Obama: The Message

There's two parts what's going on in relation to Barack Obama and American politics. The first is the message and the second is the movement. I am much more hack than wonk, so read Chris Bowers and The End of the 1960's? for more on what this week's Newsweek has an interview about, with Obama:

I've watched how crowds react to you. Why are you striking a chord?

It's hard to stand outside yourself. Some of it is that. I've become representative of the American people's desire to turn the page and get beyond some of the harsh, sharply partisan politics that has ruled over the last 10 years.

You think this is generational?
Our politics has very much been grounded in debates over the '60s. There's the '60s, the backlash against the '60s, the counter-backlash within the Democratic Party against the '60s. We've been effectively talking about Vietnam, the sexual revolution, the civil-rights movement for a generation now, and it doesn't adequately describe the challenges we face today. My peer group, I think, finds many of those divisions unproductive. We see many of these problems differently, on race, faith, the economy, foreign policy and the role of the military.

Part of the reason the next generation can see things differently is because of the battles that the previous generation fought. But the next generation is to some degree liberated from what I call the either/or arguments around these issues. So on race, the classic '60s formulation was, "Is it society and institutional racism that's causing black poverty or is it black pathology and a culture of poverty?" And you couldn't choose "All of the above." It looks to me like both. [The younger generation] is much less caught up in these neatly packaged orthodoxies.

I find this very appealing right now. It's similar to the message that Mark Warner was successfully speaking of before getting out of the race. It's getting beyond ideological and partisan failures to actually solve the problems.

I've been writing a long chapter, along with a bunch of other former staffers, on being involved with the Dean campaign. My focus has been on the early days-- going back and documenting the beginning of the online movement for Dean. The movement behind Barack Obama is as compelling as those behind Clark and Dean in 2004, but also different, and something I'll followup on with another post this week. But something that struck me again as I was looking back through the '02-'03 online archives, in the early days of Dean, a central point to not overlook, is that the message and the movement are inter-twined. The first internet page for Dean, which was here on MyDD, was "Howard Dean for President" and consisted of about two dozen quotes from Dean himself opposing Bush. That message won people over that intended to go to battle with Bush.

It's tragic that had John Kerry and John Edwards used the polarizing rhetoric on Iraq that they do now, they would have defeated Bush. In Sept. '03, it was the beginning of the end for '04, when the dream of a Howard Dean/Wes Clark ticket collapsed, as did the hope that Democrats would be able to distinguish themselves against Bush over Iraq when those two faded. After the 2004 defeat, Dean becoming Chair is also what made possible the gains of 2006.

The elections of '04 and '06 were turnout wars over Iraq. Is 2008 going to be the same? Not with, as Chris notes this morning, Democrats now holding a share of power. The book I took as a guidance for the '04 election was "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning", by Chris Hedges. The '08 contest, with Democrats trying for trifecta control, will be a much different election.

Instead of battleground strategies, we need mapchanger attitudes; instead of nit-picking about single issues, we need a connect-the-dots vision; instead of kick-ass partisan rhetoric, we need an appeal to the nation that instills hope.

I'm sure that a majority online (especially here on the blogs) disagree with me on this (It's not a black and white matter). In fact, the disparity between online and offline results, over the qestion of whether Demcrats should be more oppositional to Republicans or more bipartisan (and this was in Iowa polling previous to the '06 election) splits by those distinctions. It's some of both.

Will the central question of 2008 be, how will Democrats govern? And more specifically, as uniters or dividers? By creating more problems or solving them? That's what Bush ran with, all the way to the White House, and subsequently destroyed the Republican brand by his 'say one thing do another' execution. If so, now it's the Democrats chance.

Tags: barak obama (all tags)



Re: Obama: The Message

A big difference seems to be this: Dean's movement was predicated on his message; Obama thus far has no message beyond cliches and canned rhetoric.  The movement seems to be about charisma, not substance.

by justinh 2006-12-18 03:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

On this point, at present Obama's so-called "movement" appears, to me, appears manufactured and led top-down.  As I follow it I get the distinct feeling of watching some made for TV event, from Obama's appearance on the national stage at the DNC convention, to the adoring crowds that now receive him wherever he goes -- with the national media capturing every made for TV moment.  It all seems constructed to invoke adoration.

In contrast, the Dean movement had a sense of authenticity, an unstaged quality -- from his speaking pattern (not the most polished), to his appearance.  To say that the two "movements," Dean's and Obama's, are "compelling" may be true; however, they are compelling for very different reasons.  Dean's movement is compelling for its bottom-up nature, while Obama's is compelling for the opposite reasons: his so-called movements  appears to be fueled by national players (party insiders, media types and the adoring national media), and appears to be packaged with a clear intention to emote... as if reaching for high drama.

by bedobe 2006-12-18 04:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

That's my impression as well.  Dean and Trippi used to talk about how the campaign was "decentralized."  Much different than Obama's.

by justinh 2006-12-18 04:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

centralized or not, 25,000+ people on a facebook group alone is pretty impressive.

by DrewEM 2006-12-18 04:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

"Impressive" in what sense?

by justinh 2006-12-18 04:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

That 25,000 people felt excited and motivated enough to join a group.  It's just a click or two, but it does show that the message/movement is impacting or is powered by a large  number of people who are decentralized.

by DrewEM 2006-12-18 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think that's right.  The question is: what is the source of the excitement and motivation?  Is it something Obama has said or done?  If not, what is the value of the "impression"?

by justinh 2006-12-18 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

To a certain degree this is simply a chicken or egg question...  I think perhaps the most interesting thing to note is that Obama himself tries to answer this question at almost every outing, most notably in NH.  

by DrewEM 2006-12-18 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I suppose for it to be chicken or egg, there would at least have to be something that Obama supporters could point to that he has said or done that provides the basis of their excitement.

How does Obama try to answer this question?

by justinh 2006-12-18 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I forget how far through the video he discusses "hype" but you can see it here:

http://www.barackobama.com/media/new_ham pshire_celebration/

by DrewEM 2006-12-18 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Thanks for the link.

by justinh 2006-12-18 05:35AM | 0 recs
Can they all vote, and will they?

Facebook, what is the percent of underage voters?

by dk2 2006-12-18 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Can they all vote, and will they?

You have to have a college email to even register, so the vast majority of these people will be able to vote.  And if they're this excited now, just imagine what they'll be like come 2008.

by conantd 2006-12-18 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Can they all vote, and will they?

In 2006, we found Facebook to be a tremendously effective organizing tool for our GOTV efforts (mostly for Jim Esch (NE-02), who ran a volunteer-driven and youth-based outsider campaign). Facebook had an "Election Pulse" feature that allowed you to show your support for a candidate. Jim got about 70% of the Facebook vote. He lost the general election with 45% of the overall vote. I don't know how well those numbers line up (there was no exit polling on the race), but there was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the campaign among youth, and Facebook accurately reflected that.

I think Obama's support on Facebook is a good measure of how much support he enjoys among youth. One of the reasons I support him is that I believe he will energize my generation in a way that others cannot.

by Dave Sund 2006-12-18 07:00AM | 0 recs
The funny/ironic thing about this is

Obama's primary victory in 2004 showed how weak the Chicago political machine had become. But as soon as he was elected, Obama began turning his back on the progressives that got him elected and started kissing up to the machine -- both Chicago and DC versions.

Many forget that Obama had to emerge out of a 7 candidate primary field where other candidates had more money and/or far more insider backing. It was the energy of progressives -- so many of  whom came over from Howard Dean's just-failed presidential campaign -- that allowed Obama to pull away from the pack and win that primary.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-18 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The funny/ironic thing about this is

Right... Because the man himself had nothing to do with it at all did he?

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 05:57AM | 0 recs
Why Is It That Any Reasoned Criticism of Obama

is met with a vicious caricature of the stated position?

It makes it virtually impossible to have a reasoned debate.

And the longer his supporters short-circuit the possibility of a reasoned debate, the more they confirm the suspicions of his critics--or even those who simply have honest doubts.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is It That Any Reasoned Criticism of Obama

1) Because at that point, Stoller's crap had gotten me so pissed off that cheeky sarcasm was all I had left.  In hindsite, it was uncalled for and I apologize and would delete it if I could.

2) The Obama detractors are just as guilty as the supporters in the lack of debate... unless you consider calling Obama a pandering hack as several on here have done a constructive debate.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is It That Any Reasoned Criticism of Obama

Sure, it's my fault.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 07:15AM | 0 recs
That's Simply Not True

2) The Obama detractors are just as guilty as the supporters in the lack of debate... unless you consider calling Obama a pandering hack as several on here have done a constructive debate.
I've tried repeatedly to get Obama supporters to present substantive reasons to support him.

I've asked them to address his routine mischaracterization of progressives, past and present.

I've asked about his vote to confirm CondiLies.

I've asked about his vote on the Bankruptcy bill.

I've asked his support for the Iraq Study Group, with its support for privatizing Iraq's oil.

I've presented data showing that his Senate voting record is that of a moderate liberal, not a progressive.

I've questioned his analysis that polarization is a matter of rhetoric, rather than underlying economic realities.

None of this has been responded to.  My comparison of Obama's Senate record to Edwards' has been responded to--but that has been all about Edwards, not Obama.

So, no, (1) It's not true that both sides are equally lacking in substance.  We're not. And

(2) The burden of proof is on you.  You're saying that he has substance.  You have the obligation to back that up with examples.

The fact that this never even occurs to you is evidence of how much you have unconsciously been infected by the rightwing habit of "proof"-by-assertion.  This is deeply dangerous for all of us.  I could easily live with an Obama candidacy and presidency, if his supporters were critical supporters, but I've seen no evidence of that whatsoever so far.

The difference between Obama and Dean could not be clearer, it seems to me.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: That's Simply Not True

I thought I was done here, but I decided to read through one last time, and I have to add this one more thing:

Obama did not -- NOT -- vote for the Bankruptcy bill. Here is the vote. Check for yourself. Also, he voted against cloture on the Bankruptcy Bill: see

I don't know how the myth that he voted for the Bankruptcy Bill got started, but it's just false.

It just occurred to me why the "Obama has no substance, he's just a pretty face with nothing behind him, and he'll probably turn out to be a Republican in disguise" thing bugs me, apart from its being, well, false: it is more or less exactly what people used to say about Wes Clark. It wasn't true of Clark -- when people were saying it, he actually had some pretty impressive positions out there that no one had gone to the trouble of looking up before they started repeating the "ooh, he's just a pretty resume" mantra. And it's not true of Obama.

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 07:48AM | 0 recs
Cloture Was The Vote That Counted On Bankruptcy

We are not naive.

I know that others have called Obama just a pretty face, but that has never been my criticism of him.

My criticism has to do with false credentials as a progressive, based on what he's actually done in the Senate.  Is he a better Hillary Clinton?  Yes, he's a better Hillary Clinton.  Is he a better, more consensus-building Paul Wellstone or Russ Feingold?  No, he is not a better Paul Wellstone or Russ Feingold.

However, I do criticize his supporters along the pretty face lines, because that's what their support is based on.

I appreaciate the fact that you are atypical.  But so far, you are very atypical.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

Thanks -- and I agree with you that the cloture vote was the important one. But why is that relevant here, since he voted against cloture ( = for the filibuster) as well?

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

Did he go out and fight for it?

by bruh21 2006-12-18 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

I dunno. Why don't you take over the research on this one?

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

If you are supporting him, you should be able to answer these questions.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

OK, the non-snarky version:

I can find out relatively easily whether or not Obama voted for the Bankruptcy Bill (no) and whether he cared enough to vote against cloture, rather than voting for cloture and then against the bill so that he could claim to have voted against it while not having supported it when it really counted. (He voted against cloture, so he did support it when it really counted.)

I am not in DC working on the Hill, so I wasn't around when the fights were happening. Thus, I have to rely on press reports to tell me who "really fought against" a given bill. Those press reports might tell me about the activities of the people the Senate Democrats designated as point people on the bill, but they might not.

If Obama was not the point person on the bill, what would his "really fighting against it" consist in, above and beyond the votes? Presumably his having tried to persuade other Senators to support it. Is there any reason to think that those conversations would have made it into any source available to me, a random citizen? Not that I can see.

It is, I think, incumbent on all of us to try to find the facts behind our assertions. Since I am not, in fact, a supporter of Obama, I don't think it's specially incumbent on me to find out the facts about him -- the only reason I ever got into this argument was that I had run across some facts while doing other things. But I think it is clearly not incumbent on me to be able to answer any question anyone can come up with, whether or not there's any reason to think that I could possibly find out the answer. And knowing how hard Obama pushed for something, as distinct from how he voted, is one of those things I don't see any way to find out about.

So let me ask anyone who thinks I should be able to answer this question: do you have any concrete reason to think that he did not fight hard against the Bankruptcy Bill?

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

Note: in the comment above, I dropped a 'not' from this sentence: "Presumably his having tried to persuade other Senators to support it." NOT to support it.

Note to self: proofreading is your friend.

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

I suck at proof reading and I am a lawyer.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Cloture Was The Vote That Counted...

actually if you wanted to know you could figure it out. but the question is do you want to know? that's my problem with the discussion. when people want to go deeper, and critique him for things he has said, or ideals he expoused, there seems to be this roadblock. It reminds me of the discussion about how to treat the South as a region which often switch by some from being a question of should there be a South only strategy which has dominated both parties for 150 years or so, or should there be a multi regional strategy, the debate normal shifts into pretending one is having an abandon the South conversation. It really feels, whether the posters intend it or not, manipulative, and it contributes to my feelings that this is a lot of hype. When I hear that this guy is so great, I want concrete stories and examples as proof. THis really isn't about Obama- it's about Kerry and Gore, and all the others who were hyped before Obama. No more hype, more substance. That's about all I am saying.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 12:01PM | 0 recs
His rhetoric at the time attracted volunteers

who helped get him elected. I really don't think he emerges out of the primay pack without the overwhelming support of the grassroots that he enjoyed in that election.

