The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

At the end of the 2004 presidential primary season and how, after Howard Dean's loss, I found great hope in Barack Obama when I briefly moved to Chicago during the Illinois Senate primary. Reading the latest piece in the media whirlwind surrounding Obama, I found this nugget that reminded me why I liked the guy so much, and why I volunteered for his campaign in a crowded field:Which is not to say that Obama doesn't have very strong partisan convictions. "There are times I think we're not ambitious enough," Obama says. "I remember back in 2004, one of the candidates had made a proposal about universal health care, and some DLC-type commentator said, `We can't propose this kind of big-government costly program, because it'll send a signal we're tax-and-spend liberals.' But that's not a good reason to not do something. You don't give up on the goal of universal health care because you don't want to be tagged as a liberal. People need universal health care." I remember that Obama. I miss that Barack Obama--but he does still show up from time to time. I hope we will see more of him in the future. That is the man I worked for in the 2004 Illinois Senate primary, and who built up easily the largest netroots following of any statewide candidate in 2004. What I don't understand is where this new Obama came from: In town-hall meetings, when those who opposed the war get shrill, Obama makes a point of noting that while he, too, opposed the war, he's "not one of those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil." Did anyone with any power every say that? Did any leading Democrats ever say that? Did any progressive or liberal of any public stature ever say that? If they did, I'd love to see the quote. Why is it necessary for Obama to preface his opposition to the war by saying that he isn't like some crazy, left-wing stereotype that he never names or quotes? More: We're now in a packed room at Eastern Illinois University. A woman stands up and tosses Obama what I assume she thinks is a bit of red meat. What, she asks, does the senator think of the pervasiveness of religion in public discourse these days? Obama doesn't take the bait.

"No one would say that Dr. King should leave his moral vision at the door before getting involved in public-policy debate," he answers. "He says, `All God's children.' `Black man and white man, Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic.' He was speaking religiously. So we have to remember that not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy. Who ever said that any mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy? Did the woman who asked the question say that? If not, then why did he respond that way? Even if she did say that, why is what one woman in a crowd at Eastern Illinois University the equivalent spokesperson for the left as, I don't know, Sam Brownback is for the right? Where is the equivalence in making everyone on the left accountable for every statement of every random person who shows up to any event or a protest and, say, the right being only accountable for what Dick Cheney says?

I find these left wing strawmen disturbing on a very personal level. Whenever a right-wing pundit or politician uses those exact same strawmen, I feel as though I am personally being attacked. This isn't paranoia--right-wing politicians probably are referring to me when they make statements like that, since their intention is often to slander any American who would refer to herself or himself as a progressive or a liberal. The problem is that when Democrats who seek to capture the "middle ground" use the exact same strawmen, I have a hard time believing they are not referring to me. What's worse, is that when it comes to someone like Barack Obama, for who I worked and tried to get elected, I am not really sure what I did to deserve being talked to that way. And yes, it actually hurts to be made a scapegoat by someone you wanted to see in office, and that you helped--even if only slightly--to achieve that office. A single phrase keeps going around in my head whenever I hear Obama use one of his strawmen: I helped you, man. Why are you treating me like this? Is this a sign you don't want me to help you anymore? Do you honestly believe that attacking me is more valuable than I help I can provide?

Unlike, say, Ann Coutler, I don't actually believe that Obama thinks he is referring to the entire left when he makes statements like this. However, since he never actually says who he is referring to, I simply have to assume that, like Ann Coulter, he is referring to the entire left, and therefore also to me. And yes--call me naïve, or call me thin-skinned--but that hurts me. He could clear this up by stopping any use of these left-wing strawmen altogether. There is no need for Obama to use these strawmen in order to make himself look more like a "uniter." (Of course, I don't even see how insulting your fellow Americans makes you a "uniter" in the first place). In the end, all his use of these strawmen does is obscure the great Obama that I quoted at the top of this post. I like that Obama. Everyone in the netroots likes that Obama, as his favorables from the BlogPac netroots survey shows. Like I did in Illinois, I imagine virtually everyone in the netroots would be willing to work, bleed, and walk through the fire for that Obama. There is no need, before revealing the first Obama, for him to indicate that he isn't one those shrill lefties who you heard about from Ann Coulter. There is no need to throw your friends under the bus while saying what you believe.

This man has potential for all-time, worldwide greatness for the first half of the 21st century. However, if he insists on continuing to use left-wing strawmen to describe himself and what he believes then, to use his own words, he will just become another "DLC-type commentator" more worried about being "tagged as a liberal" then about doing what "people need." I mean, is there a reason you differentiate yourself from left-wing strawmen before stating your opposition to the war unless you are worried about being tagged as a liberal? I can't possibly imagine one. This can't all be the media putting words in Obama's mouth and trying to form this triangulating narrative around him. Part of this problem starts with Obama himself.

I will probably have more on this tomorrow. There is so much here that I need to get off my chest, both personally and politically, when it comes to the rise of Obama. I can't say it all in one post. This man just potentially means so much to so many people in America and around that world, that we need to encourage him. He should be neither dismissed outright nor embraced uncritically.

Tags: Barack Obama, IL-Sen, Media, President 2008, Primary Elections (all tags)



Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

He should be neither dismissed outright nor embraced uncritically.

Indeed, when it comes to the man. But his actions since he joined the senate should be used as an example of what not to do.

The problem is, he hasn't acted like a Fighting Democrat. He has wasted opportunity by acting like a suck up to the problems that be politician.

I can't think of a single month since the '04 convention that I didn't lose respect for the way he was squandering his potential.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

So when and where are the diary people from DailyKos going to bury Chris?   This post just commited two of their holy sins, criticizing a Democrat and Obama at that.  I agree that Obama has turned into a suck up, which is why I have no interest in him as a candidate for anything.  Some have made the point that Conyers and other minority politicians have earned more of a right to run that the empty suit Obama has turned into. In fact, the whole field of Democratic contenders is greatly uninspiring.  I don't know much about Webb's policy positions, but I like his spunk.  

by dkmich 2006-12-05 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Criticizing democrats from the left is entirely different than doing so from the right

by Valatan 2006-12-05 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I agree.  If WE don't hold their feet to the fire, who will?   I appreciate Sirota, Chris, Kos, and all the rest of take the Blue Dogs and the DLC to task for betraying their party and all of the Democrats who vote for them.   See that Blue Dogs and DLC are meeting with Mr. 30%.  Pelosi and Reid ought to break their knee caps.

by dkmich 2006-12-06 02:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Very good post.  I hope Senator Obama reads it. He really should read this.  I use to like him too and feel betrayed.

Why do politicians do that?  

In order to win they need to step  on other people.  Why can they not learn inclusive talk. He should learn from  Mark Warner,
Gov Vilsalk, Gov. Richardson, Gen Clark, Sen Reid, Sen Edwards.  

by jasmine 2006-12-04 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

maybe if you read the comments for yourself instead of adopting chris's (badly) misconstrued reading, you'd realize that obama is supporting progressives, is a progressive himself, and is merely addressing  right-wing demagoguery against democrats, NOT perpetuating it.

and i for one think that we as democrats can only fight these misconceptions by addressing them, not by trying to ignore them to death while Bill O'Reilly brings them up every chance he gets.

you really missed the point in this one, chris. i used to like your posts, too. :(

by eddersen 2006-12-04 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

you really missed the point in this one, chris. i used to like your posts, too. :(

Sorry Chris, but it appears you have lost the support of somebody who registered an account less than a half an hour ago to defend Obama.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

actually, he lost the support of a dailykos reader who had been reading mydd lately as well. i made an account so that i could post because i felt that chris had so grossly miscalculated in his criticism of obama.

and i won't apologize for my support of barack obama. i feel that his political philosophy is reasoned, subtle, and progressive, without falling into the populist demogogue trap of lou dobbs & company.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Chris, Excellent Post

Chris, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Obama is now a serious potential nominee if he decides to run. He will be a 1st tier candidate.

Therefore, people with influence like yourself have to start speaking out on your views.
( without attacking or promoting him)

Personally, I do not think Obama is the answer in 2008 for our party.

Great post.

by livyoga 2006-12-04 07:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I'm starting to see that with Obama, if he runs, it almost doesn't matter how segments of the netroots feel about him. A guy like that will generate all the support, donations and goodwill that he needs. A lot of us may complain about his style and any perceived slight against the left, and I do worry about it myself, but I'm really starting to see that with him, we're the last people that he's going to need to win over in order to get elected.

by mihan 2006-12-04 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Maybe for the first few months, but he can't keep up the facade long enough. In the end, it will be yet another example of some Democrats getting hosed because they listened to the Gang of 500 instead of the blogs.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

you see, that's where I don't agree at all. Obama has a really high, positive profile in the media and with the general public. There may be bloggers that are mad at him, but I really don't see the scenario where blogger anger overrides the public's affection for the man. I don't think bloggers hate him that much for one thing, and though the netroots is clearly powerful, I don't think they are that powerful even if they had it in them to do something about it.

by mihan 2006-12-04 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

That is how it always begins. It isn't about strength, it is about fantasy vs. reality and the fact that no matter how much you spend on the curtain, it can still be pulled back.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 06:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Is that how it began with Kerry?  No.  Is that how it began with Gore?  No.  The reality, as much as we might like to believe differently, is that the presidency ultimately comes down to abstract notions of trust and likability.  People vote from their guts.  

Kerry never had that appeal.  Gore only has that appeal when he knows that nothing is on the line (though I'd give him a chance in 2008 if he can bring the real Al Gore to the stage).  Obama has that appeal just as Clinton did.  They are rock stars.  They are the kind of people others want to be near just to say they were near them.  THAT is what gets you elected.  

by sterno 2006-12-04 06:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Because it worked for Bush, doesn't mean we should try it.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 06:48PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

It didn't work for Bush.  First of all, if we want to get real technical he didn't win at all.  But beyond that, the bar for him was pretty low.  He only had to be more appealing than a chronically stiff Gore.  How hard was that really?

by sterno 2006-12-04 08:37PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

You can't compare the Bush family name to a Barack Obama.

Bush's run in 2000 was the exception to the rule.

Any other candidate, Dem or Rep with the Thin Resume, short public experience, & reputation for grammatically ineptness would have never made it past the primary.

Bush's family name carried him all the way. You & I, and millions of Democrats may not have found anything positive about the Bush family name- but we do not get to decide general elections.

Its the millions of non-partisan moderate Independent voters who always make the difference in a general election.

For many of these people, the Bush name was still an honorable political family. ( Until Dubya really damaged it in the last 6 years )
Of course rank & file repubs respect & admire the Bush legacy ( back then)

Watch in 2012 or 2016, if indeed Jeb Bush runs- he will still be a favored candidate due in part to being a Bush.

Just like Hillary is getting lots of mileage for being a Mrs. Clinton.

Barack Obama cannot be compared to the Bush run.

by livyoga 2006-12-04 09:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Way to early-he is in honeymoon

I hope you know that we are way to early to conclude that Obama's positive view & favorable MSM will continue.

History always shows that once the MSM puts you up on a pedestal because you are a fresh face, they will also come down very hard on you once the honeymoon is over.

Believe me, there are plenty of Democrats even beyond the netroots community who have a lot of reservation about Obama.

The rank & file & even the State Democratic party chairs in Red states in the South, Mountain States & midwest have expressed their concern with a Obama or Hillary as the nominee.

The State chairs of AL, MS & SC recently expressed those view publicly. They are sick & tired of not being able to use our National Ticket to campaign in their states.

There concern is this is counter productive to a real 50 state strategy in 2008. This would be John Kerry all over again. Where Democratic candidates for House, Senate & Governor in places like SC, NC, TN, AL,MS,AR,LA,MT,WY,ID would hide & run away from Kerry.  

Obama or Hillary do not bring any positive & any reason to even campaign in Red states. They would actually hurt candidates there

Yes, they could still win with just Blue states but it will be very difficult.

