Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 4, 2008
By: Hilzoy

HISTORY...

I didn't support Barack Obama because of his race. I didn't need to: I just thought he was the best candidate by far, mostly for wonky reasons. (I started down the road to supporting Obama when I read this sentence from a Washington Monthly article: "On the campaign trail in 2004, Obama spoke passionately about the dangers of loose nukes and the legacy of the Nunn-Lugar nonproliferation program, a framework created by a 1991 law to provide the former Soviet republics assistance in securing and deactivating nuclear weapons.")

However: having myself been, on occasion, the first woman in various environments, I know how much it matters for people to come to terms with the idea that having a woman, or an African-American, in some job is just plain normal. I've spent a fair amount of time convincing some co-workers (none at my present place of employment) that I was not, in fact, literally their mothers, or any of the other peculiar things they thought a female colleague might turn out to be. That never bothered me: life has generally been good to me, and this minor annoyance seemed like a very small price to pay. However, it did give me a vivid appreciation of why it matters that women and people of color actually occupy various jobs: so that other people can get used to the idea that they are just normal, and realize, without any particular fanfare, that their worst fears about what having (say) a female colleague might be like are groundless.

For that reason, I would have voted for an African-American, or for a woman, over a more or less comparable white man. I truly want to get to the point at which it is completely normal for people of all races and genders to run for President, and this seems to me to be a good way to do it, at least when two candidates are relatively evenly matched. I didn't have to make this choice in this election: for one thing, neither Obama nor Clinton is a white man, and for another, I didn't see the choice between them as close enough. But had things been different, I would have.

That said, though, I don't think I really appreciated, on a visceral level, exactly how much this would mean to African-Americans until sometime around November. At that time, Obama was trailing Clinton by around 20 points among black voters, which I found odd, until I read some article -- I can't recall which -- with a number of interviews of black Democrats. Those interviews made it clear that most of the people quoted in the article did not believe that a black candidate -- any black candidate -- could win the nomination, let alone the Presidency. Once I had noticed that, I seemed to hear it a lot: just a few days ago, I was listening to CSPAN in the car, and a black voter called in and said that until Iowa, he had assumed that Obama was "some kind of stunt".

I suppose I live a sheltered life, but for some reason it hadn't crossed my mind that many African-Americans would think not just that it was very hard for a black man to win the nomination, but that it was impossible. But once it did, I found it horrible and heartbreaking, all the more so because, on reflection, I thought it was a perfectly reasonable thing to think. (At least in its milder form -- 'he can't win' -- as opposed to the more ominous 'they won't let him win.')

I thought: it is awful that people should think that no one who looks like them could possibly be nominated by a major party; that any candidate who looks like them has to be "some kind of stunt"; that if they tell their children that maybe they'll grow up to be President some day, they believe, in their heart of hearts, that they are lying. That should never, ever be true. Not in our country.

When Barack Obama won Iowa, the ground beneath that fear began to crack. Now it has been blown apart, in the only way it could have been. And whatever any of us think about this race, or Senator Obama, that is cause for celebration; as is the fact that it turned out not to be true.

Hilzoy 8:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (108)

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Allow me to post these earlier insights, at npr---from 2/12/08.

Caucus Strategy Bolsters Obama's Bid for White House

“Winning all these caucus states frees Obama from being typecast as The African American Candidate. When interviewers ask about his poor showing among whites in the South (most recently in Louisiana's Feb. 9 primary), Obama shrugs and asks how many black people there are in Idaho, or Alaska or North Dakota. ”

"Anyone can point to the big reasons for Barack Obama's surprising success in 2008. There's his personal appeal and the country's readiness for a new face and style in presidential politics. Surely his ability to raise nearly $150 million on the broadest donor base in American history has been crucial, too.

But February has revealed another key element in the Obama plan, one that had been largely overlooked. His campaign emphasized building support and organizing turnout in caucus states. Most of these are smaller in population and do not have primaries to choose their delegates to the Democratic National Convention. They rely on precinct level caucuses to gauge the sentiment of activists and core voters.

It started with Iowa, of course, the state that made caucus states famous by putting its event at the front of the line. Ever since 1972, this upstart caucus has won national attention by going ahead of everyone, including New Hampshire, which by law holds its primary first in the nation.

Obama won the Iowa caucuses two days after New Year's and then turned the same intensive attention and tactics on a succession of other caucus states: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington.

Obama won all eight of these contests by wide margins, and the size of the margins matters because it allows him to take the lion's share of the delegates. His 80 percent in Idaho, for example, gave him 15 out of 18 delegates at stake, and 74 percent in Kansas gave him 23 out of 32. That's as close as you can come to winner-take-all in the Democratic Party, obsessed now for four decades with distributing delegates in proportion to the vote.

In the other two states to caucus so far, Nevada and New Mexico, Hillary Clinton was the apparent winner in the raw vote. But the vote was so close that Obama emerged with a virtual draw in delegates awarded both times: Clinton will reap no more than 26 delegates from the two states together while Obama gets no fewer than 25.

Still to come are caucuses in Hawaii and Wyoming and Texas (which also holds a primary). If current trends hold, Obama is likely to win Hawaii and Wyoming, and he has a fighting chance in the Lone Star caucuses as well. That would help him balance out Clinton's expected strength in the primary held the same day.

Winning in these states has paid big dividends for Obama's campaign on three fronts.

First, it has enabled him to overcome Clinton's early lead in the delegate count, which swelled with wins in California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. With caucus wins this past weekend, Obama pulled ahead in the race for pledged delegates. His overall total, including the superdelegates (elected officials and party officers), is expected to surpass hers following the Potomac Primary on Feb 12.

Second, the caucus strategy has enabled Obama to win more states numerically and grab more headlines in so doing. On Super Tuesday, Clinton won slightly more votes and delegates nationwide, but Obama won 13 states to her 8 (not counting New Mexico). With Obama racking up three more caucus states over the following weekend, and adding several more primary states thereafter, he is on track to finish February winning 22 states (plus the District of Columbia) to Clinton's 11.

Third, and perhaps as important, winning all these caucus states frees Obama from being typecast as The African American Candidate. When interviewers ask about his poor showing among whites in the South (most recently in Louisiana's Feb. 9 primary), Obama shrugs and asks how many black people there are in Idaho or Alaska or North Dakota.

That may not answer the question of racially polarized voting in the South, but it allows Obama to maintain his claim to transcending race. And in this sensitive stage of the Democratic nomination contest, maintaining that claim may be as important to Obama's chances as counting states and delegates won."




Posted by: familiar commenter on June 4, 2008 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race.

Posted by: on June 4, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think you comments are right on.

