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Tilting at Windmills

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February 14, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA AND CHANGE....I don't want to beat this into the ground, but yesterday I linked to an Ezra Klein post lamenting the fact that Barack Obama hasn't been using his immense rhetorical gifts to actively move public opinion in a more liberal direction. Matt Yglesias responds:

Ultimately, though, the question of whether or not deep down in his heart Obama is really the liberal Reagan or not is neither here nor there....The extent to which Obama or Clinton or anyone else governs as a progressive will have more to do with the objective circumstances in which he or she finds himself or herself — the congressional balance of power, the strength of interest groups, the quality of organizing on the ground — than it will with what lurks in the deepest recesses of his or her brain.

For what it's worth, this isn't my concern. I don't have the slightest doubt about Obama's genuine devotion to the center-left. His record is crystal clear on that point.

Rather, my question is about his political courage. Obama obviously has the talent to move people, and at some point he's going to have to decide whether he's willing to use that talent to start persuading the American public of the value of liberal policies, not merely the value of coming together and "making change." The latter might get him elected, but it won't get him elected with a tailwind of public opinion actively in favor of implementing a liberal agenda.

Now, my concern on this score is fairly minor. It's not as if Obama is hiding his views or anything, and the ideological stakes will inevitably come into sharper focus during the general election campaign. Right now he's trying to win a primary against a woman with broadly similar liberal views, so emphasizing unity over ideology is a smart tactic.

Still, speaking only for myself, at this point I'd like to see some kind of Sistah Souljah moment in reverse: something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left. After all, if Obama is willing to take political risks now, it's a good sign that he'll be willing to spend political capital later.

UPDATE: I guess today is Sara Robinson day. In a post that accurately takes to task the "cult" critique of Obama's campaign, she says:

[Obama has] tapped into a deeply pressurized seam of repressed fury within the American electorate, and he's giving it voice, a focus, and an outlet. Are the results scary? You bet: these people want change on a scale that much of the status quo should find terrifying. Are they unreasoning? The followers may be — but as long as their leader keeps a cool head, that's not as much of a problem right now as we might think; and the heat will dissipate naturally in time. Is this kind of devotion even appropriate? You bet. You don't get the kind of deep-level change we need without first exposing and channeling people's deep discontent. Obama's change talk may be too vague for most people's tastes (including mine); but the fact is that if we're serious about enacting a progressive agenda, rousing people's deepest dreams and desires and mobilizing that energy is exactly how it's going to happen. And Obama's the first candidate we've had in a generation who really, truly gets this.

This could hardly be farther away from my view of the Obama phenomenon. "Repressed fury"? "Scary"? I don't see that at all. "Change on a scale that much of the status quo should find terrifying"? I don't think there's anyone on the planet who's terrified of Obama. Frankly, I'd be pleased to see a hint of this now and again in Obama's campaign, but I just haven't. His domestic policies aren't even as progressive as Hillary Clinton's, his foreign policy is a step in the right direction but still well within the center-left mainstream, and the "change" his audience cheers for is the feel-good U2 variety, not the mad-as-hell Howard Beale variety.

Am I totally off base here? I like Obama, but I don't really see him tapping into popular anger at all. There's a part of me that wishes he'd dip a toe in those waters occasionally, but I haven't seen it yet.

Kevin Drum 1:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (168)

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Comments

wasn't the original "sister souljah" moment really the opposite of political courage, disguised as political courage? I don't mean that snarky, I really wonder what people think.

Posted by: chris brandow on February 14, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Do you believe in magic? or: Why Obama won.

Starting the discussion...

Posted by: bob on February 14, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why on earth should he spend political capital now just to make a point? Just when he is most vulnerable, yet so close?

The only thing that would attest to would be his utter stupidity.

I sure hope he doesn't do anything that might endanger the support of any key constituency. (And, yes, I hope he is courageous in pushing for a progressive agenda in the future, as president, when he is fighting from a position of strength, not weakness as now).

Posted by: z on February 14, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I am the fourth to comment on this thread. This moment is now etched into history, and as you read this final sentence, know that my impact is permanent. You may delete my post, but you cannot delete your memory. I am now immortal.

Posted by: Boorring on February 14, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, this is ridiculous. Obama's first concern at the moment is to knock Clinton out as quickly as he can. His second concern is to win the election.

The rest of it can wait.

Posted by: John on February 14, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I would think that Obama's track record of taking political risks related to reform in the political process would tell much. After all, that is the thrust of his message. In short, he doesn't have a good track record.

Here is some information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunil-garg/obamas-audacity-gap_b_84358.html

Posted by: MsComment on February 14, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say that Hillary Clinton certainly isn't the poster child for Political Courage.

So it's not Obama versus COURAGE.. it's Obama versus Clinton, who voted for the Iraq war and the Iran Lierberman/Kyl resolution.

Posted by: riffle on February 14, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Rather, my question is about his political courage. Obama obviously has the talent to move people, and at some point he's going to have to decide whether he's willing to use that talent to start persuading the American public of the value of liberal policies, not merely the value of coming together and "making change."

"Start"? He's already spoken at length about withdrawing from Iraq, moving towards universal health care, increased openness and transparency in government, rolling back the Bush tax cuts, and investing in alternative forms of energy. Sounds like a pretty good "start" to me.

Still, speaking only for myself, at this point I'd like to see some kind of Sistah Souljah moment in reverse: something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left.

Like when he promised to personally meet with the leaders of Iran and Venezuela? Or when he stood in front of Detroit automakers and told them they needed to make more fuel-efficient cars? Or when he criticized the African-American community for not being more tolerant towards gays and Latinos?

I'm honestly confused, Kevin, as to what exactly you want from Obama here.

Posted by: DaveWoo on February 14, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

"if he's willing to take political risks now, it's a good sign that he'll be willing to spend political capital later"

Why would you want him to take political risks now, just for the sake of taking risks? That's stupidity.

Posted by: RM on February 14, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, don't you mean a "John McCain moment in reverse" after his recent vote? Although I guess torture is now a conservative value so maybe you just mean a "John McCain moment" ...

For what it's worth, I think Obama's taken a pretty courageous stand on foreign policy relative to the only Democrats I've ever had a chance to vote for in presidential elections (starting in 2000).

Posted by: Matt on February 14, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

You know I don't think he is hiding what the wants to do. Read yesterday's speech in Janesville. I think he laid out his economic proposals pretty well. It is not like he is hiding his positions or anything. His positions are very consistently those of a left center practical populist.

Frankly Kevin, I don't know what more you want him to do.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on February 14, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell is Sistah Souljah moment in reverse?

Does he have to go and kiss GWB's ring in public in front of the cameras of all the major networks around the globe to show that he is really bipartisan?

Uncharacteristically Kevin is being very obtuse here.

Posted by: gregor on February 14, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama obviously has the talent to move people, and at some point he's going to have to decide whether he's willing to use that talent to start persuading the American public of the value of liberal policies, not merely the value of coming together and "making change." The latter might get him elected, but it won't get him elected with a tailwind of public opinion actively in favor of implementing a liberal agenda."

Which is exactly why he won't do it, Kevin. Americans will always reject those who seek to implement "a liberal agenda."

Instead, you liberals will become increasingly dismayed by Obama, who when after he gets the nomination will become the new Master of Triangulation. It's his only hope of beating McCain.

Posted by: Chicounsel on February 14, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's first concern at the moment is to knock Clinton out as quickly as he can. His second concern is to win the election.

Meet the new politics. Same as the old politics. Personally, I won't get fooled again.

Posted by: sj on February 14, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"he" not "the"

Posted by: corpus juris on February 14, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Still, speaking only for myself, at this point I'd like to see some kind of Sistah Souljah moment in reverse: something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left"

Do you honestly believe that Sen Clinton can move public opinion to the left? It seems the reason that you like Sen Clinton is her pragmatist ways of being able to get things done.

Why do you seemingly have different measuring sticks for the two candidates? Why not compare them both the same way?

Posted by: jason on February 14, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

The central question will not be answered before the election. Political courage? People don't go there before elections.

Historically speaking, Abraham Lincoln did not speak out forcefully and act forcibly against slavery until he could. The Abolitionists wanted him to take stronger positions and do more, but Lincoln waited until he could act with force.

Posted by: dan robinson on February 14, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

What about the fact that Obama consistently and on high-profile occasions (e.g. the Los Angeles debate) refuses, unlike Hillary, to express sympathy with white working-class resentment of immigrants, attributing it to "scapegoating"? He also consistently says that immigrants should get drivers' licenses of some kind, which is surely right in policy terms but isn't popular.

Posted by: Andy on February 14, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

at this point I'd like to see some kind of Sistah Souljah moment in reverse: something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left.

Kevin, I think Obama wants to win elections not lose them. The American people are conservatives not liberals. People are attracted to Obama because he is a post-partisan uniter, not because he is a ideological leftist.

Posted by: Al on February 14, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

You want him to move left now to prove he's a liberal? Are you insane? Thats a great way to lose the election. I know Obama is great and everything, but he cant single handedly change what history has proven is the way to win an election. You be as liberal as a necessary to win the nomination, but then you have to be more centrist to win a majority of the voters.

I think this belief in Obama is getting out of control. He cant change the whole political alignment of the country. He's a politician, he doesnt have superpowers.

Posted by: Jonesy on February 14, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Might it not be better to do this at some later date? Maybe after getting the nomination, or maybe even after being elected?

Posted by: neil on February 14, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I thought he had a mini version of the reverse Sister Souljah moment when when he stopped wearing his flag pin. It made the Fox folks crazy for a while. It certainly wasn't helpful with the middle voter. It was just the kind of small symbolic issue that took some political courage where none was required or expected.

Posted by: TK on February 14, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'd rather have a cautious progressive who gets elected than an progressive who wears his idealism on his sleeve and doesn't get elected.

Posted by: Quinn on February 14, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's devotion??? to the center-left is crystal clear????????? HUH? Maybe his devotion to the mindless adulation of the center-left and to the image of center-left but not substance.

Contrast with Senator Clinton. From an article in Politico by Mike Allen today:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) trashed an array of corporate interests in an economic speech in Ohio Thursday, vowing that as president she would go after oil, credit-card, insurance, pharmaceutical, investment, and loan firms.

Delivering a major economic address ahead of the Buckeye State’s crucial March 4 primary, Clinton also slammed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as a lightweight, declaring: “My opponent gives speeches, I offer solutions.”

“My opponent says that he’ll take on the special interests,” she said in her prepared remarks. “Well, he told people he stood up to the nuclear industry and passed a bill against them. But he actually let the nuclear industry water down his bill – the bill never actually passed.”

Posted by: Chrissy on February 14, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

No, riffle, for us left-liberal independents, as opposed to center-liberal mush, it IS Obama vs. Courage.

Right now, Courage still wins and I still vote Green.

On Iraq, DaveWoo and all, as Kevin has pointed out, since actually getting elected his actual Senate record on Iraq is the same as Clinton's. And as Mendell's bio of Obama pointed out, his antiwar stance of 2002 had overtones of political calculation to it.

Dan Robinson - bullshit. Truman signed off on integration of the Army in 1948, even with his own party facing the Dixiecrat split. John Adams beat down Federalists' war pressure with France knowing it might make some Federalists, like Hamilton, indifferent to his re-election.

Of course, there are stupid "profiles in courage," too, like Ford's advance pardon of Nixon.

MsComment: Nice HuffPost piece.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 14, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Do you think Clinton is liberal. She belongs to the DLC, the conservative faction of the Democratic Party.

Talking about using courage for liberal ends. Obama is in favor of campaign finance reform. He has promised he would campaing with public financing at the general election if his Republican opponent did the same.

