The strategic picture looking forward

In a front page post entitled "Pennsylvania Forward," Jerome argues that Obama has had three shots to close out Clinton and has failed each time.  My response follows:  

Jerome's piece should be seen for what it is: an "advocacy" piece rather than a piece of solid "analysis."

For weeks, Jerome has been telling us that it is "all about the delegates" and that momentum was highly overrated.  Now that his preferred establishment candidate is badly behind in pledged delegates and has lost half of her lead with the super-delegates, we are supposed to believe that it is now "all about her momentum." With all due respect for Jerome's very significant contributions to the progressive cause, this is 90% spin.

Jerome was right the first time, ultimately this race comes down to delegates on the floor in Denver.  He is also right that Clinton has the upper hand in Pennsylvania.  But trying to turn PA into a make or break primary seems arbitrary. There are twelve states to go, what makes PA the only one that matters.  I suspect that the effort to elevate PA to make or break status is simply because it is the last big state that looks favorable to Clinton.  HRC got a couple of big news cycles out of Ohio and Texas, but the press is starting to catch on to the fact that she picked up a total of only about 6 or 7 delegates, while the pool of available pledged delegates shrank by over a third.  

Bottom Line: she is running out of time and states to catch up.  Obama is likely to match her net increase from OH and TX in WY and MS next week.  The pattern remains stable: Clinton wins narrowly in big states with large blue collar and/or Hispanic populations, but Obama wins by large majorities in most of the other states (except border states with small AA populations)

In part, Obama's winning streak can be chalked up to momentum,  but more important was demographics.  What stopped Obama was not an "inability to close the deal." What stopped Obama was fighting on unfavorable turf while receiving a great deal of unfavorable press. He cut her led in half in Ohio and by three-quarters in Texas.

The turf will change and the press coverage will evolve.  I expect Obama to win in WY and MS.  He will probably loose by a few in PA, but it is hard to see how that will save her campaign.  Obama should win in NC.  Indiana is probably a jump ball that will be determined by the overall momentum at that point.  OR, MT, SD are all likely Obama territory.  Jerome's assertion that Oregon is up for grabs is only true if HRC has a huge head of stem coming into this state, which seems unlikely looking at the calendar.

By the time we get through the currently scheduled primaries, the most likely scenario based on the demographics of the remaining states is that Obama's pledged delegate lead will be about where it is now or a bit bigger.  If this is the case, the supers will start coalescing around Obama.

Florida and Michigan are wild cards.  On one hand both of these states have demographics that appear to favor Clinton.  However, I think it is questionable whether or not the proposed re-votes will ever take place.  First, there are real logistical and financial issues.  Clinton can not afford to compete in caucuses and the state parties can not afford primaries.

More importantly, I suspect that Clinton is doing the same math I am doing, and realizing that re-votes are unlikely to yield enough delegates for her to catch Obama.  The only way she can catch him is by managing to seat the current "as is" delegations. Unless she far exceeds her expected performance in the remaining primaries, and wins over two thirds of the remaining unpledged super delegates, she will not have the votes to win a floor fight.  

Most importantly, if she has to seat these illegitimate delegations based on elections where the candidates did not campaign, and where Obama did not even appear on the ballot, she will fracture the party.  As I have said in several threads, "if this is the only way she can win it, it will not be worth having." Many Dems will defect to McCain, many will protest by voting for Nader, and many will simply stay home.  Given her high negatives, Clinton can ill afford any drop in Dem base turn-out. A fractured party would almost certainly result in a McCain victory in November, and in disaster for down-ballot Dems.

I simply do not see the math adding up for Clinton, unless Obama has a melt down and starts loosing his base demographic groups.  If she just continues to hold her own demographic groups, she is not going to get there.  Obama may not be able to kill HRC in PA, but likewise she was no clear way to stop his steady progress towards the nomination.

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Hillary's Tactical Brilliance and Strategic Blindness

Over the past two weeks, Hillary has adopted the advice of Republican, neo-con luminary William Kristol.  In his analysis of the Dem race in the aftermath of Wisconson, Kristol, appearing on Fox News, suggested that HRC's only chance was to "go after" Obama on his fitness to be Commander-In-Chief.  He said, "she needs to use a good dose of fear." Over the past week Hillary has done so with tactical brilliance and strategic blindness.

