A Tale Of Three Strengths--Obama, Edwards And Clinton
by Paul Rosenberg, Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 01:57:21 PM EDT
howardpark has a recommended diary up here at MyDD, "Bloggers Keep Missing The Obama Story" in which he said:
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.
OTOH, over at DKos, ArkDem14 has a recommended diary, "Edwards Crushes Fred Thompson!", which goes on to show state after state of SUSA polls in which Edwards outperforms Clinton and Obama against Guiliani. For example:
Clinton 48%, Guiliani 45%
Edwards 50%, Guiliani 42%
Obama 40%, Guiliani 51%
And, of course, it goes without saying that in national primary polls, Clinton remains far in the lead.
My point here is simple: All three candidates have different strengths which their proponents can constantly harp on. But we seem to have a very hard time critically comparing the three.
howardpark goes on to write:
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.I've already explained in a whole slew of comments why the "movement" claim rings hollow for me, why Obama seems much closer to the charismatic JFK in 1960 than to the actual movement candidacy of RFK eight years later. So I won't repeat that here.
But I will point out that generational change was what McGovern represented in 1972, and he lost the youth vote to Nixon. "Students are almost always a leading indicator in campaigns"? Not in 1972. McGovern had the students--and Nixon used that very effectively against him.
I sincerely doubt that any Democrat--even Mike Gravel--could lose the youth vote a Republicna this time out. But winning the youth vote alone is no guarantee--as those SUSA state polls cited by ArkDem14 should remind us.
More fundamentally, to answer howardpark's criticism--that bloggers just don't seem to get Obama--I just have to say that perhaps some don't, and perhaps others do. Having felt such enthusiasm themselves before, perhaps they can appreciate it without necessarily sharing it themselves. And this can be either wise or foolish, depending on the consciousness and the thought process it comes out of.
(Not to date myself, but.... Are they Bobby Darin fans scoffing at the Beatles? Or Beatles fans scoffing at the Monkeys?)
OTOH, ArkDem14's diary has a kind of critical realism about it. He notes, for example, that Edwards loses against Guiliani in New York--though he argues this need not seal his fate, even if Guiliani is the candidate. And he squarely faces up to Edwards's fundraising slump:
I was extremely disapointed that Edwards is likely going to end being the only candidate to raise less this quarter than during th previous quarter. There's just no excuse. In this game, money is everything, and money is what the media and the pundits care about. 9 million is pathetic, and if Edwards doesn't get his act together he won't be going anywhere. If I were his advisor I would tell him the next three months of his life should be nonstop fundraising. That he shouldn't fundraise as part of a campaign, but campaign during his fundraising. If were him, I would devote 12 hours a day, seven days a week to raising money so that I could pull closer to Obama and Clinton.
So here's what I see as quite typical in these two posts: The Obama supporter is gushing. The Edwards supporter is critically analytical. I'm not saying that all their supporters are like that. But in the blogosphere, the tendency of the most prominent voices certainly tends that way. And I'm not saying that either one is right.
I'm certainly more of the analytic critic when it comes to candidates. (I'll save my gushing for artists, activists, and everyday heroes, thank you.) But I know that campaigns and parties need both kinds. It's easier, I'm sure, for us analytic types to understand the gushers, rather than the other way around--even though the gushers are positive that we don't understand them at all.
And yet, we have to find ways to speak and listen to one another. That doesn't mean agree with one another. In the background, we already agree on a lot that we don't even bother to talk about. In the foreground, we probably won't agree on much of what we publicly disagree on.
But what if we try to make a new foreground? What if we try starting a new conversation that's not about the candidates themselves, and how we feel about them, but about the mission of rebuilding America's political system so that it can work for all of us? We may each have different ideas of who's been left out, and how to include them, but I think very few of us would argue with that description as something we can all agree on.
And if it's not, then let's have another discussion first: What is a framework for politics we all can agree on? Because one thing's for certain: we need to be building bridges with one another if we're to have any hope of building bridges with the rest of America---and the world.