Taking Options Off the Table

I've had a bit of bloggers block recently, which is very unusual.  I haven't slept much and the anxiety that usually adds to my mixture of outrage and urgency has gone into overdrive.  It got so bad that I was incredibly cynical that I didn't even care that there was a debate last night, until about fifteen minutes before when I thought 'Hey, this democracy thing is pretty cool.  THAT's why I'm doing this.'  It was a reminder of why I started working on the internet and in politics, five years ago.  That's five years, which is more than a sixth of my life.  Wow.  And a lot of us have been through the same experiences with this entirely different information stream, interpreting events outside of the Beltway narrative.

I think it's fair to say that at this point there's a movement which I'm going to tentative call the 'Open Left', a movement that was not represented on that stage last night except in shards from various candidates.  What's strange is that the cultural disconnect between us and the elite has not really closed.  Yeah, there's an internet guy as a senior strategist in these campaigns, but the reality is that John Edwards is the only candidate making moves towards populism, and that's because he's using a traditional labor model which happens to synchronize well with the netroots.

Let me give you an example of this disconnect.  The line of 'take no options off the table' is code for war with Iran.  Presidents don't preface trade talks with 'we're taking no options off the table', they only preface delicate international situations in which war or even nuclear war is something they're considering.  That line is also indelibly wrapped up with the 'war on terror' frame, which is part of a long series of stupid wars on concepts.  It's also wrapped up in the notion that debates like this have winners and losers, that it's all about sporting statistics instead of ideas and public debate.

Last night, after being bothered by Kucinich and Gravel, Obama finally said "I'm not going to nuke anyone".  As weird as it sounds, that is a change in position.  He took that option off the table. And good for him for doing that.  Nuclear war is insane.  But prior to this statement, it was on the table.  I don't know if any of the others have repudiated this notion, which suggests just how broken our national dialogue really is.  The war on terror frame is a false metaphor, as George Soros points out.  Obama, like all the candidates, know that they will not use nuclear weapons against another country, but they are also using language suggesting that it is a possibility.  I imagine Clinton is in this boat as well, though of course she was firm and polite or something which is what's important in a debate (wuuhh?).

I'm with Scarecrow at Firedoglake.  The people on that stage were not leaders, and except for Gravel (who isn't a credible candidate) they had very little understanding of the deep betrayal felt by the public in the last seven years.  And that means, as usual, that it's up to us to organize around this ignorance on the part of our elites.

Part of our job is to create and broaden the political involvement of the non-activist world.  Two blogs - Grist and Boingboing - have struck me as particularly ripe for this kind of work.  Grist has chimed in on my post on cap and trade versus a carbon tax with a 'you're late but welcome to the party post', and Boingboing is trading off its large expert credibility to go after an RIAA shill. 

These non-political blogs are political, these non-political networks are political.  And they should start learning about politics and approaching it with respect.  I am never going to be as knowledgeable about sustainable agriculture as Grist, but I know something about polling and politics and I am about to join a CSA.  I dislike the current extremist copyright law, but I am no expert in the legislation necessary to move it.  It's time that these non-political groups start using the tools developed to help them engage - Actblue, for one - and engage deeply in the political process.

There is no reason Grist or Boingboing couldn't create a set of talking points, or a plank for the Democratic National Committee, or a platform for candidates to use, or do polling on their issues so that politicians learn to understand the issue.  There is no reason they couldn't put up a candidate slate, and channel money against candidates who screw them over.  But they aren't doing it yet, and moving them and everyone in the country with political needs to that point where they are engaging is part of what we have to figure out how to move to.

The other problem is that respectable and intelligent pundits are willing to trust our candidates based on their sense of judgment without attacking the larger intellectual rationale for Bush's existence.  I know that none of these candidates will do anything nearly as crazy as Bush, but unless we firmly destroy the intellectual foundations of the national security state, there will be another Bush.  That's why Nixon/Ford was succeeded by Carter, who was then succeeded by Reagan.  This has happened before and it will happen again if we are not firmly opposed to the metaphors and frames that our candidates breathe like air.

Because right now, when Obama says he's not going to nuke anyone, he's changing his policy stance.  And good for him on that, but we're still living in crazy town.

PS. I didn't catch who raised their hand and who didn't when the moderator asked the question about who believes we are in a war on terror.  Did Edwards?

