The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Look at that chart above, a blogpulse chart of blog mentions of Barack Obama.  That is the Obama campaign in a nutshell - low level chatter and huge spikes that come after TV appearances and leaks from insiders.  While Obama has real grassroots support, his campaign is a conversation being driven from the top.

I just read Chris's post and all the comments for the second time.  I don't have anything to add on the merits of Barack Obama at this point.  I think he should run, and I think he'll lose pretty badly, but I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again.  I want him to define himself and what he's willing to fight for, and until then I see the adulation as mostly starfucking and the hatred of him a manifestation of angry cynicism towards the Democratic party.  Wow, I'm even playing my own little triangulation game as I write about Obama!  This man is powerful.  Actually, that's not quite true; Obama has been quite the machine boss in his heavy handed moves against Cegelis in Il-08, and he hasn't done anything legislatively in the Senate to suggest he's capable of visionary leadership.  So on balance, the evidence leans towards 'empty suit', but he was a good liberal state Senator, so there's evidence on the other side as well.

I'm more interested in why we're talking about this man, and who's doing the talking.  After looking over Chris's thread, and a bunch of threads over the past week or so on Daily Kos, it seems like there are now clear patterns in Obama-world.  It seems like the Obama-supporters have a sense of trust in the Democratic Party to do what's right, whereas the Obama-skeptics don't share that sense of trust.  The supporters of Obama have a sort of rockstar love of the man, and that's an asset for him.  The skeptics have naught but their skepticism, there is no Dean in this race.

My sense is that the way Obama's going to be marketed is as an old media style campaign, with lots of big dollar donors purchasing infrastructure pieces in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Obama is a Daschle-Lieberman style politician, an insider who loves comity and dealings behind closed doors.  His campaign will keep his supporters very firmly on the outside of the war room.  That's not necessarily a bad strategy, but it is to say that Obama's campaign is going to be played out in the old media space and not online.  This is not people-power, and we will be kept largely in the dark.  Remember that Obama's national brand was born in at the DNC Convention in 2004, the most old media top-down environment there is.  It was a beautiful speech that was totally unhelpful to John Kerry's campaign, but it did make everyone feel good and it led Obama to believe that TV mass appeal is the path to power.

It may be.  Kos thinks so, though I don't.  After Warner dropped out, the only candidate with a real netroots infrastructure is John Edwards, so I don't think you can count him out at this point.  In fact I would argue that he's probably got the best shot to win, though he has very serious problems that he must resolve or he'll continue to be a very nice man.  What I find most interesting about the Obama-fest is how it's such an insider-driven campaign and phenomenon.  This is not bubbling up from the grassroots, this is bubbling down from DC insiders and New York and Hollywood money people.  That's not to say that there isn't a real grassroots base, there is, but the people in the drivers' seat of Obama's campaign are living in an America of private jets.  Of course, Obama can and will eventually purchase a netroots infrastructure, since the field online is so wide-open, but it's not going to be a naturally strong area for him.  It's private jet or bust.

Despite what you might think is negativity, I'm open-minded about the 2008 contenders, including Barack Obama.  I sympathize with the candidates, it's humiliating and difficult to raise huge sums of money from wealthy liberals.  I don't have a favorite, and like Kos, I'll probably just heckle from the cheap seats on issues of importance to progressives.  I believe that most of the Democratic politicians in this race could develop into the next FDR or the next Jimmy Carter, and I have no insight on which is more likely at this point.  But I would encourage all people who are supporting a candidate to consider one question.  What could cause you to drop your support?  What is your baseline?  It was incredibly depressing to watch Republicans ditch libertarianism on civil rights and fiscal responsibility, to watch these people lose their souls.  Don't let that happen to you.  Don't be swayed by the cult of personality in what Atrios calls the silliest season of all.  Have some standards.  I know lots of you love Obama, and I won't begrudge you that.  For his sake, make sure he knows why you love him, and what you expect from him in return for that love.

Update: The most frustrating piece of discussing Obama is the immediate reaction of his supporters to defensively deride discussions as 'bashing Obama' or trying to 'tear Obama down', as if it's not legitimate to examine his record and public statements with an eye to understanding what kind of candidate and President he'll be. It's a very illiberal and anti-democratic sentiment, and it's one that is not shared by Barack Obama himself, who has spoken eloquently of our right and duty to disagree with one another. I love the political process, and that process involves discussion and criticism, and criticism is a good thing. I loved that Howard Dean and Wesley Clark brought outsider energy into the primary process in 2004, and I would love to see that same level of passion and argument in 2008. That level of debate only makes us stronger as a party and as a country, and we should embrace it. Let's fight amongst ourselves, but let's not make the mistake of assuming that disagreement is bad or illegitimate. It's not. It's good and patriotic. If you don't agree, that's cool, Unity08 wants your nifty web tool suggestions. Just what kind of website should they build?

Tags: Barack Obama (all tags)



Being neutral
Now that we are a couple of weeks into the invisible primary, I am starting to remember htat at this point in 2002, Dean was not yet the netroots rockstar he became. the Draft Clark and Draft Kucinich movements did not even exist. All of these things came from underneath, and were far from set by this point.

I imagine, like in 2002-2003, I will stay nuetral until one or more candidates proves s/he has the ability to continue to grow the progressive movement / has the organiz support of new infrastrcure fromt he progressive movement. I didn't settle on Dean for good until there was a huge pro-Dean rally in Philly in early August, which blew my mind. It was at that point that I knew Dean was the one.

I guess I'm going to wait for something similar in 2007. Any of the candidate can do it, but for right now I think you are correct that we stay neutral and expect greatness from all of the candidates, and from activists within the netroots, too.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-05 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Obama: Talk about peaking too early!

by Kobi 2006-12-05 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Thinking about the size of the mess that GW Bush is leaving for his successors to clean up, I can't help but think "Why would anyone want this job?"