This could also be devastating to our 1st term House members in Red States who will be very vulnerable as 1st term members. Not to mention is would greatly affect our plans to expand our majority since the National ticket will be very weak in these Red & Purple states & drag down our candidates.

by livyoga 2006-12-04 07:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Way to early-he is in honeymoon

Come on, that's ridiculous. Barack Obama as a person, a speaker and as a campaigner is far and away better than John Kerry ever could have been. I don't know how you compare the two to be honest. Obama really hit Southern Illinois hard when was running for Senator, and that tells me he's savvy enough to know that he needs to win over the people who might not vote Democratic.

But what I really believe about the MSM is that Obama is the one person who will come above all of blog-talk nonsense that people are trying to apply here.

So, Chris Bowers doesn't like him much. You know, for as big a part as the blogs can sometimes play, we are surrounded in real life by people who don't read blogs everyday...who remember vaguely Obama's 2004 convention speech, who read about the guy in the newspaper and see him on TV and say, "I like that guy". Somehow he's becoming bigger than all of this. Obama is one of the few candidates that'll come along who can utterly ignore the blogs, barely mention his opponent, campaign wherever he wants to and will inspire people to vote who usually don't because he's NOT attacking his opponents but offering vision.

Again, I don't like some of the things he's had to say about the 'left', but you know what? An awful lot of people think that stuff is true. And yes, there are even Democrats who think so, regardless of what is said at MyDD.

by mihan 2006-12-05 03:03AM | 0 recs
He Tells Popular Lies, What's Not To Like???

Again, I don't like some of the things he's had to say about the 'left', but you know what? An awful lot of people think that stuff is true. And yes, there are even Democrats who think so, regardless of what is said at MyDD.

An awful lot of people think Saddam had WMDs, too.  So why not say that?

My question is this: what wouldn't Obama say?  What lie wouldn't he tell, provided an awful lot of people think it's true?

Is it good enough to support a candidate who only tells popular lies, not unpopular ones?

Is that our standard in the Democratic Party now?

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-05 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: He Tells Popular Lies, What's Not To Like???

can you explain what you mean when you talk about obama's alleged lies? or are you pulling this out of your ass?

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:15AM | 0 recs
Re: alleged lies

Chris provided the straw-man quotes in his diary - the straw-man implies that the described position and person or people are real when they are not. Perpetuating false, essentially right-wing caricatures of liberals/progressives is hugely counterproductive to achieving the goals we all, I hope, have.

by Joe in Wynnewood PA 2006-12-05 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Way to early-he is in honeymoon

I think you're absolutely right that Obama has the potential to be one of the few candidates who can so entirely transcend the netroots--and even the grassroots--that he has a chance of being elected via national media alone. That's one reason his candidacy frightens me. (Though, of course, I'd fight hard for him in the general.)

I much prefer a candidate who is beholden to the grassroots.

And the very problem is that a lot of people think that leftie strawmen are true. That's why he shouldn't be perpetuating them. If his strawmen were things like, 'Some on the left say we must balance every budget even if that means slashing all social programs to the bone,' then they wouldn't be as objectionable.

by BingoL 2006-12-05 04:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Way to early-he is in honeymoon

So, Chris Bowers doesn't like him much.

How the hell did you reach that conclusion? Have we now reached the point that any criticism of Obama on his merits equates to extreme dislike?

by lightyearsfromhome 2006-12-05 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Way to early-he is in honeymoon

Have we now reached the point that any criticism of Obama on his merits equates to extreme dislike?

How the hell does "Bowers doesn't like him much", translate into "extreme dislike"? Seems like there is a difference between the two. Bowers said he liked him a lot before, now, not so much.

Have we reached a point where anyone in favor of Obama is automatically considered to be a blind supporter, who isn't interested in pursuing legitimate criticism? This is really sad that it has come to this. You'd think that Obama has just pissed in the cereal of every wannabe netroots activist on MyDD. If anything Obama may take these hints from the netroots, but you might want to rethink this fight...its not productive, not is it one that can be one.

by mihan 2006-12-05 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Once the MSM determines that the honeymoon is over, he will get a lot of tough questions. People will really know what he's all about.

At the end, I predict Obama & Hillary will knock out each other. Another candidate or two will emerge. Hillary will be weakened by her lost of African-American support while Obama will need more than the Black vote.

Let's face it, his base will be the African-American  community. But we all know that it won't be enough. He will no doubt be in the top tier of 3 or 4 candidates.

But his only hope in the primary will be to get enough support from progressive Democrats to take him over the hill.

Even if he tries to play the center, there is no room for him among moderate/conservative democrats. Moderate/Conservative Democrats in the south, Mountain states & midwest would no doubt be more attracted to an Edwards, Bayh or Clark.

Obama's only shot is winning enough blocks of progressives. That's going to be the Million Dillar question for him in 2008.

Can Obama attract enough progressives to put him over the top?

by livyoga 2006-12-04 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

You do sound a little bruised. We need pit bulls, not posers.

by SqueakyRat 2006-12-04 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I'm glad that you at least cited specific examples of what he does that bothers you.  I read a lot of how he's a DLC Democrat or hostile to progressives and never really understand where it's coming from.  At least this is documenting him saying things you find offensive as a progressive.

I also don't like his quote on being opposed to the war.  I don't understand why he would feel the need to justify being opposed to the war by essentially saying he's not a crazy liberal.  

With that said, for everything Obama says that i don't like he says 10 that are really inspiring.  I really think he has far more potential than any of the other Democratic contenders.  After seeing him in person and watching a crowd of 3,000 people react to him it's hard not be absolutely amazed.  Lets just say that Edwards and Kerry never had and never will have what Obama does.

The main reason I support Obama is the same reason I supported Dean in 2004, I think he's real.  I know the two quotes you cited as pretty much the opposite of that, much for the most part he really speaks how he feels and unlike Dean he can convey himself brillantly.  

I guess I see the potential for what happened to Gore in 2000 to happen to Obama, which would be to completely monitor everything he says and pander to the center as much as possible.  His disclaimer for his opposition to the war would be a great example of him doing this.  However, I really have faith that he'll be more of a Bobby Kennedy than an Al Gore if he decides to run.  Of course only time will tell.

by blueryan 2006-12-04 05:49PM | 0 recs

It's easier to give a great campaign speech than it is to be a great senator.

It's not so easy being a senator; let's see how he does at that before talking him up for president. You say he's changed already; he'll probably change some more.

I want to see how he behaves when the heat is on. I don't want to start discovering things about him in the middle of a presidential campaign.

The last time a senator was elected president during the middle of his first term was never.

by stevehigh 2006-12-04 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Oboomlet
Actually, it was 1960.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Oboomlet

Actually, it was not.  John F. Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1952 beating Henry Cabot Lodge and reelected in 1958.

by Mimikatz 2006-12-04 06:12PM | 0 recs
Plus four years in the House 1948-1952

Hence, Quayle: "I had exactly the same number of years of experience as John Kennedy when he ran for office."

by stevehigh 2006-12-04 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Oboomlet

Great idea Steve.

Campaigning is much easier than legislating as a Senator. Your real views come out.

Some people here say go easy on him. Do you realize how the GOP machine will attempt to destroy him if he is the nominee.

Once he declares, tough, fair questions will have to be thrown at him by democrats across the country. This is the only way to find out what Barack Obama is really all about.

by livyoga 2006-12-04 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Oboomlet

This is why I don't want anyone who hasn't held elective office before--it changes people, and I would really like to know who we are dealing with, before we elect them.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Judging by the two quotes, it is pretty obvious that since Obama is running for President, he is trying to reach out to religious/value voters, a group that Kerry overwhelmingly lost in 04'.

I think Obama is the Real Deal - he is just setting himself up for the general election. He'll have to say things like this if he wants to win.

And I don't think he is trying to hurt the Democrats... remember, it is possible that very soon, he is the face of the party.

by musa 2006-12-04 05:54PM | 0 recs
"Setting himself up for the general"
   There are lots of problems with strategy.  Just look at Hillary Clinton.  He has to win the Democratic primary first.  But there is something bigger at stake with Obama.  He is trying to win IN SPITE of us, and not with us.  We just want to be a part of the coalition.  
   The purpose of the site is to build the progressive movement.  If Obama feels like he needs to jettison the progressive movement along the way, even if only in rhetoric, then he is not our candidate.  "Liberal" will continue to be a curse word (and the associated policies rejected out of hand) if we get a Democratic candidate who needs desperately to portray himself as everything to everybody.  It will be a hollow, short-lived victory for the progressive movement if a Biden-type Democrat is nominated.  Lots is at stake.  
by cilerder86 2006-12-04 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Bill Clinton destroyed the democratic party saying shit like this.  

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:11AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

are you kidding? please tell me you're kidding.

bill clinton was the first democrat since FDR to serve two full terms. did you not understand that? let me repeat: bill clinton was the first democrat in 50 years to serve out two full terms.

i have some issues with bill clinton. i thought he could have been a little bit more steadfast in his handling of the "don't ask, don't tell policy" among other things. but please don't say that bill clinton destroyed the democratic party. that comment reeks of ignorance.

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One


Are YOU Kidding?  The Democrats lost both chambers of Congress during his first term for the first time in like 50 years!  We only JUST got them back, TWELVE years later.

I like Bill Clinton too, but he did what was good for Bill Clinton, not for the Democratic Party.  That was what kept him from being a great president as opposed to a good one.  

by IsThisOverYet 2006-12-05 06:42AM | 0 recs

Yeah he won.  But his coattails did almost nothing to help congress.  Aside from his poorly sold health care plan, he spent his energies pushing a more moderate version of the Republican agenda.  He never missed an opportunity to throw progressives under the bus, and he was the one that put all of the DLC types in power in the first place.  He did nothing to prevent the media from framing all of '90s politics in terms of Republican ideas.  Progressives have many, many reasons to be mad at Clinton.  The victory this year was possible only because the Democrats finally rejected the strategy of the Clintonistas.

Oh, and he ran against Bob Dole in 1996, who, at best, was a weak candidate, and in 1992, he benefited from a three way race and a George Bush I that was at perhaps the weakest point of his presidency

by Valatan 2006-12-05 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I'm Jewish. How do you think other people would like it if I went on tv and said, "All too often Jews are greedy and try to cheat other people. We need to remember to be honest in our business dealings, whether our customers are fellow Jews or gentiles."

This is how Obama sounds to me when he builds himself up by repeating negatives stereotypes about Democrats.

I wish he would stop, but the media are rewarding him for this kind of rhetoric, so I expect him to stick with it.

by desmoinesdem 2006-12-04 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

This is a great analogy.  I identify very personally with my progressive politics, as I imagine some people identify with their religious faith or, even, their ethnicity.  Yes, to me my political world view is that personal.  Your analogy crystallized for me exactly how I feel when I read comments by Democrats that reinforce the caricature of progressives that the MSM peddles.

by bedobe 2006-12-04 06:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

how in the world is he reinforcing the caricatures??? did you even read those quotes?

by eddersen 2006-12-04 07:15PM | 0 recs
how he's reinforcing the caricatures

Well, in one of the quotes Obama says, "So we have to remember that not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy."

That reinforces the caricature that liberals or Democrats or progressives  want to ban all mentions of God and think that anyone who mentions God is trying to impose a theocracy.

It reinforces the caricature that the Democratic Party is unfriendly to people who speak openly of their faith.

We all know that is a bunch of crap. Obama is building himself up by contrasting himself to those other Democrats who allegedly can't abide any mention of God.

by desmoinesdem 2006-12-04 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: how he's reinforcing the caricatures

The other thing your parallel makes clear is this: if a Jew says,  as a Jew and to Jews, something like you say above, that's fine. God knows I've said things about Jews in a Jewish context that I'd never say anywhere else. But when I say those things, I say 'we.' I don't say 'they.' I speak to my community as a member of my community, and I own my community. If a progressive wants to berate progressives, that's perfectly fine: just do it as a progressive.

