Barack Obama & the Media Primary

While Barack Obama has been rising in the polls - and now seems to have a reasonable chance to win the Democratic nomination - at the same time he's giving a lot of liberals heartburn. When Obama first emerged, he seemed like a candidate with tremendous potential, and I suppose he still is. I was excited not just because he was the first African-American with a chance at the presidency, but because he's a brilliant orator who uses appeals to idealism and national unity to justify liberalism.

I haven't been one of those who saw Liebermanesque posturing in his statements about bipartisanship, rather I saw it as an effort to broaden the liberal coalition - which is, after all, what you need to do to create a real political majority. His support for coal liquefaction I ascribed to his representation of Illinois. His health care plan lacked a personal mandate, but that didn't bother me, because I have serious questions about the political viability of such an approach, as well as skepticism that the subsidies for lower & middle income people would be sufficient. (By the way, the Massachusetts plan has been struggling for the very reasons I articulated here). And finally I think lifting the income cap on the payroll tax paying for Social Security is probably a good idea.

But Krugman and Ezra Klein (although I disagree with them on the individual mandate), are right about one thing - Obama's rhetoric on these issues has been bizarre. Why focus on Social Security at all, since it's not really a big problem? Why attack health care plans that have mandates, rather than say why your approach is better? And why in the world would your campaign attack Paul Krugman??

I've been considering these questions for some time, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that Obama is trying to win the "media primary" (which I referred to awhile ago). My suspicion is that Barack is attempting to appease/manipulate the class of establishment pundits, and with them the press corps as a whole. It's not a bad strategy as far as it goes. As Rove knew, if you can get the press to attack a candidate, you don't have to do it (or pay the price with higher negatives). An opponent, no matter how formidable, isn't so scary if he or she is busy fighting the press AND the opposing campaign. By making noises about Social Security and mandates, Obama is feeding the media beast. Heck, it might even work, if recent polls are any evidence.

What concerns me is that the beast is always hungry. I know Obama doesn't want to go on some crusade against the powers that be (look what that's done for Edwards), but do you really have to suck up to them that much? Do you really think the press will stay friendly to you forever? Did you read that execrable Washington Post piece on the "Madrassa" rumor?

So while Obama's (or should I say David Axelrod's) strategy might make sense, I find it very, very worrisome.

Tags: 2008 election, Barack Obama (all tags)

Comments

33 Comments

Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Why do people make posts that generalize a certain block of people? No Barack does not "at the same time give a lot of liberals heartburn."

Please don't listen to schmucks who believe they speak on behalf of the common man.

by mattmfm 2007-12-08 04:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

fuck krugman...He's just an angry liberal.

by Prodigy 2007-12-08 04:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

I like Krugman.  He's been consistent and forthright for years, defending the citadel when the right was at high tide, keeping the lamps lit, so to speak, in gloomy darkness.

But he's just doing his job and that doesn't include running for political office.  He's got his gig, and his bully pulpit, and he is having an intellectual hissy-fit with Obama just as he would with another tenured academic.  He doesn't have to worry about getting elected and is merely applying his own criteria of virtue to someone who does.  Maybe he should give that some thought.

If he was running for president he would be standing at the podium to the left of Dennis.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-12-08 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Um, I didn't say "all liberals" I said "a lot." and it's not just Klein and Krugman. I've read a lot of comments/blog posts along the same lines, as well as heard it from people I know in "real life." These things bother me because I LIKE Barack, not because I'm shilling for some other candidate.

by thirdestate 2007-12-08 04:26AM | 0 recs
he's given a few anti-Obama liberals

heartburn, all the other ones are thrilled, from Frank Rich on down.

by nevadadem 2007-12-08 06:19AM | 0 recs
exactly

though you seem to miss tyhe pointt of the diary completly1

frank Rich tore the SKIN off of Al Gore and slimed him over and over during the election of 2000.

obama hass no post SC plan or chance unless THE MEDIA  attack and destroy Clinton and her chances,

hey have no cammpaign beyond that.

But your glad Frank Rich like obama right?

and im sure you love that tweetie, chriss matthews does too. he trashed and destroyed gore too.

matthews, rich = good. krugman = bad

good to see what company you obamaites are keeping. that should tell real liberals all they need to know.

by Seymour Glass 2007-12-08 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

Hey, I like Paul and so do heaps of other Obama supporters.  This doesn't always have to be personal... Crikey, I even like you though I think you are way out of line sometimes.  Big tent, remember...  We can fight among ourselves if we keep it clean and face the enemy united when the time comes.  Quit trying to paint Obama and his supporters as Democratic 'outsiders,' it's our party too.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-12-08 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: exactly

He has no post SC plan?  Sandy, you's in for one hell of a surprise.  Let me fill you in on a little secret.  In NY, where delegates are proportional, he is the only other candidate on every ballot in every county.  He'll be taking her on in her own backyard.  

by Piuma 2007-12-08 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Why focus on Social Security at all, since it's not really a big problem? Why attack health care plans that have mandates, rather than say why your approach is better? And why in the world would your campaign attack Paul Krugman??