So I think I'm going to be swayed far more by executive experience than by legislative or oratorical talent.  

by Nina Katarina 2006-12-05 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

I don't know if this is my "baseline", but I am very concerned about how the presidential candidate will affect the ability of the Democrats to solidify their congressional gains (and the downticket elections too).  Given that Obama has a distressing habit of inventing bogus Democratic strawmen and then attacking them (e.g., here), I'm not convinced he would be the best standard bearer for the party or the best president.  Clinton is definitely out by that criterion (she didn't even bother to help nail down upstate NY).

by mfeld356 2006-12-05 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Looking at that chart, I see low chatter up until the point he said he would "maybe" get into the presidentiaal race.  Then I see a gigantic bump and a pattern of interest that mirrors and often overwhelms that of Edwards or Gore or any of the other netroots favorites.  

Did it even occur to you that most of that chart is tracking time when no one seriously considered Obama a potential '08 contender?  If you just take the last few months, you've got a substantial amount of buzz on the netroots level.  

Although, I might add that I also like the convenient conflation between netroots/grassroots, as they are definately not a single entity.

by Ryan Anderson 2006-12-05 10:35AM | 0 recs
What is the purpose of these lectures?

I'm a proud self-described member of the netroots movement.

And I like Barack Obama. But, I'm not naive. And I'm not uninformed about his record, or his maneuvers since becoming Senator.

I don't believe Obama is perfect or a savior.

But, I don't need Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers or David Sirota to tell me that.

I simply think he is the best candidate who's likely to run. And I agree with Kos that "if he runs, he wins."

So, I just don't understand the purpose of this effort that reinforces the "empty suit" charge.

And I can't help but feel that all this smacks of a kind of a "top-down" A-list blogger shot across Obama's bow.

Please, have some faith in your netroots brethren.  And please stop implying that support for Obama equals naivete.

I know my baseline. And I know not to get suckered by a cult of personality.

I suspect I'm not alone.

People-powered politics means that you have to be willing to trust the people.

by Vermonter 2006-12-05 10:40AM | 0 recs
Knowing your baseline

Care to share?  Generally, trust comes from understanding... and specifically -- as someone still trying to define my "baseline," I'm interested to hear from as many people as possible who already know where they stand.  You, Bowers, and anyone else willing to say where they're at.

And you can trust me not to be convinced by any one person's outlook or attitude.

by bruorton 2006-12-05 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Honestly he's not my favorite, but if it comes down to a choice between him and Hillary, I'll gladly take him any day. I really wish Warner had run... shame.

by Windowdog 2006-12-05 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Yeah, that's pretty much my attitude.

Hearing Feingold wouldn't run was truly deflating.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Why is he so much better than HRC Clinton? At least she voted against Gonzalez, Obama voted to confirm Attorney General Torture.

Otherwise their voting records are very similar, with the difference that Clinton has a wad of cash, can raise even more, and has much greater experience. I am not a HR Clinton fan, but I don't understand why those who reject her are so hot for Obama.

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-05 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Her money buys alot less than most other candidates. The GOP literally cannot buy the kind of negative impression many Americans have about Hillary. Thats not a good reason to ditch a good candidate, but she's vanilla other than that. I mean what is her huge plus other than having cash?

I don't love Obama, but at the very least he can get accross his message better than any candidate we've fielded since bill.

I really hope it doesn't come down to a binary choice between the two, and I hope a better candidate emerges. But given the two as my only choice I definitely go Obama.

by Windowdog 2006-12-05 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Perhaps you can list some compelling reasons why you'd support him over Hillary without talking about Hillary's negatives?

I tried and I cannot come up with a compelling reason why this guy deserves all this.  

by jgarcia 2006-12-05 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

He has charisma that carries well in the mass media. I don't particularly buy it, but enough people literally have that he's got a friggin #1 best seller with a CAMPAIGN book. I mean damn.

And the "don't talk about Hillary's negatives" is just ignoring reality. Hillary's negatives are 44% HARD negatives from one poll I saw this year. As in 4.4 in 10 voters will not vote for her no matter what she says. That is before Rove and whoever spend a single dollar on ads about Vince Foster.

Clinton has done commendable service for the most part as Senator for NY her tying down that seat was just one more nail in the NY GOP coffin. I think she can be NY's Ted Kennedy is she wants to be. But she brings a ton and half baggage to the table. If she was William Jennings Bryant born again and had a clear killer message the people needed to hear I'd just accept it as a necessary price to pay to field the best candidate. But I can't see anything that really distinguishes her from the pack besides her name and her money.

So if its Hillary v Obama I take the charismatic up and comer over the acceptable but unremarkable candidate who happens to have a pile of cash and be married to bill.

by Windowdog 2006-12-05 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

He's not as charismatic as people think, and her negatives aren't as "hard" as you think.

Perhaps we should elect Madonna if we're basing this shit on charisma.  Hey, that's it:  Madonna for President in 2008, cuz Obama isn't charismatic enough for my tastes!

by jgarcia 2006-12-05 11:53AM | 0 recs
It really is that season....

Yes that is exactly what I said, elect Obama b/c he's charismatic!!!! Or maybe I actually said given the choice between a candidate that is starting out with nearly half the country strongly disliking her, I'd pick the guy who has a clear talent for communication in both verbal and written form.

Obama was a decent state senator on the issues and has gone vanilla since then. Not my favorite or first choice, but given a binary choice between him and a candidate with such clear deficits at the starting gate, I choose the former.