Posted by: Paul Siegel on February 14, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

Why then is he considered the progressive candidate if he isn't a liberal? I realize that the word liberal has been demonized and is now considered an insult but the person with the most liberal voting record is Barak Obama. He was against the Iraq invasion which is considered a liberal view. (of course that doesn't explain Ron Paul but I digress)

Posted by: leslie on February 14, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Al:

You are dead wrong, as usual. In poll after poll, most Americans favor liberal positions, such as universal health care, a woman's right to choose, more progressive taxes and a smaller military. Unfortunately, the right-wing has a louder propaganda machine. So, they get more air time, relative to their numbers. You better get used to being in the minority, chump. Eight years of George W. Bush has guaranteed that it will be two decades at least, before conservatives win back Congess and the White House, in my opinion.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 14, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

"The easy guide to being a good commenter"
Step 1: Actually READ Kevin's post
Step 2: THINK about it for a moment
Step 3: Post your comment

Posted by: Bush Lover on February 14, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

'start persuading the American public of the value of liberal policies'

Basically I've heard Obama say that liberal values ARE American values, that 'most' Americans don't favor huge economic inequality between the rich and the middle class/poor, that 'most' Americans favor healthcare for all, that 'most' Americans believe in offering a helping hand to those that are less fortunate, that 'most' Americans favor diplomacy over waging wars. Obama makes this equation of American values = liberal values often and this has contributed to his attracting immense support from all demographics.

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

There seems to be a parallel between Dems who criticize Obama for not being liberal enough and Reps (like Limbaugh and Coulter) who criticize McCain for not being conservative enough.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 14, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

After all, if he's willing to take political risks now, it's a good sign that he'll be willing to spend political capital later.

The risk is that until at least 2013 McCain would continue the good work of George Bush.

You want Obama to flirt with that?

Posted by: chance on February 14, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

The "popular anger" candidate morphed into John Edwards who in attempting to diferentiate between himself and Obama's change messages went down that road.

Those candidates don't win elections.

Obama has championed changed in terms historical and hopeful and innovative: basically the American brand. And that resonates with people who are angry and with people who are dissatisfied moderates and people who are dissatisfied conservatives. He's taken a progressive-liberal agenda that is essentially like HRC's and made it platable to deep red America. They don't like his ideas, his big governement, or think liberalism is the answer. But they like the fact that he's appealing to them as American's first.

That is essentially the heart of why Obama has done so well. It's why Regan did so well. He has realized that in cloaking his progressive proposals in jingoistic terms he will sublty ratify them while at the same time connecting emotionally to those Republicans who like the jingoism but not the policy.

It's something most people haven't gotten in the desire to mock him as some messianic voice.

Posted by: Rhoda on February 14, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I've been wanting to say this all day, and you just gave me a good reason to: I'm an Obama supporter, and I support him because I'm angry as hell.

Not to be shallow about it, but I consider myself a "Toby Ziegler liberal." I believe that government can be a place where people come together, and where no one gets left behind. We all do. We all have to -- that's what we're fighting for. Hillary tells us it can't happen; Republicans are Republicans, and she's who she is, and she'll grind them into mush, and we'll all celebrate. Well, maybe she's right. Maybe not. But if that's really the best we can do, we ought to just all go home now. Really, I'm ready to, because I'm TIRED. I'm not tired of "partisan bickering." Partisanship is good. We should have lots of it, because it signifies public disagreement, and public disagreement fuels democracy. I'm tired of eight hundred executive orders being rescinded every four years because we can't even build consensus about the basic functions of our democratic institutions. I'm tired of feeling like any victory liberalism is a triumph of tactics, not persuasion. I'm tired of listening to conservatives scream about how government can't work, only to hear liberals agree! Maybe they're all right. I don't know. Maybe government really can't do anything. But this year -- THIS year, when everyone but a 30%-sized rump of America is up for grabs, persuadable, LISTENING -- if we can't do it this year, we should all just go home, because we're no longer trying to lead a great nation to become greater; we're just trying to win at a game that I, for one, am rapidly losing interest in playing.

So, maybe they're right. But maybe they're not, and I want to find out, and, as fate and historical circumstance would have it, for me to find out, Barack Obama has to become president. That's why I'm voting for him.

Posted by: Daniel Munz on February 14, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Obama needs to get out in front and stop taking credit for ideas that he's snagged from Clinton and Edwards - he needs to make them bigger, better, and they need to have real impact.

Big things. Big changes.

Real change, not just talk about how he'll cuddle up to Republicans.

Peace keeping and Insurgency training for our armed forces. More Peace Core funding. More AmeriCore. Bring our Coast Guard back up to strength. Bring our National Guard back to guard our nation instead of off on adventures.

Real changes in how America does business, not just window-dressing.

Posted by: Crissa on February 14, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Kevin -- I don't see Obama tapping into any kind of anger whatsoever.

What he's tapping into is people's desire for a candidate who's different ... one that at least presents himself as a DC outsider willing to change the way politics are done ... and one whose message seems to come from the heart, rather than from a focus group.

Basically, in no way is he voicing the anger some feel -- he's voicing people's desire for a government that works.

Granted, it could all very well be smoke and mirrors, but I've got a decent Bullshit-O-Meter and it has yet to go off.

As far as him taking risks, as of now there's no way he can. Getting the nomination doesn't lend itself to that, nor will running in the general (if he gets the nod).

I agree, though, that it would be nice for him to take a riskier stand on an issue -- say, advocating for a single-payer health care system, rather than leaving health insurance companies in the mix with a mandate system. Just not sure now is the time.

Posted by: Mark D on February 14, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The "popular anger" candidate morphed into John Edwards who in attempting to diferentiate between himself and Obama's change messages went down that road. Those candidates don't win elections.

I don't think popular anger did Edwards in. I think being the third wheel did Edwards in. If Obama didn't throw his hat into the ring, I don't have much doubt that Edwards would be ahead of Clinton at this point.

Posted by: Quinn on February 14, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Start"? He's already spoken at length about withdrawing from Iraq, moving towards universal health care, increased openness and transparency in government, rolling back the Bush tax cuts, and investing in alternative forms of energy. Sounds like a pretty good "start" to me.

...But he's done none of this in Congress. He talks a good game, but his program suggestions are all short-ended.

Posted by: Crissa on February 14, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta the values you call liberal are American values. Americans have talked a good conservative game for a couple of decades now but consistently if you get down to brass tacks, most Americans, even most Republicans, "don't favor huge economic inequality between the rich and the middle class/poor, . . . favor healthcare for all, . . . believe in offering a helping hand to those that are less fortunate, (and)... favor diplomacy over waging wars." That is why Obama is so damn appealing to independents as well as a lot of Democrats and some Republicans. He is telling them exactly what they think a politician should be telling them. It isn't magic.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 14, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

People want change from the corruption. Obama is just another mediocre pol who emerged from the cesspool of Illinois politics. Read the article referenced by MsComment. Anyone thinking Obama is about change or anything but Obama and power needs to do your homework.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 14, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

...But he's done none of this in Congress. He talks a good game, but his program suggestions are all short-ended.

To be fair, what you are describing is not actually the work of the legislative branch, it is the purview of the executive, so a lack of accomplishment here is not really an indictment.

(And for the record, I am not a supporter of any candidate right now. When my candidate dropped out, I decided to sit on my hands - other than casting my secret ballot - until we have a candidate. I decided that I didn't want my support to be analogous to a bee flitting between flowers.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 14, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

My major complaint with Sen. Obama is his no change foreign policy. He believes in, supports and wants to use American power pretty much the way it has been used for the past fifty years. Other than that, Sen. Obama is guilty of the same inaction and acquiescence Sen. Clinton practices and what I have accused Edwards of. Barack did not lend his charisma and national celebrity to join with Nancy Sheehan or lead an alternative anti-war movement. He has not led the displaced poor of New Orleans back to their city. He did nothing to alert the nation to the housing bubble in 2005 and 2006. To be fair, no national politician did any of these things, but that makes it easy to question the legitimacy of Sen. Obama's sincerity and ability. He seems to be like all those other national political leaders. Our support requires the audacity of hope that Sen. Obama will make good progressive changes as President Obama.

Posted by: Brojo on February 14, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

"say, advocating for a single-payer health care system..."

Mark D,

Agreed. I don't know what happened to the single-payer plan. Excuse the ignorance, but did any Dem candidate propose single-payer? I can only guess that both Clinton and Obama simply don't see single-payer as being realistically possible given insurance industry clout and the 'socialized' medicine accusations that would follow any such proposal. Sadly it seems we're stuck with second-best healthcare plans because of political realities and commonsense concerns like what happens to the insurance companies in such a scenario? I'd like to see a single-payer plan put in place that was competitive (e.g., a Medicare-type plan) with the insurance industry and let it suceed or fail on its merits rather than get a program going with the for-profit insurance company middlemen still raising costs.

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Abraham Lincoln was an Illinois pol. Harry Truman was just another pol from a corrupt Kansas City machine. Hillary Clinton is a Clinton. There is plenty of corruption around, Chrissy. There are no "pure" politicians and I wouldn't want one as President if there were.

Why don't you talk up Hillary instead of engaging in the politics of personal destruction? Are you afraid?

Posted by: corpus juris on February 14, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, I dunno. I am not excited about either Clinton or Obama. In practice neither one is exceptionally likely to effect radical change: they would inherit a situation much like the one Bill Clinton inherited, with a small (if any) majority in Congress and powerful forces arrayed against them. The chances of anyone turning into FDR in this context are small (but then, so were the chances that FDR would turn into FDR).

I will vote for Obama in the Texas primary because, wherever they differ, he has edged a little bit left of Clinton, and because he talks straighter on the issues, and because she had her chance to establish a national health-care system in 1993 and failed abysmally.

Take this contrast in the candidates' issue statements on immigration (at the Washington Post):

Clinton:
My top three priorities ... are to ensure that comprehensive immigration reform includes toughening security at our borders, placing stronger restrictions or sanctions on employers, and providing a path to earned citizenship for people who have been living and working in the United States lawfully.

Obama:
We need to work in a bipartisan way to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. First, on security, comprehensive reform has to mean gaining operational control of our borders by using better technology, improving infrastructure, and making smart choices about where we deploy resources on the Southern and Northern borders. These actions can strengthen our security while discouraging people from taking the risk of crossing the border illegally. Second, at the workplace, we need a simple, but mandatory electronic system that enables employers to verify the legal status of the people they hire. Third, we need to bring the 12 million undocumented people out of the shadows. We need to be realistic about the fact that they are here, we can't deport them, and they have become an integral part of our society. We need to give this population a chance to pay a fine, to have provisional status in the country, and to get into the back of the line for citizenship.

That is a choice, not an echo. Clinton is about toughness on illegals and employers, and about getting citizenship for those with green cards, who are hardly the problem. Obama is about smarter security, forestalling illegal hiring instead of just punishing it, and actually addressing the (vitally needed) illegal population's needs. Again and again, he will at least talk about things that don't seem to register with Clinton; she offers safe teflon-coated options that placate conservatives.

Posted by: Tim Morris on February 14, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy,

Hillary also takes large donations from the very same companies and she says lobbyist are welcome in her administration. Obama does not.
Hillary also thinks it’s AOK to rent out her mailing list to a company that happens to be one of her biggest contributors. What's that about?

Posted by: bjd on February 14, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the clueless wonder boy:

...something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left.

Dumb Drum.
Why do you think The Big Shrill has spent the last 7 years trying to triangulate the center?

Because she, like Barack, and like anybody else who has been awake the last 14 years realizes that the L word is a torpedo. Repeat after me: Lose liberal ships sinks ships.

WTF is wrong with you? You don't have your teeth on a substantial issue here. But you do have your thumb up Crissa's ass. And it looks like she is enjoying it very much.