That, once elected, he decided he could get ahead faster by listening to and cozying up with the "we don't want nobody nobody sent" crowd is the sad/ironic thing. And it shows in the way he talks now. In 2004 he was almost as forthright as Howard Dean. Today, half the time he sounds like John Kerry.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-18 05:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The funny/ironic thing about this is

Right, because Blair Hull's implosion ha nothing to do with it.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The funny/ironic thing about this is

My opinion is Blair Hull would have lost in the primaries to Obama... He was not likable and even without the divorce files, he would have lost in a close one to Obama as the weeks closed.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: The funny/ironic thing about this is

Weird race -- see the graph on page 4 here -- the Hull stuff came out on 2-27-04, apparently.  It was tough for me to have a favorite, because Dan Hynes's brother (and his wife) were also classmates of mine in law school.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The funny/ironic thing about this is

It did have to do with it as Obama admits.

However, at the time Obama was closing in on Hull.

True story:
In early Feb. I was talking to a friend who was near the top of Hull's staff (forget his exact position). They saw Obama closing in after the third person (forget his name) had blown up in scandal. The Hull team was desparately trying to find anything at all that they could use as a negative against Obama but were coming up empty. My friend told me, "This guy is an African-American law professor with a great family life and history of helping people. He is almost too good to be true. But he is."

by demondeac 2006-12-18 06:40AM | 0 recs
Ex Dean supporters helped a lot in 2004

The scenario you describe happened all over the country.  Dean and Kucinich supporters worked their asses off for whom they thought might most closely resemble Dean and Kucinich i.e. progressive (standing up to corporate power) politics.  Many of us have been disappointed with people that ran as "Democrats" and seem then to govern like Republicans.  Dean and Obama are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of authenticity and plain tough talk.  

by Feral Cat 2006-12-18 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

It's not manufactured, and if you read his books and speeches, there's plenty of substance.  But what it isn't is orthodox progressivism.

Dean's movement doesn't become bottom-up until Dean himself provided the core substance for the 'roots to work with.  Give Obama time.  It's not winter yet.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 06:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

What's he said of substance in his speeches and books that makes him stand out for you?

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think when you get down to nuts and bolts, either he or Edwards will be the most progressive candidate, policy-wise, in the field -- especially on economic issues.  Obama's going to present it in an inclusionary way; Edwards in a more partisan way.  I'd be happy with either as the nominee.

As I note below, I know Obama pretty well, so that personal loyalty is part of the reason (and part of why you need not trust my judgment).

I think, also, that the fact of his early popularity should be seen as a good thing -- why be afraid of the one people already like?  It's the difference between marketing Coca-Cola and trying to sell RC.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

The reason I ask is so that we can have a more constructive discussion about Obama at Mydd.  So, can you provide anything of substance to help advance the debate?

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message
These two words" inclusionary" and "Partisan" are interesting in how you fit them with Obama and Edwards. Framers should have a field day with these.
By inclusive, you mean that Obama is "a uniter, not a divider", but I think it is confusing fighting for justice with civilitly of manners.  By partisan, you mean that Edwards makes no bones about being in a fight for the middle class.  He is not alone. Jim Webb, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders keep pointing out differences between those who value wealth over work and those who believe that work creates wealth. There are differences.  Viva la difference!  
Personally, I want a fighter in the courtroom who will win the case by being smarter, not by plea bargaining.  I want someone in the courtroom who believes in me and will not take the first offer.  Dean and Edwards are the most alike.  They are scrappers. They were my two choices in 2004.
One was a doctor dedicated to saving lives while first doing no harm.  The other took on the establishment and stared them in the eye on behalf of those who have no power.  Dr. Ben Casey and Atticus Finch.  Rolling Stones and Beatles, yes.  
by Feral Cat 2006-12-18 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Manufactured and top-down? How does one manufacture the kind of crowds he draws, the free media, the adoration, the 26,000 facebook group members, the millions in small donations? TIME sells more issues when Obama is on its cover. Do they just "manufacture" some extra sales those weeks? Are they less interested in sales at other times?

People are responding to something, yes.

It is astonishing that we look this gift horse in the mouth.

Just because the Obama movement does not have the same geneology as the Dean movement does not make it any less real.

by demondeac 2006-12-18 06:27AM | 0 recs
Have You Heard of The British Invasion???

Beatlemania, etc?

The Beatles and Stones turned out to have substance and staying power.  The Dave Clark Five, not so much.  But there was a hunger they were all feeding, and they had nothing to do with creating that hunger.

They could have all been Dave Clark Fives, and it would still have been quite similar. You just wouldn't have gotten anything like Rubber Soul, Aftermath or anything else that came after.

And that's what our concern is with Obama. What's going to happen in the aftermath?

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Have You Heard of The British Invasion???

Interesting metaphor.  Not sure I agree with its validity in this situation, but something to think about.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Have You Heard of The British Invasion???

Yea, I was there for it, swept up in it, and, at age 10 saw the Beatles live in Comisky Park. Saw, not heard, since the screaming girls literally drowned out the sound of the music.

The Beatles and the Stones were authentic. Is Obama? That's the question. It cannot be answered today. I have read his book, speeches, etc., and he seems authentic.

We'll see.

The fact is, as you say, at this moment in time Obama is feeding that hunger, not creating it. I have read your various posts and comments and you pose good questions.

Many, however, have a reflexive suspicious rejection.

by demondeac 2006-12-18 07:22AM | 0 recs
I AM Suspicious, But Not Reflexive

I am suspicious of all politicians.  It's my job. I'm a newspaperman. Not to mention, a citizen.

But I'm not reflexive beyond my reflex to question. My concerns come from that questioning--not from reflexive rejection.  I've stated my concerns repeatedly. They are tied to specific actions--or lack thereof--that I have questioned, and that Obama supporters have almost universally ignored.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: I AM Suspicious, But Not Reflexive

I know you are not reflexive. Sorry that was not clear in my response.

by demondeac 2006-12-18 08:28AM | 0 recs
T'Sall Right...

I didn't think you meant that, even though the impression was there.  So I just wanted to make sure.

We're all a bit unclear from time to time in these rapid-fire exchanges.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Paul provided a gool illustration of how enthusiasm for X can be, in fact, manufactured; and that this is a separate matter from what people may crave.  Yes, some people are clearly interested in the Obama persona that's presented.  But that persona doesn't not necessarily translate the same away across all audiences.  Frankly, I want someone whose rhetoric and actions are those of a strong and unabashed progressive; and, for my taste, Sen Obama relies on liberal straw men too often.  I'm simply not enthusiastic about that type of candidate.  Now, as I've done in every election since I've been able to, I will work for the Democratic nominee no matter who he or she is.  But at this point, the campaign surrounding Sen Obama seems manufactured by national party insiders and media types, as I described above (of course, many of his early supporters are receptive).

As for looking at a "gift horse in the mouth," sure, if Sen Obama obtains the nomiation, why not?  The Democratic party should ride that wave... but we're far from there yet.  

by bedobe 2006-12-18 08:53AM | 0 recs
You got a 1?

I'm not sure why.  I think it will be interesting to see how Obama's numbers are bumped after the traditional media feeding frenzy.  But, I also wonder how many "converts" will stay converts.  If all it took was a bunch of stories by CNN and MSNBC, even though they lack depth of coverage, then can they be counted on to stay in the fold as "new" and "sexy" candidates get that coverage.

by Robert P 2006-12-18 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

It has no organic sense to it at all.  Just feels like hype. Maybe he is, or maybe he isn't- but it feels like it.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

"Feels" like it? Going with the Colbert gut check?

Organics: My 82 year old lifelong GOP mother seeing his convention speech in 2004 and saying, "I have just seen our first black President. I would vote for him today." 26,000 memebers on a facebook group started not bu the campaign, but by a few college students. Millions flowing in now in small donations, more than any other candidate. Cynical pundits swooning. Huge crowds in NH and at Harkin's picnic in Iowa. The most "in demand" guest campaigner for Dems in the 2006 congressional races.

What does it take to get the "organic" certification?

by demondeac 2006-12-18 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

where people don't feel the need to convince me their 80 something GOP grandmother would vote for him. everytime you do something like that, or someone like you, it feels like hype. nearly everyone I know who is none political, since we are trading stories, feels that he doesn't have enough experience. What does your granny say about that?

by bruh21 2006-12-18 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

He has at least as much experience as Edwards.

You have to compare Obama against potential candidates. Hillary has tons of experience. The wrong experience.

by Populism2008 2006-12-18 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

a) Edwards was in the Senate 6 years, not 2. He made good and bad decisions upon which we can judge him.

b) He ran a national campaign, good or bad we can judge that.

None of this is true of Obama. He's never really ran a federal level campaign that challenged him.

Give me concrete federal level examples of Obama being tough, experienced, etc. Give me examples, if you aren't able to do this, of executive experience that will translate to the job.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Everybody seems to forget that Edwards ran better in 2004 than everybody but one person - John Kerry.  If after New Hampshire Kerry has a Gary Hart moment, we have nominee Edwards leading our party in November.  not true of ANYONE else in the country.

by Robert P 2006-12-18 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

OK. So excise the part about my mother (not grandmother) if you like.

Organic means not based on anecdotes about how people respond?

As for experience, I agree. That does not make the movement favoring him any less organic, however.

My mother, not grandmother, responds to the experience question by citing his intellect (she is a huge snob when it comes to intellect and education). She heard in his speech the kind of thoughtfulness she yearns for in a leader.

But why do you ask about my mother's answer to the experience question when you are so derisive about my citing her reaction?

by demondeac 2006-12-18 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Your family apparently requires very little, despite their GOP leanings, to be impressed by a Democrat. That's interesting since most GOP types I know - including my office mate- are looking for reasons not to vote Democratic. When I asked her about Obama- and she's moderate on Friday, she said, "he doesn't have any experience."

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

As I attempted to write below but got careless with my typing, the plural of anecdote isn't data.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

and as I said, you haven't provided either just a lot of "i am pragamitic" How are you pragmatic here? What is pragmaticism here? Is it pragmatic to say I am going to try to get along with everyone when everyone has decided to not get along with you? For that matter, the language you use is designed to make it sounds like anyone who disagrees with you is somehow not pragmatic. Just like all the "serious" candidate or choices or whatever language. You ultimately are saying very little,a nd when questioned on it, you waste a lot of time saying shit like anecdotes aren't data. Gee- thanks considering you are just wrong. Anecdotes have evidentiary values just like anything else. If they didn't no one would ever use witnesses in a court case if they had no probative value. no one ever claimed that anecdotes are conclusive, which I assume is yoru real point. Fine, then show me how conclusively your position is the pragmatic one.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Could you please show me where I wrote, "i am pragamitic (sic)?"

I used the word "pragmatic" one time (in a thread below) to refer to a possible campaign strategy -- never in any sort of assertion about me, my political philosophy, Barack Obama, or Obama's political philosophy.  I have yet to figure out how my using that adjective one time struck such a nerve.  Perhaps you've been hurt by a self-proclaimed pragmatist?

A witness's testimony in a court case is used to corroborate or refute the truth of specific factual matter(s) asserted within the context of a single case.  This is in no way parallel to the notion that one person's opinion may be representative of the opinions of other similarly-situated individuals.  Such a notion is entirely speculative.  (Hence, not data.)

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

well, I am done. See you later.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

well, I am done. See you later.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

You still harp on my family, without answering the question: what is your definition of organic?

What about all of the other evidence I listed?

by demondeac 2006-12-18 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

organic equals process. can obama handle a tough campaing? can he fight the GOP onslaught? Where does he stand on issues (ev en where I disagree because he maybe more liberal) ? yes, is he charismatic? What's his vision for America (can't we all just get a long isn't a vision- it's a strategy for getting people to like you, not what you want to build)? There are other questions- all of them are left unanswered right now in the face of what we have here- a lot of rhectoric that feels as was said below by another as if its a cult of personalty. Personality is crucial, but a cult of personality toward picking a nominee is bad because you can be sure that other side will not be so nice as those of us questioning Obama now are being.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Obama/Richardson '08

by Bush Bites 2006-12-18 03:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

The first internet page for Dean, which was here on MyDD, was "Howard Dean for President" and consisted of about two dozen quotes from Dean himself opposing Bush. That message won people over that intended to go to battle with Bush.

I have to disagree. The reason that bloggers noticed Dean in late summer 2002 was a pair or biographical pieces in the New Republic ("Invisible Man") and The American Prospect ("The Darkest Horse"). which emphasized Dean as a policy wonk and moderate of the fiscal conservative/socially liberal mold. The movement that grew around Dean was indeed driven by Dean's infamous speech about the Democratic wing of the Democratic party - but Dean got his start rooted firmly in message, not movement.

And let's not forget Dean's July 21st, 2002 appearance on Meet The Press:

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe the military operation in Afghanistan has been successful?

GOV. DEAN: Yes, I do, and I support the president in that military operation.

MR. RUSSERT: The battle of Tora Bora was successful?

GOV. DEAN: I've seen others criticize the president. I think it's very easy to second-guess the commander-in-chief at a time of war. I don't choose to engage in doing that.

by azizhp 2006-12-18 03:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I agree with you, Dean did get started with message before movement, that's what I was saying, and that Dean's message was opposition to Bush. As for that MTP quote, I hope you are not saying that was Dean's message. I could provide you plenty of quotes from 2002 that show just the opposite. A sampling (all from the "Howard Dean for President" page that was created in April '02):

"I'm not interested in countering Bush," Dean said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm interested in laying out a vision for people, a practical vision based on experience."

"I oppose virtually every position he has taken," Dean said of Bush, "I fundamentally believe the president's policies are very bad for this country." And "I think Democrats are interested in somebody who speaks their mind very frankly and is not afraid to take on conventional wisdom such as rolling back the tax cuts," Dean said.