Also helps if you have  reason for the complaint, and not just a vague straw man, of course ...

by BingoL 2006-12-05 04:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I think that what we need to do is figure out what's going on in Obama's head. Has his time in the Senate changed his outlook on partisanship or his ideology? Is he posing against the left falsely in order to run for the presidency? I don't think he's so aggressively setting up these triangulations that they threaten the left yet, so I'd say we figure out his motives before we pass any judgement.

Also, his response on religion makes sense as retail politics at a public forum - the woman's question suggested that every mention of religion did threaten theocracy in her mind. Was this forum intended for mass consumption?

by CT student 2006-12-04 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

"Has his time in the Senate changed his outlook on partisanship or his ideology?"

He hadn't been sworn in when he picked Lieberman as his mentor. I still find that very troubling, especially as his supporters are now touting his anti-war creds.

by BlueinColorado 2006-12-04 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I think that what we need to do is figure out what's going on in Obama's head. Has his time in the Senate changed his outlook on partisanship or his ideology? Is he posing against the left falsely in order to run for the presidency? I don't think he's so aggressively setting up these triangulations that they threaten the left yet, so I'd say we figure out his motives before we pass any judgement.

Also, his response on religion makes sense as retail politics at a public forum - the woman's question suggested that every mention of religion did threaten theocracy in her mind. Was this forum intended for mass consumption?

by CT student 2006-12-04 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Sorry for the double post...

by CT student 2006-12-04 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Obama is more than capable of Kennedyesque speech. But that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for the first part of the two Lyndon Johnsons--specifically, the man who remembered his poor TX roots but who also remembered how Texans got legislation through the state house. The time for great ideas is not now, IMO. This is the time for getting things done. Inspiration is important, but I'd rather have the guy who figured out how to cut through the red tape and get two medi-vac planes to New Orleans after Katrina than the guy who gave fancy speeches about the impact of Katrina.

by grayslady 2006-12-04 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One


I know I for one find this guy to have the ability to transcend our time and hope that he can fight throw everything and actually live up to his ultimate potential.  Being a man with young kids and facing the prospect of large sums of student loans at the end of graduate school in May, I find myself fighting a battle of wanting to get on a plane and help this man get elected president in any way that I am able to when/if he declares himself eligible.  

by Mark J. Bowers 2006-12-04 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Dude, you are going to ditch your family for 20 months for a senator who should be considered to rank behind four others who haven't even been sworn in yet?

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

dude, how do you know mark is even a husband and father? you're beginning to just sound like some obama-hating jerk...

by eddersen 2006-12-04 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

You need to work on reading comprehension, HE wrote, "Being a man with young kids and facing the prospect of large sums of student loans at the end of graduate school in May, I find myself fighting a battle of wanting to get on a plane and help this man get elected president in any way that I am able to when/if he declares himself eligible."

Emphasis mine to help you comprehend the comment I was replying to.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

sorry, i hadn't actually read mark's post. i only read yours. and you were being rather rude and abrasive in either case, weren't you?

by eddersen 2006-12-04 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I think that is a rather trite interpretation of what I would consider doing if he were to throw his hat into the race.  The fact of the matter is that, in my opinion, once he does throw his hat in he instantly becomes THE candidate.  

by Mark J. Bowers 2006-12-04 08:15PM | 0 recs
The candidate for VP, maybe

Gore will be the nominee, despite his contentions that he will not run. Maybe Obama would make a good VP, maybe not, but he most certainly will not stop the Gore machine.

by Alex Urevick 2006-12-05 08:37AM | 0 recs
First They Ripen, Then They Rot.

Doesn't it look like sort of a John Kerry syndrome. Now Kerry comes from my state, and I always vote for him. And he did win the presidential election of 2004, but if I had hired this guy to run for president for me, I would have given him the "this isn't working out" routine. And I'm not sure of exactly why. But his style of dealing with the neocon wingnuts just doesn't get the weeds plowed under. And Obama looks to be the same kind of too-damn-risk-averse type. The people who run the Commonwealths disgraceful lottery at least have a catchy little mantra: "You can't win if you don't play." Well I'm not gonna run right out and buy a scratch ticket! But for someone running for something like the presidential office, some chances must be taken.

If you even just think about it, imagine (God forbid!) you woke up as George W. Bush! If it was me, and I had to talk like he does, I would just have my mouth sewn shut, and suck juice through a straw. But this guy just yaks and yaks on and on insanely. And enough people vote for him to let him think he's been elected. Actually, now I can say I said something good about George W!

by blues 2006-12-04 06:08PM | 0 recs
Thank God Kerry Won!

Because 4 more years of GW Bush would have been terrible...

Are you being serious, or was that a joke?

by Alex Urevick 2006-12-05 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank God Kerry Won!

It's very well-accepted in the anti-vote-scam community that Kerry almost certainly won, in terms of real voter intent, in 2004.

by blues 2006-12-05 04:26PM | 0 recs
Give him time...

I feel like a lot of the criticism of Obama comes less from any actual betrayal than from a betrayal of a idealistic image of him.  If anything perhaps it's good to see some realism settling in because, in the end, he's a politician.  

I'll openly admit that I know little about him from any kind of personal experience.  I voted for him and put a window sign up for him and think he's a fantastic public speaker, but his victory was such a foregone conclusion that I didn't feel much need to invest in his campaign.  I had no skin in the game, so I'm obviously more detached from this than others.  Take that for what it's worth.

You seem to have blinders on for lack of a better word.  I have seen people who say Iraq is only about oil.  I marched in protests against the war with them.  They certainly exist.  Are they big time Democratic politicians?  No.  But they certainly do exist and are part of the activist base that I also consider myself to be part of.  Pretending they do not exist does not benefit us.  

In the end, is Obama the ideal progressive candidate?  No, because no such beast exists.  He will invariably do many things we do not like.  He will make compromises that make no sense to us.  As much as some people would like to see a third Clinton term, he's also the same guy that sold us down the river on NAFTA.  Politics is compromise and with that, idealism will always hit a brick wall at some point.

So my take is give him time and let's see what he does with this if he is indeed running rather than selling books.  He'll go out there and he'll speak and he'll lay out his agenda, and then we can judge him based on the merits.  

Then the people in Iowa will decide if he's our candidate :)

by sterno 2006-12-04 06:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Give him time...
The point is...
Why does the left have to answer for every nutbar in a protest while the right can pretend like the free republic and little green footballs don't even exist?  Especially when their elected officials are about 1,000 times more partisan and extreme than the extremely timid Democrats, it seems insane.
by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Give him time...

So then where does the praise come from? Certainly it doesn't seem to be coming from any actions/votes on his part.

by Alex Urevick 2006-12-05 08:42AM | 0 recs

Isn't "some who think Bush went into Iraq for the oil" more or less a reference to Michael Moore? Yes,  Farenheit 9/11's oil sequence is more about that pipeline into Afganistan but I think Iraq figures in there too, no?

Anyway, I think it's disingenuous to pretend that that claim about Bush isn't out there. What's more, one could easily imagine a Republican complaining that OBAMA is putting that meme out there when he says "I wouldn't go so far as to say Bush invaded Iraq for the oil"; on the model of "I would never be one to accuse my Democratic opponents of being communists."

by Ottoe 2006-12-06 04:23AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I think you are being a bit too parochial and defensive here. This is not about straw men. Obama can do here is help redefine the Progressive left as not being hostile to religion but in the tradition of the left to draw upon the prophetic religious tradition for the values that transform the social order in the direction of peace and social justice. He is able to engage people in this country who are motivated by religious values and do it from a place that is credible.  

by cmpnwtr 2006-12-04 06:11PM | 0 recs
Is this how he defends?

"So we have to remember that not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy."  This sounds like something Bill O'Reilly would say.  He's telling us what we think and why it's wrong.  That's not leading.  

by cilerder86 2006-12-04 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Is this how he defends?

once again, you're confusing acknowledgement with tacit support. obama rejects the notion that democrats are atheistic foes of religion (though some, like myself, really are). just because he brought it up, it doesn't mean he supports it. you should really try to understand the intricacies of argument before casting aspersions.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 07:13PM | 0 recs
Big words.

   Thanks for that.  It really oozed condescension. But why bother acknowledging them?  It's a straw man argument just like Chris says.  Ooh, look at me I said "straw man."  It's one of the several logical fallacies in rhetorical argument.  Wow, I took a rhetoric class too!  I can't wait to find a sentence where I can use the phrase "cast aspersions!"

by cilerder86 2006-12-04 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Big words.

did you have anything substantive to say?

oh sorry, is substantive a big word too?

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
"Obama can do here is help redefine the Progressive left as not being hostile to religion."

I didn't realize we were hostile to religion. I don't see how Obama claiming that some Demcorats somewhere who have no power or no microphone are hostile to religion helps change out image on that one.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 07:40PM | 0 recs
Religion and the left

As a Christian (of Obama's denomination), I've found the left blogosphere inhospitable to my religious beliefs. I'm forever wincing my way past commenters who equate the theocratic televangelists they're familiar with to Christians in general, including Catholic Workers, Quakers, and we who work in homeless shelters. Here it isn't too bad; DK is offputting.

Then again, in some of his comments on religion and the left, Obama ignores all us religious leftists, too.

by joyful alternative 2006-12-07 07:05AM | 0 recs
First impression was right..."greatness"

"This man has potential for all-time, worldwide greatness for the first half of the 21st century"

Hold that thought!

On the religion thing. You might be over reacting a bit.

"So we have to remember that not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy."

In your example above he doesn't mention "the left" so taking affront as a "leftie" seems a bit of a stretch.  Almost Sirotaish in bending over backwards looking for an insult where none was made nor intended.

Additionally, it's a correct comment. The civil rights movement used religion and churches politically with no overtones of theocracy that we see in the right wing today.

Where Obama shines is he can articulate between the left and right wing use of religion, between use of religion for moral persausaion vs. theocracy.

That articulation is what has been missing from the Democrats rhetorical arsenal.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-04 06:13PM | 0 recs

I don't think there's an appreciation among the secular warriors, where there's something approaching hostility to anything that appreciates religiosity in politics, for the distinction you are making. The whole rhetoric of criticism toward Obama seems to expect that he follow the traditional 'far to the left' secular approach for '08; where instead, I see him actually engaged in an effort to break down misperceptions while creating new ones. I don't think Chris is correct at all in saying that there are two Obama's at work, because this sounds no different than the Obama I listened to in 2004 at the DNC convention. He speaks using religious terminology as a Democrat-- something that's been at the core of the historical populist movement in this country and long missing within the Democratic Party. A secular warrior would not find it very interesting, and perhaps threatening, being much more comfortable with Howard Dean taking on the fundamentalist preacher, but there should be little doubt that Obama is more effective in terms of neutralizing the base of the Republican Party's politicization of religion.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-04 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: ..."greatness"

Is he breaking down misconceptions, or speaking in code?

The question: "What does the senator think of the pervasiveness of religion in public discourse these days?"

Translated: 'What does Obama think of the political power of people who are offended by the notion of a Moslem Congessman swearing into office on the Koran?"

His answer: "No one would say that Dr. King should leave his moral vision at the door before getting involved in public-policy debate ... we have to remember that not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy."

Translated (from anti-left code): I have no problem with them. They're doing exactly what Dr. King did, bringing faith to bear on the political process. Furthermore, despite the claims of 'some on the left,' we should encourage religion and religious speech in politics.'

Or, translated (breaking down misconceptions): I have no problem with them, because we should bring our own left-wing political faith, like Dr. King did, into the process. Not every mention of God refers to the God of the theocons."

by BingoL 2006-12-05 05:20AM | 0 recs

long missing within the Democratic Party

Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry.  Each of them is very connected with their faith, and each of them did/does include the terminology of faith in their public discourse; it is perfectly natural for them to do so; it is not forced.  (I can't remember much of Fritz Mondale's discourse, but somehow I doubt it was faith-free; I see on Wikipedia his dad was a minister.)  Anyway these were the most recent standard-bearers of our party, the people our party nominated to speak for us.  (Oh, yes, and I shouldn't forget the VP nominees Joe Lieberman and John Edwards.)