She has coupled going hard negative on national security, the NAFTA memo, and Rezko, with a claim to be the victim of media bias.  This media bias claim has worked very well. On one hand, it has kept pressure on the media to go after Obama on the NAFTA memo and the Rezko case.  On the other hand, it has kept the media from effectively calling Hillary on just how negative her campaign has become.  There are several indications that this tactical coupling may be enough to give Clinton the narrow victory she needs to justify staying in the race, however this tactical manuevering can do little to change the basic strategic realities:

HRC has almost no chance to overcome Obama's pledged delegate lead.  The only way Hillary can win the nomination is to continue going negative in the remaining primary states while simultaneously trying to overturn the will of the rank and file through a combination of superdelegates, and through a last minute rule change to seating the MI and FL delagations even though she has previously agreed to the DNC'c sanctions.  

The basic reality is this, although this strategy does have a slim possibility of success, HRC will have to tear the party apart to win in this manner.  If this is the only way she can win, it will not be worth having.

The most likely outcome of the Clintons tactical manuevering is to increase the level of bitterness in the party, waste time and money that could be spent on preparing for the fall campaign, and damage Obama who will likely emerge as the Dem candidate no matter what Clinton tries.

If she does manage to win by seating the MI and FL delegations, she will win by loosing.  Millions of voters including AAs, young voters, and progressives are not going to accept the outcome of such a process.  She will be the head of a dispirited and fractured party that has alientaed its young voters and enraged a substantial portion of its own base. Many will stay home, many will vote for Nader, many will vote vfor McCain.  Because she begins with nearly 50% of the voters unwilling to support her, Hillary can ill afford to loose any of the Dem base.  It is hard to imagine that she could win under such a scenario.

Unless Hillary wins by large enough margins tonight that she has a legitimate chance to at least win the overall popular vote, we can only hope that the party leadership will quickly close ranks around Obama.  

I realize that many are extremely passionate in their support for Hillary, but a realistic assessment of the current strategic situation suggest that she can only hope to win the nomination under circumstances that make it improbable that she could win in the fall.  Dems cannot afford a repeat of 1968.  Dems cannot afford to loose.  The country cannot afford four more years of a failed economic policy and four more years of war.  

If we care about our party and our country, it is time to tell Senator Clinton that it is time to let go.  We will have a woman President soon, it just isn't going to happen this year.  Continuing to try will only damage our party and end in failure.

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Good Hillary, Bad Hillary

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton said with apparent sincerity, "I am so honored to be on this stage with Barack Obama." On Saturday, she nearly shouted, "shame on you, Barack Obama."

The obvious contradiction between these two statements is symptomatic of an ongoing tension in Clinton's candidacy for the nomination, and in my own personal response to Senator Clinton.

So what are we to make of Hillary's abrupt change of tone?  Below the fold I will offer three different possibilities, and discuss the implications of each.

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What about Rezko? There is No There, There.

In a diary entitled "FACT CHECK: Obama and His Contributor Rezko," the diarist "truthteller," tries to make a case against Obama. I welcome this diary.  As an Obama supporter, I think this is a valid issue for investigation.

I think there is a natural tendency to assume that our preferred candidates are good people who can do no wrong.  I find it extremely annoying when HRC and JE supporters reject, out of hand, any criticism of their candidate. As an Obama supporter, I want to weigh the validity of any charges against my candidate.

All this being said, what does the evidence actually suggest? Truthteller's diary appears very thorough, and I am sure it took a lot of work (no comment as to the source of that work).  But in the end, it is nothing more than an "innuendo" and "guilt by association" attack.

Let's go through this, point-by-point:

What is Obama actually accused of doing?

1) Obama is accused of having a key contributor under indictment in an alleged kickback scheme that does not involve Obama;

Response: Yes, Rezko is a power broker who has contributed to many politicians of both parties. Rezko has been indicted, he has not been convicted.  According to the Chicago Magazine piece referenced above, Rezko is alleged to be $5 million in debt.  He disputes this claim.  Perhaps the allegation is accurate.  Perhaps under great financial pressure, Rezko cooked up a plot to use his political connections with the Blagojevich administration to get kick-backs from public contracts.  

However, none of this is connected to Obama.  The alleged actions took place after Obama was already in the US Senate.  