Posted by: frankly prissy in Hawaii on February 14, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK
.... I've heard Obama say that liberal values ARE American values...nepeta at 2:05 PM
Profile in expediency

...For those of us with the "audacity" to hope for change and reform in Illinois, Obama has been a disappointment. Obama's actions in Illinois, as opposed to his rhetoric, have repeatedly put personal political expediency and partisan politics before change, principle and reform, and audacity seems only appropriate when there is no political risk to him. At the end of the day, it may be unrealistic to think that Obama would challenge the status quo in his home state and his actions may very well be an example of the old adage that "all politics are local." Yet, that thinking reduces Obama's expansive vision to one where change in Washington becomes the panacea for our nation's problems and where Obama only means what he says in a tiny sliver of land on the East Coast, and that doesn't feel like change, unity and certainly not audacity. One thing seems certain -- voters would do well to take a peak at who from Illinois is on Obama's bandwagon to D.C.

You got your Sista Souljah moment right there.

Posted by: Mike on February 14, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rather, my question is about his political courage.

I don't know why you would question Obama's political courage but not Hillary's.

The vote over Iraq is a great example. Yes, he wasn't in the Senate at the time he came out against the war, but he was running for the Senate and his was still a lone courageous voice. He could've lost any chance of being elected by saying what he did -- and what's more, he didn't budge. Meanwhile, we've seen numerous examples of triangulating from Sen. Clinton which strongly suggest to me that her willingness to compromise for political expediency knows no bounds.

And what about the recent (as in just the other day) telcom companies immunity vote? Both were in the area, campaigning for the Potomac primaries. And what happens? Sen. Obama shows up to vote for the amendment that would strip the companies of immunity, and Sen. Clinton doesn't show up at all. Guess she wants to be able to argue it either way further down the line.

So where is all this concern about Obama's political courage even coming from? Is it really a "toughness" argument?

Personally, I'm beginning to think -- looking at their campaigns -- that Obama is the kind of guy who may seem less tough than he is because he makes it all look so easy. While Clinton, because her campaign is in such disarray, comes out looking tougher when in fact she's just brittle and losing control.

Posted by: LynnDee on February 14, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't we all frustrated, angry, and yearning for something better? Aren't we all disgusted and hoping to regain our past greatness?

In my experience, there's not an awful lot of "hope" and "optimism" on display from his followers, but a LOT of venom and anger. How does Obama atrract that?

What drives us to so badly want to find a better way is that the here and now sucks.

Posted by: Memekiller on February 14, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has championed changed in terms historical and hopeful and innovative: basically the American brand. And that resonates with people who are angry and with people who are dissatisfied moderates and people who are dissatisfied conservatives. He's taken a progressive-liberal agenda that is essentially like HRC's and made it platable to deep red America. They don't like his ideas, his big governement, or think liberalism is the answer. But they like the fact that he's appealing to them as American's first.

That is essentially the heart of why Obama has done so well. It's why Regan did so well. He has realized that in cloaking his progressive proposals in jingoistic terms he will sublty ratify them while at the same time connecting emotionally to those Republicans who like the jingoism but not the policy.
Rhoda's quote sums Obama-mania up very nicely. He sells liberalism to people who wouldn't ordinarily support these policies.

Posted by: D. on February 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Rhoda's got it right. The angry young black man tag will not win you a nomination much less a General Election. People are furious at the partisanship and self-interest that has demoralized this country for the past twenty-years. Just because they are not demonstrating in the streets about it -doesn't mean that the anger isn't real and palpable. Right now it's being channeled in a positive direction.

You want to see the anger unleashed - wait until Denver when Hillary tries to steal the nomination.

Posted by: C.B. Todd on February 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The first test of whether Obama has presidential political skills is whether he can win the nomination.

Perhaps smarter people than he can already determine what his attempt to win the nomination tells us about how he will exercise his political skills if elected. But perhaps not and many complaints are of the "He is different than I would like" school. Random.

The frustrating thing is that the Obama propaganda is contrasted to the Clinton propaganda, when it is clear that no one knows what Obama will be like as president, or what the "objective circumstances" will dictate/allow if he is elected, and anyone who pays attention knows that Clinton has no history of "partisan" success in changing the country and there is no chance she will have the power to do anything significant unless the "objective circumstances" allow it. But the blather continues as if it were otherwise.

Posted by: razor on February 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The poor thing is getting an M.S. in "Future Studies" (??) from the University of Houston??

I didn't know that Houston offered "Future Studies," or that it was, indeed, a "science."

Wouldn't she be better off getting a degree in Hotel Management, like the gay blond northern-European-looking heavy-accented Mexican fellow in his 20s who manned the front desk at the hotel there when I checked in years ago?

The WORST HOTEL I HAVE EVER STAYED AT--gruesome beyond compare. The maids' and janitors' cigarette ashes on the floor of my room, their "clubhouse" room at the end of the floor...the icky tattered bits of tin foil insulation around the sink's pipes...the worn TV cabinet with doors that wouldn't open enough to allow you to watch except from one, limited location...the room door that closes leaving you in the hallway the instant you check on something out there (with your keys on the bed)...the weird architecture of the closet with bizarre dead space above it...the front desk's misdescription of the total cost for two nights and their "hotel management" policy of cheating people who just show up at the front desk...the fact that, despite my request, I was given a room on a low floor on what was probably the only occupied floor of a tower of 10 stories or so...and, WORST OF ALL, the phone that stank of the maids' and janitors' HORRIBLE BREATH and that I had to WASH AND WASH AND WASH.

But, I suppose ALL THAT PALES FOR MS. ROBINSON against the possibility of her having to face the various rapists, killers, dog shooters, muggers, and assorted gangbangers who populate the campus of the University of Houston and that part of town.

Really, the perfect city for the elder Bushes. Oh, well, I guess the poor generally keep to their part of town.... Oh, wait they don't--it's fancy house, fancy house, crackhouse apartment house, fancy house, fancy house, shotgun shack... pretty much all over Houston.

Delightful!!

Posted by: Anon on February 14, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why you would question Obama's political courage but not Hillary's.

Because the snake lady doesn't have a chance of educating those who Drum considers in need of it. Obviously the minds of that America are closed to her. No educating effects can flow from her to them. That's as clear as a rattlesnake's rattle. That's why Drum only makes the argument in this particular direction. He has no choice.

Posted by: frankly pissy in Hawaii on February 14, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"My major complaint with Sen. Obama is his no change foreign policy."

brojo,

I don't know how you can say this. In the interview he says he will start one-on-one dialogue with Iran. He suggests organizing a conference of Muslim countries and the US to discuss the many problems in the area: Iran, Iraq, the Palestinian/Israeli quagmire.

Although Obama did not 'lead' an antiwar movement he did give at least one speech to an antiwar rally. He was firmly in the anti-war camp, unlike Clinton.

How can he lead the dispossessed of New Orleans back to their city when they have nowhere to live? He talks in the interview of what he would have done about New Orleans, starting with the fact that action to repair levees should have taken place long before the hurricane hit, evacuation arrangements should have been made earlier and sufficient to evacuate all residents that needed to leave, and finally a plan for reconstruction that would have avoided the enrichment of private contractors.

He speaks about the housing bubble and how the Fed should have been alert to what was happening and taken action much earlier. He says the Fed fell down on its oversight responsibility, mostly because of a lack of political will.

brojo, I can only keep repeating, listen to the Reno Gazette interview and then come back to me with your criticisms if you don't find the answers you're looking for.

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy,

All well and good, except that nobody really believes what HRC says anymore (see last few days of Rasmussen national tracking poll). Each week she does something to show that she simply wants to win at any cost (see the "incendiary" quote in MSM today).

She continues to hold to her view or personal entitlement, the big-state/firewall strategy, politics of division, and continues to shoot herself in both feet (sometimes simultaneously).

Posted by: CB on February 14, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's ability to take risks and move the political culture further to the left will depend on how many Congressional seats the Democrats win in the bargain. IMHO, one of the strongest rationales for the Obama candidacy is his ability to drive strong voter turnout, which translates into a lot of down-ticket wins for the Democrats. If I were a GOP strategist looking at the coming tsnunami, I'd be scared shitless.

Posted by: cousin vinnie on February 14, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Among other things, the argument that Sara Robinson uses that there is no cult for Obama is just absurd. She employs a strict definition of religious cult, and points out that Obama's following doesn't feature enough of the characteristics of religious cults to be such a cult.

But the claim has always been that there's a personality cult around Obama, and the criteria for there being such a cult are obviously going to be looser. I should think that a prominent distinguishing feature of such a cult in the political arena is that the followers of the cult believe, far, far past what is rationally warranted, that what the leader says is true is, in fact, true.

From my point of view, one of the best examples of Obama's followers falling into such behavior is their slavish repetition of Obama talking points on the issue of change, and how it is likely to be wrought.

Many -- likely most, I'd guess -- of Obama's most ardent followers are people who not very long ago vehemently argued that the absolutely critical thing our Democratic leaders should do is "stand up" to the Republicans and "fight back". This was certainly a signature issue of Howard Dean's campaign, and many of Dean's most loyal devotees have made their way into Obama's camp. These same followers typically savaged Kerry for failing to "fight back" when he ran in 2004, and used that as a basic reason to oppose his running again in this cycle. Moreover, many of this camp to this very day cannot castigate the current Democratic members of Congress enough for backing down to the Republicans.

Yet, simply because Obama has indicated that he's going to introduce a "new politics" appealing to "bipartisanship", and "reaching across the aisle", suddenly these same tongues are stilled. Suddenly, this is the exactly right thing for Obama to do, and for us to embrace.

When you turn on a dime on some of your most strongly held convictions, and argue vehemently in one direction one day, and then, after your leader has pointed the opposite way, argue vehemently the other direction, that is a sign of a cult, I should think. And if you don't want to call it a cult, but, say, "pink peonies" instead, then we will all be much, much better off if we can get rid of the damn pink peonies, because they can destroy our politics.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 14, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Sara, and not Kevin: "This could hardly be farther away from my view of the Obama phenomenon. "Repressed fury"? "Scary"? I don't see that at all. "Change on a scale that much of the status quo should find terrifying"? I don't think there's anyone on the planet who's terrified of Obama."

Obama has absolutely tapped into my "barely repressed fury" at what has happened to our country, and, frankly, given me "hope" that we can recover our nature as a nation. I think highly of Hillary and will happily vote for her if she is the nominee, but Obama is the one who has allowed me to dream of a great future for our country.

Posted by: wvng on February 14, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

In my experience, there's not an awful lot of "hope" and "optimism" on display from his followers, but a LOT of venom and anger. How does Obama atrract that?

Two things:

1) Start reading threads and cataloging your experience. Because "my experience" is that there are plenty of Hillbots spreading shit through the blogosphere. Also take a walk over to Hillaryis44.com and see if you can sneak a post in. I got my censored because I talked McCain down as someone who was against ERA and MLK day. Fuck that. These snakes deserve stepping on.

2) Just because somebody supports Barack on the web doesn't mean they have to behave like him. That's ridiculous idealism. Just as some of us enjoy kicking McCain's ass online, so too we enjoy kicking the snake lady and her acolytes around. Nothing wrong with that. She's earned it. They have too.

Posted by: frankly pissy in Hawaii on February 14, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0, I think each candidate comes to the table with different rhetorical skills. Dean was a fighter, while Obama is more cordial in the way he attacks his opponents and uses, "hope" as a way to reach some voters that aren't interested in policy discussions.
For people that are high information voters, they recognize a candidate that can bring new people to liberal positions. That's something the Democratic party hasn't had in a long time.

Posted by: D. on February 14, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Obama talks of talking to Iran. The US ought to open relations and drop the atomic weapons development argument used for continued belligerence towards Iran. There is no need to negotiate. Talking of talking means Sen. Obama accepts the established theme Iran is some kind of enemy to the US. That is not a change in US foreign policy. I do not want to go into more criticism of Sen. Obama, but I will address New Orleans and the housing bubble by saying Sen. Obama's criticism of others is not a demonstration of great leadership.