So, really, what is your evidence of this long missingness you refer to?

by Rob in Vermont 2006-12-05 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: First impression was right...

Obama says "not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy".

And your interpretation is that Obama isn't criticizing the left?

If I said "not every mention of gun control is automatically threatening the right to bear arms" am I criticizing the right?  

by RickD 2006-12-05 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One


Thanks for this post -- I hope that it's only the first of many taking a critical look at the "Obama phenomenon".  Curiously, I can see how, if the progressive blogsphere becomes "too critical" of an Obama '08 run, this may be used by the Obama camp as his Sister Souljah moment.  Regardless, I sincerely hope that -- as some, including David Sirota, have done -- the progressive blogsphere starts to turn a critical eye on Obama's frequent use of the "liberal straw man," as he triangulates.  

Great post.

by bedobe 2006-12-04 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

What we don't need is dishonesty and cliques.

Has Obama revealed a strong capacity for dishonesty?  Yes.  These "straw men" that Chris has accurately identified are the worst kind of evidence of dishonesty.  How do you tell when Obama is telling the truth?

Has Obama joined a ruling clique whose views he values more than Chris Bowers, for example?  Res ipsa loquitur.

Look, I don't want to be identified as a someone with a looney, idée fixe that lurks in blog comment sections proposing his troubled version of reality, but what we do need is someone, like Ned Lamont, who is the real thing and not the member of any clique.  And who can appeal to a broad cross-section of Americans.

Name anyone on the national scene today who fills that description.  The forces of darkness would have you believe that it's some kind of satanic marriage between Bloomberg and Lieberman.

It's someone a hell of a lot more like, in fact it is, Jame Webb.

Draft him before the country goes to hell.

by Ethelred 2006-12-04 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Sorry, but I believe Virginia has him for now.

by musa 2006-12-04 06:17PM | 0 recs
Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament....

Dude...get over go through an odd littany of items with ZERO examples and then the real issue (for you) pops up...nefarious Ned Lamont.

Obama supported Leiberman in the primary...get over it. He supported Lamont when Lamont got the Democratic nomination. That's his Bill Clinton made also.

I understand a large portion of the netocracy has a huge psychic investment in Lamont but Obama is not why Lamont didn't win...the voters of CT made that choice and it was overwhelming.

If Obama had to choose between an appearance for Lamont or Webb...he picked Webb...and it was the right call.

If you are going to blame Obama for Lamont then you'd have to "credit" him with Webb and winning the Senate...and that's a good trade.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-04 06:27PM | 0 recs
"Obama killed Lamont" lament....

i totally sympathize with you. i hate lieberman's guts, but you can really see the level of naiveté in some members of the netroots when you hear them talk about lamont.

not a member of any cliques? the real deal? get a clue. lamont is a wealthy WASP man from connecticut.

barack obama and russ feingold are far more of a "real deal" than ned lamont.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

Great support that Obama and Clinton gave Lamont.  It was half-hearted at best.  If we gain more Senate seats in 2 years and they don't kick Lieberputz out, then we know where Reid & Co. really stand.  Also, if Clinton and Obama really supported Lamont, they would have forced Lieberliar out, right after his primary defeat.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-04 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

Yeah if only Obama wasn't out wasting his time campaigning to make sure people like Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb won he might have been able to campaign against someone that will actually caucus with the Dems if he wins.  

by blueryan 2006-12-04 08:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

So the fact that the primary was all for naught doesn't mean anything to you?  Also, I guess you know about the whole day off between stops in NY and Massachusetts thing?  Lets face it, Obama and Clinton didn't cover themselves in glory as far as Lieberliar/Lamont goes.  Did Lieberliar really need to get a standing "O" when he came back to the Senate?  Also, he won only because all the Repubs supported him.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-04 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

"So the fact that the primary was all for naught doesn't mean anything to you?"

So the fact that the voters of CT creamed Lamont means nothing to you?

The fact that polls showed Lamont a near hopeless case once Leiberman stayed in means nothing to you?

The fact that Webb and others had a very good shot and they wanted Obama to help them means nothing to you?

The fact that Webb won by whisker and this was one of his main campaign photos means nothing to you?

The fact that you are looking at next Prez and VP means nothing to you?

by BrionLutz 2006-12-04 09:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

Thanks for using a Lieberliar talking point to make your point.  If Lieberliar wanted to run no matter the outcome of the primary, why didn't he just switch his party affiliation to Republican.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-05 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

you're a psycho. shut up about lieberman already. we hate lieberman. just like you. you're so self-righteous. get over yourself.

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

Speak for yourself.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-07 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Another "Obama killed Lamont" lament

I prefer Democrats over "people who lost Democratic primaries but promise to caucus with Democrats all the while accepting money from Republicans, campaigning Republicans, and threatening liberals with defection".

by RickD 2006-12-05 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I respect the candor and quality of this post.  I've been fairly concerned with what I perceive to be an unjustified backlash against the senator from Illinois.  It is nice to see a post that calmly articulates real issues with Obama.

That being said, I interpret Obama's comments in a very different way.  When he uses the straw man, I see it as an attempt by him to dispel misconceptions about Democrats and progressives.  We have to remember that to a lot of America, Obama probably represents the progressive movement.  When he says that he doesn't think we invaded just for oil, yeah, he's distancing himself from some people on the far-left.  But he's also distancing liberals like myself from the right-wing caricatures of my beliefs.  Yeah, in doing so he is, in some small way, buying into their attacks.  But in doing so, he is breaking down their tired arguments.

It's obvious that a lot of people in the netroots feel betrayed by Obama.  I don't share in that feeling (and I also worked on his 2004 campaign), but I also don't want to marginalize it.  It's my hope that we can move past this.

by LPMandrake 2006-12-04 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

that's EXACTLY what obama is doing. he's dispelling preconceived notions of democrats, not perpetuating them. his arguments go, "you may think that democrats are [tired old stereotype here], but look at me - i'm a democrat and i'm [progressive position here]."

chris bowers doesn't understand the difference between ADDRESSING a misconception and PERPETUATING it.

obama 2008!

by eddersen 2006-12-04 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Please!!  Are you saying Chris has zero reading comprehension?

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-04 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

No, I'm afraid you're missing the difference between ACKNOWLEDGING a misconception, therby perpetuating it, and ADRESSING a misconception.

Look, in Debate, they tell us to NEVER do what you just did above. By acknowledging the idea that Dems think we invaded Iraq for its oil (and who else could he possibly be referring to there), or acknowleging the idea that Dems are hostile to religion, he implicitly endorces that viewpoint. What he should be saying is, "Look, I believe that God is important, yet I'm still a progressive", thereby telling people that progressives as a whole aren't hostile to religion.

He's not even doing what you claim he's doing - instead of saying, "Some think x, but in fact y", he says "Some think x, and we really need to change that."

Do you see how he distances himself as something unique and different from the left, instead of embracing the left? Do you see how he discraces the left in the process?

by pluto101 2006-12-05 03:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

i don't take lectures from kids in high school debate who can't spell.

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Ouch. Listen, sorry I had to write quickly.

Sorry to get a little emotional, but could you address the substance of the point? I see people like Obama unintentionally reinforcing these frames, and I'm honestly shocked people here defend him.

I know that people who think that we went into Iraq purely for oil are on the fringe, but when he says that, people think of you and me. Some think of John Kerry. And when he says that he's different, he's better, he's saying he's different or better than you and me, smearing the party. Instead of showing the world what progressivism is, he's reinforcing progressive stereotypes in order to show he's different. That's why I'm not an Obama fan right now.

Oh, and btw, working 55 hour weeks on the Ned Lamont campaign for 3 months, devoting both my summer and spring vacations this year to that campaign, I think I've earned just a teensy bit of respect.

by pluto101 2006-12-05 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
And some people don't understand the DIFFERENCE between persuasive ARGUMENT and liberal usage of CAPS LOCK.
by RickD 2006-12-05 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I agree. Those strawmen exist whether Obama mentiones them or not. He is simply trying to dispell them, or at least distance himself from them. The Right has too often successfully linked sensible liberalism with radical conspiracy theorists. I think it is good Obama is addressing this directly.

by mhoffa1382 2006-12-04 07:12PM | 0 recs
don't strawman obama either, chris

barack obama is just pre-emptively insulating himself from criticism. all his arguments are basically saying, "hey, i'm NOT this and that. DON'T strawman me. don't misrepresent what i stand for."

and as far as i can tell from these quotes, he stands for accessible health care, he opposes the war in iraq, and he voiced brave support for separation of church and state.

you know what, chris? i think obama might be a progressive!

you know what else? i think you really overreact a  lot. lighten up.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: don't strawman obama either, chris

We could have said the same thing about Lieberman ten years ago.  There's no reason to do that contrast.  Ever.  

Just say what you believe.  

Let's look at it another way--when a youth pastor says "You might have heard that church isn't FUN, and that youth group isn't COOL--but...", does that encourage the whole junior high to show up for church youth group in droves?  No, because by saying the first clause, you basically admit the sterotype, remind people of it, and reinforce it.  It's a rhetorical technique that never works.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:26AM | 0 recs
Re: don't strawman obama either, chris

Obama expressed support for separation of church and state??

That's not how I read what he said.  He pooh-poohed the idea that such separation should be a concern of Democrats.  That's pretty much the opposite of what I'm looking for.

by RickD 2006-12-05 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Chris, I see your point, but I tend to agree with the previous commenter. I think what Obama's doing is very different than what Republicans or Lieberman-types do.  He's not triangulating against actual Democrats.  He's triangulating against a fringe position and thereby making the mainstream Democratic position, which he holds, seem entirely moderate by comparison.  Republicans do this all the time, and it's quite effective. By comparing their actual positions to fringe right-wing positions, they themselves appear sensible and moderate.  Obama is quite good at making himself appear moderate or "centrist" when his actual positions on most issues are quite liberal.  He's able to accomplish this by employing rhetorical tactics like the ones you describe.  Ultimately, that's a very good skill for a national Democratic politician to have.  

by Anonymous Liberal 2006-12-04 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Good post. I don't get this whole need by Chris to identify with the ultra fringe left position that Obama differentiates himself from in those answers. I think what Chris misses is the point that a national politican has to identify where he is on the spectrum, or otherwise go with a black and white dichotomy-- that's what Bush does and it sucks.

When I was out on the book tour, talking about how Democrats could win in 2006, I often took on thbe questions that implied that Democrats could not win no matter what, because the Republicans owned the machines-- and those claims were coming from the left. It doesn't mean that I was criticizing the entire left in making it a point that I disagreed with those wacky conspiracy theorists.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-04 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Yet the right gets away with it all the time.  Just look at the whole "the MSM is a bunch lefties" argument.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-04 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
He is "defining himself" against unnamed people who have no national presence, no national microphone. Whether or not there are people who think what Obama claims, you can't find anyone with any prominence who has made the sort of statements he has differentiated himself against. What is the point of differentiating yourself against people like that? I might as well differentiate myself agains the anarchists in my neighborhood who similarly high national profiles.

If he wants to differentie himself, fine. But do so against people who can actually speak back. Of late, he has developed a habit of speaking against unnamed people using quotes that no one in a prominent position has ever made. that sort of differentiation does nthing but enoforce stereotypes against Democrats.

And I don't identy with far left dtereotypes--we have all been consistently identified with those stereotypes by others. It happens on a regular basis. It was particuarly prominent during the Lamont-Lieberman primary campaign. republicans have placed us in those groups for years and years. And when anyone brings up those groups--who, as I said, ahve no national microphone--how is it not the same thing as placing us in the groups once again? Those groups are only discussed on the public stage in order to tarnish the entire left with those stereotypes.