"I am deeply disturbed that in this country today we appear to be returning to the borrow-and-spend politics of the '80s," said Dean.

"I think the president is absolutely wrong on his domestic agenda," Dean said. "This country is the last industrial country in the world that doesn't have universal health care, and we really ought to have it," said Dean.

"I'm driven by what I believe in. I believe that my vision of America is accepted by a great many more people than his vision of America is," Dean said of Bush.


by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-18 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Actually for me (in summer of '02) it was the David Broder column where Dean talked about wanting universal health care for all Americans.

He was the only candidate (at the time) to come out for that and I stuck with him ever since.

UHC isn't some nitpicking single issue. It gets at our core Democratic values and what we believe our country should look like. Do we believe in progressing towards a better life for all people or do we believe in every man for himself?

That and the war are why I went with Dean.

by adamterando 2006-12-18 06:50AM | 0 recs
I agree.

I've blogged on it, I'm an activist for a UHC group, and that is why I like this guy.

by Robert P 2006-12-18 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree.

Me too. That's why I read BlueNC!

by adamterando 2006-12-18 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree.

; )

We're everywhere!

by Robert P 2006-12-18 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

No, I was really just trying to point out that Dean's message from teh startr wasn't defined in relation to Bush - though he certainly was positionedd in opposition to Bush. But as the quote I found illustrates, Dean was hardly willing (at that innocent pre-Iraq period in history) to oppose Bush for the sake of opposing Bush. And opposing Bush for opposing sake, rather than arriving in opposition after careful policy assessment and critique, was what really propelled the "movement". Especially after the "Democratic Wing" speech. That's all I'm trying to say, really.

In a sense, I am a bit bitter. I feel like all our hard work in establishing Dean as a grownup went to waste because the knee-jerk reactionism crowd basically took over. Especcially at the o-blog... sigh. I guess it isnt much use dwelling on this now.

by azizhp 2006-12-18 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think you are laying too much guilt on the movement, and not enough responsibility on Dean. In reality, Dean had both of those strains you speak of from the very beginning, and he is the one responsible for not maintaining a balance. I have this little riff, about 4 Dean speeches I saw over the course of 20 months, and how he transitioned from "arriving in opposition after careful policy assessment and critique" being 90 percent of his speech, to then "oppose Bush for the sake of opposing Bush" being 90 percent of his speech.

I don't know if you recall the NH concession speech, but that was the Winter transition that needed to be made in early December-- from the insurgent to the frontrunner role. Dean wouldn't listen, or read his speeches, as he had become a crowd energy creator/feeder by that time, which was way to hot for appealing to the low information voter that tuned in during the last few weeks before the caucuses and primaries.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-19 04:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think you're right - Dean himself responded to teh forces that were shaping his campaign - it was a synergy. He never really was prepared for the success - he was running as a message candidate at teh beginning and then just goit as swept up as we did. The anecdote at the start of Trippi's book was pretty telling.

The thing is that in many ways Dean's defeat did position things better overall. From now on, we can point out the ridiculousness of John Kerry to anyone who tries to argue that an establishment candidate is "electable"  and a grassroots candidate is not. And Dean, whatever his failures as a candidate, did get indoctrinated into the concept of the principle underlying "People Power", which as a governor he wasnt really aware of. As such, post-candidate Howard Dean could be the DNC Chair and fight for the transformational 50 state strategy in a way that pre-candidate Dean couldn't.

And, Kerry losing was the best thing to happen for America, it seems. Because while we wouldnt have a Democratic congress next year, yet the Dems would partially "own" Iraq. In other words, we would be in the worst of all possible worlds with respect to good and successful policy.

by azizhp 2006-12-19 04:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

First,  a personal reaction: anyone who decries the 'harsh, partisan politics' of the past ten years without noting the source of those politics loses a great deal of my respect.

Second, is the notion that one can both overcome 'harsh, partisan politics' and avoid 'neatly packaged orthodoxies' supportable? That strikes me as either misleading or ignorant, and I seriously doubt Obama is the latter.

This seems  to speak to the non-reality-based-centrist notion that 'if only the Wise Elders could all sit down together, they'd rise over these silly divisions.' This plays directly into the right-wing narrative,  because they set the terms of the debate.

For example: I presume Obama rejects the orthodox partisan abortion debate dichotomy of 'pro- or anti-abortion'. I presume he'd rise above those immature stances, and support,  say, initiatives which sharply lowered the rate of abortions while also ensuring that abortion services become widely available. In other words, he'd support the most mainstream liberal policy--the very one that sparks angry partisan attacks from the right. Does he really believe it's possible to rise above partisan politics? I hope not, because that's just mind-numblingly stupid. Any policy that doesn't hew the right-wing line will be attacked by right-wing partisans (who are smart enough, at least, to be ferociously partisan) and then become 'harsh, sharply positive politics.'

Does he really think choosing 'all the above' will somehow sidestep a single one of these problems? In what world does that work?  

by BingoL 2006-12-18 04:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I agree.  It's the same irreconcilable rhetoric that Lieberman used in the Connecticut race.  It appeals to everyone and doesn't really mean anything.

by justinh 2006-12-18 04:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

This is exactly right.  Obama's 'message' as I've heard it so far is deeply irresponsible and panders to a certain affluent demographic.  He may yet articulate something else but he hasn't so far.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 04:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I would really like to see Jerome and the other front pagers address this issue directly in some kind of debate-format article. I will have to stop reading MyDD if half the articles are going to uncritically fluff Obama (like this one -- how can anyone get past that first paragraph without seeing red?).

It seems to me that some of the Obama supporters are not wearing their critical thinking hats at all; others are ignoring their logical objections because Obama's vaunted personal charisma ('he's appealing! he's electable!') will attain the presidency.

The key question: If these exact words came from John Kerry's mouth, what would the reaction be?

by lightyearsfromhome 2006-12-18 04:55AM | 0 recs
If Kerry said that?

Headline news: "Kerry Calls Black Community 'Pathological'"

by BingoL 2006-12-18 05:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

So the half that viciously attack him are Ok with you?  Boy that's a bit hypocritical.

I'm cool with constructive criticism, but the hate articles are BS... Some of these guys attack Obama more than Bush and Lieberman.  

I do like your debate idea...

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Yes, we all know the origin of the partisan politics. Even Bob Dole said that the actions of those opposing Clinton with such shenanigans as thousands of frivolous lawsuits denied Clinton his constitutional right to govern.

But the public is not interested in a dose of we said / they said. They want governance. You want to really piss off the Rethugs: ignore them. If they want to spew doggerel, don't respond to the spewers. Speak directly to the people about how we're going to do the things that will make their lives better, more secure, etc. I want the Democratic party to be the party of reason, not the party of bickering. And as ideas occur to me on the fly, let me suggest that our representatives NOT go on the Sunday talk shows paired with a member of the opposition to get into one of those pissing contests. If we happen to know that the Republican counterpart is of like mind, fine, appear together. But we're usually much better off presenting our side to the people in a cohesive manner instead of rebutting nonsense.

Just so I can stir the pot, let me end by saying that I long for the days when Nixon was president. YES, NIXON. Know why? Because government actually functioned! Even though we had a Repub president and a Democratic congress (was the senate ever in Repub hands during Nixon -- can't remember), and the Vietnam war, things actually got done. The creation of OSHA, and the EPA. Can you imagine that any such accomplishments would be possible in the current environment?

Bottom line: don't bicker with the Repubs. They're such miserable people that, if we don't bicker with them, they're start bickering among themselves.

by Bob Miller 2006-12-18 05:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think that's a lovely approach. I also think it's the approach Kerry took to the Swift Boaters for far too long.

The public wants governance, but they hear politics. And in the current media environment, if we ignore Republicans, what do you think the public will hear? "Hillary's Hair Problem?" "Barack Hussein Obama to Erect 500 Abortion Clinics, Some Say." "Gore: Fat, or Obese?"

The single thing I want most in a Democratic candidate is partisanship. I want a vindictive, go-for-the-jugular Democrat, someone who will bodily drag the discourse in the country back toward the center. I don't care too much about Obama's lack of experience; I don't care if his movement is organic or artificial or polyunsaturated. I care about his killer insticts, and I'm not sure he has any.

by BingoL 2006-12-18 05:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Yes. Swift-boating was the first thing that came to my mind, too.

Obama's appeal seems to me to be wishful thinking on the part of people who want the Republican lie-and-attack machine to stop without having Democrats confront it head on. Sort of wishing that the opposing army would just melt away into a bad dream that never really happened.

Not going to happen.

by Coral 2006-12-18 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Amazing that you and those like you hate the Republicans, but have no problem in adopting their tactics.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I don't think he/she implied that Kerry should swift boat the republicans. Just don't ignore them and expect there to be no political consequences (or as you imply, political benefits).

I would FDR hyper-partisan. But he didn't have to be dirty about it. He drew clear contrasts. He went for the jugular on "economic royalists". He won every state but Vermont and Maine and made the Democratic party the dominant party for 50 years.

THAT is the model to go by. Being non-partisan does have its merits at times and can lead to victories. Eisenhower comes to mind (omni-bus candidates are great candidates). But you notice there were no long-term gains (at that point) for his party and he governed basically from the Democrats side of the playing field.

The only reason EPA and such were passed under Nixon was because there were HUGE majorities for Democrats in both houses at that time (once again, the omnibus candidate can win the presidency, but oft-times cannot make gains for the movment).

So what is our long-term goal? The presidency or furthering of the progressive movment? And more importantly, what is Obama's goal?

by adamterando 2006-12-18 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I was referring to the grab by the jugular partisianship attacks he was calling for.  Not the Swiftboating.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

There is a place for Partisanship and a place for Bipartisanship.  But to completely rule one out to me is ridiculous.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

No where did I say that we should not be partisan. To the contrary. What I said was to direct our message, be it bi-partisan or rip the jugular partisan, to the American people and not always appear that we're reacting to Repub challenges. In other words: get out front.

There's nothing wrong with doing a compare and contrast of ideas between Dems and Repubs, like Obama does, to bring home that message. One of his assets is that he does so in a manner that leads you to believe he's actually thought about the problem.  

I'm all for a strong partisanship of ideas, which is why I said the best way to deliver those ideas is not to share a stage with people whose only recourse is to accuse us of "Cut and Run" and "Tax and Spend." It is possible to deliver a strong, positive message to the American people that shreds the opposition in the process.

And as for Swiftboating, oh, if Kerry had only used the opportunity to talk to the American people about the scum who were behind these attacks and link them to the Iraq war. By scum I mean Bush, Five Deferment Dick, Rove, and all the other chicken hawks who never were in harm's way. Again, I'm not saying don't respond to a challenge; but respond to it in a manner that bypasses the instigator and speaks to an America that right now is desperate for anyone who has answers.

by Bob Miller 2006-12-18 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

The quesiton is will Obama respond? I don't think based on what he is saying so far that he has it in him to fight. I have read accounts of what happened to him in IL state races that affected him, and they remind me too much of Kerry. Does Obama has the toughtness to run and govern?

by bruh21 2006-12-18 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Obama does go after the Republicans. If you listened to him during the 2006 campaign, he didn't hold back. His stump speech included a "Had Enough?" riff that pumped up the crowds into a fever. The difference is, that's not all he's doing. His message is overwhelmingly positive, and I think that's a huge plus for him.

I think that Obama presents a tremendous opportunity to build a lasting coalition of Democratic voters. Younger voters are trending Democratic across the board. An Obama candidacy would energize young voters and African American voters. I think we'd have millions of new Democrats across the nation who do not normally vote.

by Dave Sund 2006-12-18 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I remember that speech. That's what gives me hope. I'd like to see more of him drawing contrasts in the public sphere, not just at political rallies. He doesn't need to draw contrasts with the GOP per se, just partisanship for partisanship's sake. But I would like him to draw contrasts between his vision for progressing in this country versus the dominant corporatist/Washington consensus status quo. THIS is why we need partisanship. Because the republicans HAVE made their vision a reality in many ways. So why be bi-partisan when they've already gotten what they want?

So I'd like to hear Obama talk about what he wants to the country to look like. Not just politically (e.g. bi-partisan, no "harsh rhetoric" or "ideological battles") but economically, socially, and environmentally.

This to me, is the biggest difference right now between Edwards and Obama. Edwards is articulating a progressive vision for this country. They'd make a good team I think.

Kerry couldn't or wouldn't articulate a vision in '04 because we were at war with the republicans and it was batton down the hatches time. The GOP convention was a VERY dark time in this nation's history. We wree fighting tooth and nail just to hold back the invaders. Now we have beaten them back, so it's time to go on offense.

Without a vision, and by succumbing to "let's be bi-partisan" you're effectively ceding territory to the GOP and saying that what they have done to this country is OK. Their vision for the country is a valid one (as is ours and in the middle is the happy medium right?). I do not accept that their vision for the country is valid, wise, or sustainable.

by adamterando 2006-12-18 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think you'll see that come out during the campaign. Keep in mind, it is December 2006. He hasn't even officially announced yet.

by Dave Sund 2006-12-18 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I hope so. He has more charisma than anyone since Kennedy or FDR.

by adamterando 2006-12-18 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I also dislike Henry Ford's politics and benefit from mass production.