I personally was very comfortable with Clinton being the likely Democratic candidate. But when it started to look possible that Obama had a chance, I hoped he would win the nomination because it would show both ourselves and the world that we Americans are still able to heed the better angels of our nature and rise above our own fears and prejudices. I recognize that women have been -- and continue to be -- discriminated against in our society. While the election of a woman president would certainly have been a great significant milestone in American politics, women heads of state have become commonplace around the world. But the election of an African American President would be an enormous step toward finally closing the book on America's evil past of discrimination against black Americans.

As an old white guy I plan to do everything I can to insure that Barack Obama is the next President of the United States.

Posted by: aaron aardvark on June 4, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

@anon:

Except for the fact that Sen. Clinton, who fits that description, was not. She has 8 years of being First Lady (entirely irrelevant) and an extra 4 years as a Senator, during which she actually had fewer legislative achievements than Sen. Obama. And yet she was in it right to the end. Strange.

Posted by: on June 4, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a white Iowan who has been an Obama supporter from early on. But it didn't really hit me how important his win in the state was until a month ago when I was down in Mississippi for a meeting.

One of the managers at the historically African American college I was meeting at said, "None of us really believed it was possible until Obama won in Iowa."

Around the time of the caucus, a couple of people said to me, "You're only voting for Obama because he's black."

"Not true." I said, "There are lots of black people I haven't voted for."

Posted by: Henry P. Wallace on June 4, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race.

If we're going purely by resumes here, probably Richardson should have won.

Y'know, it is possible for HRC to have been the victim of misogyny AND for her to lost votes and Obama to have won them based on the content of their characters. Probably each both lost and gained votes based on their demographic features. This primary season has moved our society forward dramatically, even if not everyone is happy about where their candidate ended up.

Posted by: Jess on June 4, 2008 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

I had the privilege of spending my last birthday with Richard Rhodes, and we discussed the "deep bench" the Democrats started with. He expressed strong support for Obama even before the first vote was cast in Iowa, and that resonated with me, as he is one of the people I truly look up to.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on June 4, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't support Barack Obama because of his race. I didn't need to:

...I hated that bitch Hillary far more than any racial divide. Her husband got his dick sucked by a fat bitch and she did not leave him!

Posted by: elmo on June 4, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, Elmo. I'm hoping you're a troll. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Posted by: hilzoy on June 4, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck me. Hilzoy, I apologize. I would never have wrote that had I read your entire post. I can be jumpy...

Posted by: elmo on June 4, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

I supported Obama when I heard him speak for the first time. There is nothing teachable about leadership or dynamism. You have it or you don't. Hillary doesn't. She never had the innate ability to inspire. Obama was born to inspire and he is hard-wired to connect with people to push them towards worthy goals. That is all a President need do.

Wonkery and the policy must translate to a shared simple passion or it withers like Elmo's grace and decorum.

Posted by: Sparko on June 4, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

"if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications,"

What do we want, a people's democracy or a ruling class of Mandarins? All this nonsense about qualifications flies in the face of the ideal that anyone can become president.

Here's Obama's qualifications: from a dead start he's defeated the most potent Democratic political machine of the past 30 years.

You don't value the qualification of being able to motivate thousands of regular people to voluntarily work their butts off without pay?

The only qualifications that matter are how long a candidate has been embedded in Washington? Only well-connected professional politicians need apply?

This qualification criteria only makes sense for an Empire, not a democracy.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on June 4, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wonkery and the policy must translate to a shared simple passion or it withers like Elmo's grace and decorum.

Fuck you. I've never had any grace or decorum. I've been in the trenches while you dream of sugar plums and bean stocks...

Posted by: elmo on June 4, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race.

Hey mary, Hillary is going to concede this week and endorse Obama.

Are you still going to write her in or vote for McCain?

Posted by: Lucy on June 4, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with those who feel that gender trumps all other considerations. Yes, I would very much like to see more women in high office and yes, much of the vitriol directed at Hillary Clinton has been sexist. Unlike the Clintonistas, however, I stubbornly refuse to sacrifice human rights on the altar of political expediency.

The Clintons' intransigent defiance of global consensus on issues such as landmines, cluster bombs, recruitment of minors into the military, execution of juvenile offenders and mentally retarded people and the cruel sanctions in Iraq that killed over 500,000 Iraqi children with no discernable effect on Saddam Hussain concern me. Hillary's support for the Iraq war and her parroting of Bush's lies in support of her vote raise serious questions abour her judgment. Her saber rattling and refusal to negotiate with our enemies are unwise and dangerous. The way Bill Clinton held out promises of signing to force crippling concessions on the International Criminal Court Statute, then refused to sign the final, watered down product, was cynical and disgraceful. The way they solicited votes and money from gays, then betrayed them with Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act isn't reassuring. Clinton's behind-the-scenes efforts to block a meaningful UN response to the Rwanda genocide, which cost 800,000 lives, doesn't impress me. The callous response to our destruction of al Shifa, the pharmaceutical plant that met most of Sudan's needs prior to the Clinton-ordered Tomahawk missile attack, on the false premise that it was a chemical weapons plant, was disgraceful. We should have stepped in to supply the life-saving drugs of which we had deprived the people there, and doing so would have gone a long way towards improving our image in the Islamic world.

Aside from the Clintons' incessant lying, arrogance, narcissism, greed and hypocrisy, their record on human rights is enough to nauseate any morally decent person and disqualify them from any important post.

Posted by: AlexLawyer on June 4, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

bean stocks

Elmo -- thanks for the investment tip. I won't have to stalk you anymore.

Posted by: thersites the pedantic @$$#ole on June 4, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

I named my daughter's new cat after you...Lucy. I figured I owed you as much, after the dick I was to you a few months back. Plus, we're going to make a great team when the wingnuts get thick...

Posted by: elmo on June 4, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry FWG you lose the prize for reading comprehension. Here's what Hilzoy said, "For that reason, I would have voted for an African-American, or for a woman, over a more or less comparable white man. I truly want to get to the point at which it is completely normal for people of all races and genders to run for President, and this seems to me to be a good way to do it, at least when two candidates are relatively evenly matched."

That's a long way from your accusation: "solely on race or gender."

Can we have better trolls please?!

Posted by: Henry P. Wallace on June 4, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Elmo -- thanks for the investment tip.

I knew some markets would get a kick out of that...;)

Posted by: elmo on June 4, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, you sure get to hang with some great people. Rhodes's "How To Write" is one of my tbibles.

Posted by: thersites on June 4, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

one of my bibles, too.

Posted by: thersites on June 4, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

The media is still not particularly sophisticated in talking about race or gender and I'm actually a little embarrassed about the way the primary season progressed and the level of national discourse.