Update [2007-4-27 12:21:4 by Matt Stoller]:: An Edwards staffer told me that Edwards did not raise his hand at the war on terror question. That strikes me as a rather large and substantive difference between the candidates.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, president (all tags)



Raising hands.

John Edwards did not raise his hand.  At least as I saw it.

He later said that "We have more tools available than bombs."

I've read that Soros book.  He is right.  The GWOT is a false metaphor.  Terror is a tactic, not an entity against which one can war.

I don't know if Edwards agrees with Soros on this, but I did not see him raise his hand yesterday.

You also are right.  My initial pull toward Edwards came from economic populism.  Unions, working class issues.

Good post, Matt.

by littafi 2007-04-27 07:43AM | 0 recs
re: Terror = Tactic

Channeling Hackett here. (Thanks Jerome, for the pre-emptive reference.)

It's like a war on drive-bys or lying. "No terrorism guys, honor code."

by msnook 2007-04-27 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: re: Terror = Tactic

Yes, and it's also Bush title, Bush's war, a war that has united much of the world against the US, a war that Muslims think is a war on them, so changing both tactics and metaphors should be the place to start. Good for Edwards.

by david mizner 2007-04-27 08:44AM | 0 recs
I really

would love to hear Edwards elaborate on this: I was thrilled he didn't raise his hand.

Other random observations: did anybody else think it was odd that Richardson choose Whizzer White as his ideal justice, someone who dissented in Roe v. Wade? Granted, he was first, and put on the spot, but Whizzer freaking White when he could have said Brennan or Marshall? Yeesh.

Obama supporters need to watch out for the Israel stuff--the whisper campaign is becoming a humm.

by david mizner 2007-04-27 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Raising hands.

Yes, the Soros book on GWOT is something I forgot to mention, it's terrific.

Is there not a definitive You Tube video on the handraising?

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-04-27 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Yes he did, all candidates but kuccinich and Gravel raised their hands.

by andgrun 2007-04-27 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I thought I saw all candidates raise their hands outside of Kucinich as well, but CNN reported that Edwards, along with Kucinich, Gravel, and maybe Biden, didn't raise his hand.  It was hard to tell on TV.

http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/blogs/politi calticker/2007/04/dems-split-on-global-w ar-on-terror.html

by Conquest 2007-04-27 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I saw Edwards' hands stay by his side. They showed a wide shot from an angle, but I kept watching him specifically.

by clarkent 2007-04-27 08:21AM | 0 recs
no, Edwards did not

if CNN reported that he did, they got that one wrong.

by desmoinesdem 2007-04-27 08:21AM | 0 recs
they reported he didnt

I think only Hotline said he said, and the comments over there are overwhelmingly disagreeing.

by okamichan13 2007-04-27 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Edwards DID NOT raise his hand.

by Benstrader 2007-04-27 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

No, TIVO showed Hands up in this order: Hillary, Obama, Richardson, Dodd.

These did NOT raise hands: EDWARDS, Biden, Kucinich, Gravel

by del 2007-04-27 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Do you ever read Shai Sachs's Planting Liberally? I think one of his diaries was promoted here, perhaps by you, and some (much?) of his thinking dovetails with this discussion. Though he's more concerned specifically, I think, with leftie entrepreneurialism, he's also all about trying to expand into these non-political political networks.

I repeatedly read that Edwards was the single candidate who didn't raise his hand on that one, though I didn't see it. I'm sure you'll get a less second-hand answer than that.

And get some rest, man. You're a valuable resource: take care of yourself. (I've actually been thinking about some of your arguments, and some of the times I've disagreed with you, and I'll spare you my pop blog psychology and just say it's gotta be tough, being the canary in the coalmine ...)

by BingoL 2007-04-27 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Okay, the hand-raising appears a bit controversial. Ohio4Edwards says (scroll to Update 7):

Hotline fails, cannot do a simple hand count:
-"Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?" Clinton, Obama and Edwards raise hands.
Edwards did not raise his hands.

Ah, here we go! If you believe CNN's Political Researcher Xuan Thai, here:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- When asked to show by raising their hands who believes there is a "Global War on Terror," the Democratic presidential candidates were evenly split on their answers.

Sens. Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, and Barack Obama, and Gov. Bill Richardson each indicated they do indeed believe there is currently a "Global War on Terror."

Sen. Joe Biden, former Sens. Mike Gravel and John Edwards, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich indicated they do not.