If you like Hillary, fine, but its a bit too early to become a dick about it. Wait at least a year then you'll be in tune with the rest of the crazies.

by Windowdog 2006-12-05 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: It really is that season....

One of the things about HR Clinton most people have not noticed is that the more the Republicans attack her the bigger she gets.

I don't think Obama could hold up to their attack. So far no one has bothered to go after him. Let's see what he looks like after the Scaife hate machine has gone after him.

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-05 02:16PM | 0 recs
Re: It really is that season....

It helps when you have the experience of being the wife of a popular President first.

Wow, and I just named her basic qualificaion for office in the same sentence!

No thanks. Enough nepotism, please. No more Bushes or Clintons.

by ElitistJohn 2006-12-05 04:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Jay Patterson, Overland Park, Ks, business owner, American Auto Consultants.  He is a great speaker and at least has regained some respect from the American people through his work with GB, Sr.

Jay Patterson
American Auto Consultants

by jejo1961 2006-12-06 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

This seems to be getting out of hand.  I am not a huge Obama fan, but the constant thrashing of him on this site (which I love by the way) seems very unnecessary.  We are cannabilizing ourselves.

by IsThisOverYet 2006-12-05 10:47AM | 0 recs
Dems Destroy Dems

That's what we do.  We did it to Gore.  Spent the whole campaign argueing Gore vs. Nader.  And Bush just snuck in, with a little help.

Kerry.  Same thing.  You would think winning the primary would be enough to have the Dems put away the knives.  But no, Kerry was not liberal enough.  So the Dems spent the whole campaign attacking Kerry.

And now they must destroy Obama.  I have no idea why.  But if he is such a danger to the world.  Maybe Matt should run in the primary against him. Of course he can use no money.   Just his precious net.  C'mon Mr. Powerful, what is stopping you.  Let's see if you can get 1%.

So in closing.  Enjoy Destroy Obama Week.

We are Democrats. We Need to Lose.

by rapallos 2006-12-05 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

You're right about this being a "star-fucker" campaign. As of now, Obama has virtually no actual substantive record as a Senator. In fact, so far it is all rather troubling (see rota). But we should not underestimate the "cult of personality" that is enveloping this guy. Reagan, Clinton and Bush II just to point out the latest examples of presidential aspirations driven by starry-eyed followers.

We're doomed.

by Stoic 2006-12-05 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Game over, man, game over!

Seriously, get a grip.

by bruorton 2006-12-05 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

11th Amendmant??  Don't talk bad about another Democrat (kind of)???  

I'm not entirely sure why there is this huge lecture on what Obama will do once he runs, but I believe he has the best shot at winning in 2008 and I am not entirely sure why you are already trying to tear him down.  He has Oprah Winfrey pulling for him??  

Would you rather have a Kucinich get the nomination and get killed by McCain or a Obama nomination and a lot better chance of winning??

by jalby 2006-12-05 10:50AM | 0 recs

Electability 2.0?

by bruorton 2006-12-05 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Electability 2.0

Would you rather have a Kucinich get the nomination and get killed by McCain or a Obama nomination and a lot better chance of winning??

Wow, that's some false dichotomy you got going there.  Obama or "a Kucinich" are going to be our only choices?

How about Gore, Clark and Edwards? Are they "Kucinichs" too?

How about some more substantive reasons for why you support Obama?

by justathought 2006-12-05 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Not Kucinich (not even by ideological purity standards--his abortion flip-flop pissed me off royally).  This isn't about ideological purity.

How about someone who isn't afraid of the democratic base?  

Someone who, when given the national microphone, will advocate just one left-wing idea from a left-wing perspective?  Who won't cower at the mere mention of conservatives?

Can we try it, just once?  I'm kind of sick of the failed DLC strategies, and losing, over and over, with them.  It's fucking depressing working for a candidate like Kerry, who you only half believe in to start with, and then seeing him fail.

by Valatan 2006-12-05 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

"will advocate just one left-wing idea..."

You mean like saying there should be universal health care in this country?

by lapis 2006-12-05 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

The thing about Obama in my opinion is that given his background he fits right in with the rich and wealthy.  

So I don't think that this is as bad a thing for him as it would be for others.  Obama will have to demonstrate that he can reach outside of his comfort zone, but Edwards was in a similar position in 2004 with his trial lawyers.

I don't really have a problem with Obama as long as Pelosi is the leader of the house.  Well so far anyways.  

by sterra 2006-12-05 10:56AM | 0 recs
Also one more thing

I'd rather have the netroots supplant hillary as the leader right off the bat.

Thats why I like this development at least.

by sterra 2006-12-05 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Despite all the talk of netroots/grassroots/moneybags support, the candidate with the biggest bank account in Q3 the year before the primaries has always gotten the nomination for both major party.

The key is making sure our preferred candidate has the funds.  I don't mind Obama, he's my second choice at this point.  Edwards of course is my first choice.

My home-state Senator, Evan Bayh can't get my vote because he says "nuc-u-lar".

by Vox Populi 2006-12-05 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

What's the timeframe on that statistic?  I'm assuming that, at least, it only dates back to when primaries determined a majority of the delegates

by Valatan 2006-12-05 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

I am astonished that Obama's vote to confirm Abu Gonzalez did not finish him off. If you cannot be against torture, what, if anything, do you stand for?

I really really really hope Gore decides to run. No one can hold a candle to him.

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-05 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Gore had the pleasure of not actually having to cast votes on these issues.  It's one thing to say he "stood" against them but had he had the vote would he have taken the same positions or backed up his rhetoric with action?  Right now he has no constituency so he can make any kind of comment or take any kind of position he wants without repercussion.  But had he been a Senator from Tennessee or President, would he have had the courage to stand with his "conviction"?

by Vox Populi 2006-12-05 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Gore spoke against the Patriot Act before they voted on it and against the Iraq war back in 2002.