That people thought it was impossible for an african american or a woman to be the nominee says more about their views of the country being a little outdated or a little biased by local/regional/personal experience.

Posted by: B on June 4, 2008 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race.

And if Clinton didn't have the last name "Clinton" and tried to run for president with her "qualifications"... she would be laughed out of the race.

Posted by: on June 4, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

It seems true that (1) Obama ran a very smart campaign; (2) can give a great speech; (3) is a very good politician; (4) has a weak background to be president; and (5) has relatively few accomplishments in life that would normally be associated with becoming president. It is hard to see how that makes him likely to be a good president or even to be elected.

The Hillary for VP issue is fascinating. She wants it. He doesn't want her. Will he get rolled? I think so.

Posted by: on June 4, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

With all the hoopla and celebration going on you would think he had just won the general election. Not so fast, there, my friends. He won the nomination and you guys are hooting it up like he drove a stake thru the heart of a vampire and her 18-million supporters! I am sure you will blame her and us in November when Obama cannot stand up to the GOP slime machine.

Anon is correct about the caucuses. Obama's Chicago political machine basically stole the election by organizing out-of-town radicals to shout down Hillary supporters at local precinct caucuses. And those caucuses were not representative of Democratic voters. In my state you had to commit a full day to the caucus and many rank and file Dems were working or were housebound seniors. There are no caucuses in November.

They were abetted by the DNC who suppressed voting in Florida and Michigan. Florida Democrats had no choice on the date for their primary, it was done to them by Governor Jeb Bush and his Republican led state assembly. There was similar monkey bizness in Michigan. And the only reason that Obama took his name off of the ballot in Michigan was to pander to the Iowans who were livid that Michigan wanted to supplant them. So Doctor Dean spanked voters in his own party.

So now instead of one-person-one-vote we have one-person-half-vote in two states and one-person-twenty-votes in the caucus states. This is voter suppression on a grand scale. A hundred times worse than the slickest of the GOP slimers could ever conceive of. And it has been done to us by our own party. Go figure.

Jim

PS - Stop hyperventilating - I will vote for him in November. Or maybe not if I keep hearing all the whining about "rules are rules". But I will never again donate a nickel to the DNC until they replace Dean and his henchman. And my state Democratic party will never get another nickel from me until they start utilizing primary elections instead of undemocratic caucuses.

Posted by: jim on June 4, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

"One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race."

I guess a major difference between us is that you hear this, and your explanation is bias against your candidate. I hear it and go, yeah, that's one heck of a person who can do that.

I just can't accept the idea that somehow a mixed-breed "black" son of a Kenyan immigrant from Hawaii, raised by a single mom, named Barack Hussein Obama, has some big advantage in the bias department over the white spouse of a former president. I just can't see it. I see him as winning despite all this and for characteristics unique to himself, not because Hillary is a woman or he is "black." You see it as misogyny. Maybe. Maybe we're both a little right, at least.

But all that is neither here nor there any longer, right? It's one to ponder over in quiet moments as we walk on into the future.

Posted by: Jon on June 4, 2008 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

I write a post basically saying that it's a wonderful thing that African-Americans will not have to think that no black candidate can possibly win the nomination, and somehow this turns into "He won the nomination and you guys are hooting it up like he drove a stake thru the heart of a vampire and her 18-million supporters!"

How? Alchemy! It's the only explanation.

Posted by: hilzoy on June 4, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, elmo! I appreciate that.

Posted by: Lucy on June 4, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

For crying out loud, Hilzoy, why are you such a good writer? What's the point of any of the rest of us trying to write anything? Please stop.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 4, 2008 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jon, your post is the most sensible, thoughtful, and accurate thing I've read about this whole issue. Bravo.

Posted by: egadfly on June 4, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Jon,
obama is a very accomplished politician/person and, of course, he deserves a lot of credit for apparently winning the nomination. But objectively, he has been helped by his race. Many people understandably want him to succeed because of his race and our sad racial history and, of course, he got 90 plus % of the black vote that was [also understandably] based on race and it effectively put him over the top. If the black vote had split like the rest of the vote, for example, Obama would not have won.

Posted by: on June 4, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

You're all a bunch of RACISTS just like obamay and hie old lady.

Posted by: Jack on June 4, 2008 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

You're all a bunch of Racists like Obamy and his old lady. The KKK in reverse.

Posted by: Jack on June 4, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

"I will never again donate a nickel to the DNC until they replace Dean and his henchman. And my state Democratic party will never get another nickel from me until they start utilizing primary elections instead of undemocratic caucuses."

Out of curiosity, how much money have you given to the above organizations in the last, say, 10 years?

Posted by: John Smith on June 4, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

But objectively, he has been helped by his race.

Oh, that's rich.

Posted by: Lucy on June 4, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

I too have wished for a long time that the color of someone`s skin &/or what sort of sex organs they had would become a non-issue. For a long time I thought Barbara Jordan might be the break through candidate but nope. There have been times when I was afraid that I would never live to see that day.

Now, at least as of today, I have the hope that at least the skin color issue will fade as it should. Of course he isn`t sworn in yet...

"We are accustomed to the new land yet attached to the old country" - anon

Posted by: daCascadian on June 4, 2008 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

The Hillary for VP issue is fascinating. She wants it. He doesn't want her. Will he get rolled? I think so.

I don't think he will. Obama's got to be damn smart, and there are better choices, and I think he'll find a way to make them. Edwards polls well (opens them up to being a pair of well-spoken pretty boys with brains) but Richardson would be a great choice. I think Clinton's assassination talk is completely disqualifying for any VP candidate, if you get my drift.

Clinton didn't poll well as a VP candidate (not that I noticed) and her behavior has been downright Naderite in its me-me-me-mania and threats to be a spoiler. Whenever possible, such behavior should not be rewarded, and I think that most of her supporters will realize that McCain would not be in their best interests, so this is possible. And, further, Clinton would not be remembered well for pulling such a stunt -- she went way over the line in this campaign (in really stupid ways, claiming that she had better foreign policy experience than Obama, with her Iraq war vote).

Posted by: dr2chase on June 5, 2008 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's Chicago political machine basically stole the election by organizing out-of-town radicals to shout down Hillary supporters at local precinct caucuses.