Posted by: Brojo on February 14, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I believe there is some pent-up rage within a certain group of the electorate. Rage directed at the Clintons' proclivity to subordinate principle to ambition and aspiration. Bill Clinton's utter failure to leave a functioning progressive agenda after his 2nd term occurred because of his personal, irresponsible behavior. He knew very well that any misstep would take on magnified proportions. Some of his non-vetoed legislations stuck in the craw of many a progressive supporter. The Telecommunications Act and Welfare Reform act come to mind most prominently. Hillary's inexplicable (in consideration of her NY constituency) vote on H.J. Res. 114 (AUMF) is now coming home to roost. Her cynical reinterpretation of her motivations are cause for derisive dismissal, especially in light of her subsequent support for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution. Another major concern for this voter is her intransigent, pandering position vis-a-vis the Israel/Palestinian issue. I'd prefer not to have her in control of our foreign policy. Having said that, there is no question that I would vote for her over McCain.

Posted by: downtown on February 14, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Repressed fury"? "Scary"?

Generally I would agree with Sara, but would substitute "tapping into repressed fury" with tapping into our intense frustration. The other factor is rekindling a sense of possibility that moves people out of apathy and feeling my voice doesn't count. Special interests and money have been dominant too long. Hillary thinks she has to play that game in order to get things done - I'd like to see a chance to get public opinion back in the equation.

Posted by: Phyl on February 14, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Try stepping away from the computer. You are going blind. I watched his victory speech in Madison WI.

He talked about America being fed up to see all their money going to fight a war we should have never had. Then went on to a laundry list of things America is mad about being denied.

I give you credit. You seem like you actually looked at the Obama record.

That makes you 1% of the blogoshere. Everyone says the same crap. No Substance. Look at the bills he has sponsored. Look at the bills he passed as an Illinois Senator. Then tell me about no substance.

And you want more anger. You think Illinois would send an empty suit to Washington, at least in the Senate, and not a Republican District like Hastert ran in.

We gave you mopes Durbin and Obama. We know substance. And we know that Obama tapped that anger when he ran.

And his very first speech in the Senate was condemming the vote fraud in Ohio. Yes, his first speech was to challenge the system that put Bush in place.

Is that enough anger for you. Sure Edwards can talk angry 24/7. How many delegates did that give him.

Besides, Edwards sounded like a pissed off Gomer Pyle. No one bought it.

Posted by: Ken on February 14, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

...the "change" his audience cheers for is the feel-good U2 variety, not the mad-as-hell Howard Beale variety.

There's a reason why that is working Kevin. The country has heard enough anger and venom from intolerant right-wing freaks for way too long. Emulating that angry style on the progressive side hasn't worked very well this time. Edwards tried going Che Guevara and he really didn't get anywhere with it. I think it inadvertently and unintentionally projects too much of the negative, stern, angry daddy shit we've seen from the GOP and people just aren't responding to it. If Obama's style is rock-star like and it works, then so be it.

I think Obama is more of an artist than a sound engineer. The public wants an artist, not a technician, and especially NOT an angry, stern, judgemental, authoritarian, daddy OR mommy.

"I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did.'"
Kurt Vonnegut

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 14, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, from Cousin Vinnie, a grown up response. Most of the comments here on both sides of the debate are disturbingly naive. So was the original post for itsimplicit demand for instant gratification. Kevin, FDR campaigned for a balanced budget in 1932. He didn't start his fireside chats until he was in office. It's going to take patience and a lot of continued effort, including relentless pressure on the very people we elect, to dismantle the right wing superstructure that's been built up since 1964.

Posted by: urban legend on February 14, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I, too, am a furious Obama supporter.

- I'm furious at the Republicans who have dominated the political discourse for 30 years

- I'm furious that the most successful political move by a Democrat in my adult life was an impeachment acquittal

- I'm furious at Democrats who call their candidates and reps. spineless cowards at the drop of a hat

- I'm furious at Democrats who think our agenda is so unpopular that we have to force it on the country through bloody struggle

- I'm furious at Democrats who think that they could succeed politically if only it weren't for media, opposition, and voters

I'm tired of being furious. I want to start working on getting stuff done.

Posted by: ao on February 14, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

This is, of course, Obama's appeal.

Sara Robinson feels 'Repressed fury' so, since no one really knows where Obama stands, she imparts her own feelings on to him and assumes he has the same feeling. Its a great tactic. He is everything to everyone. Its going to get him nominated.

Posted by: DougMN on February 14, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think a snap shot of Obama's lack of toughness was seen when he broke down like a school boy when Red Dud Dowd made fun of his ears. You would thank at his age that he would be mature enough to ignore school yard jabs like that.

OBAMA: You talked about my ears. I just want to put you on notice: I'm very sensitive about -- what I told them was, ''I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.' "

DOWD: We're just trying to toughen you up.

Posted by: elmo on February 14, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"nepeta the values you call liberal are American values."

Yes, corpus juris, that is the point that Obama makes and that I was trying to elucidate.

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing that is scary is that we just got through with 31% Bush riding roughshod over our constitution and American values for the past 8 years.

We're understandably afraid that Obama could command a much higher approval rating, and "run with it" in an unpleasant direction.

But relax.

Big Money does not like Obama. So that ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 14, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

He's one of us

Sara Robinson feels 'Repressed fury' so, since no one really knows where Obama stands, she imparts her own feelings on to him and assumes he has the same feeling.

DougMN:

Yup. And among his conservative supporters say that "I don't agree with him on every issue, but..." And Kevin doesn't doubt Obama's center-left credentials. (Me neither!)

Obama is the ultimate Rorschach candidate.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on February 14, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I think you're misreading Ms. Robinson's post. She's saying that Obama's FOLLOWERS have "Repressed fury" and demand "Change on a scale that much of the status quo should find terrifying", DESPITE the fact that Obama has been "cool" and "vague" about change. Obama has no need to be radical. Simply by promising to pull the country back to the center, he's promising a huge amount of change.

Posted by: tom veil on February 14, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

no one really knows where Obama stands
I swear to St. Valentine this is the stupidest fucking meme on the blogosphere.
Please explain to me why you do not know his positions.

Posted by: bjd on February 14, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK


The best definition of anger I have ever heard is this: Anger is the "Haaaaah" energy that rises when something needs to change. So yes, some anger is in the mix...but that was a while back. I think people had given up, grown demoralized, cynical, apathetic (does this mean they repressed the anger? or lost it?), and his approach has woken them back up to healthy possibilities.

Posted by: Victoria on February 14, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh goody... Uncle Elmo the little boys pal just showed up to talk to himself for half a dozen posts or more. Right on time!

Folks, want to see a working example of insanity? The don't respond to him!

Just skim his crap as it comes up. It is deliciously nutso shit. Every now and then, sit back and muse at what sort of illness sits on the other side of those posts. Got to be fat, snaggle-toothed, and sub-100... right?

Posted by: psychologist on February 14, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

compared to hillary he is ....

Posted by: Stewart Dean on February 14, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with franklyO and would also include as a sign of the personality cult the tendency (so well demonstrated here) of cult followers to take any questioning or criticism of their leader personally and react as if they had been personally assaulted and lash out. They become so caught up in the identity of their leader they feel they are being criticized when their leader is.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 14, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the paralysis of over-analysis, something akin to a Democratic fetish these days. We have here a centrist-Democrat (appealing to a "conservative Democrat" such as myself) that is successfully running an extraordinary campaign. More than any other candidate. He is bringing in an amazing amount of energized voters, increasing the appeal of the Democratic Party, redrawing the political demographics, generally elevating the political dialogue (within an agreeable amount of political reality), and here we are bitching about the results. Sigh, only Democrats....

Guess what? Barack Obama is pretty much a centrist Democrat, despite the disingenuous "liberal" rating. In his speeches, his positions on issues, his general "style" of campaigning, point to a pragmatic sense of governing, I'll venture. But his appeal between his opponent and McCain and Clinton is embarrasingly simplistic: he is the post-modern candidate which people want to see mob the country forward intackling the countries problems. The fundamental baggage that a Hillary Clinton or a John McCain brings to the table ("experience") is a source of fatige for those who are tired of the standard battle-crys of the old political order. They Aden looking for a pure liberal candidate, and neither am I. Basically, it's about a post-modern candidacy.

Now, I will surely be attacked over the simplicity
of this appeal. It's fine, I'm just stating it like it is. Additionally, I laugh when I read about those who argue over politicians based purely about the issues: those people dont understand the realities (whether you agree with them or not) about the combinations of appeal that voters decide up for a candidate in the booth. You guys didn't think that past President voters could recite their specific record, did you? Let's not deny voter reality...

Posted by: Boorring on February 14, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Still, speaking only for myself, at this point I'd like to see some kind of Sistah Souljah moment in reverse: something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left.

I don't understand this argument at all. Doesn't it make more sense to move public opinion to the left by making fairly progressive ideas sound like totally reasonable, centrist positions that will unify the country? Haven't republicans succeeded for the past 20-odd years by making very conservative policies--abolition of the estate tax, for example--sound like completely reasonable ideas (get rid of the death tax!)?

Posted by: brad on February 14, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK
I like Obama, but I don't really see him tapping into popular anger at all.

He's tapping into the stronger popular anger at the way politics and policymaking work, more than the rather weaker anger of isolated disjoint groups at particular policies. This is, of course, fairly common (running against Washington is so universal that even the quintessential insiders do it.) He is particularly effective at tapping into that anger, which is why some of his strongest support is in groups that are otherwise not usually particularly mobilized. Whether he can follow through and actually produce change in the things he taps into anger at is, of course, an open question: many politicians tap into anger at either particular policies or general features of the political system, far fewer make any substantial changes to those things once they are in power.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 14, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Paul taps anger.

Obama taps wishful thinking.

Posted by: Rory on February 14, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

First, want to say I agree broadly with the comments of LynnDee, Memekiller, corpus juris, dan robinson, Doc, urban legend, and ao.

Second, I very much liked Sara Robinson's post. Think she has it right. I don't see the anger as much as I see the intense longing for political change. But agree that anger and disillusionment are there, for most Americans paying attention.

Third, I am puzzled by Kevin's professed need to hear more from Obama on policy.

Sara explains why that way lies madness (first, having to explain enthusiasm, or political fervor, to liberals who still do not get it):

"The energy of Obama's rallies scares the hell out of reason-bound, well-educated liberals; but it's nothing new to anyone who's spent time in the overheated revival-meeting atmosphere that conservative politicians have used to rouse their voters for decades. Stirring up their base in exactly this same way is how they won. Our chronic inability to move people like that is why we've continued to lose.

"Hillary is going the old route, with more plans and promises. And she's losing. Obama is trying something that's new to Democratic politics -- but that also has a proven track record when it comes to raising and consolidating truly transformational movements. In fact: that kind of change simply does not happen unless you've got this kind of committed mass movement."

If you want Carter, Dukakis, Mondale, Kerry, and electoral defeat, by all means go the old route with the same old wagon. It's so, you know, familiar and (we're told) safe.