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-05 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Call me old-fashioned but I'd like to see something he's done or at least has a GRAND vision for.  Some people decide on their presidential candidate quicker than they would someone they'd hire on any low-level job.

The more starfucking involved, the LESS likely it would be for me to like or support him.  I hate hype.

Here's a link to what I wrote about him last week.  I know it's silly, but the fact that he smokes cigarettes annoys me bigtime.  I think a simple picture of him with a cigarette could potentially doom his campaign.  Afterall, nobody likes smokers these days. 144139/35/17#17

by jgarcia 2006-12-05 11:07AM | 0 recs

There is no one -NO ONE- with the appeal (fake or not) that Barack Obama has. And I don't want to hear it about Edwards and Gore. Edwards is and has always been a softball politician who has big ideas, but when it comes to being an aggressive politician, has no ideas. And Gore...don't even get me started with Gore. Every time I hear that name, all I see in my mind's eye is that Fahrenheit 9/11 scene of him gaveling each CBC member.

Bottom line: all I care about for 2008 is getting a Democrat elected, since we have no Dean to look to this time. If that means I'm a sellout, so be it.

by b1oody8romance7 2006-12-05 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

I agree somewhat with this, but personally this is also why I am not supporting Obama.

He didn't have a real election in his first one so I think that Obama should have a hard time getting this one.  That will make him a better candidate.

by sterra 2006-12-05 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

He was elected in a hard-fought Democratic primary against a long-time statewide office-holder (Hynes), a wealthy self-funder (Blair Hull), and several other candidates.  Obama started as a distinct underdog in the race but ended up winning a majority after all the votes were cast.

The Republican Party in Illinois is dead.  How is a heavily contested Dem primary "not a real election"?

by Vox Populi 2006-12-05 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

Right. And Obama didn't just win a majority of the votes. He steamrolled.

by b1oody8romance7 2006-12-05 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

Was the right-wing noise machine involved?

by Joe Gabriel 2006-12-05 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

No offense, but that attitude is what's wrong with out Party and gave us Kerry.

Why not a visionary who would actually make lasting changes to the country (LBJ, FDR) instead of a triangulator sell-out (Bill Clinton)?

by jgarcia 2006-12-05 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

A visionary? Newsflash: Feingold is out. Wes Clark? Barely a visionary, and his chances at the nomination are less than dubious.

by b1oody8romance7 2006-12-05 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

I happen to think Gor would fit if he ran.  And Hill's obsession with healthcare makes me like her a bit more than Obama.  

by jgarcia 2006-12-05 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

OH WOW. Hil's "obsession" with healthcare? You mean, the issue that she teamed up with Newt Gingrich on last year? That obsession?

And Gore? I already dealt with Gore. He's a recycled bumper sticker and a polarizing figure. And you know, seeing him gavel down each CBCer one by one hurt. After all that, he just doesn't deserve a second chance.

by b1oody8romance7 2006-12-05 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

How humiliating do you think it was to gavel those guys down when it was HIS election they were fighting for?

You should be more upset with the lack of ONE US Senator standing up for black voting disenfranchisement that occured in 2000 and still does.

by jgarcia 2006-12-05 11:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

Not one senator, including Feingold, Boxer, or Teddy Kennedy.  Damn.

by Vox Populi 2006-12-05 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Look.

Actually Clark IS a visionary.

And just because Corporate Press ignores him doesn't mean the netroots should or will.

Here's hoping he sees fit to run, although I wouldn't blame him if he doesn't.

by jen 2006-12-05 01:19PM | 0 recs
Obama's appeal to the left is obvious

But why do people think he can beat McCain?

Especially if you factor in both the race factor, and the middle name "Hussein" factor?

Personally, outside of the electability issue, I want either Edwards or Gore, both of whom have developed a vision that doesn't minimize the netroots.  Preferably Edwards, simply because of TV charisma.  Now, Obama has that charisma as well, but Edwards has done some great work with the netroots, engaged us.

But yeah, Obama getting elected would be just...awesome.  Talk about the absolute ideal vision of the ideals of a progressive America.

Completely realized in an Obama presidency.

by jc 2006-12-05 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign
I'm curious as to what you think Senator Edwards main problems are.  I agree that he has some but I'm interested in which ones you think are his major ones.
by dbeard115 2006-12-05 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

He's unwilling to fight.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-05 11:18AM | 0 recs
Or does he carefully pick his fights?
Some people wanted him to tear Cheney apart in the debate, but Cheney's negatives were already very high. Ripping him a new one likely would have pushed Edwards' negatives higher, while having less of an impact on Cheney's. Instead, he made a positive appeal targeting undecided voters, and he successfully won them over.

by MeanBoneII 2006-12-05 01:09PM | 0 recs
What about Obama?

   I think Obama is unwilling to fight.  What has he fought for?  He was handed a senate seat.  He ran a very boring campaign against the crazy Alan Keyes.  He couldn't say anything bad about him.  To be honest, Obama didn't really need to.  I'm just afraid that Obama believes that he can win the presidency with a campaign like his in 2004.  Obama WILL NOT win the presidency with feel-good messages of unity.  I think Obama will be eaten alive by the right-wing slime machine.  And this isn't about his middle name.  If his middle name were Jesus, the right-wing would still call him a terrorist sympathizer.  At least Edwards understands the power of the right-wing slime machine.  Edwards somehow won a senate seat in a right-wing state.  He knows what the right-wing will do to win.  I think that Obama does not.  Yes, I have lukewarm support for Edwards in the primary.

by cilerder86 2006-12-05 01:33PM | 0 recs
Matt - there is more than one way to win a fight.