I'm sure this makes me a bad person, but given the shenanigans surrounding the last two presidential elections, I can't help but think of this as a plus. Obama had such a great ground force that they were able to sneak in with perfectly legal tactics that worked in their favor and surprise the establishment? Fuck yeah.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on June 5, 2008 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

There are many better reasons to be opposed to Obama besides his race. His close and continuing ties with Weather terrorists, United Church of Christ racists, and cozy real estate deals with thugs. His desire to raise taxes, even if that reduces government income. His faulty view of the US Constitution, and of the people who understand, and even support its provisions for the right to keep and bear arms. His enthusiasm for pandering, at the cost of tax dollars. His quid pro quo earmarks for the company that provides his wife a 300,000 dollar a year part time job. His history of support for the corrupt Chicago machine. His lack of military service. His impossibly naive view of diplomacy with terrorists, murderers, and illegal combatants. His refusal to learn from history. His horrendous personal ingratitude to his 'typical white person' Grandmother who raised him.

Still, as an apostate Muslim, we have to recognize that he will be targeted by a small minority of the Billion Muslims world wide. May the murderous ones and their apologists and fellow travelers be confounded! But if, Heaven forfend, they succeed, as a Muslim has already succeeded in murdering Robert Kennedy, could we then fight the War On Terror with the Democrats on our side, rather than on the side of the Enemy?

Posted by: Don Meaker on June 5, 2008 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

"One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race."

George W. Bush had even LESS experience yet he managed to "serve" as president for 8 years. The governorship of Texas is considered a do-nothing job and he did nothing for a few years. Earlier he ran some businesses into the ground. And, oh yes, don't forget being unofficially AWOL while he was supposedly serving his country in the National Guard. Now, THAT's experience!

Posted by: Everyman on June 5, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Don Meaker: You have a bright future on the FOX network. Go forth and spew!

Posted by: Everyman on June 5, 2008 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Bush's experience was thin, but he still was governor for six years of a big state.

Lucy, I don't see how you or anyone can dispute that he was helped by his race. For example, the black vote in NC allowed him to win big with a white vote in the 20's, I think. And many non-black americans would love for a black to be elected president.

Posted by: on June 5, 2008 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

John Smith -

Unfortunately it was not a lot. But I have made it a practice to donate a small amount every two years to state and every four to national. The state did well with it. The DNC contribution was wasted in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

Mnemosyne -

Yeah that makes you a bad person. I went into my caucus open-minded. The vitriol I encountered from Obama supporters for Hillary convinced me to vote against anyone that they supported. I will probably vote for the guy in November, but it is really hard to vote for a man whose supporters still won't stop smearing her. Why would I want to reward their obscene behavior with a vote for their candidate? He may make a good Prez, but only if he can get rid of his whackos.

Posted by: jim on June 5, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody who thinks being black is an asset when running for President of the US has taken too many drugs, or has never lived here.

Did you see the results from WVa, Ky, outstate Pa, outstate Ohio, outstate Tex, outstate MO?

Oh, I forgot, those were just white, blue collar, high school graduates who were connecting with HILLARY. That HILLARY.

Yeah, right.

Posted by: says you on June 5, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

And many non-black americans would love for a black to be elected president.

And many wouldn't and won't vote for him for that reason, whatever his policies. Then there are those who are still convinced that he's a Muslim, anti-American, or otherwise "not one of us." It all balances out. But if being black (or non-white) was such an asset, wouldn't we be seeing many more faces of color at the top of the pyramid? Like most of Obama's supporters, including Hilzoy, I support him because of the content of his character, not for the color of his skin. The fact that he's bi-racial in a multicultural society is just a nice plus.

Reply to Don Meaker: Bwaahahahaha! That's the funniest montage of absurd, alternate-universe talking points I've heard in a while! Good luck selling that pile of crap!

Posted by: Jess on June 5, 2008 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

...was done to them by Governor Jeb Bush and his Republican led state assembly...

Actually, it was Republican Gov. Charlie Christ.

Posted by: GatorAide on June 5, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, 6 years of governor of Texas is less experience than 4 years of being a US Senator.

But only if you have a compliant media that refuses to recognize that reality.

Posted by: says you on June 5, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

"Bush's experience was thin, but he still was governor for six years of a big state."

Perhaps you missed (or ignored) the part where I noted the Texas governorship doesn't count as experience. The governorship of Texas is in large part a figurehead role. That is putting it a little strongly but it is the lieutenant governor who has much of the power.

Unfortunately, as president, Bush has had the power to implement all the wrong-headed policies which are the product of a man with his history of failure. He effectively took a country of peace and prosperity and did what he did to all his prior businesses. Now we have war and recession. Exactly what we should have expected from his excellent record.

Posted by: Everyman on June 5, 2008 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Um, Says You, you realize that Barack Obama had 7 years of experience in the Illinois State Senate?

Posted by: Fighting Words on June 5, 2008 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Also those who prate on about "experience" should look at the backgrounds of the rest of our Presidents. Lincoln vs. Buchanan, for example.

I went for Obama because he was the only one running who seemed to really understand the concept of protecting the rule of law and the US Constitution.

Posted by: grumpy realist on June 5, 2008 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

says you,

I don't think anyone is saying that being black is an advantage in being elected president - that is yet to be determined and I tend to agree with you that it will turn out to be a disadvantage. But the issue currently on the table is whether Obama being black was an advantage in getting the democratic nomination, and I think it obviously has been.

Posted by: on June 5, 2008 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy, I don't see how you or anyone can dispute that he was helped by his race.

Please, the country is full of racists. Before Obama's victory in Iowa the (few) African Americans I spoke with about Obama were completely skeptical about his candidacy. Their response was basically, never happen. I guess getting up every morning black in America can make a person pessimistic.

All the more reason, as hilzoy said, to savor Obama's victory.

Posted by: Lucy on June 5, 2008 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

grumpy realist: "...he was the only one running who seemed to really understand the concept of protecting the rule of law and the US Constitution."

Then why did he participate in voter suppression??

Posted by: jim on June 5, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, anon, I wanted to thank you for challenging my previous post so politely.

Guess I agree and disagree with you.

"Helped by his race," in the sense that black people came out to vote for him? Without a doubt, foolish to argue otherwise.

"Helped by his race," in the sense that a candidate for national office, looking around in 2008, would choose to be black if he could? Well, I doubt it. Nor a woman, if he/she could help it, even with 50% of the population potentially on your side. Probably not a Mormon either, though it meant sewing up Utah.

There are benefits to each of these scenarios, but there are drawbacks too. I think that if a hypothetical disembodied candidate could shop around and have their druthers, they'd probably want to look like John Edwards. And look how that turned out! Funny, huh? Go figure. As John Prine says, "It's a big old goofy world."

Posted by: Jon on June 5, 2008 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't support Barack Obama because of his race.

That first sentence can be parsed in another way.