He didn't always talk like this, and bring up these stereotypes. I saw him give more than a dozen speeches in the early days. He didn't preface his opposition ot the war back then by pointing out that were anti-war people he felt were nuts. I think there are anti-war people who are nuts, but I don't see why that is relevant to me dicussion of the opposition to the war. Who cares what my lunatic neighbor thinks? Why is that relevant to my personal differentiation from other on the war?

I don't feel like I am asking for a lot from Democratic candidates on this one. I just want them to stop repeating Republican stereotypes about Democrats. I don't see how a member of any group repeating hurtful stereotypes about that group is ever good for the group. All it does is reify the stereotype.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Chris, by defining himself against unnamed holders of fringe positions, Obama is able to move the entire debate to the left without hurting any actual Democratic politicians.  Conservatives have done this with incredible success for years. By highlighting the positions held by right-wing extremists, the Republican party has been able to make very conservative positions seem moderate by comparison. This allows them to move the whole debate rightward.  

Obama's rhetorical approach allows him to mask to some degree just how liberal he actually is. It allows him to move the debate to the left without appearing to do so.  

Plus, if he manages to get elected, he pretty much gets to define what the Democratic position is.  What better way is there to dispel Republican stereotypes than that?  

by Anonymous Liberal 2006-12-04 08:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Clinton did--he moved the mainstream Democratic position further to the right than any Democrat since maybe Grover Cleveland, but since the rhetoric was always a contrast against the left, Democrats still got accused of being pseudo-communists, constantly.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:34AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Republicans highlight positions of right-wing extremists?  For a second there I thought you meant the R's did some criticizing of RW extremists, and I know that's ridiculous.  Because no right-wing position has ever been too extreme to cause the Republican party to condemn it.  Instead, the VP goes on their radio shows.

by sj 2006-12-05 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

When do republicans do this?

When did Bush ever say, "Some want me to drop the hydrogen bomb on Baghdad, but, instead, I think an invasion of Iraq is a more prudent path"


"Some want homosexuality outlawed, and gays jailed; but I, instead, simply want to protect marriage"

or something else along similar lines?  The only example that I can think of is Bush's guest worker program, but that actually substantively drives a wedge into the Republican coalition.  I guess one might also cite McCain's call for more troops, but most Republicans just seem to be ignoring McCain on this, rather than contrasting themselves against him.

Really, when do Republicans do this?

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:31AM | 0 recs
What's Not Mentioned in this post

I share the respect that some commenters have made about the sincerity and thoughtfulness of this post. It's hard to see Chris Bowers as doing anything other than provoking an important dialogue here. That said, I would disagree pretty strongly with the perspective of this piece.

I think it's impossible to understand the political significance of Barack Obama's senate election, national success and presidential aspirations outside of the crucible of race. We need to remember: Obama is the only African-American elected to the senate office in the post-Civil Rights era. He embodies the future -- a potential, deeply transformative future -- of this country even as his very presence in the Senate -- perhaps more than any other person who has held this office -- speaks powerfully and directly to the most essential legacies and burdens of our country's past.

This is so complicated. For one, Obama could obliterate the entire paradigm of the New Right ascendancy that has governed and cast a pall over politics for most of our lives (I was born in 1970, around the same time, I gather, as many of us on this website). The Southern Strategy, in my view, is the skeleton key that unlocks U.S. politics of the last 35 years -- the years, in other words, since Jim Crow ended. Obama, much more than any other current politican, has the ability to transform our country: both in terms of policy but more profoundly -- at least initially -- in terms of politics, culture and ideology.

This speaks to a second, underlooked aspect of what Obama is up to. Put in the simplest terms: the U.S. has a long tradition of putting black people in "their place". It is the bane of our country's history. The attack on "liberals" in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s is inseparable from this as well. The entire hate-machine of the right-wing media would have loved to put Obama in his place. They have not been able to. Remarkably, he confronts and transforms the very mechanisms of polarization in our country. And clearly a big instance of this is the way he engages religious discourse and culture.

Much more to say about these topics, but I think this lays out some aspects of what's going on that are very much worth considering.  

by alw 2006-12-04 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Not Mentioned in this post

i agree with your general sentiment, though i wanted to point out the massachusetts elected a (liberal) republican african american a few decades ago and that obama's home state of illinois elected carol mosely braun, a great progressive senator, in the 90's.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Not Mentioned in this post

Yes, and I think Douglas Wilder would be the only African-American candidate in this same period elected as a governor. Is that right? Thanks for the correction.

by alw 2006-12-04 07:17PM | 0 recs
Deval Patrick

Massachusetts just elected a black governor in 2006.

by TrueBlueMajority 2006-12-04 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Not Mentioned in this post

Before we set up Obama to be the Great Black Hope, we really need to accept that he's a Senator who will have only four years experience under his belt in 2008.  Also, I didn't see anything in the first two years that really excited me.  And like Chris, I was annoyed by his cynical "centrist" triangulation strategy, which seems to me to hurt the movement as a whole in favor of helping himself.

by RickD 2006-12-05 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Not Mentioned in this post

Is there any African-American in the history of the United States who even had remotely the chance of being a major presidential candidate, of being a president-elect, as Obama already clearly has? To ignore the deep significance of this -- particularly for African-Americans, but also in relation to the core, defining issue of U.S. history and culture -- seems to me unworthy of a forward-looking progressive netroots community.

by alw 2006-12-05 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Not Mentioned in this post

While I agree with you totally that Obama cannot be thought about outside of the white supremacist culture we live in -- please note we had a Senator named Carol Moseley-Braun for one term.

by janinsanfran 2006-12-05 10:39AM | 0 recs
Framing 101

This is basic framing. Obama may honestly think he is defending progressives and liberals by saying he is not like the right-wing stereotypes. But by making that assertion he creates the impression that those stereotypes have validity. He gives them weight.

I don't have any reason to believe he is doing it intentionally in order to triangulate. I want to believe he is not doing it intentionally. But I don't know him well enough to come to a conclusion on this and I have far to much experience with politicians who DO do it deliberately to just shrug it off when it happens. Especially when it comes from someone as promising as Obama.

by Chris Andersen 2006-12-04 07:41PM | 0 recs
Obama is far too smart not to know

that this is exactly what he is doing.

Obama has made it clear in many ways that he thinks he no longer needs the progressives without whose help he would not have emerged from a 7 candidate field in 2004 to win the Democratic nomination. Other candidates had far more money (Blair Hull) and institutional support (Dan Hynes). It was the dedication of the grassroots that won it for Obama.

In addition to his many insulting straw man arguments, he has chosen to side against progressives many times, perhaps most notably in strongly backing Tammy Duckworth over grassroots hero Christine Cegelis in the IL-6 primary this year. This was a race Barack had no need to take sides in but chose to anyway, and it was his support (and TV commercials with Duckworth) that made the difference.

Obama has fallen under the sway of people like Rahm Emanuel and has chosen to be exactly the type of politician he decried in the first quote Chris Bowers cited.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-04 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is far too smart not to know

That still pisses me off. Cegelis was at rootscamp over the weekend, I sure hope she runs and wins in 2006.

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-04 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is far too smart not to know

MyDD should announce that you will back her to help the recruitment.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is far too smart not to know

I'd be pretty interested in seeing a case where Obama, either explicitly or implicitly, said he neither needs nor wants the support of progressives.

by LPMandrake 2006-12-04 09:39PM | 0 recs
That's exactly what he did by throwing Christine

under the bus. I know he got tons of letters from those involved in that race who also helped him in 2004. I contributed to his 2004 campaign, for example. He (or his staff) never answered my letter and he actually knows who I am -- I included personal details in the letter (sent by snail mail and fax) that would have caused any intelligent staffer to bring it to his attention.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-05 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Framing 101

not to pick on you, but could MyDD install a filter so any post that uses the word "framing" gets a flag so I can ignore it?

"Framing" is deeply overrated as a political concept.  

And, FWIW, I agree with your basic point completely.  I just hate the word "framing".  

by RickD 2006-12-05 07:49AM | 0 recs
the homogeneous liberal blogosphere

it seems to me what the liberal blogosphere decided a few months ago that Obama was somehow opposed to bloggers and all things liberal.  i just don't get it.  i've heard him speak many times recently, and i couldn't disagree with chris more.  i think you are being way too sensitive man.

his whole narrative is that we need to return to a country where community matters.  when he talks like that, it reminds me of listening to dean speak at town halls in new hampshire.

frankly, i think this is a big problem for the blogosphere.  all of the main bloggers have come to some sort of consensus that Obama is against the netroots.  everything he does or says is somehow offensive to the core group of blog leaders.  

i just don't see it.

by jbird 2006-12-04 07:42PM | 0 recs
Read my post above

His decision to side against Cegelis was a big FU to the local grass- and netroots which was solidly behind Christine. He knew what he was doing.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-12-04 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Chris, you've been travelling too much recently, and your feelings are a little raw.  Obama's not talking about you, or about the Left in general.  Obama's from the Hyde Park section of Chicago, near the University.  While the University itself is a right-wing cesspool, the permanent neighborhood is pretty far to the Left.  And yes, there are those of us here (I've lived here for 22 years) who believe that Bush went to Iraq for the oil, and he's probably heard that from us a little too often.  

And yes, we are pretty hard on organized religion, too, although we have our fair share of churches here.  We're a very secular neighborhood, skeptical of organized religion, and the term "opiate of the masses" trips a little too easily off our tongues.  Remember, Obama's a religious person--he's been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, one of the largest black churches in the city, since  well before he took office in the state Senate.

So, if Obama sounded like he was using these questions to "refer to the entire Left," he probably wasn't.  What he was doing was trying to address what he thought was underlying the question--the far Left interpretation of the war in Iraq (one that I partially agree with, BTW--I am a Hyde Parker, after all), and the implicit Lefty critique of organized religion.  This is a typical Obama tactic--to talk about what everyone knows is being implied by a question, rather than just address the question robotically, like other politicians.

Take a week off, Chris.  You deserve it.

by rayspace 2006-12-04 07:43PM | 0 recs
the homogeneous liberal blogosphere

it seems to me that the liberal blogosphere decided a few months ago that Obama was somehow opposed to bloggers and all things liberal.  i just don't get it.  i've heard him speak many times recently, and i couldn't disagree with chris more.  i think you are being too sensitive.

his whole narrative is that we need to return to a country where community matters.  when he talks like that, it reminds me of listening to dean speak at town halls in new hampshire.

frankly, i think this is a big problem for the blogosphere.  all of the main bloggers have come to some sort of consensus that Obama is against the netroots.  everything he does or says is somehow offensive to the core group of blog leaders.  

i just don't see it.

by jbird 2006-12-04 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: the homogeneous liberal blogosphere
"all of the main bloggers have come to some sort of consensus that Obama is against the netroots."

I can se why you have no problem with Obama's stereotypes, as you just made an absurd, sweeping generalizaiton that doesn't even reflect this one post.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 08:01PM | 0 recs
Re: the homogeneous liberal blogosphere

chris you are way too sensitive. these caricatures of democrats exist whether or not obama acknowledges them. at least by addressing them, we can assess the  fallacies inherent in these misrepresentations. obama does this.

it's better than ignoring these caricatures and allowing the likes of bill o'reilly to continue caricaturing us unchallenged.

barack obama bravely addresses the problem, and you accuse him of strawmanning us.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 08:11PM | 0 recs
Re: the homogeneous liberal blogosphere

You address them when they are brought up to you, and only then.  You don't voluntarily bring up negative stereotypes of yourself.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

No one expects Republicans to do this.