I'm quite the little hypocrite.

by BingoL 2006-12-18 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

The point is to recognize that not everything will come in form that you personally are comfortable with. I don't like people having to be partisan either, but that's not alwyas the reality that we get what we want versus what we have to do.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

He realizes that the world is NOT BLACK AND WHITE but 100 shades of Gray.  You read what the article says, but you, Justin, and Stoller often fail to actually comprehend what is being said.... You don't listen, you simply wait to talk... Much like Hannity, Rush and a million other political pundits who don't   I have lived with this for the last 12 years as the GOP made this type of "communication" an art form.  Now it seems like you guys only care about fighting and destroying them instead of trying to make the world a better place.  This doesn't mean you have to like or support Obama.  But the bitter almost personal attacks on him are ridiculous... Stoller alone seems to make more bad comments on Obama than he does on Bush... I'm not sure if its jealousy, bitterness because Obama has a popularity that maybe a candidate of his doesn't, some imagined sleight... it seems he has had an agenda against the man from the start of his MyDD tenure and is more concerned about tearing down Obama than any thing else, outside of destroying the Republican party.  Maybe I'm mistaken, but there sure seem to be more Anti-Obama articles than anti-Bush or even Anti-Lieberman articles by him.

You don't see his message or like message, because either 1) it doesn't suit your needs or 2) you don't believe it could or should be done.  I would say your viewpoint that it is impossible to rise above Partisan politics is the mind numbingly stupid one.  It can be done... but it isn't easy.  Too often our politicians and the vocal minorities on both sides take the easy road... spewing the hate the way both sides often do is always easier than actually trying to work together.  And when the lunatics attack... yes you must defend in the public... I have no problems with that... But bitter partisanship is not just about policy... its almost a lifestyle... a cultish attitude.

But mostly, it really is disturbing to see you guys attack any Democrat that doesn't fall lockstep with your exact beliefs... even worse, is when many on here attack one Dem on an issue, while giving another a pass on it.  Obama is attacked for voting for Rice, yet Feingold was given a golden pass for voting for Roberts.  I know a lot of Wingnuts who do the same thing in the republican party... while your beliefs are different, your attitudes and tactics are remarkedly the same.

Not every Republican proposal is a bad one... Not every Democratic proposal is a good one.  Some things have a definitive right and wrong.  Other things don't have a clear cut answer... they exist in the gray. Flame Away, the three of you... I really don't give a flying F$%^ at this point... I just have read for 2 plus years on this site that the cardinal rule was NEVER attack a Dem the way you would a republican politician.  Constructive Criticism is ok, but all I see from Justin and others, and mostly from Matt (who while full of hateful comments for Obama has given some good constructive criticism) are destructive hateful comments.    

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Where have I done any of this?

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

"Obama thus far has no message beyond cliches and canned rhetoric."

The first line sure as hell feels like an attack to me... maybe you disagree...

When you ask questions, such as what does he stand for that seems to propel the debate.  The above comes off as an attack.

 "The movement seems to be about charisma, not substance."  This I didn't have a problem with... in fact reluctantly, I would have to admit that many people are following him based on this and haven't taken the time to look into his views, read his books, etc... Although I would say a good majority of voters vote based on likability, etc rather than being informed on positions, etc... So for winning an election Charisma is obviously good...

Now to propel debate, the question could be:

"The Obama movement seems to be about charisma, not substance.  Those who support Obama, why do you do it?  If you feel he has a strong message, what is it."

I did unneccessarily attack you... some of the attack comments being made set me off today... so I do apologize for it.  Some of your comments on this thread have been wonderful in sparking debate, although others feel like attacks.  I didn't need to single people about and for that I apologize.  


by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

"Obama thus far has no message beyond cliches and canned rhetoric."  I do disagree that pointing this out counts as an attack.  I've tempered this in a couple of ways: 1)inviting others to show me something in his speeches that aren't 2)saying (I believe in another thread) that this was a good political strategy for the time being.

For me, it's always been about challenging those who are enamored of Obama to explore why they like him.  Some react viscerally, which I think history as shown to be in some cases politically and civically disasterous; others pursue more thoughtful refelction.  I think it's all part of a healthy discussion, as I try to make up my mind about him.

I appreciate your post, yitbos96bb.

by justinh 2006-12-18 08:01AM | 0 recs
Fair game.
   It's seems to me that the attacks on Obama are fair game.  Obama's message of unity for the sake of unity doesn't resonate with me.  I want Obama to be leader and NOT a power broker.  Presidents need not be power brokers, but they MUST be leaders.  I don't feel that Obama, quite frankly, is a very good leader.  There aren't a lot of leaders in the party right now, so I'm really hoping that the 2008 election will provide us with one.
   No one can rise above partisan politics unless they run as an independent.  And running as independent just means that you will be attacked by both parties instead of just one.  The Republicans will tear down Obama no matter what platform he runs on.  If Obama ran on a theocratic platform, the Republicans would still smear him.  You can't rise above partisan politics with feel-good messages of unity.  There are real differences in the ideas of the two parties, and there is some room for overlap.  But someone has to lead the way, and I don't want so many of these lousy Republican ideas to hold us back.  
by cilerder86 2006-12-18 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Fair game.

where is Obama's toughness? that's my question. To even be a power broker, you have to be tough, and this all get along, just to get alone, isn't a tough stance to take. It's the same position of the party for a long time.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Fair game.

Great question.  I still feel that not launching a vicious partisan Attack is smetimes tougher than doing so.  But by tough, I assume you are talking standing up for ones self when attacked.  It hasn't happened too often to Obama over the last two years. I wonder what his response will be as well...

Obama doesn't say get along to get along.  His statements that the country needs to be repaired and we need to get away from vicious partisanship of the last 12 years is an opinion he has had for a long while.  Obama has always been one to listen everyone's point of view and then to make a decision.  This is one of the reasons he was elected as the Editor of the Harvard Law Review...  Many people, both liberals and conservatives supported him for that position because they felt he would listen to everyone's opinions and give people's ideas a fair chance before making his decision.  That doesn't mean he will use all those ideas... it just means he won't dismiss them automatically, but instead will judge the idea on its merit and not as a conservative or progressive idea.  The partisan culture of the last 12 years has done just the opposite... How pissed were we when Bush, wouldn't even listen to our ideas?  Now do we really want to act just like the GOP did if we win the White House.  Look at all the problems that have befallen this country since 1994... Clinton's impeachment led to 2 years of nothing happening in congress, wasting ton's of tax payer money, Budget surplus money was given away and led to an economic downturn, we went to Iraq and have killed 3000 US soldiers...  I can go on and on... many of these were because of the partisanship of the last 12 years.  I don't want the Dems to simply be the Liberal Republicans, using all the old tactics.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Fair game.

Let me ask you a question- why do you think those problems have befallen our country?

I already have my answer as to why I think they have. I think its because we bent over and let them do it to us. You, and others, sadly keep making the assumption of symetric partisan actions having taken place over the last decade and a have. The problem you face is that many of us see that to be a a false assumption. The last decade and half happened because we didn't fight, not because we did, and were too partisan about it. It happened because the GOP isn't interested in compromise, they want capitulation.

After the win of 2006, the most instructive response for me came from the Club for Growth which said its goal over the next two years would be to create divisive issues with which to win 2008. That's the menality you face.

Are you familar with negotiation strategy or game theory? I ask this question because often what seems self evident to me, seems a bit alien to progressives. Conciliation is certainly one strategy. it's been the one that's been tried for a while now. The problem with it is that it requires two to tango.

There are other ways to get the same result. The same result can happen if you have two strong opposing forces, rather than one strong one, and one weak one. I believe Paul Rosenberg (spelling?) had an excellent diary about the hegemony of an idea. Basically, his thesis was that we lose because we accept the ideal of the GOP's position as the correct one, and in negotiation terms that starts you from a weaker bargaining position.  There is more I can say about this, but I don't one to go on to long at work.

You can also have other strategies. You can strengthen the left side, and have the debate among left of center and leftist. You can try to find a true middle, but such a statement presupposed anyone knows what the hell that is.

The point is that so far, you assume only one strategy is best. Because you make that assumption, you limit the options on the negotiation table. Do you want to know one of the most powerful strategies that one can have on a negotiaton table- the ability to say fuck you, I don't need you. That may or may not be true. it really doesn't matter. The ability to do so - to even be able to credibly threaten to do so- will do more to reduce partisan discord than a thousand speeches on the subject.

The precise result that Obama wants will not happen by playing nice. it will happen by putting the fear of God in to the GOP that if they don't come to the table, they may get a worse result otherwise.

Finally, you say something at the end that  lets me know this is more again about how you want the world to be rather than how decisions are actually made. FDR didn't get anywhere by playing nice. He threatened the GOP. Do you dislike the results of the new deal? THere are multiple other examples I can give. ie, Clinton's solidfy his role as a leader rather than a politican when he let the government shut down rather than be cowtowed by the GOP. It was a short term bit of pain that led to a balanced budget for the first time in a  long time.

I think a lot of you are probably more liberal than I am. The reality is that I don't care if a candidate is more liberal than me or a little more conservative than me. This is a discussion about what I think it requires to be a leader based on comparing what it took to be a leader in the past. The concepts I am talking about- welding power, toughness in the face of adversity, charisma, etc, are all part of the mix. So far, we are fixed on single solutions when there should be multiple options available- and not just the ones that will make  us feel good about ourselves.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think there is a big difference b/w rejecting partisan politics, which is not possible, and trying to change the debate.  I am not sure if Obama is trying to get above the partisan frey or if he is trying to move the debate beyond the issues of the 1960s.  I hope it is the latter.  As Chris noted the other day, for the first time more of the voting age adults are post-baby boomers than baby boomers.

I am an early Gen Xer and I consider myself a liberal.  However, I am tired of arguing about issues based on the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s.  A lot has happened since then and the world has changed a ton.  We still have a lot of problems to address and we need new and creative solutions to solve them, not the re-hashed ideas and discussions we seem to get every 4 years.  

I welcome candidates who want to talk about issues, problems and solutions.  I have not chosen a candidate for President and don't know if Obama is right for me.  However, I like that he wants to discuss issues and address problems in a 21st Century manner, not a 1960s one.  We could use more candidates who are willing to do so.

by John Mills 2006-12-18 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

don't both sides have to agree to this, or do you think it will happen unilaterally?

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

No.  One party generally changes the playing field.  Think FDR and Reagan to name 2.  They changed where the political center was both by issues and force of personality.  Clinton could have done that but he didn't have the discipline and I say this as someone who is very fond of Bubba.

I am not sure that any of the 2008 contenders can do so but the 2006 elections show some hope that the traditional hot button, culture war issues may be fading.  I certainly hope so as I think they are so yesterday with the serious domestic and foreign issues facing this country.

by John Mills 2006-12-18 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I like Obama and Howard Dean for similar reasons, but none of them have anything to do with movement or message or whatever.

I like them both because I think that they use critical thinking in making their decisions.  They think about things and try to offer new answers to things rather than just repeating things other people have said in an effort to be liked.

Of course Edwards with his announcement in NOLA is doing the same this time around so I think that Edwards might be able to do the same.

I think that as long as the candidates do that they will converge on similar answers no matter what they do to get there.

by sterra 2006-12-18 04:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I like Edwards better because listening to him, I have never read hear or else where the amount of confusion or hype that Obama creates. I listened to Edwards, and I am clear what's important to him. The same for other people like Wesley Clark, etc. The argument seems to be muddled middle to 'confuse' voters. I am not sure what original thinking is coming out of Obama- can you point to some that makes sense?

by bruh21 2006-12-18 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Will the central question of 2008 be, how will Democrats govern? And more specifically, as uniters or dividers? By creating more problems or solving them?

This is full of false choices.  First of all, Democrats aren't going to govern.  We have a narrow lead in the House and a very slim and unmanageable lead in the Senate.  Bush is still President.  So governing is out, except at the margins.

And given that dynamic, it's difficult to see unity with someone like Bush.  The best that Democrats can do is put a real check on Bush, investigate, and use strong leverage to detoxify the government a bit.

Solving problems isn't about promising false hope, it's about recognizing points of agreement and disagreement and fighting for your values.  People who love Obama seem to think that 'if only we could get along' is a strategy, without acknowledging that lots of people in this country disagree on stuff.  And disagreement is hashed out in the political arena with debate and sometimes nasty words, including still frivolous single issues like abortion and civil rights and unionization and economic inequality and other silly meaningless unserious nonsense.

If you get around all this silliness what you're actually doing is saying that democracy doesn't matter, that we shouldn't hash out our disagreements but sweep them under the rug.  

That's my problem with all three major candidates at this point, though Edwards is looking much better on this score.  

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Edwards has a vision. I don't think Obama does.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 05:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I thought his book was a pretty powerful vision as do many other people.  Perhaps you should check that out.  Edwards has vision, so does Obama.  Both are good people and both would be good Presidents.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think Obama is a lot smoke and mirrors, and the more I read people here endorsing him, the more suspect I m becoming. Edwards was in congress for 6 years, and has a record that we can judge good or bad. His vote for the war I disagreed with, but at least I can respect his ability to not be wishy washy about admitting that he was wrong, and why. I know Obama wasn't there then, but so far I am not enamoured of how he talks about things. Edwards also has worked hard outside of Congress, and has shown what he is willing to sacrifice for. He also showed me in 2004, that despite what were probably differences with Kerry, he's willing to be a team player. None of which, Obama, can have shown because he's too new. A year from now Obama won't be on the radar screen. THis all , as I have said, feels like hype.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think that such debate is just about useless myself.  The reason why is based on my own experience and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transaction al_analysis .

In my opinion hashing out disagreements simply amounts to a game.  All it does is teach people to respond in certain ways to different stimulus.  It doesn't solve anything.  It just reinforces existing opinions.

How does your experience differ?

by sterra 2006-12-18 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

You obviously didn't catch this:  " ...2008 be, how will Democrats govern?"

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-18 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Even so, the framework of false choices is still an argument to address, right?

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

That's true, I missed that part.  At the same time, I think that my point still holds.  The right isn't going away and lots of people in this country disagree on stuff.  Either you think that the disagreement itself is the problem or you think that the bad stuff is the problem.

The Iraq war had bipartisan support, I will remind you.  If that's the kind of unity you want, have fun.  