Posted by: BL on June 5, 2008 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

I always thought race relations and the country would have been greatly served if the first successful black presidential candidate was a republican. Unfortunately, it is a democrat with very liberal politics. Now, there are three possible results, two of which are bad for race relations: (1) he loses the general election; (2) he wins, but is an unsuccessful president; and (3) he wins and is a successful president. I don't like the odds.

Posted by: on June 5, 2008 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

Jon,
Romney also was a guy who looked like a president and it did not do him much good (yet). Neither he nor Edwards have given up the dream.

Posted by: on June 5, 2008 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

What's Obama's take on NOLA? How about the VA? He's on the committee for the VA how is he addressing the myrid problems in the VA? What about the reinforcing of OUR military? Would he institute a draft to maintain OUR commitments? What will he do about the subprimes?
(disclaimer: I'm voting for Michael Meyer.)

Posted by: Mike Meyer on June 5, 2008 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Couldn't have put it better myself hilzoy. Kudos.

Posted by: Reality Man on June 5, 2008 at 5:35 AM | PERMALINK

You really ought to get some official recognition for this piece. Brilliant.

Posted by: on June 5, 2008 at 7:06 AM | PERMALINK

There is nothing teachable about leadership or dynamism. You have it or you don't. Hillary doesn't.

As an Obama supporter from the beginning, I have to strongly disagree with at least half of this statement. While opinions are like assholes -- everyone has one -- HRC repeatedly beat Obama on "strong leadership" qualities every time the question was asked.

Dynamism is another thing. At her best and his worst, Hillary is much more dynamic than Obama. On average, of course, he may be more dynamic, but even that is in the mind of the beholder. Certainly, she is "dynamic enough."

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and politics is as much about minimizing one's weaknesses as maximizing one's strength. I do empathize with HRC supporters in that with just a few "hindsight-is-twenty-twenty" adjustments in her campaign, she simply would have blown out Obama.

I know all the reasons that Obama shouldn't pick HRC as his running mate. All of them. And I think Obama can win without her. But I also think he has balls as big as Kansas and realizes what a fucking stunning, healing, and historic move it would be to pick Hillary.

As someone who has said over and over to himself throughout this campaign, "I hate Hillary," I feel that nothing -- NOTHING! -- Obama is likely to do as president could match the impact of ignoring the conventional wisdom and old politics screaming out now not to choose her.

Let Hillary and Bill redeem themselves, Barack. Choose her as your running mate. Show that you and Michelle are above conventional wisdom and politics as usual.

And fuck the repugs real good.

Posted by: Econobuzz on June 5, 2008 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

>as an apostate Muslim, we have to recognize that he will be targeted by a small minority of the Billion Muslims world wide

Boy, you'd have to watch a lot of Fox to believe something like th...

Oh, wait, I'm sorry, that particular bit of vile disinformation was brought to you by the right-wing fringe tract "The New York Times."

I really regret my political awakening sometimes. Ignorance isn't bliss, exactly, but it's a lot less aggravating.

Posted by: borehole on June 5, 2008 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

Fat White Guy wrote: It is no wonder you lefties have problems winning presidential elections. I love it!

What I love with that FWG's taunt used to read "It is no wonder you lefties have problems winning elections." Nice to see that after the drubbings the Democrats have handed out to the Reptiles, reality has sunk in for FWG at least a little.

Too bad it isn't reflected in the rest of his comment, which bears no relation whatever to what hilzoy wrote (and excellently, as always).

And just wait, sunshine. While morons like FWG was cheering Bush on, he and his minions were embarked on ruining the Republican brand for a generation.

Posted by: Gregory on June 5, 2008 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

Definitely the best post of the guest bloggers during Kevin's vacation. Imagine if this actually changes our culture?
What a different place this country could be.

Posted by: Mark R. on June 5, 2008 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that Obama demonstrated that he could win in non-black states, and that helped turn the tide. But I cannot forgive his campaign for the follow-up, race-baiting of the Clintons. They weren't confident enough in Obama and his message. They fed the press nonsense about the Clintons being racist. And the press gleefully (and predictably) ran with it. Suddenly, Obama went from 40 percent of black vote to 90+. I've heard the Clintons called a lot of things in the past 20 years -- many of them are accurate -- but racists? It was low.

Posted by: baldingeagle on June 5, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton lost the black vote all on her lonesome. There is an insulting undercurrent among Clinton supporters: the idea that black folks have some sort of hive mind. The Clintons spent a lifetime cultivating a strong relationship with the black community, and they were rewarded with strong loyalty from its members. They decided to paint Obama as the "black candidate" to try and pry away white votes from him. The black community then responded rationally by voting for someone who spoke to them and against someone who made the centerpiece of their campaign "hardworking white people." This ludicrous Clinton whine is made even more ridiculous by pretending that the Clintons were both A) helpless (there was nothing they could do to convince longtime supporters to stick with them) and B) not obviously and repeatedly responsible for injecting racial division into the campaign.

They decided that getting an extra sliver of the white vote was more important than competing for the black vote. Republicans do that all of the time; Clinton just campaigned and behaved like one once she paniced after Iowa. That's why she lost the black vote, and it is entirely her doing.

Posted by: Marc on June 5, 2008 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

We've been greatly underestimating the number of people to whom race is about as important as eye color. You'll see.

Posted by: pink inside on June 5, 2008 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

"They decided that getting an extra sliver of the white vote was more important than competing for the black vote. Republicans do that all of the time; Clinton just campaigned and behaved like one once she paniced after Iowa. That's why she lost the black vote, and it is entirely her doing."

...and Obama supporters still scratch their heads and wonder why Clinton supporters find them insufferable.

Posted by: david on June 5, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

I supported Obama because of his liberal record and his emphasis on honesty and magnanimous campaign style. His skin color is a bonus.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on June 5, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Tiresome.

Posted by: Pat on June 5, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race.

She was irrational and she was wrong.

How can Clinton supporters not remember Bill Clinton's newness and lack of experience vs. Bush 41?

Posted by: T4TN on June 5, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Adding... I didn't oppose Hillary Clinton because of her gender. If I had to choose, I'd vote for her against Bill Clinton. It is the Clintons' chronic dishonesty and unprincipled opportunism that I dislike.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on June 5, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

But it is extremely sad that at the same time one barrier is brought down another is confirmed. The ugly, bullying and often violently expressed misogyny exhibited by the mainstream media, the "progressive" blogosphere, powerful elements of the Democratic party establishment -- and indulged by competing campaigns without censor by "liberals" and "progressives" (and in some cases even defended by women themselves)-- have confirmed that a woman can not be nominated for the presidency. And certainly will not be in my lifetime.

