those who are bored watching the spitwads flying back and forth above, the voter turnout in my area (northern NM) on down to the ABQ area has been ENORMOUS, and I suspect that will hold for the entire state of NM as well. When I went to vote at about 3:30 the lines were huge, with about a 1/2 hour wait to vote. Voter turnout was expected to be low here. In ABQ and its burbs the wait has been reported to be anywhere up to 3 hours. Ironically, I had to vote by provisional ballot because they couldn't find me on the list.

Posted by: Varecia on February 5, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't appear too many Democrats in Massachusetts listen to their top politicians. Clinton is crushing Obama there.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 5, 2008 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the LaRouchies are exaggerating, but we shouldn't be dismissive about the very real dangers our economy faces with all the accumulated debt, foreign propping, shady deals, the tendency to fix things for the sake of "traders" etc.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 5, 2008 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

As Idaho goes, so goes Utah.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 5, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of blacks and a surprising number of Asians, but a largely young white audience of equal gender. Why is it OK for blacks and Hispanics to vote race? At least for a couple of states I heard blacks went 81-83% for Obama. I don't know if this is true across the country. Hispanics are going almost 3:1 against Republicans and for invasion.

Posted by: Luther on February 6, 2008 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Vast majority of Asians are going for Clinton, not Obama. You just saw some of the Asian college nerds. Asians generally don't like the Mao-like inspirational but vapid rhetoric. They prefer technocrat leaders. For many Chinese (who make up 1/3 of Asians), one cultural revolution is enough for a millennium. Obama revolution? No thanks.

Posted by: Bob on February 6, 2008 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

"I was surprised how down his supporters are on Hillary. They seem to dislike her as much as Republicans."

I don't get it. How can any liberal vote for Hilary? How hard is it to see that passing on the Presidency to relatives and creating these royal families (Kennedy, Bush, now Clinton) is a bad, bad idea? It has nothing to with Hilary's qualifications or lack thereof - her candidacy sets an awful precedent and it must be stopped.

Posted by: oldguy on February 6, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

What is an "audience of equal gender?" When does the blog grammarian step in to fix this?

Posted by: TFisher on February 6, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

"her candidacy sets an awful precedent and it must be stopped."

John Adams - John Quincy Adams;
William Henry Harrison - Benjamin Harrison;
Theodore Roosevelt - Franklin Delano Roosevelt;
George H. W. Bush - George W. Bush;(ok, bad example)

If we can survive GWB, Hillary is not going to be a problem.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on February 6, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

I think that should Hillary win the nomination, the Obama supporters will largely come around and support her, especially against John McCain.

Let us remember that they are generally young and passionate. Not old and a bit cynical, like I am.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on February 6, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

i am a 67-year-old woman who held Obama signs outside polling places in Greenwich Village yesterday. Most (70%?) women over 55 going in gave me thumbs up or equiv. (I was however attacked twice as "Traitor!" by same.) People of color, including Latinos and Asians also with us. Gay men with Obama, gay women with Hill. Got high signs from almost all cabbies (even Sufis), truck drivers (except the white brutes). Made me feel great being part of obamissima.
About the Clintons: I will not forget that the years I was driven almost literally insane by Bush, the War, the madness of this country, neither Clinton raised so much as a peep. Al Gore alone gave passionate speeches and was derided as a fool, ignored by the media. The Clintons? Bill told us George Bush was really a very smart man and we didn't give him credit, and went off to make money and pal with GHW. What Hillary did and said is on the books.
I will never forgive this.

Posted by: annie on February 6, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Zathras,

Good points. For the life of me I never understood why Hillary (and many other public speakers) neglected to take vocal lessons. The voice seems to be completely overlooked when trying to improve one's appearance.

Regarding Willard, I suspect he went with a nickname because of the strong negatives reinforced by the movie "Willard" in 1971. I suspect the movie title was picked by the screenwriters because it already had negatives.

Now why he never switched to the nickname "Will" is beyond me. AFAIK "Will" has positive connotations.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

albertchampion,

i continue to be astonished at how so few care to peer behind the curtain.

I agree with you. The politicians are not the problem, so replacing a politician will not fix the problem.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Doctor Jay,

George H. W. Bush - George W. Bush;(ok, bad example)

Don't forget Prescott Bush. Actually the Bush dynasty consists of three generations, a U.S. Senator, two Governors, one Vice President and two Presidents. Not to mention the successful bankers and businessman.

But hey, that has to be the same thing as a husband and wife, right? I mean a husband and wife having the same last name is equivalent to three generations of extremely powerful people.

Yeah. Sure.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Well, as a Clinton supporter I will gladly vote for Obama in the general, but this just shows that the same cannot be expected from Obama supporters."

And there's the rub. Obama's progressives (like me) view Hillary as being almost as bad as John McCain. In some ways, she may be a worse political hack, since at least John appears to stand against special interests. Hillary IS special interests.

If Clinton ultimately squeaks by Obama and wins the Democratic nomination, I'll probably just sit home in November along with a lot of other disillusioned progressives. Hell, after eight years of the Bush White House, we're used to be ignored in the country.

Posted by: Obama or Bust on February 6, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

If Clinton ultimately squeaks by Obama and wins the Democratic nomination, I'll probably just sit home in November along with a lot of other disillusioned progressives.

Never mind the down-ticket races, huh? Okay, you just stay on home and don't fret about minutiae like the country going to hell in a handbasket, or Constitutional restoration, or any of that.

If I had my druthers, we would have enough liberals (I'm not embarrassed by the term) in both chambers that we could just say "fuck the presidency."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on February 6, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Never mind the down-ticket races, huh? Okay, you just stay on home and don't fret about minutiae like the country going to hell in a handbasket, or Constitutional restoration, or any of that."

Congress--specifically the US Senate--is fatally divided and no meaningful legislation will emerge from there regardless of which "down ticket" rep I help elect to DC. Our country already is in hell, not heading there. My only hope is that a strong executive in the White House might have the charisma to break the partisan stalemate. That's why Obama's election is the only thing that matters. Having Clinton in the White House would just be business as usual.

Posted by: Obama or Bust on February 6, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: srkws on February 7, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK
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