The press doesn't force THEM to repudiate their far-right base. Republicans dont do what Obama, and other Dems appear do now to their own. Using strawman stereotypes that piss on radical base groups they just spent a whole primary courting, getting money and support from. They don't go to the general public on national TV saying "gee, we aren't really simpatico with  the religeous fanatics and gun crazy yahoos you saw us canoodling with during the primaries." The evangelical and right wing libertarian groups deal real consequences to Republicans who pull that sh*t. And since Reagan, until recently, they've gotten the respect they deserve and much of their agenda legislated. Those days are ending, but hopefully, Democrats might learn a few things from those "yahoos" before its over.

by otto schmidlap 2006-12-04 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

This is exactly what I wonder.  You summed it up pretty well.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-04 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Republicans dont do what Obama, and other Dems appear do now to their own.

I think an argument can be made that this is, in fact, EXACTLY what George W. Bush was doing with the "compassionate conservatism" theme he hammered in the 2000 election.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
An argument can be made? Even by what you write, it certainly isn't clear that is what he was doing.

He may have been trying to frame himself, but he didn't do it by trashing anyone else. That is what we should be doing.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

He may have been trying to frame himself, but he didn't do it by trashing anyone else. That is what we should be doing.

He should be trashing someone else?  Not sure I follow.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 08:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

obama isn't trashing anyone. he's offering contrasts in order to frame himself. that's not the same thing as "trashing." chris you need a lesson in nuance.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
And you need a lesson in the history of recent political discourse in America. These "frames" Obama is using to differentiate himself were stereotypes created by the right over the past three deacdes as a means of tanrsihing the entire left. Bringing them up again simply reinforces the prupose for which they were made are used for decades. Hell, the right still uses those frames for that purpose.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 08:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

i am actually rather familiar with political discourse in america.

and i also know that democrats aren't going to overcome right-wing victories in the "language war" by ignoring their attempts to caricature us.

barack obama addresses and rejects these caricatures. i find it outright ridiculous that you chide him for allegedly bashing progressives in the same breadth that he obviously stakes out his own progressive positions. in these supposedly "traitorous" quotes, obama merely acknowledges that a stereotype exists. he then offers himself as an example of why these stereotypes are wrong.

i'm a college student of asian descent. i'm not an engineering major though.

implicit in my statement is the stereotype that asians like math and can't excel in the liberal arts. but i'm not perpetuating the stereotype merely by acknowledging it. in fact, i stand against the stereotype by offering myself as an example of this is just a stereotype.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 08:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One


by eddersen 2006-12-04 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
He doesn't reject those caricatures. He rejects the idea that he is one of those caricuatures. In order to differentiate himself from those caricatures, he reifies their existence.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

only because you chose to read it that way. just remember that a good number of us progressives also thought you misconstrued his purpose.

and if you're going to write a series critiquing obama's phrasing, will you also include suggestions as to how progressives might better counter these caricatures? it seemed to me that you would rather that we ignore them and hope that they'll go away.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 08:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

and if you're going to write a series critiquing obama's phrasing, will you also include suggestions as to how progressives might better counter these caricatures?

Repeat after me: The hacks who try to hide their weakness by triangulating against the Party belie their position.

Say it loud, say it proud, because it is true. And pray that Obama and the other triangulators implode before the nomination or they will lack a base and be eaten alive.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

But you're assuming that Obama is saying more than he really is.  He is saying that he's not a far left winger.  To illustrate that point, he uses unfortunate, but very real, shared social understanding.  What he does not say is "I am not X, but progressives and other Democrats are."  That is your assumption.

Obama is a leader of our party.  Unless he becomes the nominee he won't become the leader, but he still, in many respects, speaks for the party.  His public presentation (and from what I know, it matches his private demeanor) is that he is a level-headed and honest guy who shatters preconceptions.  And I think that could be a very powerful thing for Democrats and for America.  Is he a centrist and triangulator?  Maybe a bit.  But that hasn't changed his progessive stances on issues.  If Barack Obama's views can get pushed from the liberal wing right into being a new centrism, then I think we're doing pretty well.

by LPMandrake 2006-12-04 09:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I lost you in the pronouns, Chris.  Are you talking about Bush or Obama?

Bush's theme of "compassionate conservatism" clearly implied that standard conservatism wasn't, in fact, compassionate.  Why else would there be a reason to distinguish his particular brand of conservatism?

It's the same strawman technique is a slightly different form of delivery:  obliquely communicate the stereotype and how the given candidate rises above that stereotype.  I'll grant you that Bush's "compassionate conservatism" rhetoric better nested the conservative strawman than Obama's outright stenciling of the liberal strawman.

But the idea is the same.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
The 2000 leeciton also saw the lowest conservative turnout in the history of American PResidential elecitons with exit polls. They only made up 30% of the elctorate that year,a dn liberal conservative gap was only 30%-21%. It certainly didn't help Bush with his base.

And even then, what Bush did was far more subtle. "Compassionate" conservative can be a type of conservative, or emphasizing one aspect of conservatism over other. It is also quite vague. It does not clearly differentiate himself from other conservatives.

And that was, at best, an isolated incident for Republicans. This sort of thing is regular habit for Democrats, and has been for over a decade.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-04 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

You're going to dust me every time when you start throwing in dates and percentages and whatnot, Chris, and I'll readily concede as much.  :)  I agree that the strawman just below the surface in the "compassionate conservative" rhetoric was more subtle that Obama's.  That's what I was attempting to get at above.

Anyway, I think I've articulated every idea I have on this subject in the comments below and am now simply beating a dead horse. :)

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 08:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

So Bush runs against his party after a Dem. president. We run against our party after GOP presidents. Seems consistent to me.

The important question is when this is necessary and when we're goaded into it by the right. For instance, it seems like the party needed a shot in the arm in the 80's and that wasn't going to come from the Left at the time, because the Left was fairly strong within the party. That's how we got the New Democrats - a mixed bag to be sure, but should we have nominated another Mondale or Dukakis? I don't think so. In 2000, we obviously lost because we didn't stand for anything. The message of not triangulating seems like it needs to be made less universal, even though I'm there with you right now.

by CT student 2006-12-04 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I don't remember Bush ever criticizing any conservative positions in the "straw man" way that Obama does.

(I guess we should be thankful he's not a neo-Dixie the way Biden is.)

by RickD 2006-12-05 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I have no problem with Obama's playing the mythic strawman card.  Stereotypes exist on both sides, but folks really believe these stereotypes.  Obama's distinguishing himself from the Democratic stereotype is harmless.  It's not like he's naming any names.  He's separating himself from an unfair characterization -- not from his party's political philosophy.

Sure, it's "strategery," but I don't think it warrants getting hurt feelings and being all thin-skinned.  He's not selling out.  He's seeking to personify the ideal while dispelling the stereotype.  Works for me!

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

It's not like he's naming any names.

Yes, he is naming and the name is Democrats. It isn't any one person, it is everyone else.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

because we're all alike -- one formula.  come one, get thicker skin.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

thank you laurin. that was a great comment.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 09:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Obama is the one saying that we are all alike -- except for him. That is the problem with triangulation, that is why the DLC lost every single major primary in 2006.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

only delusional democrats think that bush went to war for oil. for better or worse (mostly worse), bush went to war because he really believes that it's a righteous cause.

only delusional democrats (and i suppose i'm a bit deluded on this account) think that americans will ever abandon political discourse.

obama - indeed, any politician - is justified in calling out outright idiocies in politics.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 09:03PM | 0 recs
Bush went to war in Iraq because

1) to finish what his Dad didn't do and for revenge against what was perceived against his dad.

2) He went to war because of his families ties to the Saudi's and their relationship with Saddam and oil is a major part of that relationship.

3) He also had an available reason to sway the american sympathy toward the war because of the terrible events of 911.

ANyone not thinking oil had something to do with it needs to do some research on the relationship of the Saudi Royal Family and the Bush family for the last several decades.    IMO.

by dk2 2006-12-04 09:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush went to war in Iraq because

anyone who thinks that things like war can be boiled down to 'blood for oil' is a simple-minded conspiracy theorist.

wars are complex, and there are many reasons why bush started the iraq war.

bush is a man who believes who usually he is doing the right thing. that's what is truly scary about him.

by eddersen 2006-12-04 11:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush went to war in Iraq because

Oil was just one of many reasons.  Have we invaded North Korea lately?  Sudan?

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-05 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush went to war in Iraq because

have we invaded iran? iran has oil too. let's see you try to explain that one.

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush went to war in Iraq because

Do you know how many troops it would take to invade Iran?  Iran is three times the size of Iraq land wise.  It's obvious why Smirk invaded Iraq.  It had oil and was the easiest to invade for a number of reasons.  Don't forget Smirk wanting revenge for his dad.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2006-12-07 01:03PM | 0 recs
Oil Wasn't The Only Reason

But that hardly means it wasn't A reason.  

You are demonstrating at least two fundamental fallacies here: (1) false dichotomy, (2) strawman.  This:

anyone who thinks that things like war can be boiled down to 'blood for oil' is a simple-minded conspiracy theorist.
is a pernicious strawman attack.  You use "conspiracy theorist" as contentless epithet.  There's nothing remotely conspiricist in noting the importance of oil as a motive for war.

The essence of classic conspiricism (going back to the "Bavarian Illuminati" and beyond) is (1) they attribute hidden motives for actions that go directly against the outward appearance of things, (2) they deny the importance of common, empirically observed facts, and assert the primacy of things that cannot be verified, (3) they attribute an unreasonably high degree of "evil genius" capacity to pull things off, so that everything is intricately connected just so, and ther are virtually no loose ends.  This accurately describes the mind-set of the so-called "9/11 Truth" movement, which claims that 9/11 was an inside government.  It is nowhere close to describing the viewpoint that oil was a major factor in the invasion of Iraq.

Indeed, there are only two fundamental reasons the US has been in the Middle East with such intensity over the past 60 years: oil, and denying the USSR a warm-water port.  (Israeli only got into the game because the first two reasons were on the table.)

The second motive is gone, now replaced by a terrorist threat we created in pursuit of that now-vanished motive.  (The neo-cons would add a third reason: the military containment of China.)  But Saddam was a strategic counter-weight to al Qaeda.  Clearly, winning (as opposed to endlessly fighting) the war on terror was not a dominant factor in the decision-making process.  Did Bush believe otherwise?  Who cares?  The whole reason that Bush Cheney was the Decider in the first place was because of oil.  The configuration of power in the GOP was because of oil.  (Check the patterns of campaign contributions in the energy sector at Open Secrets.)  This is what's known as a structural economic/political theory, the exact opposite of a conspiracy theory.

Sure, "No blood for oil!" is a simplistic, reductionist slogan.  Most slogans are simplistic and reductionist.  That's the way most slogans work.  But given the way this obvious partial truth is utterly banished from consensual political discourse, one can hardly fault the sloganeers for trying to get a word in edgewise.

And Obama, deft triangulator that he is, perpetuates the consensual political discourse by dismissing a serious political critique as if there were nothing at all behind the slogan, except the cardboard it's printed on.


by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-05 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Oil Wasn't The Only Reason

great stuff Paul.  oil was obviously a reason and your analysis on the region is spot on.

(although I do think you simplify the "9/11 truth movement" too much.  there are many reasonable people that think the 9/11 Commission didn't do their job and a new investigation is needed.)

by Ian Campbell 2006-12-05 08:13AM | 0 recs
Well, Obviously

The 9/11 Commission didn't do their job and a new investigation is needed.  Lee Frikken Hamilton was the co-chair!  Tell me something I don't know!

But the "9/11 Truth" movement isn't about all that.  

It's about blaming 9/11 on a small, conspiratorial cabal within the Bush Administration. This gives a free pass to the entire American political system--all it's decades of meddling in the Middle East, arming terrorists, protecting drug lords, arming warlords, etc.--while posturing as "more radical than thou."

It adds a whole new 11-dimensional manifold to the idea of "lame."

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-05 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Well, Obviously

yeah, Hamilton was a joke, with Zelikow in charge of the "direction" of the Commission...beautiful.  

I understand your willingness to label the whole thing as an Illuminati like group, and there are many in the movement who do believe that, but there are also many others that, like you and me, who djust want a new investigation.