The question of how much money Rezko raised is a matter of interpretation about who is connected to Rezko.  Rezko is a major power broker who knows a lot of people.  The authors of the Sun-Times story do not indicate their methodology for deciding who was "connected" to Rezko.  Until someone does a thorough itemized list of names and dates, the discrepancy between Obama's estimate and the reporters estimate is not all that sinister.  Since the first Sun-Times piece and the second Obama did review his records and concluded that more contributions were connected to Rezko, again the contributions were passed on to charity.  Truthteller makes no mention of this fact.

2) Rezko is accused of being a slumlord.

Response:  This is far from clear.  It is clear that many of non-profit, low-income, housing projects he was involved in developing were not financially sustainable and that lack of funds led many of the projects into foreclosure over the past decade.  I have not seen any evidence that this was the result of Rezko diverting funds to his own use.  It appears that the costs of maintaining and heating these buildings was greater than anticipated and that over time the finances of the individual projects unravelled.

Again, no one has presented any real evidence as to why these projects fell into foreclosure.  It is certainly unfortunate that the tenants were left without heat, but it is not clear what happened or why.

3) Obama is accused of having written a letter in support of a housing project and service center for low-income seniors in his State Senate District;

Response:  This is a no-brainer.  The project is question is still serving its tenants and providing services to the neighborhood.  There is nothing wrong with a State Senator supporting a project that benefits his constituents.  There is nothing here.  

4) Obama is accused of having provided a one-month, unpaid internship to the son of a business associate of Rezko.

Response:  Whoop-de-do! This is an absurd allegation.  Is this "public corruption?" No, this is life in the real world.  Internships and low level jobs in the political arena are given to supporters and the children of supporters.

As an eighteen year old, I got my first full-time job in politics as a Page in the Oregon Legislature based on connections and having volunteered in the campaign of the returning Speaker of the House.  If this is "corrupt,"
then 90% of all politicians are corrupt.

5) Obama is accused of accepting a contribution to his Senate campaign from an associate of Rezko, which may have come from diverted consultants fees and Rezko is accused of reimbursing some one for a contribution to Obama's Senate campaign.  

Response:  There is no evidence that Obama knew anything about either of these incidents and the money in question has now been donated to charity.

The Bottom Line:  There is little if anything here.  Unless someone uncovers some quid-pro-quo, Obama has done nothing wrong.  

Is this just my opinion? No, this is the opinion of Patrick Fitzgerald the Federal Prosecutor and the very Sun Times story quoted in the attack post,

"The Illinois senator isn't accused of any wrongdoing. And there's no evidence Obama knew contributions to his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign came from schemes Rezko is accused of orchestrating.

The allegations against Rezko that involve Obama are contained in one paragraph of a 78-page document filed last month in which prosecutors outline their corruption and fraud case against Rezko,"

There you have it, one paragraph of a 78 page document, and there is no indication that Obama knew anything about it.

I would suggest that this dairy says more about the diarist than it does about Obama.  Rather than approaching the subject with an open mind, the diarist employs selective quotes and a pile of innuendo to try to make Obama look as bad as possible.  That is what this is really about.  Trying to make Obama look bad with a "guilt by association" attack.  It is a lot easier to throw this crap out, than it is to refute it.

I would go further, HRC's use of Rezko in last nights debate is clear evidence of her "ill intent." This is a smear of convenience.  Throw it out there to create doubt and suspicion.  It says more about HRC and the "Clintonian/Rovian style" than it does about Obama.

We need to hold ourselves, and our candidates, to a higher standard.  Rezko is a legitimate topic of discussion, but it must be approached with honesty.  As Obama said about Bush and the AUMF, "From where I stand, the case has not been made."

In the short term, these types of attacks can be effective, but in the long run we are playing on the Republicans "home turf."
The more we engage in this kind of politics of fear and smear, the more we discredit the political process, the more we reduce participation, and the more we legitimate Republican smears of our candidates.

Let's do better.

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Mea Culpa

I was wrong.  Like most of the world I was completely blown away by Clinton's "out of no where" victory." Now that I have had a few hours of sleep and enough time to remove a very large quantity of egg from my face, a few thoughts about amateur punditry, advocacy, and about the race from here.