Edwards has fire and you will see it, but it will not be in a form of attack.

Don't underestimate what he learned from 2004, he is intelligent enough to pick up on the right issues and position himself on in internationaly front that most are unaware of.

by dk2 2006-12-05 02:14PM | 0 recs
Someone Wake Matt Up

Hey Matt, wake up.

Cegalis lost in the primary, Obama didn't kick her out.

Why is that so hard for the sore losers to understand.

And BTW.  Mr. Confused.  It was actually Durbin that asked Duckworth to run.

So if the great St. Cegalis couldn't beat Duckworth in the primary.

What makes you think she would have won the general election.

This is the braintrust of the netroots.

Be very afraid.

by rapallos 2006-12-05 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Someone Wake Matt Up

Obama's not allowed to endorse candidates unless the netroots approves.  I don't see much hemming and hawwing over the ads Barack cut for Akaka in the HI-Sen primary.

by Ryan Anderson 2006-12-05 11:21AM | 0 recs
Not Hillary

He's not Hillary, which is great.  

I consider any candidate who slows her momentum and drains her establishment juice good.  Obama has time to either seduce or alienate the netroots, or split the difference.  For now, his attention is on insider Washington...which means he's stealing Hillary's thunder.  Which I think is damn good news.

by owenz 2006-12-05 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

FWIW, I think Edwards would be a stronger candidate in the general election than Obama. The two of them together, though, with Edwards at the top of the ticket, might be unstoppable.

by Coral 2006-12-05 11:20AM | 0 recs
The Misinformed Net

The net in their takedown Obama campaign is simply full of you know what.

Matt, wants Obama to listen to us.

That is a nice mantra, and is supposed to make you feel all powerful.  But the facts, damn those facts, tell a different story.

We, our Progressive Group, met with Obama right before he went to Washington.  We asked him not to certify the election of Bush because of Ohio.  

His reaction, you want the first thing I do to vote against an election of the President.

Well, he listened, or read up, whatever, he voted down.

Alito, same thing.  The emails he got, I don't know that it changed his mind, but he certainly came over to our view.

Both he and Durbin not only read the emails, but they often write back.  And not just form letters, although they do that as well.  But sometimes actually explain their why they voted their way, and address your concerns.

So carry on with Destroy Obama Week

by rapallos 2006-12-05 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

This is a silly post imo.  Obama is popular because he is enormously charasmatic and quite clearly brilliant.  He has a knack for speaking in a conciliatory, big-tent fashion without compromising on the policy side and without coming off as a bullshitter.

Obama's popularity is very real.  He has earned it through merit.  I believe he would be a great president and I don't believe his lack of experience would lead to his electoral defeat.  I.e. I remain unconvinced that his light resume is a problem either for governing or for campaigning.

I'm a Gore supporter, but if Obama runs and Gore doesn't, Obama gets my vote easily at this point.

by snaktime 2006-12-05 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

I think you are imagining things.  I think voting for Gonzalez was conciliatory on the policy front and not just rhetorical, and he does come off as a bullshitter to me.  Also this sounds like the same sort of buzz which said Kerry was the most electable when now everyone concedes his personality is blah.  Also he was pretty slow on the war and still is.

by Dameocrat 2006-12-05 12:23PM | 0 recs
It's ironic you mention private jets

Since, according to his recent book, he stopped flying on private jets to avoid conflicts of interest.

by lapis 2006-12-05 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Being from Arizona, where politics is often brutal, and to the extent that moderates in the GOP are chopped, diced,and then tossed out the window just to see if there is still a sensate scream, is the typical political behavior.  So, in this vein, I see Gingrich, Barbour, Huckabee, and Brownback taking it to Barack Obama, and it won't be pretty.  

As such, a failed businessman and governor, as was Bush, will require a Yardstick of Measurement, and without such a device, will be detrimental to all us as Democrats.  As I posted previously on another thread here at mydd, to suggest that I attempt again, to get my fellow Democrats to reconsider any behavior that can be perceived as genuflecting at the Altar of Obama, is my purpose in this post.

For starters, we should be looking at the Resume of each particular candidate for the Party's nomination with the concept that the eventual nominee must be helpful to both Reid and Pelosi.

Secondly, executive experience is a must given that there is a considerable mess to be cleaned up.

Thirdly, who righeously opposed the Invasion of Iraq at the outset, will move me in their direction, initially.

Fourthly, as to domestic issues, each issue has a variety of solutions and where "compromise" will be required since McConnell in the Senate for the minority, will be an expert at "obstructionism", and will make life much more difficult.  His history is one in which he will fight tooth and nail regardless of win or loss.  And McConnell is far more experienced, and has forgotten more that Hastert ever learned. Toss in Trent Lott,and this tandem will be more than sufficient to give anyone a long-term headache.

So, let us start with the comparison of a Resume?

by Jaango 2006-12-05 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign


I don't buy your methodology. Have you used it before? Can you compare a grassroots driven Presidential candidate to one that's "driven from the top"?

If you ask me you'll see patterns like this for every celebrity. One of the weaknesses of the blogosphere is that it is primarily reactionary to the MSM. In my opinion it is not valid to use this as a critique of any one political candidate.

As a footnote I provide a meta-page that I created for Senator Obama's visit to Ohio this year for the ODP dinner. er-meta-page/

I've never seen such intense local grassroots coverage as that day. Interestingly enough, the MSM coverage of the day was primary focused on a counter event of Black Republicans that Ken Blackwell set up for the same day.

by ignatzmouse 2006-12-05 11:43AM | 0 recs
Race Against Time - World AIDS Day Speech
I do not understand this early opposition to Obama among some of the progressives out there. An "empty suit"!? Are you kidding me? Read his address at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church. I think such a characterization is widely off the mark. ce_against_time_-_world_aids_day_speech/ index.html
by blisteredfingers 2006-12-05 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Race Against Time - World AIDS Day Speech

Who cares about his address at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, Obama voted to confirm Gonzalez after the torture memo. A man shows us what he stands for by his actions, talk is cheap.