Me? I'm ready to chance the new. I trust my instincts.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 14, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, yes, you are off base. I feel exactly the way Sara does, and I know why. It's because I watched as the Bushies stole Florida. It's because no one let the 2000 election play out appropriately, in the House, and the Supreme Court politicized itself shamelessly and tarnished its reputation for a generation. It's because Bush and the Reeps in Congress played hardball without a mandate, from the beginning through today. They really don't give a shit. It's because I marched in the first anti-war rally in the Bay Area that was so crowded people couldn't move from one end of Market street to the other, and saw it reported as a sparsely-attended fringe event. It's because I have been against the war, even in Afghanistan, from the beginning, and watched with dismay as John Edwards, when running for vice-president, got cornered by an interviewer into saying our repsonse to 9/11 was a war not a police action - everything has gone downhill from there, as it was 1) not the right response as surgical strikes would have been more successful than what we have now and 2) left the country open to Reep demagoguery. It's because Condi Rice ignored that memo with the detailed title and hasn't been held to account - really, no one has, in spite of the 9/11 Commission. It's because watching TV during Katrina put me in a serious funk, maybe depression, for months and it hasn't really gone away in spite of my efforts to help there. All I want to do is cry, Not in my name! Technocratic micro-solutions just don't do it, right now.

Signed, Lifelong Democrat over 60

Posted by: MC on February 14, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, psychologist, your petty thin skin cracks me the fuck up. I'm a grunt so I guess that makes me stupid, but fat and snaggletooth? Please, I'm a stud...

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/2744/1334/1600/stud.0.jpg

Posted by: elmo on February 14, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

...something that demonstrates his willingness to take political risks on behalf of moving public opinion to the left.

You mean like this:


Over 150 nations have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. It pains me that our great nation has not. But in the autumn of 2006, there was a chance to take a step in the right direction: Senate Amendment No. 4882, an amendment to a Pentagon appropriations bill that would have banned the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas.

Senator Obama of Illinois voted IN FAVOR of the ban.


Senator Clinton of New York voted AGAINST the ban.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-rees/clinton-obama-and-clust_b_84811.html

Posted by: frankly pissy in hawaii on February 14, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK
But the claim has always been that there's a personality cult around Obama, and the criteria for there being such a cult are obviously going to be looser.

Well, no, a personality cult (more popularly, "cult of personality" and, in critique's beginning with Marx's from which the term stems, "cult of the individual") is not any more loosely defined than a religious cult (in fact, its probably more tightly defined, having fewer different competing definitions in serious use.) However, like the religious sense of cult, its usually not used in any well-defined, meaningful sense, but more often as an empty pejorative. When used, however, in a meaningful sense, a cult of personality is a system through which mass media and the instruments and public power are applied by a leader in power to foster a heroic image of that leader (often involving ritualized public displays of praise.) Such a cult is very much a cult in the general sense (as outline in Marc Gallanter's Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion), employing the same mechanism of boundary control, creating tension and setting itself as the only relief of that tension, etc.

It makes no sense to refer to Obama as having a cult of personality in the meaningful sense. The attachment of that label appears to be a fairly routine use of the empty pejorative, which is generally applied to any popular figure the speaker doesn't like. Popularity isn't a personality cult.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 14, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Obama has tied the cost of the Iraq war and the money we are spending there into our current economic problems and inability to adequately invest in infrastructure and provide good jobs.

Who else is willing to say that very unpleasant truth?

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on February 14, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

The World's Foremost Authority weighs in. Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 14, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Personally I and and 90% of the rest of americans don't give two shits about all the left right nonsense. What we want is a hearty dose of competance in the executive branch and the congress for that matter as well.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 14, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

He's tapping anger in the most positive way, Kevin, by providing a positive direction for its considerable energies. Rather than promising to crush the bastards who've done this to us, he's promising to take us forward, to get health care and other things taken care of on the power of anger transformed. Does that make sense? While I'm not above wanting to put all the Administration figures in prison, I appreciate the way in which he turns my anger back into pride that we can get something done--and I think he means tangible things, as well as "unity" alone.
Ok, I confess I'm a Buddhist. But this is how I see this working.

Posted by: Susan on February 14, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, wasn't Sara refering to the people attracted towards Obama's candidacy as the scary ones -not Obama himself? I.E. all of us who are fed up with the rightwing, or center-right stuff that has been on offer for so long. We are the ones calling for change. Obama hopes to ride that discontent into office. Then we will see if he can/will use it to enact change.

Posted by: bigTom on February 14, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

brojo,

I agree that Iran isn't an enemy of the US but it is a given that most people support the rationale of nuclear nonproliferation as a means to reduce the risk of nuclear war. Unfortunately, that rationale doesn't really address the fact that those countries that already have nuclear weapons also increase the risk of nuclear war. There has been movement to reduce arsenals in the US and Russia, the two biggest arsenals in the world but this isn't enough. The next step has to be banning nuclear weapons entirely. Otherwise, the NPT just preserves the status quo, and obviously makes not possessing nuclear weapons a clear security threat for those countries that don't have them.

As to New Orleans, Obama just took office in Jan 2005. I don't see how one can expect a junior Senator to greatly affect what amounted to executive policy decisions rather than congressional legislative action. Neither Clinton nor Obama is an economist. What was happening with banks, lenders, derivatives bundlers, etc. is really not under the purview of the US Senate.

A link in which Obama discusses his views shortly after Katrina:

Obama on Katrina, 9/11/05

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

This bears repeating:

Obama's ability to take risks and move the political culture further to the left will depend on how many Congressional seats the Democrats win in the bargain. IMHO, one of the strongest rationales for the Obama candidacy is his ability to drive strong voter turnout, which translates into a lot of down-ticket wins for the Democrats. If I were a GOP strategist looking at the coming tsnunami, I'd be scared shitless.

Thanks cousin vinnie, well said.

This is primary reason I'd prefer to see Sen. Obama as the Democratic nominee in November than Sen. Clinton.

Posted by: kenga on February 14, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

"His domestic policies aren't even as progressive as Hillary Clinton's"

Not hardly. It's amazing that these assertions are made by important commentators without doing the necessary homework.

Clinton says she will strengthen labor unions. Pass the Employee Free Choice Act. That's it. It's OK by me, because I think she will do everything she can, and that is a critical first step. But more progressive? The power of labor is the core value of progressivism. Obama, besides the Free Choice Act, expressly will attack the Kentucky River cases designed to undermine the movement fundamentally, and even more, will try to ban permanent replacements in strikes. In addition to massively strengthening consumers against credit card companies, these are fundamental power shifts -- one hell of a lot more important than which of two different approaches that are both intended to achieve the common goal universal healthcare insurance, with one arguably better than the other at achieving that purpose, but with both supported by genuine experts in the field and with ample time to reconcile the differences after the election is won, is better.

Posted by: urban legend on February 14, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0, I think each candidate comes to the table with different rhetorical skills. Dean was a fighter, while Obama is more cordial in the way he attacks his opponents and uses, "hope" as a way to reach some voters that aren't interested in policy discussions.

But this is just to ignore my point. Once upon a time, the very thing that people found important about Dean's candidacy, more than anything else, was precisely his vehemency, precisely his "fighting back" against the Republicans, precisely that spirit -- and in other venues, e.g., with Congress, that very lack of "fighting back" is held to be their deepest fault to this day by many of these people.

Again, a very large segment of current Obama followers were these Dean advocates. Yet NOW they are all for what he has declared himself for, namely, negotiation, bipartisanship, reaching across the aisle -- the whole kumbayah schtick.

Really, if you can't see that those two ideas are in flagrant opposition, I'm not going to be able to convince you of anything. If you change your mind on such a point, and say that the same behavior is horrid and destructive for one person, and fabulous and productive for another, then you would have to be part of the sort of cult that I'm talking about. It's nothing but magical thinking.

And of course this point all relates back to the point that this Sara Anderson is making. How can Obama both embody "repressed fury" and manage to achieve change by the spirit of "bipartisanship" and negotiation and general kumbayah?

She's trying to transform him into a aggressive, vehement, change agent like Dean, but denying the very qualities that Obama emphatically has ascribed to himself of negotiation, etc.

Why she chooses to embrace that contradiction is beyond my understanding. Again, just magical thinking.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 14, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

MfM quoting DougMN: "...since nobody knows where Obama stands..."

bjd: "I swear to St. Valentine this is the stupidest fucking meme on the blogosphere.
Please explain to me why you do not know his positions."

Because I am a idiot. Good catch! Obama has presented many detailed white papers: see today's credit card post on this blog for one.

Nonetheless, I still maintain that Obama is the ultimate Roscharch candidate. That's not a bad thing though: it's electoral gold.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on February 14, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I see what you're saying Kev-- Matt wrote about how Obama would govern, but you're talking about how he'll change the dialogue and the expectations of people to bee more liberal-to lead the tone and the mood of the country in a more liberal direction. It doesn't have so much to do with the question of his friendliness to corporate / powerful interests, since of course he is not completely beholden to the Republicans' masters.

I think the "cult" ctritque of Obama's campaign is accurate, at least on the blogosphere, because for quite a while now, I've seen a bunch of comments on liberal blogs about Hillary that are just as nasty and unnecessary as things redneck Republicans would say about her. When they're pointed out, they claim that it's all the fault of dishonest Clinton supporters, and that Clinton and her supporters were really doing all the mean stuff, but this is just not a true picture of it at all.

Sara Robinson wrote:

You bet: these people want change on a scale that much of the status quo should find terrifying.

I don't think that's true at all, and that's why a lot of our critiques of the agenda of the powerful are so powerful themselves. We (liberals) don't even want to take away enough money from them that it will really matter to how they live. We don't want to institute communism or socialism. We don't want to open up all the prisons and let everybody out. We just want the rich to stop screwing over society, and we want to provide for people's basic needs and to prevent the rich from monkey-wrenching the Democratic political process. The status quo, in actuality, doesn't have anything to complain about as regards the liberal agenda, but they are just so unreasoning that they think it's some kind of life's struggle to prevent us from doing what we are doing.

Posted by: Swan on February 14, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Repressed fury"? "Scary"? I don't see that at all.

I am an Obama supporter. I find the O-Ba-Ma chants at his rallies hair-stand-on-end scary. This man is magnetic, smart, ambitious and tough. He could take this country for a real ride if he wanted to.

I hope he stays good.

Posted by: Boronx on February 14, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Which fights against the hurricane more successfully?
Oak or bamboo?

Posted by: kenga on February 14, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

What gets me is the inability of so many so-called progressives to advocate for one's favored candidate within the party without channeling Republican talking points in order to tear down the other one. Saying "better than Bush" hardly takes you off the hook, because it's hard to come up with a better example of damning with faith praise. I personally through several years of observation think Obama is all that he's cracked up to be, maybe more, maybe a once-in-a-century candidate, but it's disturbing that more cannot seem to hold in suspension the fact that both of them are two of the strongest, most well prepared, most intellectually agile candidates we have ever had. I've seen both totally kick butt in action, and in both cases, whatever "baggage" they've been saddled with, starts drifting away. Most of it -- virtually all of it -- comes from agenda-based hearsay anyway.

In fairness, I would have to say it's more often coming from the Obama side, so I guess that goes along with not having much history to refer to. Perhaps it's the flip side of Obama's strength. Having said that, though, the "cult" bit is way over the edge.

Posted by: urban legend on February 14, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Your idea that there's some book where one goes to find the "true" definition of "personality cult" is touching but naive.

The meanings of terms fundamentally derive from their uses -- and if "personality cult" is very often used to describe phenomena that don't fall under the strict book definitions you are invoking, then the term simply has broader, looser uses, and we are correct in so using it.

Sorry to upset your neatly ordered world.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 14, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Which fights against the hurricane more successfully? Oak or bamboo?

Lots of bamboo in Congress. Last I heard, that wasn't altogether a good thing.

I guess some bamboo is more equal than others.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 14, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

frankl0,
It sounds to me that you'd like Obama to give some kind of indication of his passion, his dedication to fighting the Republican stranglehold on US policy and politics.
Like a primal scream or some kind of enraged shriek.

How did that work out for the last candidate who let his hair down like that?

Posted by: kenga on February 14, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Truly scary.