What a night!????!  I can't remember a time when so many polls were so wrong.  This was not like 2ooo and 2oo4 where it looked like Kerry and Gore were going to win very narrow victories and ended up loosing even more narrowly.  This was a complete stunner, I don't think anybody saw this coming.  Just off the top of my head, I think two things probably happened:

1) I think some of the indies who would have voted for Obama, thought he was a sure winner and decided to vote strategically for McCain.

2) I think HRC's show of emotion and passion had a huge impact on the women's vote.  Identity politics are very powerful.  People of any group, particularly a group that has been subjected to a long history of oppression, don't like seeing one of their own get kicked around.  In that one moment, Hillary addressed her biggest problem as a candidate, her lack of authenticity.  She came across as very human, someone both passionate and vulnerable.  I suspect that a lot of women said, "I don't want to see her humiliated, so I will vote for HRC."

I don't in any way want to criticize the people (primarily women) who may have made this decision.  I think it is natural.  You see one of your own in trouble and you try to do what you can to help.  I suspect that most of these women were either on the fence already or were low information voters who relate more to personality than to policy.  

My analysis is based entirely on conjecture; it may be total bull.  I look forward to hearing others thoughts.

Regardless of why the lightening struck, it did strike, and the question is where does this leave us?

More below the fold.

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Hillary's Choice

Hillary is going to loose tommorrow.  It is not certain by how much, but it looks like somewhere between 7-to-15%.

She is going to go on loosing.  In Nevada, Hillary's lead in the polls will melt faster than a New Hampshire snow ball under the desert sun. She will be crushed in SC by a wave of hope among the AA community.

Basiscally, she faces a month of being pumelled in the press and watching the Obama sunami build. If she wants to win, she has to break his momentum. According to conventional thinking, the only way she can do so is to attack Obama relentlessly:

She tried the "experince" frame in Iowa and that didn't work.  

She is trying an "all talk, and no walk" frame in NH, and that isn't going to work either.  

Of the top three Dems, Obama has by far the most congruence between his life choices, rhetoric, and voting record.  There are some minor inconsistencies, a few scraps of hypocracy, a few changed positions, but according to polls and focus groups, Obama comes across to most voters as the most authentic and the most honest of the top Dems.

Attacks, particularly in a primary, come at a cost. The more Hillary attacks, the more she confirms the meme of her "unlikability" and her "ambition."

Furthermore, Hillary faces a basic structural problem that may be unfixable:  she is primarily a restoration candidate in an election that is overwhelmingly about change.  She muddies her own message when she tries to embrace change.  

All of this suggsts to me that HRC has three choices:

Option #1) She can go after Obama with everything she has got.  She can use surrogates to attack; 527 to shovel the dirt; continue to step up leaked oppo research to the press. In short, empty the arsenal.  Will it work?  I don't think so.  At the very best she might win a war of attrition by stealing Michigan and Florida and depending on Superdelegates.  She would probably have to pull out a win in California and that seems unlikely as Obama's wave continues to build. It would result in a deeply and bitterly divided party.  If as I suspect, she would loose anyway, she is going to do serious damage to her standing in the Senate, and to the Clinton legacy.

Option #2) She can decide to stay in the race, but throw out the conventional playbook and swear-off any additional non-policy attacks.  This just might work, or at least it has as good of chance of working as the Rovian model above.  At least it would get the conversation back on to policy, which is HRC's strength, and off of her personality and style which are a real problem.  It also would help keep the party united and help her standing and future in the Senate.

Option #3) She can bow out gracefully and announce that she intends to do everything she can to help Obama and to work for change in the Senate.  She will get tons of kudos for placing the party ahead of her own ambition, and perhaps position herself to become Majority leader in the Senate.

If I were betting, I would guess that Hillary will choose Option #1.  She has nursed her ambition for too long to let go.  Her staff and advisors are almost all advocates of "old school hardball." This is the game they know, and this is what they will fall back on in times of trouble.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope that somewhere someone can convince Bill and Hillary to consider their future in the party and the well being of the party and the country.

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It Is Over .....

As I read through the diaries today and through the media reactions to last night's debate, I cannot help thinking that none of this matters.

It's over.  Barrack Obama is the next President of the United States.  Amazing.  There will no doubt be another ten months of battles and skirmishes, but the war is won. Just like World War II was over in the Pacific after the battle of Midway and over in Europe after the landing at Normandy.  There will be more battles to fight, but there is no one with the resources to stop Obama.