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Matt, how does Jeromes statement that the central question being asked in 2008 will be whether America wants 4 more years of brutal partisan rhetoric or do they want someone who will try to work with all parties have to do with Bush.  His statement HAD NOTHING TO DO with the next two years of governing, but instead the central theme of the 2008 election and the subsequent 2-4 years?  Did you not comprehend the statement or did you intentionally misunderstand?  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

What is the Democratic brutal partisan rhetoric?

No corruption in government? Oversight of the executive? Fair trade? Minimum Wage? Health care for all?

You're right, that's just partisan non-sense. We need to muddy things up a bit.

by adamterando 2006-12-18 07:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Don't confuse partisan rhetoric with policy... I believe in everyone of the policies you listed above as do most Democrats including Barack Obama.

Its not necessarily the policy, its how its presented, attacked, etc that is the partisan rhetoric.  THAT is what many many many are sick of... many people want politicians more interested in enacting policies they believe in and believe will help the American people rather than politicians calling each other names on CSPAN... I do think the GOP is way more guilty of this, but the call to be JUST like them, especially now that we are in power is disturbing.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

That's why Jerome says he's more campaign wonk than policy wonk.

From what I've read of his I don't think he cares much for "the vision thing", at least as it pertains to using the Democratic party as a means to furthering a better world socially, economically, and environmentally for all of us.  

by adamterando 2006-12-18 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Matt: I think that Obama's record is one of agreeing with you on this point: "Solving problems ... is about recognizing points of agreement and disagreement and fighting for your values." My sense is that he has tried to identify areas in which he might build agreement for principled positions, and gone out and tried to build it. He hasn't done that by looking wistfully into the eyes of Republicans and saying, "oh, if only we could get along!"; he has been pretty good tactically, identifying Republicans who agree with him on the principles in question, both so that he can stand a chance of actually getting legislation passed and so that he can reframe the issues as principled rather than partisan.

Consider issues of governmental/Congressional ethics. In that case, Obama has proposed legislation that would replace the Congressional ethics committees with an independent commission not composed of sitting Congresspeople. This is a very, very good idea, I think, since it would prevent the various forms of blackmail that have until very recently completely paralyzed the committees. He has proposed what strikes me as a pretty good lobbying reform bill, and a searchable database of federal spending. And he's proposed a bill that would make it not just illegal, but punishable with jail time, to provide deceptive information in order to interfere with people's right to vote. Of these, the database passed; the rest are holed up in committee.

Now: this does not strike me as a wishy-washy, 'ooh let's split the difference and all make nice' list. The independent ethics commission, in particular, will not be popular with some of his peers. It's not an easy proposal, and it's certainly not one that involves agreeing to sweep disagreements under the rug in favor of a fictitious "unity". There is, I would think, a decent chance that the bill against deceptive campaign practices, or something like it, will pass next session, and that some of his ideas will make it into whatever lobbying bill the democrats dream up, but the independent commission probably won't.

On this issue, I'd characterize Obama's work the following way: he wants to craft a really strong and principled set of bills. He also wants to take the high ground. He is not just willing but eager to enlist Republicans in this. Thus, the bill that passed -- the searchable database-- probably passed in large part because Obama partnered with Sen. Coburn, of all people, who turns out to care about good government. (Who knew?) The legislation he and Coburn collaborated on -- the database and lobbying reform -- isn't watered down or triangulated. But it does have Republican co-sponsorship, which is probably why any of it became law.

Being willing to be bipartisan in this way -- as opposed to the Lieberman way --involves taking your positions and trying to cast them not as partisan, but as right. (Or: 'it's not a Democratic issue; it's not a Republican issue; it's an American issue.') To do that, you need to be able to make a plausible case that even if an issue is identified with one party, it's really one that anyone should embrace. If you make that case by watering down your positions, then I think that's bad. But if you do it by recasting the debate so that your view -- not some watered-down version, but your actual view -- really does come out looking like something everyone should embrace, then that's a really wonderful thing to have done.

And reaching across the aisles in support of your own principled position helps here. Obviously, it helps you win support, and it strengthens your case for being motivated by more than partisan concerns. But it also has partisan benefits: if the other side declines to participate, and you have recast the debate so that what they're declining to participate in looks like something anyone should want, they are damaged. (It will help, here, if you have shown yourself to be genuinely willing to work with members of the other party who agree with you on a given issue.)

About 'triangulation' and 'seeking consensus', though, everything seems to me to turn on whether a candidate thinks of creating consensus as something that's done by altering his/her positions, or by altering the debate. The first is, of course, much easier -- it's genuinely hard to transform a debate. But as I read Obama's record, it doesn't support the idea that he's interested in changing his positions, let alone in sweeping disagreements under the rug.

-- Note for the record: I am not, in fact, "for" Obama. I am in the completely unexpected position of being quite happy with four candidates -- Clark, Edwards, Gore, and Obama -- and I don't feel particularly inclined to make up my mind between them this early. I had just run across enough of Obama's legislation to find the claim that he had no substance bizarre, which is how I came to write the post that's cited below.

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

It would be interesting to hear from someone who has studied the rise of charismatic leaders in American political history. Look at John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton. Dean was less charismatic and more a "message" candidate (and therefore, to me, more authentic). Obama is clearly in the latter group. Charismatic, charming with kick-ass rhetorical skills. There's a disconnect between behavior in the Senate so far and his progressive bona fides. He troubles me and I wish he had more of a history to be measured by.

by Stoic 2006-12-18 04:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Now THAT'S good constructive criticism.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I was as big a Dean fan as anyone, but let's not forget that the Dean "movement" couldn't be separated from an anti-Iraq movement. It gave his candidacy a large portion of its momentum, from fundraising to crowds at his rallies. Dean was explicitly an outsider, take-back-the-party phenomenon.

Obama ... what's the point of his "movement"? Right now, it's primarily a cult of personality, centered on his rhetorical skills and charisma. He's got both of those things in spades, but he's a celebrity, not a leader. In our current media environment, there's little difference between the two ... but being against "partisanship" is pretty thin gruel on which to base a Presidential campaign.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Obama. I'm as impressed with him as the next guy. He could do something great. But, so far I've seen nothing that gives me any indication of what that great thing would be. And that's kind of disconcerting.

by BriVT 2006-12-18 05:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Hey BrivVT,

Great point.  And like yourself, I don't think there are too many of us here that are necessarily "anti-Obama."  Despite what some Obama supporters have assumed or alleged, most of us probably just want to discuss openly his candidacy.

by justinh 2006-12-18 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message


Thanks for putting your finger on what irks me about the Obama movement.  A small but noisy minority are definitely into silencing any questions or critical discussions.  I hope other and more reasonable Obama supporters step up soon.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 05:31AM | 0 recs
(you called?)

I don't think anyone's trying to silence anything, but I think this cuts both ways.  In some of your analysis of Obama, you've called him "deeply irresponsible and pander[ing]" or that his supporters are acting "emotionally" based on un-earned trust of him, whereas the Obama skeptics are the rational ones in all this.  By doing that, it's an implicit putdown of anything anyone would say on his behalf.

I think it's also annoying to those of us who support Obama (and in my case, Edwards) that he's receiving far more scrutiny than anyone else in the field at this point, and he isn't even the frontrunner yet.  Sen. Clinton still is, but the netroots right now seems to treat her like she doesn't even exist.

I'm in an odd place on this -- given the time I've spent with then Prof. Obama, I have both more reason to trust his sincerity and authenticity, but I don't have an objective place to stand from which I can say that anyone else's skepticism isn't completely warranted.  In short, I don't find his inclusionary, let's-cross-over-our-divisions rhetoric to be "pandering" because my experience tells me he really believes what he's saying -- but from the outside, yeah, I can see why you'd look at it as pie-in-the-sky naive bullshit.

Yes, I wish he was more experienced before running for the presidency, but I said the same about Edwards last time around and he wound up being my preferred candidate anyway.  But even Edwards didn't have the "two Americas" message down as early as December 2002, IIRC, so all I can say is to let's give the primary season time to work.  Across 2007, if he's running, he'd better start filling in the substantive gaps and make real decisions as to policy issues, and then everyone can decide whether he's worthy of support.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 06:23AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)

Hey Adam,

I would agree that the discussion should be less about making judgments about other people's motivations for supporting Obama.  On the other hand, that Obama has been "receiving more scrutiny" than the other candidates shouldn't be a problem, should it?  Why?  Maybe the discussion should focus on what Obama has done, good and bad, and use this as a way of isolating what more we would like to hear from him.  I've generally found MyDD to be a constructive forum, but the Obama discussion really hasn't part of that so far.

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:34AM | 0 recs
here's some of what he's done

On crime, via the Chicago Tribune:

Obama noted that he sponsored successful death-penalty-reform legislation as a lawmaker in Springfield. That legislation, among other things, required the videotaping of homicide interrogations, and he promised to advocate for similar reforms on a national scale.

All of the candidates endorsed stricter gun-control measures, but each said tougher enforcement of existing gun-control laws should be a priority over the introduction of new laws.

Each candidate supported closing loopholes that allow gun shows to sell weapons to unauthorized buyers. Each also advocated the renewal of a federal ban on the sale of assault weapons, which expires in September.

Obama, however, called for a host of new gun-control measures: strengthening the assault-weapons ban to include high-capacity clips made prior to 1994; holding parents criminally responsible for children who injure someone with a gun found in the home; placing trigger locks on all guns; and allowing gun buyers to purchase only one weapon per month. ...

[Obama] backed federal legislation that would ban citizens from carrying weapons, except for law enforcement. He cited Texas as an example of a place where a law allowing people to carry weapons has "malfunctioned" because hundreds of people granted licenses had prior convictions.

"National legislation will prevent other states' flawed concealed-weapons laws from threatening the safety of Illinois residents," Obama said.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: here's some of what he's done

Thanks Adam.  Now there's more to talk about.  More posts like this would be a big help.

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)


Please be honest with yourself here for a moment.  How many of your statements have been constructive on Obama?  Not that many...  Both sides get this way, granted, with each reacting to the other... And both are to be blamed for the lack of a constructive dialogue...

I for one for appreciate the "What's his message?  What will he do or has he done posts?" rather than the "He has no message and he has done nothing" ones.  The first are a constructive debate, the second are attacking him.  And I don't think I have ever seen a person whose record has been misquoted on this site than Obama... People have him in the DLC (he's not), people have him confirming Gonzalez, ROberts and Alito (He didn't), people have him solving world hunger by suggesting the eating of Irish babies (ok that was a joke)...

We are all passionate on here and sometimes that passion boils over.  Now that I have calmed a bit from my earlier posts, I offer my apologies... while I don't necessarily disagree with what I said, some could have been said in a different manner.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)

I appreciate your post.

(But to suggest that I'm not being "honest," show me one post where I have "attacked" Obama.)

by justinh 2006-12-18 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)


Your point is that we should let the primary season play out.  I agree.  And I have consistently asked Obama to step up and lead, for years.  He hasn't.  And I'm open-minded, if he steps up, I will be there for him.

But I am not going to bite my tongue at what I think is deeply irresponsible behavior.  He could have stopped the torture bill and he did not, to take one small example.  In fact, he hasn't used his great presence to do anything of note.  With great power comes great responsibility, and I'm not going to show disrespect to Obama by pretending that he owes himself nothing.

It would be nice if you didn't ascribe to me mindless emotional feelings on this.  You know me better than that.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)

I don't believe I've ascribed emotionality to you at all; I do believe you've used the accusation as to Obama's supporters, and there's no need to go into why you've done so.  I absolutely believe that whatever you're saying here, you're doing it from an authentic and sincere basis.

I guess I start from the question of "what Senate Democrats have (or could have) done anything to lead during the past two years?"  He was on Foreign Relations, Veterans' Affairs and Environment and Public Works these past two years, and other than the Bolton nomination, there hasn't been much for him to do.  (And yes, he opposed Bolton from the start.)  

In addition, I know that in his book (at least), he stated his respect for Sen. Byrd's advice on seniority -- the whole "be a work horse, not a show horse" during your first . . . what, two decades there? . . . and to some extent, that puts things in some context.  It's no excuse if he's running for President, however.

Is the argument on the torture bill that Obama failed to put a secret hold on it?  

by Adam B 2006-12-18 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)

unless they are running for office- how are other Sen Dems relevant? And you will note that of those running for office- a lot of questions have been asked of them too.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)

They're relevant because it illustrates the context -- down 55-45 in the Senate, with the Republicans also in charge of the WH, House and SCOTUS, the best Senate Dems could do over the past two years was to try to block more bad things from happening.

by Adam B 2006-12-18 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)

that doesn't make the relevant to whether or not Obama choose to lead when it could. It's only relevant to could he suceed at it. THe assumption you make is that sucess is everything. I wanted gthe fillabuster for example not because I thought we could win it, but because it would have shown something to the public that they often think of the Democrats- that we are weak- is actually a falsehood. Sometimes I wish there were more GOP type operatives (not as in evil, but as in tactically and strategically smart) on the left. Sometimes you can lose a battle to win a war.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: (you called?)


questions of leadership- when asking what else Obama has- is the only reason why records in congressional actions are important. What people want to know essentially is where has he ever put himself on the line inthe last few years? What risks have he taken? They are asking- I believe- the same of others.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:35AM | 0 recs
He could have stopped torture bill?

Really? Any evidence for this?

by demondeac 2006-12-18 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

No Matt.... You attack Obama versus crticizing him in most of your statements.  Questions are fine, so is a critical discussion... but your attitude and tone don't lend to that sort of discourse... maybe you fail to see you are doing it, but frankly this is what has always annoyed and irked the shit out of me about you.  You rarely talk, you rarely debate, you seem to always attack... its either your opinion or else everyone else is an idiot.  When you want to have an actual critical discussion then please do so... I'll be waiting to read it.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-18 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I think Adam said it best. We are getting defensive because a large number of the critics of Obama are personally questioning our own intelligence, motives, credibility, etc. The discussion becomes less about Obama and more about us.