But scary to the status quo? No.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on February 14, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama is elected he should offer a short amnesty period for whistleblowers, and then start putting government criminals in jail (well, charging them. I would hope he has a list of people on whom he has enough to get put out of the way immediately.)
He needs to do this for his own survival. If he does not use the law to drive a stake through the Republicans and the criminal leadership of the Army, he will not survive, politically or otherwise.
We are talking people who've been fed on blood and unlimited amounts of money. They won't want it to stop.

Posted by: Mooser on February 14, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum has, I am sure, considered Mr. Obama with the same flinty eye with which he evaluated the likelyhood of Saddam possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the possibility of the Bush Administration lying about it.

I would give his point of view every consideration.

Posted by: Mooser on February 14, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

kenga,

Look, there really is a difference between being a fighter for policies, and choosing negotiation and cooperation as your fundamental approach.

You really can't pretend that they are identical; you can't pretend that what was the very thing, "fighting back", that was most important in one candidate -- Dean -- and the failure of which is the central defect in Democrats in Congress, is now totally counterproductive when it comes to one's currently chosen political candidate. That's simply magical thinking. It's what makes people say that Obama supporters are in a personality cult -- they adopt positions wholly inconsistent with what they have believed in the past, and continue to believe in other contexts, and have done so only because their idol says otherwise.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 14, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

We must say progressive, not liberal.

Posted by: Luther on February 14, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Additionally, this "cult of personality" cheap-shot that other posters like to mention is utterly ridiculous, because every candidate has a base of popular appeal, it just so happens that Barack Obama has a much, much larger base than his competitors. Wouldn't a politician kill (ahem) for that level of appeal? It's what they are supposed to bring up, and now we are knee-capping Obama because

Critics gleefully point to when you ask why or how Barack Obama is appealing to them, and the overriding sentiment amongst most voters is the ability to bring about "change". So, the question is how does he bring about that change, and you see blank stares. I agree, it's funny, but it's another cheap-shot that opponents will use to destabilize his appeal. Why? Ask somebody how will Hillary Clinton help this country, and I bet you will get a nebulous answer about "restoring American prestige" or "fixing the economy". Press further about these topics, for example, and what will you get? Bill Clinton will go around the world and act as a great ambassador? Or Bill Clinton's influence will help this economy like it did in the 1990's (very arguable)? Really, what is a point some make against Obama can very ably be used on Hillary, or McCain ("he's a war hero, so he'll fight!"), or Romney ("he's a successful businessman, so he'll help the economy"), or Edwards ("he's a mill worker son, so he'll help the working class!"), or Huckabee ("he's a preacher, so he'll bring my values back!"). These sound to be to be suspiciously similar to the talking points of other candidates, which, to me, negates this charge of "cult of personality". The same thing can be aptly applied to supporters of other candidates successfully, so what we are really arguing about here is a jealousy of popular appeal. Barack Obama is successfully tapping into the mainstream angst with the political system as it is today, and his personal history written by himself and mainstream publications, his professional history given by his public record and acquintances, his character as judged under fire, his appeal as demonstrated in interviews and quotes, his demeanor, the state of the economy today, the "feel" of the global environment, etc etc, are all part in parcel the final judgment that voters use when they go into the voting booth. His appeal is just more widespread, and if you were in a country with a widespread Evangelical support you'd see the same phenomenon with Huckabee. In that country, you'd see Obama as the fringe.

To argue otherwise, again, is to argue against why you see politicians like George W. Bush or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan or whomever get the popular vote throughout, and if you still have to ask the question as to why: then you have proved the point. If you feel contempt for the masses after reaching this point, well join the line, but it is what it is. People aren't wonks...they have lives and don't entirely make a peer-reviewed judgment about candidates. Superficial? Yeah.

Wonkery v. Appeal
In the 2004 debates, I watched with total glee when John Kerry decimated the inept George W. Bush on live television, and thought "There! Now people can see how idiotic he is, and how Kerry won all three of the debates!". In fact, it was a point that commentators liked to harp on: how could the spinsters for Dubya even proclaim otherwise, and to watch them do so was a cause for humor.

But how did it turn out?

My point is: Barack Obama is running a successful campaign as he should, and we Democrats are complaining about this and that. He acted like "The Professor" before and that wasn't enough, and so he played to his strength as an orator, and now people want him to go back to The Professor. Ha! Just recently, he is now putting out the specifics of his plans (of which they were always available, if some posters did some research instead of instigating another cheap-shot). He is reacting to the flow, as a politician should, yet we whine against him for it!? How about we be happy with a generational candidate that will give us the White House and the political realignment in our party's favor, and then we can whine and shoot ourselves in the foot regarding the details or the speed of political alignment later. No wonder there is that saying:

Never underestimate the Democratic Partys' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Posted by: Boorring on February 14, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, not frankl0.

heh. more equal.
true 'dat. Lots of bending lo these last 7 years.
My point was simply that Howard Dean was quite open about his combativeness vis-a-vis the Bush administration and the Republican Congress, and it didn't work out, ultimately.
The episode that's come to be known as the scream certainly didn't help him, although I personally believe it was blown WAY out of proportion by media who didn't want to see him as the nominee.
I mean, I have to shout like that practically every Friday. I SAID "HARPOON IPA"!!!
If you want to be heard over pandemonium, you have to raise your voice.

Back to my point, Sen. Obama has been pretty careful to NOT provide similar fodder for the media and conservative talking-heads.
I'm not convinced that he's going to be as liberal as I'd like. But I think the possibilities for number 5 in bob's blog-whoring comment are close to 50/50. I suggest that you follow the link in the 2nd comment if you haven't already.
And it looks to me as if he could pull a landslide off - something that would make Bush's "mandate" look pathetic in comparison. And if he does, the coattails will be substantial.

If Sen. Clinton wins the nomination, I will vote for her, and encourage everyone I know to do the same, and send my tax rebate to help fund the campaign. I will be much more nervous about the election than if Sen. Obama is the nominee.
Much, much, more nervous. And not just about the White House.

Posted by: kenga on February 14, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

No, I think Obama has tapped into popular anger, though maybe not intentionally. I think many of his angrier supporters hear "change," and project their own fantasies of what Obama means onto this word. The fact that his policies are less liberal than Clinton's, not to mention Edwards, is something they either are not aware of, or rationalize by imagining that it is merely a tactic to get elected, at which point Obama will go nuts with super liberal policies. To these people, "change" means "a new, really liberal government." That's the thing; Obama doesn't define "change," so people read into it whatever they want. My own interpretation is that Obama is talking about making people aware of, and hence changing, the use of wedge issues by Republicans to hammer the Democrats, and hence create a red state/blue state mentality. So change to Obama consists of speaking out against the idea that we don't have anything in common; we worship a mighty god in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states, etc. I think that is all well and good. But it doesn't mean we don't still have differences, too, and recognizing our similarities is not going to make the differences vanish.

I guess there may be one other type of change I've heard Obama talk of, and that is changing the fear-mongering going on as far as terrorism. That would definitely be a welcome change, and is well within his power to do, at least as far as the Executive Branch goes. But any Democrat would do this.

Posted by: DanM on February 14, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, What I see in Obama is the ability to fight for liberal policies by talking in generalities like hope and change that bring Independents and Republicans to the democratic side. It's a skill that Hillary doesn't have (nor anyone else I can think of) which hurts her ability to create large majorities to be able to govern effectively.
I'm not sure if Hillary's positions are more liberal than Obama's positions. Once you have either one of them in the White House, the real issue will be how to get the votes to pass legislation.

Posted by: D. on February 14, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK
We must say progressive, not liberal.

Luther,
I will defer to The Editors on that topic.

http://thepoorman.net/2008/02/07/liberal-vs-progressive/

Posted by: kenga on February 14, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm honestly confused, Kevin, as to what exactly you want from Obama here.

Among the uneasy Dems, I'm seeing a desire to wrap themselves in the warm, comfortable blanket of technocratic competence, with just a tiny bit of adept media management to pass for fresh air. Throwing the windows open to feel a breeze is unhealthy, y'know.

And just FTR, Obama certainly tapped into my anger with the Democratic Party for its predictable cowardice, lack of principle (let's not even mention the lack of imagination), and debilitating allergy to youth and raw talent.

Posted by: latts on February 14, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I'm liberal and proud of it...

Posted by: elmo on February 14, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I guess what some people really want is a Johnny Wonk candidate to deliver them from the shame of opening up their inner idealist, and succumbing to the mass appeal.

Imagine, Johnny Wonk (D - Wonkville) coming to stage, and delivering in outstanding oratory, enough to make MLK blush with jealousy, the following:


"And together, all of you supporters in the audience before me, as well as the audience behind the camera stated within and without my peripheral vision, will vote handily for a 12% increase in fuel economy!"

And the audience falls over themselves to chant, like in a Mao convention:
"12% percent! 12% percent! 12% percent! 12% percent! 12% percent! 12% percent! 12% percent!"

"Additionally, should I be elected through our representative voting system, which is really a Republic, and not a democracy, by definition-(screams from the grammatical voting bloc in the background), I will pursue my pragmatic plan to introduce AR74, which would reduce the legislative turn-around by 2.37% and increase the speed of legislation, making our government more efficient to the needs of government by 1.23782%!"

(Crowd is going nuts, and the women on the front row are tearing up!)

"I will also open up a three-point dialogue with the state of Chechnya, which will foster its sistering state to try and appeal to the United States affection by a decrease in their base income tax rate for their poorest citizenry!"

(An orgasm of ecstacy ensues)

Is this what you guys want?

Posted by: Boorring on February 14, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Carrying this fun line of though further, when you hear people chant "USA! USA!" during a candidates' speech, would you rather they dispense with such simplistic and decadent speech and instead embrace the more logical, accurate, and refined chant of:

"I agree with your statements, and want that reflected in our countries legislative intent! (long inhale) I agree with your statements, and want that reflected in our countries legislative intent! (looong inhale) I agree with your statements, and want that reflected in our countries legislative intent!"

Is a response like this better in order to sidestep the charge of cult of personality to the losing candidate?

Posted by: Boorring on February 14, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you participate in the politics of personal destruction? Don't you remember that the Clintons came to Washington for the sole purpose of partisan politics? They ruined the Reagan Legacy. They represent UnHope and UnChange. Release yourself from the bonds of the Clintons and Soar Upon The Wings of Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Tuna on February 14, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Z wrote:
"Why on earth should he spend political capital now just to make a point? Just when he is most vulnerable, yet so close? The only thing that would attest to would be his utter stupidity.

How is it that Kevin seems like such an intelligent fellow yet can be so obtuse regarding this irrefutable point???

Yes, let's cut off our right foot just to prove to the cynical Lefties what progressives we are.

As I noted yesterday, let him assume the office. Let him work with Democratic majorities to create progress.

Results validate ideology, talk never has.

More people were sold on FDR and the New Deal as a result of its accomplishments than ever were converted listening to his fireside chats.

Sheesh! All the folks that feel the need to form a circular firing squad should stick with Hillary.

Posted by: filmex on February 14, 2008 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, let's just shut all them credit card companies down, then the banks behind them will topple too, and we can stop being taken to the cleaners!

Lets have a modicum of restraint. If the finance sector is made to go the way the manufacturing sector has, we get another huge loss of jobs. I also think that it be smart that we not topple the financial system, given that most of us have our emergency nest eggs and retirement savings/funds parked in it.


And I am now going to go and duck under my desk.

Posted by: optical weenie on February 14, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

You are so wrong. Obama is willing to make change and more than incremental change if we only give him a chance. Hillary is much more tied to the special interests and the needs of the status quo than Barack. Barack was working for the average person long after Hillary was working for the Rose Law Firm.

Why do you doubt him so?

Yes. he may not give you everything you want but he will head in the right direction.

Posted by: ann Brauer on February 14, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Barack's speeches consistently include 4 extremely challenging initiatives.