I guess I'm just trying to parse out the "good" pieces of the "9/11 Truth Movement" the Jersey Girls and Ray McGovern.  

Okay, I'm splitting hairs now.  I'm going to get back to reading your Obama-Hegemony piece!

by Ian Campbell 2006-12-05 10:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

We abandoned political discourse for about three years during Bush's first term.  It gave us a war which he never had to justify or be held accountable for.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

This thread isn't about why Bush went to war. (Doubt if even Bush knows the answer to that.)

It is about a putative Democratic presidential candidate reinforcing negative stereotypes of Democrats. Obama is a jerk for doing so and, if he needs grassroots support and can't substitute money (which seems likely because he is Black in American politics), this betrayal of his base will come back to bite him. That's how the real world works.

by janinsanfran 2006-12-05 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I don't think Chris is asking too much from mainstream Democrats like Obama or any others who run for high office. There are more creative ways to position yourself in the electorate without using language that invalidates people who for the most part support you. leftist Liberalism is nothing to apologize for or qualify. No one is asking him to embrace it. Just don't trash it. Moderate Republicans get elected all the time without needing to say anything directly negative about intolerant religeous fanatics, gun crazy 2nd Amendment worshipers or the anti-Darwin crowd just to make the sane folks in their districts feel comfortable.

by otto schmidlap 2006-12-04 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

You make a good point, Otto, but I'm still not entirely convinced, and it's not for reasons that I can methodically articulate, and I'll admit that outright.  It's more of a gut thing, which doesn't help much in debate. :)

I think Obama's use of the liberal strawman in framing his stance on Iraq was his means of zeroing in on a skepticism that many moderate/conservatives may have of Democrats' ability to take the reins and lead with respect to the war in Iraq.  These folks KNOW Republicans didn't get the job done (as evinced by the midterm elections), but that doesn't necessarily translate to an immediate confidence in Dems to achieve a desirable end result either.  Right now we're suspended in the between-scenes stage of expectations and anticipation.  There's a trust that must first be established, and a sensible place to start in laying that foundation of trust is to dispell the stereotype.  To assume that Obama's strawman reference was necessarily pointed at the Democratic base seem to smack of insecurity.  Rather, I think Obama knows his base is comfortable enough with him that he can say to the skeptics, "Hey, you know the kind of Democrat you might think I/we are?  Well, we're not."

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-04 08:43PM | 0 recs
Joe Lieberman became a mentor

...that and that alone is all that is needed to understand the change or perhaps, revelation in who/what Obama is.

We can only hope that they no longer communicate on that level with the end of Joe's official membership in the Democratic party.

by MNPundit 2006-12-04 09:02PM | 0 recs
Sometimes as someone rises to a level that they

are so sure of the steadfast position they think they are in, their real agenda/personality comes to life.

Maybe too many have put Obama on a pedestal of what they want him to be, and are having a hard time realizing that he was/is not that vision.

He has made such a fast appearance it is hard to really evaluate his position, a year ago some had heard him make a speech at the national conference and that is about all some knew about him. His name was spread more by some of the campaigning he did, primarily with Harold Ford Jr. (2 times) the MSM spread his name more than any accomplishment on record may have. The MSM also will continue to hype him because they are feeding into their ratings.

The rise is to fast for me, and he reminds me much of Harold Ford Jr.'s postition that helped him loose the bid for the Senate. He leaned to the Right and bad mouthed other Democrats. He was on the air the next morning after John Kerry made a slip of tongue talking about Kerry. He constantly talked about bi-partisanship and liking Bush. Harold Ford also forgot about his home base in W TN the voters of TN-09 and went off to E -TN to woo those turning his back on those who had voted him in for 10 years, thinking that those he offended in his own backyard he didn't needed for a complete win.  The lean far right also, to try and pull from the religious right is something else they have in common.

They are two different people.

by dk2 2006-12-04 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Sometimes as someone rises to a level that the

The main difference between Obama and Ford is that Ford has more experience. BTW: the best thing to happen to TN politics this year was the fact that Ford won't be returning to congress.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 09:07PM | 0 recs
As a TN -09 voter

I agree completely and it is not just good for TN, it is good for this country.

by dk2 2006-12-04 09:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Senator Barak Obama is a Washington man, all the way.  He has no intention of becoming a hero of the netroots.  He's a centrist; his voting record is exactly the same as that of Senator Clinton; he speaks with eloquence but in platitudes.  He has not made a hard commitment to anything.  It is very easy to "say" you wouldn't have voted to give Bush authority to go to war in Iraq, if you didn't have to vote in the first place.  If the netroots Dems are looking for a hero, Obama isn't it.  

by marycontrary 2006-12-04 09:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I think Obama is a head-fake for Clinton. The important exposure of Obama is the treatment Clinton should be receiving right now.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

What Obama has is the latent misogynistic tsunami of crypto-homoerotic haters of Hillary Clinton.

Without Hillary, Obama is nothing.

by Ethelred 2006-12-04 09:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

If you told me that Webb would be Vice President with Obama, then I would take notice of Obama.

by Ethelred 2006-12-04 09:12PM | 0 recs
Obama/Webb is the ticket

Could beat McCain...don't see anyone else doing it and polls agree.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-04 09:30PM | 0 recs
What poll is that?

We are still in 2006, polls are going to continue to change.

by dk2 2006-12-04 09:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Webb is the ticket

And <u>Kerry</u> is the only one than can beat Bush!  Let's jump on the happy electability train!  I don't care what my candidate does or says!  yay!  happy!

by Valatan 2006-12-05 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Webb is the ticket

Exactly right (Jan 31 2007 ). Was pondering this last night after listening to my podcasts. Here's how I see it. Hillary is a powerhouse and can campaign like nobody's business. She will also generate tons of press. But she has three things going against her which will prevent her from securing the dem nomination: 1) the republicans will always hate her enough to keep her from getting any of the swing votes if she were the nominee. 2) People want to see someone other than "standard" politicians and we're especially tired of dynasties (Bush, Clinton). 3). Iraq will heat up by '08 even more and her stand will come back to haunt her.

Edwards is a good enough guy, but that's not enough and he doesn't stand out with Hill and Obama now taking center stage. There's something else there. He seems to try too hard to make himself seem natural and likeable and that shows through, at least to me. It's not a good time for him.

But you can disregard all of the above anyway, because Barack Obama hasn't even begun to really campaign yet and he's beating everyone. When he starts going around the country shaking hands and talking to large groups he's going to create an uproar not unlike Bobby Kennedy did. If he brings Webb on the ticket, I can't see McCain or even Hagel coming close. Barack is too natural and relaxed in front of people and seems to be the right guy at the right time. With Webb it just might be an unbeatable ticket.

John Brosnan

by johnbrosnan 2007-01-31 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Webb is the ticket

While I like the Obama/Webb ticket as right for America.

Hillary is looking like she can beat McCain and Guliani which may increase her supporters.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-31 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Or maybe Obama could have spent his time in the senate talking against the war instead of against Democrats.

by Bob Brigham 2006-12-04 10:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Which he didn't. Your blind hatred of Obama is frankly unbelievable.

He has rhetorically tried to carve out a progressive religious position against some anti religious bigots. He has a perfect voting record and is a progressive through and through.

Get that: he is a progressive. To the left of Edwards, to the left of Clark.

by Populism2008 2006-12-05 12:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

criticism is now "blind hatred"?  "Anti religous bigots"?  No wonder you don't see anything wrong with Obama's rhetorical devices.  I understand you a little better now.  

by sj 2006-12-05 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

How is voting for Bush's tort reform legislation progressive?  Even Clinton got that one right.

by VickyK 2006-12-07 11:40AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

From here, deep in the Sonoran Desert, Barack Obama believes far too much of what's in his press releases.  That said, I think resumes have a far greater significance with respect to elections.  Take, for example, a good politician knows better than to take on a mayor on the premise that mayor's are invariably recognized as successful in bringing together diverse groups of folks,i.e. special interests, to move a municipal government forward for Progress.  Obama has none of this in his history.

However, I would prefer a Bill Richardson of New Mexico given his experience as a Congressman, an Appointed Official, and now, as an Elected Official.  As such, where does one use, create or craft a Yardstick of Measurement, on which the rest of the field with presidential aspirations, can be measured?

In summary, should Barack Obama seek out his ambitions for the primaries, he will have to contend with folks like Charlie Rangel of New York, and who for the sake of loyalty to Hillary Clinton, will undercut Barack Obama.  Here in the Sonoran Desert, we would listen to Rangel long before we would to Obama.  Rangel has a long history, and most of it has been good, and his take on the issues, are far more important.  Perhaps, Rangel should consider running?

by Jaango 2006-12-04 11:33PM | 0 recs
Don't forget the first quote

As always with Obama some parts of the netroots forgets that for every seemingly attack against the fringe left he says a hundred things that are progressive through and through.

This guy is a true progressive, unlike most in the senate. And he is the greatest politician since JFK at least.

He stands up for and supports universal health care. Who else does?

by Populism2008 2006-12-05 12:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't forget the first quote
I do agree with you.  If people, including the media, looked at some of the legislation he did do the past 2 years alot of the arguments would be moot.  
He did not do production and big deal stuff.  He did alot of meat and potatoes things that helped families and the average person.  He was extreemly busy with getting the nuts and bolts things done instead of headline things.
If they saw what he did do they would not say he is not progressive.  He did alot more than alot of the Senate the past two years.
Here, in Illinois, that is what he did.  He was known as a brain and hardworking.  He worked on the stuff no one else wanted to because it wasn't splashy.  Just solid.  Same in the Senate.
by vwcat 2006-12-05 02:25AM | 0 recs
So Many Swelling Words; No Substantial Argument

Many points were made in the comments, but when I finished reading them all, only one stuck out in a big way.Only one comment spoke a truth that we cannot ignore. It was something to the effect of,

"Barack Obama doesn't need the support of the Blogosphere to win this election."

Many here have confessed to not knowing anything about him yet they went on and on and on about why he's not the right candidate.

I happen to have been watching him for a while. I was watching him before the media fell in love with him. I watched the speeches he gave in RED states and KEY Primary states and how the PEOPLE responded to him. (Worship, Total Worship)

The truth is, before the Media fell in love with him, the American people already had. The key voters everyone thinks they know, already love him.I never seen so many White Home town looking folks praising a Black man in my life. (I was born in 74 so I missed MLK) It was sureal. He's already got them.

The rest of us (Liberals and Progressives) are a sure vote because as some already pointed out, yes he will have the Black vote. That's 25% of the entire Party right there which will increase as soon as word get's out it's Obama. He will also have the Latino vote. Let's just be real about that. He will take the Youth vote as well. Yep, that growing youth vote that people continue to ignore had the largest turnout in 20 years last election.They vote Democrat ya know? Then, there's the Liberal Evangellos, like myself as well as the Conservatives. The Moderates and Independents will flock to him for the very reasons why some of us are pissed so off at him.(Uh, yeah people,It's called strategy, not sell-out)
btw. If you can't tell the difference, look at Hillary R. Clinton and Joe Lieberman. That's what I call Sell-Outs.

So, Barack Obama will get the nod. I'm confident of that. We'll bitch and buck for a while, but as always, when the Republicans start attacking, we passionate progressives will do what we always do which is go into full on attack mode. Why? Because only we can criticize our own ; and there's just something about an attack from the rabid right that get's our blood boiling and the YouTube lights up with all types of rebuttals.

In the end, we will do just fine. How many of us were ticked off at the choices for Congress being too conservative and look at us.

"Jim Webbs is the greatest!"


Ya'll know I'm right.

Have a great day!

Edwards/Obama 2008!