Let me be perfectly clear in what I said above (for the Obama supporters who think any discussion about our culture's misogyn, and the evidence of it revealed in this campaign, is about HIM) -- IT IS NOT OBAMA'S VICTORY THAT PROVES A WOMAN CAN'T BE NOMINATED FOR THE PRESIDENCY. It is the MISOGYNIST BEHAVIOR of our economic, political and media elite during this campaign that does so.

I would hope that all those who call themselves "progressive" would be concerned about this -- and once upon a time naively thought that of course they would be. This campaign has proven that for many "progressives" gender equality in terms of political rights, participation and representation, is simply not part of their agenda.

Posted by: esmense on June 5, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

have confirmed that a woman can not be nominated for the presidency.

I think you're wrong.

Well, we'll know when the next woman runs for the presidency, won't we?

Posted by: shortstop on June 5, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

have confirmed that a woman can not be nominated for the presidency.

With a grand total of one data points -- not even considering Clinton's unusually high negatives and the events of her campaign? Yeah, right.

I'll also point out that we'd never had a female Speaker of the House until 2006, either. A woman president in inevitable; it'll just have to wait until after Obama's second term.

Posted by: Gregory on June 5, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

To be honest, Obama is my 3rd choice after Kucinich and Edwards dropped out, but I have hope in hope, so to speak, and I see him as an anomalously honest politician, despite his rhetorical skills.

However, I don't know if it is commonly known in the white community, and particularly among the political talking heads, but among the working class blacks that I live and work with there is an almost resigned expectation that Barack will be killed sooner or later. This bespeaks a despair/fear that goes beyond the self-satisfied code words of the various pols and pundits, male and female, who have and continue to prepare the fires of resentment.

In choosing the first African-American nominee for president we the Democrats have forced the long overdue national confrontation with the physical and spiritual violence of historical American bigotry. Ready or not: no matter how pressing the need to withdraw from Iraq, or to meet the responsibilities we have incurred there, or to solve the economic and healthcare crises here at home, or to mobilize against climate change, the stain of racism will be a constant tactic of the campaign to come, and a continuing challenge to the next administration -- whoever it will be.

This is the real challenge of our new American Century. Uniting the party is trivial compared to the task of uniting the nation. The spirit of American promise must be resurrected. Without this the world will see us as a failed and fractured state: a dangerous belicose bully warding off the world with hate and threats, and the Bush/Cheney legacy will be confirmed.

Posted by: jp on June 5, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

BL: That first sentence can be parsed in another way.

That's why we have paragraphs. It's called reading.

Posted by: thersites on June 5, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

From 'Audacity of Hope' by Barack Hussein Obama:

"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

Change indeed...

Posted by: Bart on June 5, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I teach at a public historically black college in the south, so I was able to witness this dawning awareness in my students last spring as they began to realize that not only was it possible (Iowa), it was probable (NC/Indiana).

And they often used phrases such as "they won't let him win." It's something that I would have missed had I not had the opportunity to observe my students over the course of the last year or so.

Posted by: Chuck on June 5, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

A woman will be elected president; it simply won't be this one. And let's hope Hillary Clinton -- someone who, for all her political skills and knowledge, likely wouldn't have reached her status in the party if she hadn't been married to a president -- isn't used as the standard for future female candidates. It'd be nice to see a valid woman presidential candidate who achieved everything on her own, without the advantages of marriage to another politician.

Oh, and just an aside comment: When did the word "black" become anathema in race description? I was listening to NPR yesterday, which previewed a segment on "how African-Americans are reacting to the first African-American presidential nominee." The phrase "African-American" just sounds too cumbersome (and if you're a white-skinned emigre from Cape Town who lives in Los Angeles, doesn't that make you "African-American," too?). I admit part of this is my background as a copy editor -- you try to fit "African-American" into most headlines!

Finally, a shout-out to the people of Iowa, where I spent two years in grad school in Ames (and was a McGovern backer in the '84 caucuses): Thanks for getting all this started.

Posted by: Vincent on June 5, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Vincent,

You're absolutely right about "African-American."

I don't know how the term became so standard, but I bet that in 50 years it will not only not be popular anymore, but that a white person who uses it will actually be considered racist. People will argue that by saying African-American, the person is implying that blacks, no matter how long ago their ancestors arrived, can never be full Americans.

It'll be interesting to see if my prediction comes true.

Posted by: Lee on June 5, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

@esmense
"But it is extremely sad that at the same time one barrier is brought down another is confirmed. The ugly, bullying and often violently expressed misogyny exhibited by the mainstream media, the "progressive" blogosphere, powerful elements of the Democratic party establishment-... have confirmed that a woman can not be nominated for the presidency. And certainly will not be in my lifetime."

I'm sorry, but do you live in the same country as the rest of us? Have I been watching alternative newscasts from, like, Mars or something? "Violently expressed misogyny"? What on earth are you talking about?
As a 39 year old woman I feel energized and confident that in the very near future our President will be a woman. Why not? Hillary has already show that she can out-fund raise, out-wonk, out-work and generally steamroll "ordinary" white male politicians. Good for her!!
She just couldn't compete with Obama. He is a different kind of candidate, and one that she was not prepared for. Don't worry about Hill-- she'll be ok.
Don't worry about us girls-- we're where we want to be and we're moving ahead.

Posted by: lebecka on June 5, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

@esmense
"The ugly, bullying and often violently expressed misogyny exhibited by the mainstream media, the "progressive" blogosphere, powerful elements of the Democratic party establishment-... have confirmed that a woman can not be nominated for the presidency."

I'm sorry, but do you live in the same country as the rest of us? Have I been watching alternative newscasts from, like, Mars or something? "Violently expressed misogyny"? What on earth are you talking about?
As a 39 year old woman I feel energized and confident that in the very near future our President will be a woman.
Why not? Hillary has already show that she can out-fund raise, out-wonk, out-work and generally steamroll "ordinary" white male politicians. Good for her!!
She just couldn't compete with Obama. He is a different kind of candidate, and one that she was not prepared for. Don't worry about Hill-- she'll be ok.
Don't worry about us girls-- we're where we want to be and we're moving ahead.

Posted by: lebecka on June 5, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

OOps sorry for posting twice! In my giddiness, i wasn't in full control of my keyboard.

Posted by: lebecka on June 5, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

t seems true that (1) Obama ran a very smart campaign; (2) can give a great speech; (3) is a very good politician; (4) has a weak background to be president; and (5) has relatively few accomplishments in life that would normally be associated with becoming president.

Obama: 8 years Illinois State senate, 4 years (well, 3.5) US Senator
George W. Bush: 6 years Texas Governor
Hillary Clinton: US senator, 7.5 years
Lincoln: Illinois legislature 8 years, 2 years US representative
US Grant: no previous elected office
Chester A. Arthur: no previous elected office until chosen as VP (succeeding as president on Garfield's assassination)
Benjamin Harrison: US Senator, 6 years
Grover Cleveland: 1 year mayor of Buffalo, 2 years governor of New York.
Eisenhower: no previous elected office
Carter: 4 years state senator, 4 years governor.