1. Ending the war in Iraq (which includes taking the load off our warfighters, but also deploying many right to Afghanistan.)

2. Enacting a new energy policy that helps fight global warming, this includes higher CAFE standards.

3. Enacting Health care legislation that provides affordable insurance to many that don't have it today.

4. Bolstering education from pre-K through college.

Each of these initiatives, on its own, is a liberal policy that will face a withering assault from the right. The four of them together, plus, the many other initiatives that Obama has campaigned on, will take time and an enormous amount of leadership, grass roots support and political capital.

I don't see any reason why he has to campaign in more detail, or on more issues. These proposals are gargantuan in scope and will monopolize much of his domestic agenda for much of his first term.

Are they as liberal as Edward's or Clinton's plans. No, but being a little to the center will help him sell them to the center and center-right of America, whose support he will need to enact such large scale and sweeping legislation.

That's plenty liberal enough for me.

Posted by: Patrick on February 14, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I had friends in 2000 who tried to feed me that Nadercrap about "no difference between the parties" Well, I guess we can put that to rest now...right???? Just asking.

I think we can all be adult enough to realize that Obama is not going to redeem the awful past BUT he will bring with him people who are good and bright and care. Just think, no more Cheneys, Rumsfelds, and even better, no more Scooters or Gonzos or Harriets- this is a good thing. It truly is. And Ralph, THAT'S the difference..

Posted by: Geoff on February 14, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm down with fury. Obama is way too candy-assed for me, with his talk of bipartisan cooperation. I want a candidate who spits blood and breathes flame and promises to hang every member of the Bush Administration from the nearest streetlight to be used as pinatas, after a fair war crimes trial, of course. But what do I get? Promises of giving in to the GOP AGAIN.

Still, what choice do I have? Ralph Nader? Please. So it's Obama or slit my wrists.

Posted by: Aaaargh on February 14, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

The best predictor of the future is the past. If Obama has such a drive to change things.. why did he not want to change the political machine in IL, the cesspool of politics? WHY?

Have the courage to look at his past actions and the alliances he fostered.

Posted by: MsComment on February 14, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hoookkkaaay.... ahem...

Your idea that there's some book where one goes to find the "true" definition of "personality cult" is touching but naive.

Dictionaries... who needs 'em? I'll be the authority here thank you very much!

The meanings of terms fundamentally derive from their uses

Look here, see. I want a pejorative I can use!! Stop trying to take it away from me!! I hates 'em, the Obamazooids, I hates 'em, I do!

-- and if "personality cult" is very often used to describe phenomena that don't fall under the strict book definitions you are invoking, then the term simply has broader, looser uses,

So, tough! Away with you and your use of definitions! As Humpty-Dumpty said, "When I use a word, it means what I want it to mean; neither more, nor less" And I wants to fling this word! I wants it!

and we are correct in so using it.

And double tough!! And royal 'we.'


Posted by: snicker-snack on February 14, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect the "make change" theme instead of "move left" theme is about meeting the body politic where they are. An analogy is exercise, many Americans hate to exercise, however they love to bowl, play golf, tennis, basketball, et al. If you couch exercise in terms that relate to activities people love to do, it is a much easier sell. Like change.

Posted by: Hermes on February 14, 2008 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

MsComment, I agree generally that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

You lose me, however, by wedging this valid general statement about human behavior into an impossible specific political accusation with your if/then question.

Did he run on an anticorruption platform or simply promise to be personally incorruptible? I ask in good faith, really, because I'm not familiar with Obama's career in Illinois politics other than the usual accolades. If you want to dish dirt, by all means do so with the usual citations. Otherwise you're simply insinuating things.

Why, you ask, did Obama "not want to change the political machine in Illinois . . . "?

My guess is that he did want it to change but, like most mortals, knew transforming Illinois politics was a bridge too far.

Obama is a visionary politician not a god.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 14, 2008 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Repressed fury"? "Scary"? I don't see that at all.

you honestly haven't noticed the repressed fury in the electorate? that's really scary. hell, mr. drum, i live in texas for crying out loud and i see almost incoherent fury among the dozens of people i know, many of whom are former republicans. from my 20 and 27 year old sons to my 74 year old father i see an astounding need, no hunger for driving the bush administration and their sycophants, supporters, and enablers from office preferably by impeachment but elections will do.

who do you hang out with?

Posted by: freestone on February 14, 2008 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

you want to see the anger? you want to see the anger?

Let's see DLC Hillary and the race-baiting grand-daddy of triangulation strangle hope in its cradle with an end run of cronyism through the craven party establishment of super-delegates that everyone has been complaining about since the 2006 D's took their seats in Congress.

You will get the full panoply of vituperation, bottled rage, un-repressed fury, cynical resignation, party-splitting angst you could ever wish for.

But in the meantime we in the cult are enjoying the ride, and it's always amusing to see the establishment progressive blogosphere and Hillary's cohort from the baby boom treat her as if she were Eugene Debs or Joe Hill instead of the Eisenhower Republican we remember if we are old enough.

And you think it will be different this time?

Oops. Almost got angry there.

Posted by: scooter on February 14, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see how one can expect a junior Senator...

Nancy Sheehan has done more than any member of Congress, perhaps besides Rep. Murtha, to bring attention to oppose the Iraq occupation. Sen. Obama can hold huge rallies for New Orleans refugees in Houston, Baton Rouge and wherever else, and lead them back home any time he chooses. Although many of the still standing empty homes have been condemned, they are probably safer than the trailers many refugees are still living in. If not, build communal shelters to start things rolling. Politicians do not act audaciously because it will probably cost them presidential elections.

I'm a proud leftist. I will always remember your Beaumont, TX story elmo.

Posted by: Brojo on February 14, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK
Your idea that there's some book where one goes to find the "true" definition of "personality cult" is touching but naive.

Actually, if you read what I wrote, what I said is that most use of the phrase "personality cult", including yours, is completely substance-free pejorative meant merely to tar by association to the more limited, narrow uses for which the term is coined and to which those who are more careful with their world choice restrict it. Very similar to most use of the word "nazi", really.


The meanings of terms fundamentally derive from their uses -- and if "personality cult" is very often used to describe phenomena that don't fall under the strict book definitions you are invoking, then the term simply has broader, looser uses, and we are correct in so using it.

I'm saying it has both useful, fairly strict uses (like when Kruschev applied it to Stalin, or when it is applied to Kim Jong-Il), and a common use as an empty pejorative that has no substantive meaning. I agree, of course, that your use is in line with the common use. I'm not interested in debating whether such a use is "correct" or not—if you wish to view it as "correct", feel free. I will be satisfied to note that it is absolutely without substance and conveys no useful meaning.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 14, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK
Look, there really is a difference between being a fighter for policies, and choosing negotiation and cooperation as your fundamental approach.

There is a difference, but not a contradiction; "being a fighter for policies" is a matter of goals and commitment, "choosing negotiation and cooperation as your fundamental approach" is a matter of tactics that is compatible with the goals and commitment involved in "being a fighter for policies".

A "fighter for policies" will do whatever is necessary to advance their policy preferences. If their experience and intelligence tell them that the most productive way to do that is through negotiation and compromise, that's just what they'll do.

that was most important in one candidate -- Dean -- and the failure of which is the central defect in Democrats in Congress, is now totally counterproductive when it comes to one's currently chosen political candidate.

The Dean scream (which, incidentally, never actually occurred, but merely was an opportunity for the media to exaggerate something far different--but that's the point) was counterproductive for that candidate, and kenga pointed to the scream, not the willingness to fight back. Obama has been willing to fight back, even though he hasn't done it in the way which makes it easy to tag him personally as "angry" the way the media did to Dean (and not just with the scream, but before and after it, as well).

Your deliberate and breathtaking distortion of every argument offered in order to make twisted attacks on Obama is rather bizarre, but I suppose (given your inability to put forward much substantive in the way of reasons to support your preferred candidate) about the best you can offer in the way of reasons to support your candidate. But, if it is, may I suggest your cause would be better served by you just not saying anything at all?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 14, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Dear paqxr55

There are plenty of sources but try this one..
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunil-garg/obamas-audacity-gap_b_84358.html

When my candidate dropped out and I started looking around for a new one.. I did what any rational person does, I started researching...
You can do the same..

As I said the best predictor of future behavior is the past.

Posted by: MsComment on February 14, 2008 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you seemingly have different measuring sticks for the two candidates? Why not compare them both the same way?

Because the biggest reason I had to roll the dice and vote for a less experienced candidate with a short, middling progressive record was BECAUSE I like the idea of the liberal change and progressive moment Obama promises. With Hillary Clinton, we know what we'd be getting. And I'm okay with what we'd be getting, but it's certainly not my dream government. All of this time, Obama and his supporters have been asking me to join him because YES! WE! CAN! have the progressive government we dream of. So, yeah, he has to convince us that he's capable of delivering on those primises.

And not even that! It's not even whether or not he's capable, because the cynic in me says that of course he is not. But is he even WILLING to try? I don't know. I honestly can't tell.

So it's between a competent, left-of-center Clinton presidency or between a hopefully competent and hopefully progressive Obama presidency. That's a lot of hopefullies. But I voted for him anyway.

Posted by: Caitlin on February 14, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

People want to feel good about their country, themselves and their future. It's the whole morning in America deal. That's what Obama is tapping into. Edwards was the candidate tapping into the fury of the downtrodden and it didn't seem there was enough fury to fuel a campaign.

I don't think anyone feels threatened by Obama except for Republicans who are wondering how big this wave will get. For everyone else from the Obamacans who see a Democratic Reagan to the left who see a 21st century JFK, to business and labor for whom he projects an aura of optimism and reason that makes you feel that I can work with this guy. I like his vision even if I'm not onboard with all his policy positions.

Posted by: Franco V on February 14, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's like, ohmigawd, Barack's just, like, totally the man with the plan, to be, like, a man with a plan, I'm sure, no way.

Posted by: The Obamabimbo on February 14, 2008 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

scooter: "you want to see the anger? you want to see the anger?"

Well, it would certainly be a refreshing change from "unhinged."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 14, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

brojo,

I know you're a proud leftist. Hence I was shocked when I heard you say you were supporting Clinton in this election. I really can't figure out how you came to the conclusion that Clinton is more left than Obama. Btw, the name is Cindy Sheehan. Why you're not criticizing Clinton for not protesting with Sheehan seems double standard, as well as a failure to recognize that US Senators do have responsibilities in DC. I think Cindy Sheehan did fine on her own with popular support. And finally, if the Iraq War is your major issue, why choose the senator who voted for the AUMF and actually supported the war for quite a long time after the invasion. Just makes no sense to me, but I'm sure you have your reasons. Same goes for New Orleans. You want Obama to 'lead' the people home (way more complex than that) yet give Clinton a pass? I'd really appreciate a rational explanation sometime.

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

From Chrissy:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) trashed an array of corporate interests in an economic speech in Ohio Thursday, vowing that as president she would go after oil, credit-card, insurance, pharmaceutical, investment, and loan firms.

As for Tyson Chicken and Wal-Mart...

Posted by: Vincent on February 14, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta: "Brojo: I know you're a proud leftist. Hence I was shocked when I heard you say you were supporting Clinton in this election."

Perhaps you should first explain to Brojo how you think a guy who's supported by such fire-breathing leftists as Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Ben Nelson, Maria Shriver, David Brooks, Victor David Hansen and Andrew Sullivan can be thus characterized as a so-called "agent of change", before you pass judgment on his own particular choice this primary season.

And frankly, nepeta, you really should learn to support your candidate more by singing his praises and emphasizing his virtues, instead of constantly maligning his opponent whilst also challenging the political integrity of her respective supporters. As such, you seem far less interested in winning converts than in picking a fight.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 14, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Donald,

I happen to respect brojo's opinions...and I'm pretty sure brojo knows that. If you think I am challenging brojo's political integrity, you're way off base. I'm not here to win 'converts' since 99% of those here are solidly supporting one candidate or another. You're interfering, as uaual, in what is a genuine plea for brojo's rationale.