He is the right man, in the right place, with the right message.  No doubt, Team Hillary will continue to go through its death spasms with attempts to retool her message and dump truck loads of mud, but it won't work.  This election is about change.  A candidate whose primary claim to fame is that she stood side by side with a President who was sworn in 15 years ago is structurally disqualified.  Her message is garbled; her image is troubling; she is weighted down be far too much baggage.

Many here do not seem to understand the basic underlying dynamics at work behind Obama's success:  message congruence and message resonance.  

1) Message congruence:  People are responding to Obama because he comes across as authentic and they feel they can trust him at a basic level.  Why?  Because his life choices, voting record, and campaign rhetoric are largely consistent and congruent.  Obama chose to become a community organizer. He chose to become a civil rights lawyer.  In office, he has chosen to fight for ethics reform and campaign finace reform. He says he is for change, and people believe him, because he has worked for change.  

He says he can bring people together, and his record shows that he has been able to do that as President of the Harvard Law Review.  He brought minority advocates and civil liberties advocates and law enforcement types together to reform Illinois' death penalty.  He worked with Lugar on loose nukes legislation, and with a bipartisan group to pass ethics reform in Congress. There is congruence between the man and the message that helps make both belieavable.  

2) Message resonance:  Voters often react to what they don't like about the current occupant of the White House.  George Bush has been the personification of stand-alone, stubborn, partisanship.  Many voters are tired of gridlock and tired of leadership that does not listen.  Obama's combination of progressive values and an inclusive, less confrontational style seems to resonate with a large number of Dems and an even larger number of independents.

Yes, there are many Dems that want to follow the path taken by Rove and the Repubs:  take a narrow majority and try to impose your will on the country.  However, many have found the partisan bickering unproductive, or have come to realize that Dems need to grow their majorities in Congress if they want to get anything of substance done.  These voters take Obama at his word when he says he is trying to build a broad, progressive majority.

Who can stop Obama?  

Edwards?  Highly unlikely, Obama has clearly become the "alternative to HRC" candidate.  AS long as the media spins the story as Obama vs. HRC, Edwards will not get enough oxygen.  He does not have the media buzz, the poll standing, the money, or the organization to compete.

HRC?  She probably has a better chance than JE, but she faces long odds.  I would argue that the window for recovery is almost impossibly small.  Hillary is primarily a restoration candidate in a change election.  She is boxed in by her tough, many would say mean, image.  Every time she tries to attack Obama she only reinforces her image problem.  Her alternating efforts to appear warm and likable and her efforts to knock Obama down only cement her lack of authenticity.  The bottom line is simple, many Dems and most independents do not feel that they can trust Hillary.  

Can the Repubs stop Obama?  Not likely.  This almost certainly sets up as a Democratic year. Bush fatigue, Iraq, economic uncertainty all portend a strong opportunity for Dems. Occasionally, these general trends can be overcome by a particularly strong candidate from the other party.  However, the Repub field looks very weak.  McCain is old and bears the heavy burden of the war.  Romney is a flip-flopping, phoney with zero foriegn policy experience.  Huckabee is charming and well spoken, but he is far out of the mainsteam and his tax proposals alone are a huge albatros, it is hard to see him winning the nomination let alone a general election.  Rudy is in serious trouble and burdened by so many scandals it is hard to see him rallying his party to victory.

I am not trying to be a naive cheerleader, but the more that you think it through, it looks like it is all over.  Barrack Obama is clearly on the march to the White House with no insurmountable obstacles in sight.

We will no doubt keep arguing in the months ahead, but I think the outcome is clear.  Barrack Obama, President of the United States of America.

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Obama and Mandates: A Policy Wonk's Point of View

Let me start with a bit of background.  I have been a health policy wonk, off and on, for over twenty years:  I was head of a statewide coalition working on universal care in the mid 80's, I was the Administrator of the Senate Human Resources Committee in the Oregon State Senate in the late 80's early 90's, and a health policy analyst in the mid 90's.

When I fired up my computer and saw Jonathan Singer's front page comments about the Boston Globe poll and the issue of health care mandates, I almost pulled out my hair.  JS seems to start with the premise that if a plurality of Dems are opposed to mandates, then Obama must be leading Dems in the wrong direction. This is absurd.