Now, what accomplishments are "normal" to be president of the US?

This lesson in US history is brought to you by a Canadian. American History: Americans Should learn It.

Posted by: KeithM on June 5, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

KeithM,

It's misleading at best to say that Grant and Eisenhower had "no previous elected office" and leave it at that. Yes, they had technically never been in politics, but they had to demonstrate a lot of political skill, both of them having risen to the top of the Army. They certainly weren't political novices in the sense that a cashier at WalMart is.

Posted by: Lee on June 5, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary had some ridiculous misogyny thrown her way (nearly all, though from media clowns and internet jerks, not the Obama campaign), but that didn't cost her the nomination. It's really quite simple.

She voted for the war.

She, along with Edwards, Kerry, Biden, and so many other Dems failed the biggest foreign policy test of the decade. Obama passed. That's why I voted for him.

If Hillary had voted against the war in Iraq she'd be the nominee right now.

Posted by: Justin K. on June 5, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

When did the word "black" become anathema in race description?

In many circles, including but not limited to large portions of academia, "black" has been the preferred term for years now, reflecting that not all people who self-identify as black are from Africa, and that some are so many generations removed from Africa that they don't identify that way.

And, of course, the world is full of black people who aren't American. When I lived in London, I always smiled to hear Americans refer to black Englishmen as A-A.

Posted by: shortstop on June 5, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Justin K,

But Obama didn't "pass." He did oppose the war, but he couldn't have voted for it because he wasn't in the Senate. We don't know for sure how he would have voted. Remember that Obama was a complete coward on the Iran vote (whether to designate the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization). 98 of 100 senators managed to be there for that vote, but Obama somehow couldn't make it. And while Hillary voted the wrong way on that (for the terrorist designation) Obama had a lot of chutzpah criticizing Hillary for her vote when he didn't have the courage to vote at all.

For all we know, if Hillary had been in the Illinois or New York state senate in 2002 like Obama was, she might have spoken out against the war.

Posted by: Lee on June 5, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

She just couldn't compete with Obama.

Whaaaa? It was a virtual tie, the tie going to the delegate count. Saying she couldn't compete is way off the mark...

Posted by: elmo on June 5, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

As a Libertarian Indie I plan to vote for Obama. Not that I necessarily agree with everything on his platform, but because I believe he is currently the best candidate.

As for Hillary Clinton, I despise her more than I dislike George Bush. Her low point came with her claims of sexism and anti-feminism from the media and the Obama camp. For it is also true that there are many women who have every reason to be pleased that Hillary Clinton lost her bid to be President.

She enabled and allowed every one of her husband's serial acts of abuse against women less powerful than himself. No woman who dismissed the victims of sexual harassment because her husband abused them can claim to be a feminist or a candidate for the presidency. Quite the opposite.

Posted by: Buster Bunns on June 5, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

As for Hillary Clinton, I despise her more than I dislike George Bush.

That says all about you one needs to know. Leave your wingnut baggage at the door, pops...

Posted by: elmo on June 5, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hey elmo, the American people also saw through her. Clintonism is now dead. She lost and rightly so.

I think the best comment on the importance of Obama's win comes from another woman, Condi Rice.

"The United States of America is an extraordinary country. It is a country that has overcome many, many, now years, decades, actually a couple of centuries, of trying to make good on its principles. And I think what we are seeing is an extraordinary expression of the fact that 'We the People' is beginning to mean all of us."

Posted by: Buster Bunns on June 5, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bart, the actual quote from "The Audacity of Hope" is as follows:

"Of course, not all my conversations in immigrant communities follow this easy pattern. In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

In effect, he's saying that, should the United States start to consider official discrimination against Arab and Pakistani Americans for stupid and racist reasons, he'll stand with the oppressed. This is as any decent human being would do.

Posted by: Soup on June 5, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

The problem here is that you had two "groundbreaking" candidates and only one could be nominated. The closeness of the race shows just how difficult it is to choose which group's historical discrimination is the most deserving of repair; it isn't even a fair question to pit groups against each other, which this campaign unfortunately did. If Clinton had won, African Americans might still say, "see, a black man can't be nominated," just as some feel now that a woman can't be, but truth is, there's no reason, in 2008, why EITHER a black man or a woman can't be President, if the right candidate comes along.

In this case, Obama simply ran the smarter campaign. He did the math and focused on getting the delegates he needed to win.

Yes, Hillary and McCain use the experience card against Obama because in the face of such a great organizer, speaker, and campaigner, what else have they to argue? But really, what good did Bush's "experience" do for us? Not much. The experience issue is a campaign canard; Obama has shown he has the qualifications to be a leader, at least as good a leader as Bill Clinton was in 1992. But one thing Obama can probably do better than Bill did when they took over the White House is reach out to the opposition and rally a majority of the country: if he can do that, and heal the party rifts in our national politics, that will be an historic achievement.

Posted by: marty on June 5, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Buster: Hey elmo, the American people also saw through her.
Actually, I think about half of Democratic voters didn't.

I think the best comment on the importance of Obama's win comes from another woman, Condi Rice.

Who could have predicted...

Posted by: thersites on June 5, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Remember that Obama was a complete coward on the Iran vote (whether to designate the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization). 98 of 100 senators managed to be there for that vote, but Obama somehow couldn't make it. And while Hillary voted the wrong way on that (for the terrorist designation) Obama had a lot of chutzpah criticizing Hillary for her vote when he didn't have the courage to vote at all." - Lee

Yup chutzpah is right, especially since yesterday he told AIPAC that the Guard was rightly designated a terrorist organization.

What, was that a flip-flop?

Posted by: optical weenie on June 5, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

A previous commenter says: "One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race."

Not if she were as smart, charismatic and inspirational as Barack Obama. To ignore these rare talents is to ignore the reality of why he has won.

Posted by: on June 5, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

A previous commenter says: "One of the most accurate assessments I have seen on Obama was from a Clinton supporter who said if a woman tried to run for president with Obama's weak qualifications, she would be laughed out of the race."

Not if she were as smart, charismatic and inspirational as Barack Obama. To ignore these rare talents is to ignore the reality of why he has won.

Posted by: sally on June 5, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

thersites...so you would rather support a candidate who slimed the women who were victims of her husbands serial abuse, who lied egregiously throughout her campaign, who exhibited a paranoid narcissism, rather than a man who laid down three ruling principles when selecting his future chief operating officer: Run the campaign with respect; build it from the bottom up; and finally, no drama.