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-05 02:15AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
It seems to me that alot of the posts here are not so much people who disapprove of Obama as mad at him over Lamont.
I have to say that from what I saw, Lamont shot himself in the foot.  The dems were ready to help him and work for him but, the signal he gave by going on vacation right after the victory did not help him seem the serious candidate.  I'm sure Lamont got advise and may have not followed through on it.  
He had alot of dems - including Obama - wanting to help but, Lamont did some foolish things.  
You cannot hold everyone else responsible and not be honest about Lamont.  I was disappointed in him after the primary.  I thought he had great potential but, after the primary he shot himself in the foot.
You cannot hold others responsible.  They have other people to help and cannot put everyone else on hold to hold his hand and make sure he did what he was suppose to.
You guys got to grow up and realize that hating others for someones mistakes is silly and non productive.
by vwcat 2006-12-05 02:18AM | 0 recs

You are so correct about that. The only lamenting I did was for Lamont himself. I can't believe he went on vacation like that. Everyone was willing to help him, but when you're in an election season like the one we just went through, you don't have time to wait for someone to take a break.You have to keep moving. Lamont sent the wrong message to Democrats ready to assist him. His vacation said "I'm not that serious about this. I'm tired" That attitude was not going to cut it in this tight election. They had no choice but to move on and help others. They could'nt drop their schedule just to wait for him. Nope.

You are right!

by FreedomOFSpeechFromTheDNC 2006-12-05 02:32AM | 0 recs
I've decided

After reading all these comments I've decided who I'm going to support for president in 2008. Hillary Clinton. With the same effect as Slim Whitman's yodeling in Mars Attacks!, her winning the nomination will have the added benefit of making a whole lot of right wingnuts' heads explode.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-05 02:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

obama to me is just another hilary clinton or colin powel.they know there liberals at heart ,they know that in order to be a moral person you have to be liberal.the only problem is,there hunger for power out ways there hunger for whats moral.

by idahojim 2006-12-05 03:40AM | 0 recs
Would Have to See A Whole Lot More

Senator Obama has no experience. He is demonstrating the kind of hubris typical of politicians whose rapid rise is matched only by the speed at which they self distruct. If he spent less time reading his press and responding to crowds and more time becoming an accopmplished Senator, he might qualify for some consideration as a candidate. Until then,this is the amature hour. How about we concentrate on someone who can actually govern as opposed to pontificate.

by steve in philly 2006-12-05 03:56AM | 0 recs
What &quot;experience&quot; is gained by 2,4,6 yrs

in Senate?  

Kind of like that book "I learned all I needed to know in the first year in the Senate".  

It's a collegial,legislative body, what it tells us is how well the person works in a collegial, legislative body.

As for Obama (or anyone else), getting elected, learning how it works (these are smart guys...couple years max for that) is it...for him or anybody.  After first couple years they are just passing time until election cycles as far as presidential plans.

More importantly the candidate is exposed to the various power brokers, media etc. and we get some vetting of them they look like they can handle it, can they stand up personally to the "big boys", does they person have "it".

Obama has passed that exam as he did Harvard Law...with aces. He's as ready for the big show as he's ever going to be.

He's demonstrated the gravitas. He's the real deal.

Waiting 4 or 8 years is not going to make him a better president.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-05 04:42AM | 0 recs
Re: What &quot;experience&quot; is gained

I agree, what ever happened to the notion that it was good to have someone ome in from the outside, the same sort of thing that we spouted about Dean?

by Mark J. Bowers 2006-12-05 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Thanks for this post. Obviously, Obama generates a lot of very positive feelings in people. Chris is identifying another feeling that Obama creates, also valid in its cause.

I clearly remember Obama during his 04 general campaign saying something along these lines.. paraphrasing "I'm not running to be minister of the state of Illinois; I'm running to be its US Senator"

That was a great retort against Keyes, but perhaps I read too much into it. I've felt that Obama has been preaching to me lately, when he chides us to be "civil", or his other statements about religion and Democrats.

by skb 2006-12-05 04:44AM | 0 recs
Liberal groups vs netroots

"Liberal" is a code word for single issue advocacy groups like NARAL, environmentalist, NOW,  GLBT, ACLU etc who even Kos in his book CTG dominates the Democratics politics in terms of funding and policy.  These single issue groups however dont exclusively support Democrats but just their issues.

Perhaps netroots should not be hurt so much and feel that they are boing targetted when politicians talk about liberal ideology. In fact CTG argues and Dean's 50 state strategy,  we should go beyond single issue politics and build up grassroots and people power and economic populism.

by jasmine 2006-12-05 05:06AM | 0 recs
&quot;Netroots&quot; = &quot;Liberal&quot; groups

I think the demographic on the netroots was middle aged, middle class white guys making avg. $78K with a sprinking of college kids (the white guy's white kids).

Whoever has broadband...middle class parents and college kids.

So the idea that "netroots" people are some new political species is a bit of self serving hyberbole.

It's just the "same old crowd" using new technology.  It's more the story of how the same old crowd uses the technology vis a vis politics than it is a "new man" story.

We went through the cycle during Clinton's first run...his folks (Jock Gill and others) were using the online discussion groups back then to generage buzz for Bill.

So for political analysis, probably look at the demographic of the people who are online vs. a "netroots" population.

You'll probably find that the "netroots" are the ACLU, Sierra Club members.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-05 05:43AM | 0 recs
Re: &quot;Netroots&quot; = &quot;Liberal&quot;

i happen to be a gay 19 year old asian boy, though i do fit the aclu and sierra club part of the bill :P

you're probably right that most of the netroots is middle class and white. it certainly seems that way as far as i can tell.

i just wanted to say that we're not all white guys with kids though.

by eddersen 2006-12-05 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: &quot;Netroots&quot; = &quot;Liberal&quot;

Generic on the "white guys" (girls, gays included) more the middle class demographic, higher income, higher education, computer literacy, broadband access.

Netroots are basically liberal middle class folks and their college age kids.

Plus the overlap of ACLU/Sierra and is much more the same group than different groups.

Idea of "netroots" being unique population is kind of like kid first discovering sex and thinking it was new to everybody else too...well that might be a little overboard but you get the idea.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-05 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

they pick their mentors, I'm pretty sure. My own DINOcrat, Torture Ken Salazar, picked John McCain, so I guess Obama could have done worse.

by BlueinColorado 2006-12-05 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Dennish Kunicnich, said we only went in for oil.

by Democraticavenger 2006-12-05 06:04AM | 0 recs
Deliberate Positioning

Your post struck a common chord with me in one particular aspect, Chris.

My mind automatically went back to the case of the Network of Spiritual Progressives where Obama was going to be a keynote speaker - and didn't come. Why? I think he was afraid of looking too "far left" - which was utterly preposterous because it was a group of faithful people that had been greatly anticipating his speech. He would only agree to meet in private with Rabbi Lerner. What could he possibly have feared by associating himself with faithful people? I blogged about it here - and I was very generous toward Obama, but I have to say that, over time, it's bothering me.

By the way, the title of my post has a double meaning. Obama is obviously positioning himself "deliberately" while "de-liberalizing" himself. That obviousness is what bugs me about him. I'm looking for someone who isn't afraid of saying who he is and what he or she intends for America should he or she become President. And I, as a proud liberal who tends to take decidedly moderate postions, do not appreciate Obama abusing my politics by creating "conventional wisdom" - framing a rational American as an imaginary wild-eyed leftist.

by iddybud 2006-12-05 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

Really well written piece
It's actually just such a little change in tone and wording being asked of Obama

He could make exactly the same core points he wants to make about bipartisanship as a virtue; including religious speech and values in discourse; being pragmatic and 'centrist' in that sense; going beyond red vs blue, etc, etc
All without using Repub talking points and trashing straw men

It's understandable that he is searching for his style, since he's so new in power
You experiment, fine
But he should be willing to listen to the feedback and improve on the experiments when he has nothing to lose in doing so and a lot to gain

Leave it to others to be the excessive triangulators, stake out a position as a leader; you'll exceed their success
People follow a leader because of leadership, not because of cheap shots at straw men

The Bush/Rove era is ending, Faux news too will fade, this is the time to stake out the leadership style that comes next, to represent the future, let go of the cheap shots of the past

by jimpol 2006-12-05 07:38AM | 0 recs
seriously what is the big deal about this guy

Seriously. I mean what is the big deal about a guy who is serving his first term in the US Senate who has done nothing more than make liberals feel good? Well sometimes anyway.

Give me 5 accomplishments this Colin Powell of the Left has done that merit him being talked about as someone who could lead our nation, serve as Commander in Chief of our armed forces, deal with a world out of control and have any credibility at all with Real World Leaders.

I mean, really, guys. What is the big deal about this guy?

by Schadelmann 2006-12-05 09:02AM | 0 recs
&quot;A natural?&quot; Like Natural Light?

A "natural" what, though?

Feelings are not facts, please will someone just list some facts about his record, his accomplishments, etc. that qualify him to be president? BESIDES making white liberals feel good about themselves.

I don't get it. What is so hard about listing some solid reasons this guy should be PRESIDENT?

I have nothing against the guy - I am just tired of hearing all this chatter about how well spoken he is. Or how charming. Facts, por favor! I would love to know something about this guy that isn't about his mom, dad, or his ability to act charming.

by Schadelmann 2006-12-05 12:51PM | 0 recs
I think this sums him up:

I have no idea what Barack Obama stands for.

With all the TV appearances and ink that has been spilled about this guy, I still don't know where he stands on the big issues that face us today. He seems to be running on the incredibly vague idea of "hope", and it may be all he needs to win the nomination, perhaps even the presidency.

But based on the fact that I couldn't even tell you what Sen. Obama stands for, I expect an Obama presidency to be mediocre at best.

by LiberalFromPA 2006-12-05 10:27AM | 0 recs
Don't forget the media's role... BOTH 2000 AND 2004.

They were and are so blatantly pro-GOP it's not funny.  Scandals that would have brought down any Democratic candidate were swept under the rug for Bush by his media enablers.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-05 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Two Obamas and Me, Part One

I like your term "left wing straw men."  It seems as if Obama is anticipating and trying to fend off GOP attacks, even when they haven't occurred, but most of all, even when they're not likely.  Obama will never win over the hardcore rightwingers, so why pitch to them?  Being careful with one's language should not preclude honesty.  There's a huge difference between abusive language and calling something straight.  I always feel uncomfortable when Democrats try to distance themselves from liberal ideals.  The best way to deal with the's right caricatures of the left is to expose them, laugh at them, refute them, not to tacitly accept them.    

by Batocchio 2006-12-06 11:19AM | 0 recs
Both Sides

There are at least two sides to every question.  I think I am about as progressive as they come, it's hard to say what it would mean to be completely progressive, but either way I have no trouble with Barack Obama. Look I understand, I get sick and tired of the absurd attacks on the liberal left--even the accusers dont seem to have any idea what they are talking about, but i think it is important to parse out nonsensical criticism from sincere criticism.  I read and reread the quotes from EIU a the top of this thread and I am not sure I can see the controversy. Did Obama suggest that the woman in the audience was inveigning against crazy Christians?  What am I missing? I think he is right King did not propose an American theocracy and neither does any other politician who talks about religion.  King may have been as progressive as it gets, I am sure he would have pissed off Anne Coulter to no end, but i think what obama is saying is that we do not have to cut ourselves off from that tradition as a matter of fact.  It is so hard to get anything open minded done anymore that we owe it to ourselves and each other to give the man the benefit of the doubt.  Frankly who cares if he can win, if we can't get it together enough to do something about the things that need gettin done in this country (pick your issue).  Let the critics try to figure out what they mean by liberal or left or progressive, in the meantime lets bring back n.o. and the troops and dignity and decency to public office.  There are two sides to every question and there are people who live in this country who sincerely  believe differently, who take an affront against religious as an affront against their way of life.  Look I'll admit it maybe I am missing the point entirely, but I think that Obama's point above is that we have a unique genius for living side by side with people we disagree with, we ought to exercise that genius and let the politics of destruction destroy itself.

by jcsylvan 2006-12-09 10:53PM | 0 recs


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