Many of my reasons for supporting Obama are abstract or symbolic. I don't believe there is anything wrong with that, and I resent the implication that I have less credibility or intelligence because of it. I believe Obama is the one candidate who could transform the electorate and enfranchise millions of new voters.

I do respect the criticisms that are coming from some here. Chris has been especially eloquent in why he is disappointed in Obama. But the debate has to be about the candidate, not us. Because that's why it gets personal.

by Dave Sund 2006-12-18 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I find discussions decrying partisanship disingenuous and decieving. (Often those doing the decrying are the most guilty.) But regardless, the American voter has legitimized vitriol, deception, lying, and host of other sleazy tactics as legitimate political strategies. The electorate talks one thing and votes another. Politicians talking about it as an important topic of discussion give the impression that they can't come up with any real topics to address or think this should carry the same weight as real topics.

Obama's harping on this topic is soothing to the left that has been victimized for a generation by the screeching harpies of the cult of republicanism, but it won't mean squat in terms of electorial success in 2008

A democratic strategy of civility is an express ticket back to the political wilderness. Americans don't respect civility - America is a brute force kind of culture.

SHORTER ME: Obama's blowing smoke.

by gak 2006-12-18 05:13AM | 0 recs
America is a brute force kind of culture

Politically this is true right now. This is something that Howard Dean dearly wanted to change. You may remember the revolutionary era style pamplets he created in the hope of starting a more reasoned political debate.

However, Dean was the first to understand that we would first have to beat the Republicans at their brutal game before we could successfully change the discourse. Anyone who thinks this is not so is due for a rude awakening. I would prefer that they NOT take the Democrats' electoral chances with them!

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-18 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Hilzoy has a very interesting post (that I can't find right now but it's recent) that shows in some detail that Obama has quietly sponsored, co-sponsored or supported some of the most progressive legislation of any Senator, he's been very active, and Hilzoy goes as far as to say that he can't remember any freshman Senator with as good a record.

That's one thing. Another thing: I'm sure that in normal times, Obama would wait longer. But maybe the country is in such bad shape that Obama can't wait. 2007 and 2008 are surely gonna see a resurgence of the economy as an issue, and it probably will be the last straw that finishes off the Debacle. Domestic problems will force an end to the War, since the Democrats in Congress can really only oppose the War, not terminate it.

Another thing. Obama is black. After all's said and done that makes more difference than his name, or his ears, or his middle name. He already HAS a movement. If he were any other black politician, the shape of his movement would be obvious. The very fact that he isn't going that way is what fascinates and irritates bloggers.

Then there's the black blogger thing. There was the no-black-bloggers-with-Clinton episode, which got co-opted by Jessica of Feministing's sweater. Now there's the saga of francislholland on Kos, who somehow manages to avoid the autoban despite being one of the most trollrated commenters in Kos history.

I'm not defending trolls or francislholland. He doesn't play the game at Kos the way it's currently being enforced, and that's that. But his approach is pretty standard. There isn't a designated "black blogger" at Kos. There isn't a mechanism whereby the "view of the black community" is mediated. francislholland doesn't have any standing to speak for the black community at dKos or anywhere else, but his question has a certain weight: who does then?

The answer, from the troll hunters, is that that is racist in itself. And I think that's a mistake. Kossacks and white bloggers in general can pride themselves on their lack of racism and anti-racism, but at some point you have to go down the old familiar road of negotiating with black leaders. Kos said Obama had Sister Souljah'd dKos. Not really. He said a lot of what is on dKos didn't surprise him. Well, me either.

Hillary Clinton is a great Senator and a savvy politician, but the main reason she is a front-running candidate for the Presidency is because she is the previous President's wife. Al Gore has given up his former persona as a cautious pol, and has become an environmental specialist of sorts, but he is still a terrible campaigner. Clark is an idea, inoculation on defense issues, whose time is past. Everybody else is running for Vice President.

I wish Howard Dean would give it a shot but I've accepted that that won't happen. Outside of HoHo, ONLY Obama can really galvanize the electorate, and the only thing that can stop him is some kind of premature policy point that gives the right wing something to attack. What everybody WANTS from Obama, more liberal or progressive cred, is WRITTEN ON HIS SKIN. Do you think he's a stealth rightie? To say nothing of the effect on the world of America electing a black President. That's one election that won't be disputed.

Do you really think Bill Richardson, or Mark Warner, or Tom Vilsack, or anybody else in that tier is more likly to get progressive legislation actually passed? Getting this country out of the deep hole Bush has dug will take more than a 50.1% winner. And I don't accept that Obama writes of the South. He starts off with a base of 30% in Deep South states; if blacks and Hispanics go over 90% for him (and I think that is reasonable don't you) then he only needs about 40% of white voters to win.

You guys are not analyzing Obama correctly yet. The very fact that there is this groundswell is wonderful! As the Editors said: if only it could be true. But it would involve admitting that the "reality-based community" has to negotiate, and openly, with established communities of interest - black, Hispanic. And at some point we have to admit that maybe we don't understand the positions, the needs, the feelings of those communities as well as they do themselves. And maybe the corrosive effect of the blogosphere's crap detector sometimes does take the paint off things that aren't crap.

I think the attacks on Obama, when they aren't just a little less than well-informed, are related to a fear of going back to an issue-group driven politics, in which there is a sort of PC protocol for dealing with groups. The left blogosphere feels that it has freed itself from PC constraints (until there's a pie war).

Obama represents the future, which is black and Hispanic, negotiating with the present, which is still white. The fact that he strikes this imperturbable pose is intended to say to white voters that this guy will not blow up the PTA. But what his very existence says to black voters and other minority voters, once they get the idea that he's not just a stalking horse for other Democrats - that will take you back to the actual primary wins that Jesse Jackson got, and far beyond. Despite the tired old bullshit research of American social science, white people in all regions will be enormously attracted to Obama once they get that he likes them, too.

by frenchman 2006-12-18 05:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

"Do you really think Bill Richardson, or Mark Warner, or Tom Vilsack, or anybody else in that tier is more likly to get progressive legislation actually passed?"

"I think the attacks on Obama, when they aren't just a little less than well-informed, are related to a fear of going back to an issue-group driven politics, in which there is a sort of PC protocol for dealing with groups."

Interesting.  Based on what?

by justinh 2006-12-18 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Wow. One of the best and most unique things written on Obama these blogs (and I have read just about everything).

by demondeac 2006-12-18 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Great post, thanks for the reaction.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-18 06:08AM | 0 recs
by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-18 06:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

"Hilzoy goes as far as to say that he can't remember any freshman Senator with as good a record."

Who is this 'he' of whom you speak? ;)

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

He doesn't have enough experience. You can talk about what he sponsored all you want. I want to see examples of actually tough battles that he has fought and won. If you can show he has that kind of strength, then you are talking . Otherwise, you are blowing smoke.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

You are correct there. Obama himself admits as much.

The battle will be this campaign when it comes to "strength in battle."

by demondeac 2006-12-18 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Which candidate are you supporting, on what grounds and how much experience does that candidate have?

Is it Edwards? How much experience?

by Populism2008 2006-12-18 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I don't have a choice yet. Frankly, I would prefer, although I know it won't happen, if they are all just put out there, and forced to defend their positon without spinmeister around them or their team supporters trying to convince us that their candidate can walk on water. Obama maybe a good choice- i don't know- I just know what I have seen thus far are speeches being tauted when in fact the guy hasn't had to weather any fires yet. I want to hear instances of him having to weather hardships in terms of his political career. As my diary the other day pointed out, the real issue among others is that we need tougher candidates. No more Kerry's who wilt at the GOP onslaught. It's all nice as I have said to say you want to get along with everyone, but what happens when they don't want to get along with you? I need him to answer what he will do when that very realistic outcome happens? He can't go as Kerry did to the American public whining the other guy isn't playing fair.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message
As an African American male, I can tell you that the people I speak with in the Black community have the same issues with Obama as the white bloggers here have stated. There's not enough of a track record to know what Barak's agenda will be and after so many disappointing black leaders I think everyone is leary of another cult of personality that puts self interest ahead of true leadership.
That being said, He seems to, "get it" in terms of speaking to issues in the black community as being both black pathology and lack of resources, political will etc. that resonates with many African-Americans.
The vast majority of the black community is fairly conservative, evangelical christian and I always believed that if the GOP weren't interested in appealing to the racist elements in the dixicrat south, they could get 25% of the black vote.
That being said, I don't think Obama is tri-angulating as much as he is reflecting the values of the Black Community.
That's not to say I don't think he isn't using tri-angulation as a tactic, per se, but it seems to be more, "authentic" then when Hillary advocates ratings for video games.
Politically, Obama has identified issues that appeal to many people in the black community that would be perceived differently if it was coming from a white politican; and since people believe he actually MIGHT care about conditions in the black community there's a sense that he would attack the problem differently then how the GOP does, i.e., 'pull your self up by the bootstraps'rhetoric while cutting gov't services to those communities.
by hnic357 2006-12-18 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

The question- or test for me- is whether he will distance himself from being a guy who is both a candidate for all who is also black or will he distance himself from being perceived of as part of the black community too? A test of true leadership will be to do both rather than either/or as you have said.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:17AM | 0 recs
So Somebody Says Obama Has A Progressive Record

but I can't be bothered to find the link.

But the important stuff is spin, spin, spin.

Sort of says it all about Obama's candidacy, I'm afraid.

Still waiting for a substantive debate of what he stands for and why.

So far, I've gotten snide, cliched, rightwing strawman pot-shots at progressives every time he opens his mouth to say something important.

Color me not impressed.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: So Somebody Says...

The link.

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 07:36AM | 0 recs
The Things You Discuss Are Good, Not Progressive

I like his wonkishness.  And they seem like good proposals (devil in the details, you know).  But they don't speak to my concerns about him being a progressive legislator.

As for the things you merely link to, the "health care for hybrids" was one of the proposals that Sirota questioned.  Obama's conciliate-first approach undercuts progressives who think that CAFE standards should be going up as a matter of course, and not a matter of negotiations.

In short, the prima facie case your post supports is that Obama is a good, productive, thoughtful centrist, much like Howard Dean was a governonr of Vermont.  Unlike Dean, however, he spends a lot of rhetorical space attacking Dems.  So the net effect does not impress.

This should not be the last word, of course.  I'm merely stating what it establishes on the surface.  I'm quite open to going into greater depth.

To get this discussion going in a constructive direction, I'd like to see you--or another Obama supporter--go through those examples and find 3-5 that can credibly be presented as progressive legislation.  Because after 12 years of rightwing control of Congress, that's what is called for, just to begin brining us back to where we once were, much less to move us truly forward.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Things You Discuss Are Good...

Um: "Obama's conciliate-first approach undercuts progressives who think that CAFE standards should be going up as a matter of course, and not a matter of negotiations."

Look: I think that CAFE standards should be going up as a matter of course. I also think that we should have confiscatory estate taxes, universal health care, a carbon tax, and a whole host of other things as a matter of course. In the real world, however, these things are not going to happen as a matter of course, and I can't imagine why anyone would think that progressives would be well served by legislators who acted as though they were.

Negotiations are going to happen, one way or another. Even if Sen. Obama's bill to raise CAFE standards without tying it to automakers' health care were to pass, it would probably pass as the result of some sort of negotiations.

What matters, it seems to me, is what, if anything, you give away in the course of those negotiations, not whether or not they occur. Personally, I don't see much downside to Obama's approach. It removes not just auto industry types' objections to raising fuel efficiency standards, but a lot of the objections of the UAW as well, and at a time when a lot of companies are just dumping their pension and health care obligations to their workers, it secures them.

So why is this bad, exactly?

by hilzoy 2006-12-18 11:21AM | 0 recs
Obama's strawman arguments

As I noted above, Obama won in Illinois running as a grassroots progressive to beat out a primary field of better financed and better connected opponents. Since arriving in DC, however, his mentors have been people like Joe Lieberman and Rahm Emanuel.

Besides his unwillingness to lead on any progressive issues (listen to his mushy statements on Iraq since being elected, for example), Barack's constant use of strawman arguments serve to destroy our Democratic "brand" and reinforce Republican frames.

It seems he cannot begin a statement on anything without first rhetorically distancing himself from liberals and progresives -- and doing so by distorting our views. On the war: "I'm not one of those people who thinks we went to war just for the oil..." On health care: "I don't think a government funded single payer program is the only way to go..." On religion: "I don't think religion and politics must always be kept completely separate..."

He may unite people behind his candidacy, but at the expense of every other Democrat running. Haven't we been down this road before? The results of constant triangulation from the top are not pretty for our side.

This is a time when progressives should be in the ascendancy. I'm worried that candidate Obama could do much to tear down everything we've been building since Howard Dean told us "You have the power." (The same goes even more for a Hillary candidacy, of course.)

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-18 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

As a Chicano from the Sonoran Desert, my explicit bias is in favor of Bill Richardson.

As to the specifics, Obama in the race favors Richardson, because Obama will shatter the existing mythology that Clinton has an "in" relative to the history of Bill Clinton.  Of course, I would expect Charlie Rangel to undercut Obama with respect to the African American voters.

As for Chicanos, in general, there is much anger towards Clinton, Kerry, Dodd, and Biden for supporting the "fencing" amendment to the McCain-Kennedy bill on Immigration Reform.  What position Obama took on the "fencing", I do not know, since I have yet to check-in on his important vote.

But in the important particulars, it will be the War.  Last week, the Denver Post reported on a survey/poll of over 8,000 Hispanic respondents--the largest of its kind ever, in which the primary issue was the war.  Why?  Due to the large number of our sons and daughters serving in the Armed Forces.  We all have a family member serving or our neighbors and friends have a family member serving.  And that is hughly important.