Even Jimmy Carter has the good sense to pan Clinton. If you wish to continue support her go right ahead. It is a free country. But remember Clintonism has finally been consigned to the dustbin of history. And there it will stay.

Posted by: Buster Bunns on June 5, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I think both age and where a person grew up are both huge factors in this discussion. People under 40 who grew up in heterogeneous urban areas are the first "post-racial" generation. They were born after the Civil Rights era (i.e. the 60's) and have to a large extent grown up in an era where racial considerations were an afterthought in determining who they interacted with. They have grown up with schoolmates and friends of many races, dated people from other races, and possibly are even in relationships with people from other races. These people are much more likely to be Obama supporters for whom his race is not an issue.

On the flip side you have people over forty who grew up in homogenous rural areas. They rarely interacted with people from other races when they were kids, grew up before or during the Civil Rights era, and in many cases may have had relatives and friends who opposed the civil rights movement and were out and out racists.

The race between Hillary (an older white woman) and Obama (a younger mixed-race man) has revealed this generational split within our society.

Posted by: mfw13 on June 5, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

my state Democratic party will never get another nickel from me until they start utilizing primary elections instead of undemocratic caucuses.

Here's where I parted ways with Clinton's supporters. Hillary Clinton has been influential in the Democratic Party for nearly 20 years. She's been through several presidential elections. Why weren't caucuses such a big issue for her until 2008? Presumably they weren't any more democratic when Bill was running.

I was raised in the least populated and one of the most Republican-leaning caucus states in the country. I don't live there anymore, but my loyally Democratic family still does. I got tired of hearing from her campaign that their votes didn't really count. Obama thought they counted plenty, so he got my vote in my state.

Posted by: Lynn on June 5, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Buster Bunns,
You must be new here. Thersites is an Obama fan. He's just trying to make peace between the current warring factions. Whether that means that he is stupid or not is another thing ;-o

Posted by: optical weenie on June 5, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites....mea culpa. I stand corrected.

Posted by: Buster Bunns on June 5, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Buster Zit, I still wanna play...sweetie pants.

What the hell is "Clintonism"? Nevermind, I know, some fantasy in that mush mind of yours. You still sting from the 90's, don't you? Back when you were a proud Retardican and Clinton raised your taxes, making your poor wallet bleed. Or are you an old DNC liberal who got stepped on when Clinton was in charge of the party?

Whatever it is, you sure seem hell bent on revenge. Makes you look like an ass...

Posted by: elmo on June 5, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

To Don Meaker, "point"-by-point:

Don Meaker: There are many better reasons to be opposed to Obama besides his race.
>> Hmm, are you saying that his race is just an ‘ok’ reason to oppose him?

His close and continuing ties with Weather terrorists,
>> Remarkably irrational. He was introduced to a couple of washed-up 60's activists at a fund-raiser. "Continuing ties"? Hardly.

United Church of Christ racists,
>> Profound ignorance on display here. (Ignore the fact that he's left that church for a moment.) Never has there been a candidate that has made a more sincere and impassioned plea for racial unity.

and cozy real estate deals with thugs.
>> Not a shred of evidence that anything unsavory occurred. Although the right-wingers sure have tried to manufacture something.

His desire to raise taxes, even if that reduces government income.
>> HUH???? Not sure what can be said, except that some of us do believe in responsible behavior, which includes paying our debts, and not passing them on to future generations.

His faulty view of the US Constitution, and of the people who understand, and even support its provisions for the right to keep and bear arms.
>> Yeah, right. The former editor of the Harvard Law Review doesn’t understand the Constitution but Joe SixPack does. Obama supports a carefully reasoned balance of gun ownership rights and limits on extreme weapons.

His enthusiasm for pandering, at the cost of tax dollars.
>> Nothing here to comment on.

His quid pro quo earmarks for the company that provides his wife a 300,000 dollar a year part time job.
>> One wonders how a wingnut could be against the Bush/Cheney/Halliburton business model, but I digress. Michelle Obama worked for a HOSPITAL. (Oh the shame!!! Money for a hospital!!) The earmark was indeed on Obama’s wishlist, but never approved and never delivered. Also, Michelle Obama quit the job the next year. Not much of a conspiracy, is it?

His history of support for the corrupt Chicago machine.
>> Oops! Crazy claim without any specifics.

His lack of military service.
>> This is a plus, not a negative.

His impossibly naive view of diplomacy with terrorists, murderers, and illegal combatants.
>> Yeah, all peace-makers are naïve, and all warriors are smart and brave. How many more examples of the catastrophic failures of the Bush foreign policy do we need to see before everyone realizes it doesn’t work? The only intelligent course is a combination of open negotiations backed by strength. Exactly what Obama proposes.

His refusal to learn from history.
>> Really??? This is what wingnuts think? Obama will ignore history, and Bush & McCain are thoughtful students?? Really? You can say this with a straight face?

His horrendous personal ingratitude to his 'typical white person' Grandmother who raised him.
>> Darn! There we go again, ignoring what Obama really said. Senator Obama heaped praise and gratitude on his grandmother, while acknowledging the fact that she, like the rest of us, was a flawed person, and that he is a product of two polarized cultures. He is in a unique position to help unify the country.


Still, as an apostate Muslim, [>> ARG!!] we have to recognize that he will be targeted by a small minority of the Billion Muslims world wide. May the murderous ones and their apologists and fellow travelers be confounded!
[>> Yes, indeed. I’m sure you hope for only the best for the Senator.]

But if, Heaven forfend, [>>Forfend?] they succeed, as a Muslim has already succeeded in murdering Robert Kennedy, could we then fight the War On Terror with the Democrats on our side, rather than on the side of the Enemy?
>> Oh no, clearly, when the hoards of murderous dark-skinned people come to kill the good white folks, we Democrats will join the murderers. (This was truly the icing on this 3-layer cake of racism, paranoia, and aggression. My apologies for resorting to sarcasm.)

Posted by: NoMoreBush on June 5, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy: " I've spent a fair amount of time convincing some co-workers (none at my present place of employment) that I was not, in fact, literally their mothers, or any of the other peculiar things they thought a female colleague might turn out to be. That never bothered me: life has generally been good to me, and this minor annoyance seemed like a very small price to pay. "

Let me repeat this troubling line: "That never bothered me: life has generally been good to me"

Unbelievable.

Posted by: Peg on June 6, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

[...] www.washingtonmonthly.com is another must read source of information on this subject,[...]

Posted by: Cheap car insurance quotes >> Tips on getting cheap car insurance quotes ... on November 25, 2009 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK
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