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-05 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

I haven't seen much video of Obama, cause I don't really ever watch TV.  But the few clips I've seen suggest to me that one reason he's popular is that he doesn't talk to you like you're an idiot.  He's smart and confident, and he speaks to his audience as if they're equally smart and confident, and especially after the paralyzing caution and fear-of-the-noise-machine that national Democrats have displayed, and the paralyzing stupidity of Bush Allen Rice Hastert el al, the kind of language and delivery that Obama uses is like crack for liberals.  The West Wing couldn't have invented a more compelling presidential candidate, and it's based entirely on the way he communicates.  

John McCain actually launched his presidential career on exactly the same achievement: noticing the stale political language that everyone hated, and creating a new political language for himself.  He owned the national press corps with it in 2000.  Six years later, his reputation is only now starting to decline from the high point he won for himself.  He's still St John McCain just for having broken that mold.

It sucks that elections can be determined on things as silly as finding a fresh way to communicate, where the content of what's communicated barely matters, but political language in this country is so stale and hollow that if you can make yourself the only guy in the room who has solved that particular riddle, you win.

I presume that the point of all this MyDD/Obama stuff is to make sure that if Obama wins, he will govern the way we want, fighting hard and intelligently for the kinds of things we want, and willing to be a risk-taker in exactly the ways we want.  Great.  We do have a candidate who could easily go all the way (though he could easily flame out or be knocked out too), and we do want to make sure that 1) we know what we're getting, and 2) what we're getting is as close to what we want as we can possibly make it.  I don't know that going hard-negative exclusively is the best idea; I'm inclined to think that very healthy skepticism, plus specific criticism where warranted, plus some specific statements of what exactly Obama could do that would make us like him, is a better mix of rhetoric.  

For example, I would support an Obama primary campaign if he made it clear he was going to govern on, and run on, bold transformative ideas.  I'm sick of tinkering at the margins with partial-birth abortion and fucking ANWR and student loans.  I want a leader with the willingness to push for big solutions to big problems, not small shifts in tired political standoffs.  

Easy first example: come out strong for carbon caps that can be market-traded.  It's overdue, it's an obvious market-inclusive solution, and it hits at a huge problem: Global Warming. It would be big, no one's really talking about it, he could own it, and it fits his best-of-both-sides image anyway (his "awesome God in the blue states and gay friends in the red states" speech).  

Next is Peak Oil; I'm actually interested in biofuels, especially the stems-of-corn and switchgrass stuff, but he could own wind installation and solar/biofuels research if he got serious about it.  It's not like anyone else has.  All he has to do is put forth the skeleton of a proposal that wouldn't cost a jillion dollars and he's put skin in the game.  If it has an innovative financing mechanism, all the better.

If he got really serious about the state of American education, and worked out a deal where, say, we double teacher pay and exterminate tenure, and make k-12 teaching into a serious, results-demanding, you-suck-and-you're-fired career, in which we treat teachers like professionals and pay them like professionals, that would hit the electorate hard.  People always say they care about education, and if you convinced 'em that they were getting something real for the extra money spent, you'd have shown you were serious and only really pissed off the GOP base voters.

And the entire War on Drugs, lock-up-black-people, establish-a-black-market-that-feeds-gang s-and-Police-Departments thing can be revisited too.

Haven't even gotten to foreign policy yet.  At that point, all he really needs to do is say "we need a more intelligent and more sophisticated strategy", and if he's established seriousness and credibility on the domestic issues people get, they won't demand a whole lot of specificity on the foreign affairs stuff they know they don't really get.

Exception is Iraq, but that will be out of his hands for all of 2007 and 2008.  

That's the kind of campaign that I would support.   Big ideas for big problems, especially where they don't have to cost a lot, they just involve changing the way we do things.  The Great Society was a spending program; this would be a series of adjustments and reorganizations, not a bunch of checks.

John McCain staked half his 2000 campaign on campaign-finance reform, so it's not like you can't win on ideas.  Especially if you've got no record, you've got to run on ideas.  And very especially if you know your opponent in the primary is too scared to run on ideas.

Anyway, that is one set of circumstances in which I would support Obama strongly in the primaries.  Now if I had your audience I'd try to say it in a way that didn't make me look like a fool, but I did make clear one set of things that Obama could do that would make me happy.  I don't think you have.

by texas dem 2006-12-05 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign


You say that Edwards is the only one with a "real netroots infrastructure"

I beg to differ. Wes Clark's netroots infrastructure   is much larger and more evolved that Edwards's ever was

by pelican 2006-12-05 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Absolutely.  Wes Clark has much stronger "netroots" appeal than Edwards.  I think the two of them will fight it out for progressive support.  Since Foreign policy and national security are likely to be the major issues in 2007-2008, I expect Wes Clark to win.

by judy from nj 2006-12-05 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

There are two fundamental reasons why I don't like Obama.

The first his his use of strawmen to attack people who ought to be his friends. That issue's been beaten to death already, so I won't expand on it other than to say it's the sort of behavior better suited to a schoolyard bully. It's a characteristic shared with Bayh, Biden and Lieberman all of whom I like a lot less than Obama.

The second is that I have a profound instinctive distrust of charismatic and popular people. I've found it's an instinct worth trusting. That particular characteristic is something he shares with Bill Clinton and John Edwards, who are two more Democrats that I like a lot less than Obama.