Thus, Clinton, Kerry, Biden,and Dodd, have a high mountain to climb.  But Clinton may scale it on the premise of gender despite her vote in favor of the war.  But if she is challenged on the basis that as an attorney, she should have known that a Declaration of War was the avenue travel and should have taken, she will come up short.  And why the DOW, racial and ethnics have only one 'fallback' position to the misapplication of governance, and that is the Constitution.

And yet, I have yet to see anyone contemplating their presidential aspirations, premised on a wide-ranging resume, and which is still in short-supply.  Consequently, the "issues" will define this contest, not the rhetoric inherent in the message, or of a 'manufactured' movement.

Perhaps, the mind will become more focused as the debates commence.  And I am reminded that when the candidates debated in Phoenix at the national conference for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, the Rev. Al Sharpton brought the house down, and both Governor Dean and General Clark were deemed the favorites.  Kerry sucked since he was then informed of the pending character attacks, and yet, took the decision not to defend himself. And for all of Kerry's rhetoric and palaver, Chicanos had to hold their nose, especially when he pulled his campaign out of the Sonoran Desert thirty days prior to election, and the down ticket took a beating.  

And if history is any measureable guide, Richardson will be challenged for not staying in the contest through California primary, and if not, he will be tossing his supporters into the Clinton column out of loyalty to the Big Dog.  This would not augur well for either Richardson or Clinton, and more likely move Chicanos into the Clark column.

by Jaango 2006-12-18 05:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Obama was in favor of fencing.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-18 07:29AM | 0 recs
Well, He Has The Physique n/t

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Instead of battleground strategies, we need mapchanger attitudes; instead of nit-picking about single issues, we need a connect-the-dots vision; instead of kick-ass partisan rhetoric, we need an appeal to the nation that instills hope.
I'm sure that a majority online (especially here on the blogs) disagree with me on this...

I totally agree with Jerome on this point, and I'm especially interested in the note about blog-readers' attitudes versus "offline" attitudes.  

An old politico I know always says that two things matter most in getting elected: 1.) do people know your name and 2.) do they like you.  Obama knows this, and so far away from the actual election, he's playing his cards exactly like he should.  Introduction + name ID + theme first, details later.

Eric Schmeltzer wrote a piece on Huffington Post that communicated this idea really well.

Obama has better political sense than to waste too much time worrying what smarty-pants liberal blog-readers think of his every move.  He's busy getting his name and a positive impression out to the American public, a public that watches Oprah and Monday Night Football and Leno -- a public among which blog-readers like us comprise a very small percentage.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

These are separate issues, right?  One is about putting together a successful political strategy.  The other is about puting together a constructive discussion of our hopes and concerns about Obama as a candidate.

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

But such discussions (some of which are more constructive than others) are oftentimes predicated upon wishes by the liberal blogosphere that are incompatible with a pragmatic political strategy.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

If you want pragmaticism then you aren't in favor of an Obama candidacy since its not predicated on pragamatic considerations either. More like what progressives want to think of themselves rather than what are hard realities.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 06:43AM | 0 recs

Adjectives in a vacuum.  That's some logic-based assumption making.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: re:

you are the one claiming pragmaticism which is a way of sounding like you know more than the rest of us. prove your point by actually citing examples of how obama has shown leadership, has shown the ability to weather a tough campaign, has shown the ability not just give charistmatic speeches but has done all the things in some other context that a presidential candidate who wants to win will be expected to do. Its all good to talk about "why can't we all just get along."  But what happens when the GOP decides, as they will, that we can't? How will he respond that is the question that non of your so called pragmatcism has answered.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: re:

I daresay the readership of this blog is familiar with the word "pragmatic."  If it's such an offensive adjective, here are some alternatives.

I used the word in reference to campaign strategy, not some sort of philosophy about life as you seem to think.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: re:

You used the word to claim you know better than others on this subject of what is a pragmatic choice.

you want to be the smartest guy or girl here. Fine, let me just say, I am truly impressed by your intelligence. I am  impressed that you think a strategy that has been used for pretty much the last 15 years in different packaging is going to afford you anymore sucess than it has in the past. I am impressed that you know much more than all the rest of us who are interested in politics, and somehow know that the GOP will not take such a candidacy and do what the GOP does- rip him a part. I am impressed that you realize that despite this because you are "pragmatic" that means it doesn't matter about questions like experience, or the ability to be tough enough to fight a campaign where whle you are saying "why can't we all just get along" the other side is running ugly divisive ads. The only thing that matters is that you use words like pragmatic, and link me to a dictionary site. You are definitely smarter than all of us asking these questions. And such questions, despite the experiences of having had similar candidacy in Kerry and Gore, in local races in state like TN with Harold Ford, despite all this, the pragmatic answer is that none of these questions and concerns are legitimate because they are just anecdotal concerns.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: re:

lol, well since you've got me all figured out, I guess I'll take my baseball and go home!

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: re:

since its all about you- I think thats a good idea. not one of your post answerd any of my questions.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: re:

By my count, you only asked one question in this thread:

Its all good to talk about "why can't we all just get along."  But what happens when the GOP decides, as they will, that we can't?

I'll answer that.  It won't be the GOP who'll decide  that we can't all get along.  As this combative thread illustrates, any Captain Obvious could see as much.

The rest of your "questions" were actually demands, posed rudely and on premises I cannot accept.  For example:

you are the one claiming pragmaticism (sic) which is a way of sounding like you know more than the rest of us. prove your point by actually citing examples of how obama has shown leadership, has shown the ability to weather a tough campaign, has shown the ability not just give charistmatic speeches but has done all the things in some other context that a presidential candidate who wants to win will be expected to do.

You've asked me to "prove (my) point" with respect  to something vague that I never asserted.  (Actually I've yet to discern what it is you're accusing me of "claiming.")  

Come back with coherent, objective questions, and I'll give you my opinion without being curt.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 01:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

offline, non partisan people I know says he doesn't have any experience when i ask what they think about him. That sums up what apolitical people I know are saying.

by bruh21 2006-12-18 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

The plural of anecdote does = data.  But thanks.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

*does NOT = data, rather.  Man, leaving out that word really killed the snark-factor. :)

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-18 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

where is your data that he has experience? so far I have heard a lot of talk and condescencion when questioned about the piss poor analysis for this guys hype. If you can provde me with something more than well people like him- b.c you can bet that won't matter in the thick of a fight with a real Republican because they will do what Republicans do, then things like real experience, his toughness, etc, do matter. That's the data  I hope you are going on rather than the flowery nature of his speeches if you are claiming the mantle of "pragmatic."

by bruh21 2006-12-18 07:06AM | 0 recs
A plague on both your houses

Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for excessive partisanship, but that does not mean they divide the blame 50-50.

For example, the notion that the country is tired of seeing a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot is partly correct--we are tired of the 20 years of BushSr and BushJr, vp and pres; most of us would welcome the eight years of Clinton back.

So the arithmetical relationship of blame for partisanship is perhaps 71-29, not 50-50.

One of the several disappointments of my youth was the net effect of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18: nothing.

Obama is ten years younger than the dominant generation in Washington. With all due respect, so what?

by stevehigh 2006-12-18 06:11AM | 0 recs
Obama Buys Rightwing Frames

For example:

So on race, the classic '60s formulation was, "Is it society and institutional racism that's causing black poverty or is it black pathology and a culture of poverty?" And you couldn't choose "All of the above." It looks to me like both.  [The younger generation] is much less caught up in these neatly packaged orthodoxies.
If you couldn't choose "All of the above," then what were all those liberals doing going into social work?  What were they doing supporting drug treatment programs, which conservatives turned around and slashed?

Does Obama even know that the term "culture of poverty" came from a liberal policy wonk before it was hijacked by the right and given a whole different, blame-laden spin?  The difference was that liberals saw this culture as a result of centuries of oppression, and something that could best be reversed by community-wide organizing efforts, rather than isolated go-it-alone individual effort.

It was conservatives, from day one, who were of the either/or mindset, and who projected their polarized, exclusionist mindset onto liberals.  And by retelling history through the polarized lens of rightwing  mythology, he gets the past wrong, as well as the present.

We now understand that self-destructive activity is found among subordinate groups as a matter of course.  It can be seen even in arbitrarily-created subordinate groups (brown eyes or blue, brown hair or blond) in school room exercises.  This is not to say that individuals don't need to struggle against it.  But it is to say that blacks struggling against alchoholism or drug addiciton are struggling against a heavier load than whites with the same background and struggles.

Finally, about those "neatly packaged orthodoxies."  Again, the packaging is primarily courtesy of the rightwing.  The only way to fight terrorism is the conservative way--even though it makes terrorists stronger.  Liberals are "objectively pro-terrorist"--even though their approaches would build bridges to moderates who oppose our misguided policies, but not our democratic principles and modernizing influence.

This is neatly-packaged right-wing orthodoxy, and Obama is practicing the same old worn-out triangulation that undercuts all efforts to respond to it by accurately presenting liberal alternatives on their own terms.

I have nothing against trying to find common ground.  But to do that honestly you have to allow both sides to fully articulate their own vision in their own terms.  And Obama is merely the latest in a long line of politicians who is fiercely committed to preventing that from happening.

In short, what Obama stands for is once again marginalizing the liberal viewpoint without even allowing it to be heard.

No wonder the M$M loves him. If he didn't exist, they'd have to create him. Oh wait, they already did.  His name was Joe Lieberman.  The new model is sooooo much better!

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Buys Rightwing Frames

I don't believe that's what he's doing. If anything, he's showing why the frames are wrong.

by Dave Sund 2006-12-18 07:26AM | 0 recs
How Is He Doing This???

Once again, an Obama supporter presents an assertion as if it were evidence or an argument.

It's not.

Obama is expressly presenting a false image--that progressives in the 60s denied "black pathology and a culture of poverty".  I pointed to evidence to the contrary.

Now you claim he's "showing why the frames are wrong."

How is he doing that when he himself is repeating the frame?

How is he doing that when he claims that it describes one side of the debate of the 1960s that he wants to get beyond?

You need to explain those contradictions, not just deny that they exist.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: How Is He Doing This???

He's saying, it's not a choice between those two. It's not black and white. How is that not showing why the frames are wrong?

by Dave Sund 2006-12-18 07:50AM | 0 recs
You Misunderstand

He's not stating that the progressive frame is false--a rightwing fabrication.

He's stating that the progressive frame is wrong--that progressives were wrong.

But since he's misrepresenting what progressives actually said and stood for, he's reinforcing the rightwing's strawman attacks.

He's a kinder, gentler Rush Limbaugh, still bashing the 1960s.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-18 08:32AM | 0 recs
He was against the war when it was popular.

I'd be disappointed if we picked a Kerry (ha!), Edwards, Biden, Clinton (though I still have no idea where the fuck she stands), etc who was for the war before they were against it.

Politically, he is very similar to both Reagan and Kennedy.  Reagan and Kennedy were both pretty conservative and pretty progressive (respectively), but the way the spoke could unite the country.  Obama is like them.  

by Terryus 2006-12-18 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: He was against the war when it was popular.

When was that?

by justinh 2006-12-18 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: He was against the war when it was popular.

It was in October 2002.

by demondeac 2006-12-18 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: He was against the war when it was popular.

Thanks.  But I'd suggest this probably wasn't particularly risky for him, which means it's hard to compare him to the other candidates.  I was also dismayed by the other candidates' support for the war, but given Obama's polticial cautiousness, I'm not convinced he would have spoken out against the war if he were in the Senate then.

by justinh 2006-12-18 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: He was against the war when it was popular.

You can speculate all you want. You might be right.

Obama knew, at the time, that his speech, in front of 2000 people at an anti-war rally in Chicago, could be used against him in the 2004 campaign for the Senate which he was already planning. He could not know at the time how the war and popular opinion would unfold by the time of the 2004 election. He decided to give the speech.

You are right that it probably would have been still tougher had he been in the Senate at the time. Especially since the miserable Dem Senate leadership would have been putting enormous pressure on him.

Nevertheless, Obama's judgment about the war was excellent, and his rhetoric shows he knows how to stand strong:

I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

The conclusion:

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that...we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

by demondeac 2006-12-18 08:31AM | 0 recs
Do you really believe that JFK

had a bi-partisan rhetoric?

How can you possibly say that:
"Politically , he is very similar to both Reagan and Kennedy"

He hasn't said one thing that I can think of anywhere near John Kennedy.  Not one!

by dk2 2006-12-18 06:50AM | 0 recs
I really have a problem with this statement:

"It's tragic that had John Kerry and John Edwards used the polarizing rhetoric on Iraq that they do now, they would have defeated Bush."

What are you trying to say. "What rhetoric on Iraq that they do now"
Timed troop removal starting now for John Edwards!
(Obama sounds like what John Edwards has been saying)

Getting behind Bush and his war on Terrorism is what really gave him the edge. You also say that Dean was strong on Irag, but yet you imply something different with Kerry/Edwards in 2003.

That last part:
"they would have defeated Bush"
how do you see that?  Are you saying that in 2003 if they (as John Edwards says now - removal of troops) that they would have won.
I don't agree at all, America was still pushing behind the commander in chief so how would his view now of pulling out have won something then?

Jerome, it maybe great for you to be behind Obama, all of your close friends maybe, thats your choice, but your comments about particularly about Kerry/Edwards was cheezy.

John Edwards is a great candidate for the people of America, the hard working people.

Obama may be great for what new direction you think may be here, but I disagree on that too. What you describe is in the birthing stages as far as I see it.  The new lets make happy, happy, and all be bipartisan.  There are still many things like some real world issues to be concerned about, and as much as your new wave generation thinks that everyone can just get over it (or already has) and live together is not here yet.

This country is not ready for the I can sound good but won't really have to do much presidency, we have just had that, the bi-partisan make it's ok. Whether the bi-partisan is forced by twist arm tactics or willing, I don't want it.