1. Because it's a real problem that is easy to solve.

2. He didn't. They attacked his plan because it didn't have mandates and he defended his plan. And their attacks were purely semantic. If you want to talk about mandates then let's talk about mandates, but let's not squable over whether his plan is really Universal Health Care, or not. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards started that one--not Barack Obama.

3. Because Krugman has been misrepresenting what he's saying.

by Mystylplx 2007-12-08 07:06AM | 0 recs
Barack Obama & the Media Primary

At one point Obama seemed like a very acceptable alternative to me for Edwards.  I now feel that he will sell out the people and we will continue to spiral down and devolve into a third world type country supporting a big military complex.  

Obama supports unions unless it is inconvenient.  Obama support UHC but not whole heartedly.  Obama is never wrong. Perfect judgment.  Or he has excuses and is not present.  

I ame so sad to see the contortions people are going through to keep supporting Obama.  

by pioneer111 2007-12-08 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Oh so the fact that Atrios, Kos, Bowers, Mydd, etc all spoke out against his discussion of the social security "crisis" means that their is no angst in the liberal movement about Obama - right.  You can like a candidate but have some sense of reality as well, guys.

by NYMARJ 2007-12-08 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

HRC owns the media... obama is just finally getting noticed..

HRC has it all.. Establishment dems, DC insiders,big media, and K Street.

Obama is just looking for a fair shake.

by hawkjt 2007-12-08 07:27AM | 0 recs
He's already won the media primary...

and the money primary, too.  You should give him credit for this considering what he was up against, instead of quivering from anxiety.  Buck up, man!  I'd say that a winning strategy DOES make sense, wouldn't you?

by mboehm 2007-12-08 07:41AM | 0 recs
Rising in what polls?

Sure he is close in Iowa.  That is a three way dead heat.

Outside of that you would have to cherry pick polls in NH or SC to say he has a chance in those states.   Nationally he is nowhere.

Ibam has less than a 20% chance to win in my estimation ,,,, and that is being very ver generous.

by dpANDREWS 2007-12-08 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Rising in what polls?


In Iowa polling of Democrats generally, Obama lags behind Clinton as well.

In short, it's only in the one small not compellingly representative electorate- Iowa caucusgoers- that he's perhaps ahead.

by killjoy 2007-12-08 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Rising in what polls?

Oh, gee, just ahead among caucus-goers.  And three weeks before the caucus too.  Fancy that.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-12-08 11:25AM | 0 recs
Obama won the media primary long ago

All the Ivy league journos love him to pieces.   He is a favorite of the limo liberal crowd.  Celebs love him.  The Camry crowd on campaus eats him up.   They have bought his spiel.

by dpANDREWS 2007-12-08 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama won the media primary long ago

Then why is he ahead in IA rcp avg: 2.2pts Obama

Last two Polls: Strategic Vision +7 Obama
Newsweek +8 Obama
Desmoines Register (most accurate pollster for IA caucuses) +3 Obama

Intrade 49 Obama 40 Clinton

SC: iNSIDE aDVANTAGE: oBAMA 26 cLINTON 24

rASMUSSEN SC: cLINTON 36 oBAMA 34

The momentum is clearly with Obama

by BDM 2007-12-08 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

To me, the worst thing though in this entire campaign was obamas completely going over to the darkside and carryng water for the GOP and the meda during the NBC debate.  His words about SS crisis have been much discussed - but it was his joining with Russert and demanding that the Clntons authorize an early release of the WH papers was AMAZING to even cynical old me.  Did he not know that the GOP had been sending out releases demanding this for months and months?  Did he not know that they and the MSM just want those files - so they can play gotch with Dems thru the entire election? Did he know that the media had never demanded the same from GOP administrations? Didnt he know that this release could hurt MANY Dems not just his foe Hillary? For years maybe? Of Course he new - they knew ...he and they - just didnt care!  

Thats when I finally realized that to Team Obama - its ALL about whats good for Team Obama. Always. He, Gibbs and Axelrod have shown that they dont care how badly they scar, injure or wound our probable nominee.  {I say probable- though looking at what happens after SC tells me its way more than that -  just to be nice} They reinforce right wing and media talking points about the Clintons- day after day after day.  {I suggest you all go visit my dear friend - the incomparable Daily Howler - to see how concerned and disappointed Bob is about this.]  Ive never seen anything like it in the 30 years that Ive been around campaigns and I pray I  never do again.  I only hope that the damage that he and they do on their way out - doesnt cost us our chance to win back our Government.  