That said, Obama is easily my second choice for the nomination behind Clark, and first choice if the Republicans choose McCain (slim chance) or Guiliani (no chance in hell). I think Obama would be a pretty good and popular, if not spectacular President, and I think he can win.

by fwiffo 2006-12-05 12:10PM | 0 recs
Edwards 4 eva!

I hope Edwards wins, his message about poverty in America is one people need to hear.

Obama can suck a rock.

by delmoi 2006-12-05 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

As the founder of the Draft Obama movement, I'd like to think that that latest spike is directly attributable to his grassroots appeal.

We launched last week, and had stories on the AP wire and on the front page of We've attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the site, and are growing an all-volunteer organization with very very strong grassroots and netroots connections (as you'll see from our announcement tomorrow).

In less than 24 hours last week, we went from having no volunteers in California to having several mobilized to attend his appearance at the Saddleback church with signs and banners to encourage him to run.

This weekend, we expect 40-50 grassroots volunteers to brave the cold in New Hampshire to be there to cheer him on and encourage him to run as he enters the New Hampshire democratic victory event. These are people who are driving from 2 or 3 states away who can't even get into the sold-out event, but want to let him know they want him to run, and are willing to stand in the cold outside to get the message to him.

Those are hardly the hallmarks of a candidate who  the grassroots eschew. I'm not saying that the insiders aren't interested in Obama, too. But certainly there's a groundswell of grassroots support that you shouldn't overlook.

As an aside, we at DraftObama have zero connections with 1) Washington insiders or 2) Obama or his campaign itself.

by acaben 2006-12-05 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

I'd like to think that that latest spike is directly attributable to his grassroots appeal.

There is strong grassroots appeal, but the latest spike is due to insider use of mass media.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-05 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

I'm interested in what you mean by insider use of mass media. The press hit on the AP Wire a week ago came mostly from the press release that sent out...That's the one that was on the front page of and MSNBC for 12 hours, and drove tens of thousands of visitors to our site, resulting in thousands of signatures to our petition.

Do you consider us insiders, or are you referring to something else?

by acaben 2006-12-05 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

No, what I'm saying is that the AP only cared because of Obama's moves.  He and his inside advisors are driving this conversation, not the grassroots.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-05 05:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Matt, you're confusing "the blogs" with "the people" and the blogosphere with the grassroots.  The curious thing about Barack Obama is that he is a candidate popular with the people AT LARGE, not simply on the net.  Witness, for example, every story about the miles long lines at Obama's book signings.

Also, I suggest you compare Obama'a chart with the blogpulse chart for Edwards, the man you advance as one with netroots support.  Again, spikes, only, they're smaller.  And if you normalize the two graphs, for most of the pre-spike time, Obama has about the same level of chatter as Edwards, it just looks tinier because once people considered Obama a potential candidate (as Ryan Anderson points out), the chatter shot through the roof.  Now, if you want someone who generates constant blogospheric buzz, check out Al Gore.  Though I think it's spectacularly unfair to compare Obama's netroots support and interest with that of Al Gore if you're attempting to compare him to anyone but Al Gore.

by notapipe 2006-12-05 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Helpfully, it appears blogpulse lets us put all these in one graph.  Here.

by notapipe 2006-12-05 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Witness, for example, every story about the miles long lines at Obama's book signings.

as oppossed to the mob scenes that accompanied every signing of Living History, or the months that An Inconvenient Truth sat on the top ten movies?

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-05 02:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Matt, you're confusing "the blogs" with "the people" and the blogosphere with the grassroots.  

What are you talking about?  I didn't write that Obama wasn't popular.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-05 02:28PM | 0 recs
Blogosphere it treatable?

Bloggers (Sirota and yourself for example) attack Obama and the traffic on web about Obama rises but you blame that on Obama

On top of that you seem to be confusing the "blogosphre" (which is whatever you've chosen to define and measure as the "blogosphere") with the real world where most of the public and voters live.

You are measuring the pulse of the "patient" as he responds to internal stimulation and then blaming patient's high blood pressure on a third party who is not present but whom the patient is thinking about.

Typically psychotropic drugs would be perscribed to help the patient deal with the internal voices and stimulation which he  was creating in his own mind.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-05 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Obama and every other politician have to prove themselves to ME in order to get my vote and my support.  Mr. Obama is too "new" and too "unknown" as a quality for me to pass judgment today. I hope he earns our support, but until then I won't be part of the chorus exhaulting the actions of this junior senator.

As a liberal I have seen that Mr. Obama has voted "the wrong way" on issues dear to me. I'll be watching him more closely now.

Chris makes excellent observations.

by Andros 2006-12-05 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

From Steve Gilliard

by workingclassanna 2006-12-05 03:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign
I have my eye on 3 different candidates.  Edwards and Richardson being the other two.
One thing with Obama that hasn't been looked into is all the legislation he did do but, wasn't big news stuff.  This has been a frustration for many democrats and now will be the time to see what is there.  
Here in Illinois, he did alot of stuff but, was quiet.  He was the brainy geeky guy.
But, he has been true to form.  He is worried about the average person and focuses alot on them.  He does alot of detail work.  
Alot was pushed on him.  He went to do stuff for the working person not big issue stuff that is splashy.
If anyone wanted to they could find out all his stands on things.  Most is standard dem. party things.  For choice, against war, ect.
Some law blog has a list and commentary on the work he did in the US senate but, don't remember the name of it.  
I would like to point out that Obama has about as much experience, actually more if you count his time in the state senate, as Edwards.
by vwcat 2006-12-05 04:25PM | 0 recs
A Simple Story of Why I Respect Obama

I love Edwards and Obama. I've seen Edwards speak twice and Obama once.