Posted by: nepeta on February 14, 2008 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Obama already has Sistah Souljah'd many of us to his left--gays and lesbians, everyone who fought in the 60s-90s, people who believe that you can't sit down with those absolutely opposed to your goals, everyone who knows that Social Security is not in "crisis", people who liked Bill Clinton's terms, people who hate Reagan, etc...

Posted by: amberglow on February 14, 2008 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

He's not really for "change" in any way that would upset the status quo--real progressive/liberal change is always deeply threatening to the powers that be, and real change makes you marginalized--not lionized. Real change is not "unity" and upsets applecarts. Real change doesn't get you millions in corporate support either--ever.

Posted by: amberglow on February 14, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well I'm madder than hell and I'm an Obama supporter. I see him as being able to unite enough people to reestablish liberals as the center of politics which will drive the lunatics back to the fringe wherre thhey belonng.

But i also think this kind of analysis is masterbation: the only thing tht matters in the end is which one can beat McCain by enough and have coattails enough to get us back into the cdriver's seat.

You need to stop second guessing everything , kevin.

Posted by: wonkie on February 14, 2008 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's buddy Rezko, the slum lord, had 11 of his thirty plus buildings Obama's district.. I am sure that the people living in those buildings wish that Obama hadn't saved all "that giving of hope" for the campaign trail.

Posted by: MsComment on February 14, 2008 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

hey Donald,

(Daschle, Kerry, Nelson, et. al.) that game plays both ways with our current choices. Mark Penn? He's just Dick Morris with a better corporate client list. We can parse this out both ways unless you think Evan Bayh is a fire-breather.

If someone is genuinely on the left, or really progressive, then I can see why they wouldn't be happy with either candidate. I *don't* understand why they think Hillary is going to turn into a genuine leftist or even a liberal when I think she is to my right.

But if you are only a Democrat or a liberal... like this slightly younger than her boomer... Then what I'm thinking is that this Obama guy connects to more voters and does a better job of winning more seats for more Democrats so that there is something like a Democratic majority not afraid of its own shadow.

I may be unhinged, but it seems to me that Obama works from the ground up, while Clinton has been working from the top down. Obama worked all the states, and took all the voters seriously, and tried to build the party. Hillary followed Penn's advice because it suits her view of the world. The smart people will win the big states and then sort it out for the rest of us benighted souls.

I think the candidate with the potential to create a groundswell is going to make me happier in the long run than a candidate calculating 50 + 1. What's she going to do? Issue signing statements and Executive orders to create universal health care?

[about to repeat myself] If you are a genuine lefty/progressive (or what ever the term of art is) I can see why you wouldn't like Obama. But if you try to convince me that Hillary is a genuine lefty/progressive, or is even more Democratic, or more liberal.... Then I would say that since the Iraq vote she has been trying to triangulate to where ever she thought the frightened security voters would be -- at the expense of people like me, and maybe even of people to my friendly left.

I saw Obama in Manchester Iowa last summer. It was a small crowd of two or three hundred. No one chanted. No one fainted. No one screamed. Loaves and fishes were not multiplied. No one was healed. No one walked on water. Everyone sat quietly and listened politely. And then they voted.

Posted by: scooter on February 14, 2008 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

MsComment,

Perhaps you could do a bit more research:

The Real Story of Rezko and Obama: Ten Myths Debunked

Posted by: nepeta on February 15, 2008 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Here's your defining moment in political courage: Hillary proposes a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. Gutless, pandering, expedient and utterly unnecessary.

Posted by: TT on February 15, 2008 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

A diary on Kos from a guy pushing a book about Obama as research?

How about some actual reporting instead of the opinion of an Obama apologist.

ABCnews
SunTimes
SunTimes
SunTimes

Posted by: journalism on February 15, 2008 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

Boorring: "Additionally, should I be elected through our representative voting system, which is really a Republic, and not a democracy, by definition-(screams from the grammatical voting bloc in the background), I will pursue my pragmatic plan to introduce AR74, which would reduce the legislative turn-around by 2.37% and increase the speed of legislation, making our government more efficient to the needs of government by 1.23782%!"

(Crowd is going nuts, and the women on the front row are tearing up!)

Omigod. Too funny!

Posted by: Lucy on February 15, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii: And frankly, nepeta, you really should learn to support your candidate more by singing his praises and emphasizing his virtues, instead of constantly maligning his opponent whilst also challenging the political integrity of her respective supporters. As such, you seem far less interested in winning converts than in picking a fight.

Objection. This is a bizarre accusation to make against nepeta (who even scotian is willing "to bother with"), since nepeta is among the most civil and least combative commentators on the Obama side, and one who clearly argues in good faith. Ironically, nepeta has also been derided for too often singing the praises and emphasizing the virtues of Obama. Neither has nepeta "constantly maligned" Brojo. There is simply no evidence to support this contention.

Posted by: Lucy on February 15, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. That is what bothers me about Obama. He implies a progressive agenda will emerge, but he actually tells you the opposite. He tells you he will compromise with Republicans from the get go. He tells you he's wooing them. He adopts Republican talking points. He sets up straw men on religion and social security specifically to knock them down in a way that damages the democratic party. And his minyans prophesizing the second coming if he gets elected make me really nervous.

Perhaps he would be a very good president. I suspect his presidency will be about the same as Bill Clinton's was without the sex scandals. There won't be any bold legislation and whatever bad legislation there is won't get vetoed. He'll be hounded by Republicans for this or that made up scandal and there won't be any miracles. But things in general will be okay. The country at least won't have the current crop of criminals in charge.

Posted by: ally's gift on February 15, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

My husband and I were Edwards supporters, in no small part because he gave voice to our anger at the priorities of our government and wanted to change them to be more in line with what we believed (we both especially liked his stump line about how it was time to be patriotic about more than war).

Right before Edwards suspended his campaign, we heard Obama's SC victory speech. In it, he said things that sounded similar to Edwards, but not as angry. But definitely populist, not nearly as "it'll all be great!" He seemed to admit that yes, the special interests would be holding on for dear life and it wasn't going to be an easy thing to get healthcare or education reforms. He said things I didn't think he'd have been able to say if Edwards hadn't said them first, and angrier.

I'm still angry, as is my husband. But we are also sort of tired--being angry is exhausting. We voted for Obama on Super Tuesday--I'd have preferred Edwards, but it is nice to listen to someone who makes you feel like maybe this will work. Maybe there will be change. Hope is dorky, I guess, but after 7 years of knowing my government's public statements are just lies, worrying about the economy, it's a relief to think maybe someone really does want to clean things up and make the government workable again.

But I'm one of those people who wants to believe the world is a better place than it is.

Posted by: tess on February 15, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Obama is tapping into anger, but the response he's eliciting is not about anger. There's a deep wound in this country, surrounding its public life not just since 9/ll, but over the past 30 years. Obama gets it--people so much want to say goodby to all that. People want to be told that it's ok to be idealistic again--that it's not a sign of intelligence of wisdom to be a cynic.

Posted by: Matt on February 15, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Maybe you don't sense this but the American people are furious with George Bush and the way he has subverted democracy at home while advocating American imperialism(democracy?) abroad. Most of us want our country back. We want a government and a political system that is of the people, by the people and for the people. We want a restoration of our cherished values of liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness. If you don't see this as a strong undercurrent in this presidential campaign, I think you better step back for a minute and take a look at the forest and not spend so much time observing the trees.

Posted by: Harmon Chapman on February 15, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the correction nepeta. I may have written Nancy instead of Cindy before. I have trouble with names.

I voted for Clinton in the primary but I have not supported her candidacy. I trust Hillary more than Barack, mostly because I am more familiar with her, but my reasoning was based on I think she will withdraw from Iraq sooner than Barack will. I supported Rep. Kucinich and was going to vote for him in the primary. I had even made up my mind to vote socialist in the election, but McCain's impending candidacy has forced me into the lesser of evils camp.

My original post on this thread included criticism of all of the big three Democratic candidates as do nothings, but since the thread was about Obama, concluded with him. National political leaders have to do nothing in order to be considered presidential. If Obama, Edwards or Clinton were great leaders they would risk the opportunity to become president and actually do something audacious like lead an anti-war campaign or lead the displaced back to their city or fight the financial institutions before they totally fucked up the economy. The junior senator from Illinois could have done anything, but he chose to run for president. Fine. I will vote for him. I will not love him, or even have faith in him, until his good works shine with a light that reflects my political desires.

Posted by: Brojo on February 15, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Brojo,

Thanks for your response. OK. So now I understand your POV. I think I would have agreed with you 100% (except for a primary vote for Hillary) 3 or 4 months ago. Since that time, though, I've become more and more impressed with Obama, particularly in the integrity and thoughtfulness departments, and had to go with the 'unknown' over the 'known.' You're absolutely right, though, that the proof will be in the pudding.

Posted by: nepeta on February 15, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I was very proud of the Iowa voters for Sen. Obama's victory there. I am happy when he wins other primaries. I am more likely to criticize any candidate for what they have not done than to accept them for what they say. I want Obama to become the president his supporters think he will be, but I cannot make that leap of faith and think he will. I will have to rely on hope.

Posted by: Brojo on February 15, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Dear nepeta,
I already read that one ... not at all convincing. More of the year of thinking magically.

Try this one:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunil-garg/obamas-audacity-gap_b_84358.html

and the many more just like it.


Posted by: MsComment on February 15, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

MsComment,

That is an interesting Huff post. Rezko has been covered nicely here by Donald from Hawaii.

I did not know about the Claypool controversy. The locals discuss the issue on this Tribune blog.

Posted by: Lucy on February 15, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

MsComment,

And I had already read the Sunil Garg piece. This is one of those situations where there's a lot of differing opinion on both sides of the Chicago issues and the truth seems to remain elusive. Lucy's link demonstrates how this is also true in local Chicago opinion.

Posted by: nepeta on February 15, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

The author of that Huff piece, Sunil Garg, is accused by commenters of being a Clinton surrogate because Garg initially failed to disclose his ties to the Clinton administration. If we are to believe comments, his bio read:

Sunil Garg is a former assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former White House Fellow, where he served as the special assistant to the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. He is not supporting any candidate for President at this time. He currently lives in Chicago, with his wife and 2 children.

He has since changed his bio to read:

Not understanding the conspiratorial nature of blogging, I should probably have been more clear as to my political background and loyalties. Here you go: I did not vote for Bill Clinton in 1996, although I did in 1992 (after backing Bob Kerrey); I worked for Mayor Daley from 1997-1999; I served in the Clinton Administration from 1999-2000 as a White House Fellow, a non-partisan program; I voted for Barack Obama for the Senate in 2004; and I backed McCain in the 2000 primaries, before voting for Gore in the general. If readers still think I'm a shill for Hillary and Bill, I've got some friends who are part of the vast right wing conspiracy you might want to meet.

Apparently Garg, who certainly seems to be highly-regarded, was seriously pissed at Obama for remaining neutral in that Stroger-Claypool race. More here.

I love local politics.

Posted by: Lucy on February 15, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy,

This is OT, but I thought of your question to me about the word 'pimp' of a few days ago when I read this from Josh Marshall's site. Here is what a veteran space security specialist said about the upcoming satellite shootdown:

"My first thought is that MDA [Missile Defense Agency] is always looking for ways to pimp their systems and provide further justification that they work."

This is the sort of usage I've seen popping up all over the place for the last several years and hence my lack of shock over David Schuster's remark.

Posted by: nepeta on February 16, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The world has passed me by! Thanks, nepeta.

Posted by: Lucy on February 16, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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