The causal relation is completely upside down.  Obama is not leading Dems anywhere.  He correctly understands that the vast majority of voters, and a plurality of Dems, have strong objections to mandates.  Why?  Because most voters don't like the idea of coercing the working poor and the self-employed to spend their money on health care when they may have more immediate needs like rent, utilities, and food.

In the absence of a highly coercive enforcement mechanism, mandates are unlikely to work well.  Just look at how poorly mandates for car insurance work.  Most estimates suggest that 10-20% of all drivers on the road are uninsured.  Why?  Because they cannot afford auto insurance when they are struggling with immediate needs.

Including mandates in any health care reform is like hanging a bulls-eye in the middle of your forehead.  Remember Harry and Louise from the early 90s?  Opponents of health care reform will use mandates as a wedge to undermine public support for reform.

I have been saying, over and over for years, that the policy side of universal care is pretty simple compared to the complexity of the politics of trying to reform a sector of the economy that accounts for nearly 16% of GDP.  There are a ton of powerful interests who benefit from the status-quo and will seek to undermine any effort at reform.  We do not need to go out of our way to give these interests a big, juicy target.

I believe that Obama has the best chance of the big three Dems of actually passing some kind of meaningful reform:

1)  Obama's less partisan approach will give him the longest coattails of any of the top three Dems.  HRC would in my opinion have a terrible effect on many down-ballot Dems in swing districts.  She is a one-woman turn-out tool for the Republican base, and she runs weakest among independents.  Efforts at reform depend on the Dems ability to increase their majorities in both houses.

2)  Obama with his unity message is best positioned to get independents and moderate Repubs to at least consider his proposals for reform.  Passage will depend on a Dem President's
ability to break down Republican intransigence in the Senate.  Obama has the potential to reach over the heads of moderate Republicans and talk directly to their constituents.  This is how Ronald Reagan was able to pass much of his agenda in the 80's even though Dems had control of the House and had the ability to filibuster in the Senate.

3)  Obama's approach of concentrating on cost containment and trying to increase the affordability of insurance seems like a reasonable approach.  In an ideal world, we would scrap the entire system and go to single-payer, but this is a far from perfect world.

Bottom Line:  Blaming Obama for the public's distaste for mandates is crazy.  Give Obama credit for having good enough political judgment to know were the public is on this issue and the sense to reduce the size of the target he presents to the opponents of reform.  It isn't the health policy, stupid!  It is the politics of health reform!

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An Open Letter to Edwards' Supporters

John Edwards is an excellent candidate for the Dem nomination.  He has brought courage, reason, and eloquence to the campaign.  He has, over time, evolved from a talented but inexperienced, Southern centrist into a genuine progressive populist.  

JE has put forward many of the most progressive and detailed policy initiatives of this or any recent campaign season.  IMO, he deserves special commendation for directly addressing the corrosive influence of corporate power on our democracy.   Tactically, Edwards led the way in criticizing HRC's many vulnerabilities, and he deserves a good share of the credit for having pricked a few of the growing holes in the inevitability balloon.

Having said all of these things, I believe that it is time for progressives to face the facts:  The likelihood of Edwards capturing the Dem nomination has grown exceedingly slim. Below the fold, I lay out my analysis and discuss the strategic consequences of this analysis for progressives.   Bottom Line:  I think it is time for Edwards' supporters to take another look at Obama if they want a realistic chance of stopping HRC.

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Obama's Message of Unity: An Analysis

Many in the progressive political blogosphere have discounted Obama's stress on a new politics of "unity" as meaningless rhetoric at best, or worse, as a sign that he is some sort of DLC centrist.  This take on Obama's message, combined with Edwards' more outspoken populist policies and style, has led a growing number of online progressives to coalesce around Edwards' campaign.  

This reaction isn't particularly surprising.  The progressive political blogosphere grew out of widespread frustration with the inability and/or unwillingness of the Democratic Party and its leaders to stand up to the radical right agenda of the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies.  Most progressives have little tolerance for any message that smacks of appeasement.  In this context, partisanship is largely viewed as a positive, and unity is viewed with suspicion.

While I understand this reaction to Obama's "unity" message, I believe this "take" is overly simplistic and misconstrues both the reasoning behind the message, and the implications of the message, if Obama is successful in winning the Democratic nomination.  I think progressives should slow-down and do some serious thinking about what Obama is trying to do.

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