When Edwards spoke, he spoke compelling and clearly about important issues that few politicians talk about, like poverty.

But when Obama spoke, it was impromptu, shortly after Katrina, and it was an audience of liberal lawyers, primarily black.  He said something roughly like, "I know we're all happy to see Bush's popularity fall, but I ask myself, what was I doing for the poor of New Orleans before that hurricane? What were you doing?"  Modern political rhetoric is so self-congratulatory that I was shocked to hear a politician challenge himself, and challenge me. It was so powerful and honest. That's what leaders do, they challenge you to be more than yourself.

Yes, that's a gift for "communication," but isn't that what a democratic leader does? And it's absurd to call a former President of Harvard Law Review and a professor of Constitutional Law an empty suit, just because he happens to be young and popular.

So there's my baseline. I will no longer consider Obama a leader when he stops challenging himself, and challenging me, to be a better public servant.

by Gabius 2006-12-05 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Matt, in response to your update, at times you seem to forget that it isn't what you say about Obama but how you say it.  The above was an outstanding look into your feelings about him.  Most of your other articles have been ranting and raving like a Fox News Pundit or a Limbaugh, albeit more progressive and 600 pounds lighter.  If you want to dissect and critique Obama, by all means do so.. just use the tone above which is more respectful to those who do support him and comes off as discussion, rather than the earlier tone in which it comes off that you feel Obama sucks and anyone who supports him is an idiot.  That gets people defensive right away... look back at Dean and think how many get upset when someone just rants against Dean rather than a valid constructive criticism... Same situation, different horse.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-05 06:09PM | 0 recs
That is so wrong!

"It seems like the Obama-supporters have a sense of trust in the Democratic Party to do what's right, whereas the Obama-skeptics don't share that sense of trust."

ZERO to do with "trust in the Democratic Party"

As Obama No. 1 webfan, it's entirely to do with trust in a guy who is totally not a suit to do what is right based on his doing what he says he believes in and on his personal history.

Most people claim otherwise but I think that is what everybody votes for in the end...the person they like and the person they trust in their gut.

As for the webskeptics on Obama, think it has to do with Netroots/Lamont/Obama triangulation. The "no experience, no track record" is a cover for their emotional vote to punish Obama for real or imagined sins regarding Lamont.

Ironic considering Lamont had zero track record and got unqualified suppport but Obama who has good track record is asked for even more "credentials".

by BrionLutz 2006-12-05 06:39PM | 0 recs
Enough of the Obama bashing

I'm really hoping that Obama runs because of the excitement he brings to the Democratic field. This guy might not be the nominee, but he has as good a shot as anyone else and an Obama presidency would be historic on any number of levels.

More importantly, who really gives a shit what type of campaign candidates run? I was a member of the Dean campaign and saw what happened when all you do is find ways to empower supporters: you get a nationwide circle-jerk and massive electoral disappointment. I love web-centered campaigns, and believe whole heartedly in the importance of empowering supporters, but let's be real here for a second. Just because someone looks good on TV doesn't mean they don't have grassroots support, and just because someone does an old media style campaign doesn't mean they won't make a good nominee, or president. What is going on here is the same thing that happens at sites like Pitchfork where the new guard of taste-makers needs to tear down all things that have MSM acceptance to secure their role as taste-makers. I hope that MyDD can move beyond player hating.

by Ozymandias 2006-12-05 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Nobody here has mentioned the things he has done.  But Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has mentioned the things Obama has done, and it seems like a pretty impressive record to me.  I'm going to post the intro here, but the whole thing is great.  And it needs to be the starting point for a conversation about Obama, not the 'People Powered' problems that Matt has. wings/2006/10/barack_obama.html

"His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.

His legislation is often proposed with Republican co-sponsorship, which brings me to another point: he is bipartisan in a good way. According to me, bad bipartisanship is the kind practiced by Joe Lieberman. Bad bipartisans are so eager to establish credentials for moderation and reasonableness that they go out of their way to criticize their (supposed) ideological allies and praise their (supposed) opponents. They also compromise on principle, and when their opponents don't reciprocate, they compromise some more, until over time their positions become indistinguishable from those on the other side.

This isn't what Obama does. Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle. (This is especially true when one is in the minority party, especially in this Senate: the chances that Obama's bills will actually become law increase dramatically when he has Republican co-sponsors.)

So my little data point is: while Obama has not proposed his Cosmic Plan for World Peace, he has proposed a lot of interesting legislation on important but undercovered topics. I can't remember another freshman Senator who so routinely pops up when I'm doing research on some non-sexy but important topic, and pops up because he has proposed something genuinely good. Since I think that American politics doesn't do nearly enough to reward people who take a patient, craftsmanlike attitude towards legislation, caring as much about fixing the parts that no one will notice until they go wrong as about the flashy parts, I wanted to say this."

by werty83 2006-12-05 11:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign
  1. Who on earth can believe the Obama surge is top-down power-broker driven? The rock-star phenomenon has to do with how the public responds to him. Grassroots organizers like myself are working tirelessly and finding great response whereever we go. The insiders are with Hillary or Gore, not Obama. He is driving them nuts from outside-in!
  2. Who else can stop Hillary and prevent another Democratic defeat in Nov '08?
  3. The nation aches for a new less-divisive politics, and Obama connects with crowds ranging from far left to far right. Insiders can't make crowds like that. They wish they could.
  4. Netroots go for idealogically-pure leaders who lick their wounds after elections, Kucinich, Lamont, Dean. Get real!
by rneisuler 2006-12-06 02:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Insider-Driven Obama Campaign

Wish I'd said all that...I was thinking it...really.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-06 04:44AM | 0 recs
by fox2008 2007-09-18 07:51AM | 0 recs


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