And also -
KRUGMAN IS THE LEFTY-PROG-DEM COLUMNIST HERO.   There is no other.  No one comes in even a close second. Thats why the insiders in the media itself despise and belittle the guy - cause he even calls them on their bullshit...which of course the sweethearts in the media never-ever do.

by Seymour Glass 2007-12-08 08:24AM | 0 recs
sour grapes, holden

Just admit that The Rookie and Axelrod kicked Mr. Microtrends's ass on strategy.  Penn has been a disaster with his poll (before people are paying attention) fixation.  To be fair, he's got a deeply flawed candidate.

And with all your experience, can you tell me which is the lamer excuse: "right wing talking points" or "blame the media?"

by mboehm 2007-12-08 08:44AM | 0 recs
read the daly howler educate yourself

Hillary is still 8 to 1 betting favorite with the british betting houses.  She could lose ia, nh AND sc and still be the odds on favorite.

but you guys remain the fave of the right wing and msm media - and hillary will remain the fave of actual dems.

remember, after sc, hillary leads in primary states by 25 points and more - and guess what - unlike nh and iowa - no independents allowed!

enjoy your hardball - in reality - thats all you folks got.

by Seymour Glass 2007-12-08 09:02AM | 0 recs
OK, dem dem...

you give me 8:1 on a thousand bucks?

by mboehm 2007-12-08 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: OK, dem dem...

would - but couldnt pay if I was wrong -

go to the online british betting houses

Theyd

lOVE to TAKE your money.

Your sure your right - correct?

by Seymour Glass 2007-12-08 01:44PM | 0 recs
But Which Is the Master and Which the Apprentice?


Hard to see the Darkside is.

Yoda

by Shaun Appleby 2007-12-08 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Show us all the links to where the GOP candidates have supported Obama's SS proposal ? If it is a right wing talking point then they would be talking about it cus they are right wing..right?

by hawkjt 2007-12-08 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Clinton is not a goddess to be coddled and protected ...her records should be hidden? Why?
If she is hiding something.. lets hear it.. othewise whats the beef.

And you know what, I have not heard one GOP candidate pick up on Obamas ''right wing talking point'' about looking at lifting the cap on payroll tax to strengthen SS... gee. if this was such a right wing talking point.. why arent they jumping in and agreeing with Obama and hammering HRC on SS? Cus this is a stupid talking point from krugman on down to HRC fans ...The GOP will fight obama on this and agree with HRC.. guess that will be fine with her and krugman.

by hawkjt 2007-12-08 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

The media fawns over Obama because they hate the Clintons. This is not likely to last. If he were to win the nomination they would turn on him fast. Chris Matthews and Tim Russert types are building him up in order to trash Hillary. Their love for him will not last.

by DonB11 2007-12-08 12:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

Obama cultists think Peggy Noonan and Andrew Sullivan types really like Obama and would vote for him in a general election. They think Maureen Dowds types will be on his side during the general election. They are deluded. These people have been fawning over Obama because they hate the Clintons.

If Obama were to win the nomiation the Right Wing Noise Machine would go after him with the Noonans and Dowds joining the lynch mob.

Obama is where he is because of an adoring media. When they abandon him, as eventually they will, he won't know what hit him. He has never been tested in life. He has no experience being under non stop GOP/media assault. He would lose and lose big.

by DonB11 2007-12-08 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

"He's already won the media primary... You should give him credit for this considering what he was up against,"

What was he up against? Russert and Matthews types hate the Clintons with a passion.

Give him credit for what? Getting the Clinton haters in the media to fawn over him? How hard is that? The media types who are gushing over him will be gushing over the GOP nominee during the general election.

by DonB11 2007-12-08 12:45PM | 0 recs
what he is up against...

fear, cynicism, a 16 year built up establishment machine and name recognition, a plan that has been formulated for about 10 years (at least), a battle tested opposition staff, a popular two term President of the United States, the legacy of this President and an historic candidacy.

To name a few.

by mboehm 2007-12-08 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

"All the Ivy league journos love him to pieces."  

Not long ago these same journos loved Bush to pieces too. Before that they loved McCain to pieces and still do.

The fact that Matthews, Russert, Dowd types are cheering him on is enough reason to oppose Obama.

by DonB11 2007-12-08 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

"If he was running for president he would be standing at the podium to the left of Dennis."

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Paul Krugman is no lefty. He used to work for the Reagan admin. Clinton administration thought he was too far to the right. He has always been a centrist. He is passionately opposed to Bush policies and not afraid to be called shrill. That does not make him "to the left of Dennis".

by DonB11 2007-12-08 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama & the Media Primary

I seem to remember Krugman and/or Hillary firing the opening shots over both the mandates and social security.

by dmc2 2007-12-08 04:06PM | 0 recs

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