I want the real issues to get taken care of. Like the mess in New Orleans and the cost, do you think Bi-partisan will help that? or do you think it is Bi-partisan that has gotten it where it is today?

I don't want anyone near a bi-partisan rhetoric in the Whitehouse!

by dk2 2006-12-18 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I can't believe I'm the only reader of this thread and these comments who remembers Bobby Kennedy's campaign of 1968.  It was remarkable and I still tear up talking about it to younger folk.

It's been 40 years since we have seen anything remotely like it.  The crowds Obama drew in New Hampshire may be the first sign of what's to come.  I hope so.  We are being torn apart by a war and watching our beloved country become the world's pariah.  We are looking for a voice of hope, who speaks articulately (!) and is obviously intelligent.

Edwards is reportedly going to announce he's going to run in New Orleans, in the Ninth Ward.  I can't wait for him and Obama to go at it; particularly since neither of them seems interested in attacking their opponents.

This could be the most edifying. HOPEFUL primary campaign we have ever seen.

by Barbara in DC 2006-12-18 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I remember. I think that memory has a lot to do with Obama's support, especially among the "older" folks who heard and felt that rhetoric and have heard nothing like it since.

by demondeac 2006-12-18 08:34AM | 0 recs
I remember Bobby and John

and Obama is not anything like them in his postion, he may seem like a rock star and he may draw a crowd but that is it.

But the substance that belonged to the Kennedy's is not there with Obama.

It is with John Edwards.

by dk2 2006-12-18 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

I thoroughly agree with many of the points being said in this threat noting Obama's celebrity status, cult of personality, and naivete regarding his "bipartisan" message. This reminds me a lot of Lieberman's rhetoric during the campaign--"too much partisanship in D.C.--I'm the wise old man who doesn't buy into it and we need to bring bipartisnnship back to Washington". It was a pretty ridiculous message because it ignored who brought the partisanship to begin with, it emphasizes a false point that ALL sides do it, and frankly I don't think it attracts many people. It is not as compelling a message as a lot of people think it is.

You will only get so far running as a nonpartisan wise man who just wants to sing Kumbaya with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. At the same time, I'm not saying that he should run a vastly partisan campaign. But if 2006 has taught us anything, it is the fact that CONTRASTS and clear choices are what wins. And if you go down memory lane, it is those candidates who emphasized differences and offered the voters a clear choice that emerged victorious. Obama is employing the tactic that Gore used in 2000 of "I agree with Gov. Bush" which failed! Bush offered a contrast in vision in 2000 and he made the election a nailbiter when it should not have even been close. Look at Reagan, and Clinton in 1992--clear defined choices and offering an alternative vision, not offering a "let's all get along" being all things to all people type of candidacy.

Obama doesn't seem to get this, and that's what I worry about. IF he could offer a clear message with clear differences with the GOP and a clear progressive alternative instead of using Liebermanish language of "let's just all get along" then he would be unstoppable because of his natural abilities and charisma...but he's using the wrong strategy and it's not going to go very far.

by need some wood 2006-12-18 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

IF he could offer a clear message with clear differences with the GOP and a clear progressive alternative instead of using Liebermanish language of "let's just all get along" then he would be unstoppable because of his natural abilities and charisma...but he's using the wrong strategy and it's not going to go very far.

Talent without a passion and a message makes you a good piano player not a virtuoso.  Talent in Hollywood with conviction gives you George Clooney.  Talent without it gives you a celebrity.  

by Feral Cat 2006-12-18 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message?
So, All is forgiven for Obama dissing Lamont and cozying up to Lieberman??
 Obama's close relationship with the DLC?
I might be able to deal with Obama as a VP candidate, not paired with another DLC'er, but I'm having a hard time seeing past the relatively canned hype versus substance.
by Predictor 2006-12-18 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

He has at least as much experience as Edwards.

Obama - 2 Yrs U.S. Senate, 8 yrs. State Sen.
Edwards 6 - Yrs U.S. Senate, Presidential Candidate-'04 and Vice President Nominee-'04.

Not "at least as much" experience from my Perspective.
Other than that Edwards did go to CT to help Lamont and hard worked for/raised money for our candidates in the  2006 Midterm Elections. Among those works, he recruited Heath Shuler- D-NC-11

by Predictor 2006-12-18 07:50AM | 0 recs
How to count

Obama's experience is two years right now at this exact moment. By the time of the election, it will be:

Obama - 4 Yrs U.S. Senate, 8 yrs. State Sen.
Edwards - 6 Yrs U.S. Senate, 20 yrs. trial lawyer

If one were to bring up Obama's short senate career as a point in support of Richardson, or Bayh, or even say Kerry or John McCain, it would be a valid criticism. This point does not work if one intends to then turn around and promote Edwards. Edwards, and to an extent Ms. Clinton, have the same lack of relevant experience problem as Obama-- and due to Edwards having spent about half as much time as Obama will have in elected or legislative office by the election, surely Edwards has it worse than either of those other two.

by Silent sound 2006-12-18 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: How to count

2 years is the point- not what you add going into the future

by bruh21 2006-12-18 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama, just another celebrity?

Mary Kate and Ashley
Paris Hilton
The Runaway Bride

While Americans adore being distracted by meaningless celebrity, I don't think Obama falls into that category.

Despite Hillary's long resume, Obama easily trumps her campaign, because after the abuse of the Bush years, America is looking for a candidate who envisions an America as we want to see it.

Wes Clark has the same vision when he is able to get past being a national security expert. He combines both the ability to communicate a clear and attractive vision with an exemplary resume.

I believe that Obama at the head of the ticket will be an easy target for the Republicans despite his articulate, well thought out vision. But, he would be a strong asset to Democrats as a candidate and as a VP.

We will not elections by comparing votes and issues. Positions are fun to consider, but that won't swing elections. It is about vision, and that is why regardless of experience, Obama needs a seat at the table.

We must figure out how to seek out the positives for each and every democrat running. We certainly each have our favorites, but anyone of them would be a far site better than George Bush.

And, lest we maintain a level of civility when discussing our candidates of choice, the impact of the blogosphere will be muted.

by mperloe 2006-12-18 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

Someone please explain, what's "black pathology"?

by Silent sound 2006-12-18 10:41AM | 0 recs
Dividing us by generations is not a good thing

I'm also looking for someone who can be a uniter of the older boomers and the young.  If I were advising Obama, I would ask him not to divide us with his talk about differences between his generation and the those gnarly boomers.  Most boomers I know are like me.  We would love to retire  from politics and hand off the baton to the young.  We do have gifts to give and perspective is one of them. I don't really understand Obama talking about all these divisions amongst liberals?  The divide has always been fierce between those who oppose more rights and those who don't.  The divide has always been between those who believe in democracy and those who don't.  Those who believe in exclusivity and those who don't. There has always been a divide between those who fight and those who look the other way.

by Feral Cat 2006-12-18 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message

There's a place you can be in politics which is squarely in the sights of your opponents frame, facing the full onslaught of the rage and hate he has lined up for you behind that frame.

It's not a fun place to be, or to make your argument from.

Most politicians seek to avoid this positioning, all kinds of ways of breaking out of the opponent's frame.

I think Obama's style is primarily about this, and it seems very effective in that narrow goal.
Lots of republicans and conservative swings like him a lot, very few say horrible things about him personally, many are willing to listen and see where he goes.

What's not clear at this point is if they would support him if he becomes someone who promotes daringly progressive or populist ideas; but it is clear that it would enable him to function well in an executive capacity.
Clinton was severely undermined in the ability to govern simply by the volume of hate going on, regardless of what actual policy Clinton proposed, even neutral ones.

So, there's something to be said to being skillful with your style.

If you look at black leaders of the last couple of decades (post-King), many have been deeply vilified, yet Obama is welcomed.
So, again, it seems to make sense, to be effective towards simply being heard, respected and liked as  a person.

Perhaps he himself doesn't yet know how he will approach issues that are inevitably not-yet-consensus.
Perhaps he and others who are somewhat young, are sensing their will be a psychological shift in the nation which will allow progress in many areas, and they are biding their time while the storm settles.
Kind of like a 'let Bush pull himself down' tactic.

It's probably too early too tell, but in the primary season there will clearly be debates and points scored by those willing to take leadership stands and commit to real shifts in policy.
Style will win many votes, but it's not enough as the entirety of a campaign strategy.

Still, if you want to get as far as you can in support with a broad and friendly approach first, then extend it further with specifics later, who's to say that's not a valid approach, competitive with others?
It might not convince those who want specifics to sign up early, but it could convince style-voters to do so, building mass that way.

Any voter, whether style, issue, ideology, identity, movement or vision based, has a right to say 'I'm not convinced yet' and ask to be convinced; yet we can respect any rollout strategy a candidate wants to try as potentially viable until proven otherwise.

by jimpol 2006-12-18 01:53PM | 0 recs
Obama hasn't been test against a Repub

It's hard to know whether Obama will remain "likable" among Republicans when he is in a race against one, because he's never been tested. His South Side district would never consider a Republican and Alan Keyes was a joke in 2004.

I would be much more comfortable with Obama as the nominee if he offered a stark contrast with Republican ideology like he did in 2004. For someone as untested as him going into the race with "bipartisan" platitudes and triangulating rhetoric that actually puts down progressives (see Paul Rosenberg's post above for a classic example), gives me great pause.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-18 06:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Message


Despite his party's being in the minority, he has been able to partner and to work across the aisle, and to achieve an astonishing amount:

Signature issue: Ethics
-Led successful fight in Illinois for first ethics reform bill in 25 years while in state senate
-One of authors of Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (S. 2180) which goes far beyond what either Republican or Democratic leaders are ready to accept: limit the revolving door between being a lawmaker and being a lobbyist, open conference committee meetings to public, require all bills be posted on internet for before they can be voted on, end lobbyist-funded gifts, meals, and travel, strengthen oversight.
-Sponsor of Congressional Ethics Enforcement Commission Act (S. 2259)
-Sponsor of Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act (S. 2261)
-Sponsor of CLEAN UP Act (S. 2179) for advance notification, updates, posting, transparency in lobbying

-Environment and Public Works
-Member of the Senate's Medicaid Working Group
-Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Energy
-Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water

-Legislation (S. 2566) to improve detection/interdiction of international trafficking in weapons
(with Sen. Lugar)
-Chemical Safety Security Act (S. 2486) to protect chemical plants from accidents, terrorism, a strong act, introduced jointly with Sen. Lugar
-Legislation to assure mistakes in the Katrina disaster will not happen again (family locators, corp of volunteers, mandatory planning for evacuation of poor, elderly, disabled)
-Played a key role in crafting immigration reform bill, the Senate version which was not merely punitive but envisioned ultimate paths to citizenship for "guest workers" and currently-illegal immigrants (supported by the administration but opposed by Republican House leadership)
-Legislation to compel Pentagon to work toward electronic medical records/improved care (passed)
-Legislation to require Defense Department to issue a plan to protect troops from a possible Avian flu pandemic (passed)
-Legislation requiring that all soldiers returning from deployments be assessed for Traumatic Brain Injury (passed)
-Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act (S. 3988)
-Sheltering All Veterans Everywhere (SAVE) Act (S. 1180) to combat homelessness among veterans - authored
-Homes for Heroes Act (S. 3475) for access to long-term affordable housing for homeless veterans
-Food services for wounded veterans in rehabilitation programs
-Amendment to prevent VA from arbitrary reviews of PTSD cases in soldiers (passed) - with Sen. Durbin
-Legislation (S. 2441): Innovation Districts for School Improvement Act
-Legislation (S. 2149): Summer Term Education - to address early grade achievement gaps
-Legislation (S. 697) to increase Pell grants to make college more affordable
-Lead-Free Toys Act (S. 2048), Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act (S. 2053)
-Legislation to control mercury pollution of waters (S. 3631 and S. 3627)
-Helped draft and introduce: National MEDiC Act (S. 1784) re: patient safety from medical error
-Hospital Quality Report Act (S. 2359)
-Federal Employees Health Benefits (S. 2247)
-Attacking Viral Influenza Across Nations Act (S. 969) and worked to push through $7.9 billion through Senate to prepare nation for possible avian flu pandemic
-Healthy Communities Act (S. 2047) re: areas in high risk of pollution
-Healthy Places Act (S. 2506)
-Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act (S. 3822) re: genetic research

-Fuel Economy Reform Act of 2006:establish standards and support alternative fuels
-Court Security Improvement Act (after a judge's family was murdered)
-Combat Meth(amphetamine) Act (S. 103), increasing grants, funding
-Dru's Law (S.792) and also Sex-Offender Registration and Notification Act
-Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act (S. 508)
-Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (S. 1151) - with Sen. McCain and Sen. Lieberman
-Mediare Informed Choice Act (S. 1841)
-Rail and transit security funding
-Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which became Public Law 109-144

Worked to Support:
-Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
-Pay raises and health insurance for troops
-Add-on armor for military vehicles
-Improved funding for Head Start
-Allowing US seniors to purchase medication in Canada and allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.
-Assistance to veterans in their claims reviews, appeals, ability to get health care coverage (with Sen. Durbin)
-Low income housing, including housing for grandparents raising their grandchildren (with Sen. Stabenow)
-Low income home energy assistance
-Food assistance - opposing administration's cuts

Fought to prevent:
-Social Security privatization

-EPA to take action on lead (by blocking confirmation of an official, passing an amendment)

-To Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan with Sen. Lugar to visit nuclear weapon stockpiles to secure them
-To Kenya and several other African countries in part on a campaign to draw attention to AIDS

Efforts against AIDS:
-Travels in Africa in which he campaigned for education and action drawing media attention
-Speech before megachurch in Orange Cty, CA, about drawing evangelists into the effort

Major addresses on specific issues
-Education policy (college commencement address) 6/05
-AIDS work (African rallies, megachurch in Orange County, CA)
-Health Information Technology (medical school commencement) 6/05

by rneisuler 2006-12-19 12:58AM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads