Bloggers Keep Missing The Obama Story
by howardpark, Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 03:36:47 PM EDT
(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)
That is a provocative title but I'm experiencing a strong case of deja vu. Three months ago bloggers and everyone else professed amazement at Obama's number of donors and fundraising success. Then it died down and pretty much all I saw for the next few months was a lot of meaningless snarky nit-picking about Obama's perceived campaign strategy or utterance by him or a staff person, but really nothing about the what drives Obama and what is propelling his campaign. Me included. And I admit I'm judging blogs mostly by MyDD & DailyKos. Thus, I'm sure I'm slandering a lot of bloggers who I don't read, but it's how I feel, sorry. A lot of smart people seem to enjoy finding little things to knock Obama about. That is good, it keeps his stratospheric expectations down to earthly levels. Nothing is worse for a 2008 campaign than unrealistic expectations in 2007.
Last week, however, I saw it. I saw how students at Howard University were grabbing for Obama signs like starving children would grab for candy. Students are almost always a leading indicator in campaigns. I've seen it too among friends of friends and family who -- mostly I never could have imagined would vote for a African-American -- who are flocking to Obama in places like my hometown of St. Louis where both Democrat Congressmen (Clay & Carnihan) have endorsed him. I've seen Obama too, a lot lately, and for the first time since the 1970's someone evokes the best of the 1960's. The Obama campaign is what generational change looks like and what a movement looks like. He has not been tested yet but it's clear that Obama is not a fad. I also see it almost every day in the District of Columbia a few blocks away geographically and miles & miles away psychically from the DC of the Capitol & K Street. I see it on the faces of junior high kids who run over and want to talk to me, a middle aged white guy, and ask how they can get an Obama T shirt like mine. They are faces of hope that I just don't see on an average day.
Obama could still fade or burnout. The frontrunner is a frontrunner for a reason. Obama is going to made some real rookie mistakes, not just the snark fodder that occasionally erupts. Blogs should be critical. If we have learned anything under Bush it is that everything should be questioned. Cynics have good reason to be cynical. Obama is a politician. Still the 2nd Quarter success of the Obama campaign is THE political story of the year and I've seen very little that explains it. I prefer a simple explanation. Obama is, quite simply, the best candidate we have seen since Bill Clinton at his best and that he represents the true redemption of America, a better America that is closer to Dr. King's dream, the America that many fought for under Lincoln and FDR, the America of Thomas Jefferson's aspiration (not his sick, debased reality).
On another day in another time I could be enthusiastic for Edwards, Richardson or maybe even the able Hillary Clinton. Obama's thin record demands a bit of a leap of faith. Obama has a great promise but obviously he is not running on his record, though it is a perfectly good record and I've long thought that state government experience is underestimated. In any case, something is really beginning to happen "out there" for Barack and I think it will be the political story of a decade.