Dude! Blockquotes. My very first.

by BingoL 2007-04-27 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Whoops, didn't get down this far.  I posted something similar above.  The angle on TV didn't show all the candidates clearly, I think.

by Conquest 2007-04-27 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Yes but even with the bad angle, if you backed it upp(TIVO) and slowed it down. You could stop it right there.



by del 2007-04-27 03:06PM | 0 recs

re: P.S. I don't know, I ran in from the kitchen when I heard him ask it, but I didn't get there in time :(

Good post.


more than a sixth of my life.  Wow.

I'm graduating college in 24 days, so I've had several of these moments myself. Sometimes it feels like the last 4 years of my life account for 90% of my experiences, which means that 90% of my life was experienced in this information stream.

I got to college; I started working at the helpdesk; hours in front of a computer with only intermittent phone-answering responsibilities led to reading Wired and BBC news; this led to Salon; Salon led to DailyKos; DailyKos led to MyDD.

So I was in the MyDD info stream before I ever left the e-school, and studied political theory, psychology, feminist theory, linguistics, black history/politics, or post-structural theory.

Now I don't even remember what thinking was like before post-structural theory or MyDD, and I doubt I ever will.

Good riddance.

by msnook 2007-04-27 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Obama said, "I am not planning to nuke anyone."

It is not in the planning stages but that doesn't mean it is not on the table.

by aiko 2007-04-27 07:53AM | 0 recs

Reading anything into that comment beyond, 'Hush, Mr. Crazyman,' is not warranted.

by IVR Polls 2007-04-27 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I agree. "I am not PLANNING to nuke anyone RIGHT NOW" is not anywhere near the definitive "I will not launch a nuclear first strike under any circumstances" that I'd like to see.

by arbitropia 2007-04-27 08:22AM | 0 recs
Thank you, aiko

Matt, this is bullshit--if you want to make big, sweeping claims about tiny statements, you need to at least get the statements right, and you didn't here.


But he NEVER said he wouldn't consider the use of nuclear weapons if the situation might warrant it.  And to say that he did, and that saying it represented a change in his position, is ridiculous, unless you're starting from the point of view that Obama was already planning to nuke someone, like he was sitting in a corner rubbing his hands together and plotting mass death and destruction.

Matt, this was among the most intellectually lazy posts I've ever seen from you.

by Jay R 2007-04-27 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

He doesn't like being challenged. He was aggravated.

by del 2007-04-27 03:09PM | 0 recs

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE for a democratic andidate to win the Presidency, IF THEY'RE WEAK ON TERRORISM.  PERIOD.

by JoeCHI 2007-04-27 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: A democrat who is WEAK ON

I love 'terrosecurity'; deliciously ambiguous.

What exactly does 'weak on terrorism' mean, though? Care to explicate?

Feel free to use the most recent act of attempted domestic terrorism as an example, if that'll help!

by BingoL 2007-04-27 08:11AM | 0 recs
FULL obama quote less encouraging

Obama said "I'm not planning to nuke anybody RIGHT NOW, Mike, I promise."

I think the "right now" is pretty important. To me, I read that as "all options are on the table." I think you'd better revisit this one, Matt. I don't think Obama has removed any options at all.

by arbitropia 2007-04-27 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: FULL obama quote less encouraging

Shocker of the century: Obama misquoted by pro-Edwards blogger!

The reality is that no one is going to get the major candidates to take military action off the table. Until Edwards does so, this will remain a manufactured non-difference.

by eskimo 2007-04-27 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: FULL obama quote less encouraging

And isn't Edwards' stated position on Iran that "all options are on the table?"

Nothing on that, Matt?

by Jay R 2007-04-27 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: FULL obama quote less encouraging

I flayed him repeatedly for that.  In this case, he didn't speak out on Iran.  Had he done so, I would have included him in the recap of the debate, but since it was Obama speaking I discussed Obama.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-27 01:24PM | 0 recs
Obama on a terrorist attack

Senator Obama, if, God forbid a thousand times, while we were gathered here tonight, we learned that two American cities have been hit simultaneously by terrorists and we further learned, beyond the shadow of a doubt it had been the work of Al Qaida, how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas as a result?

Obama: Well, the first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans.

And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.

The second thing is to make sure that we've got good intelligence, a., to find out that we don't have other threats and attacks potentially out there, and b., to find out, do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network.

But what we can't do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast. Instead, the next thing we would have to do, in addition to talking to the American people, is making sure that we are talking to the international community.

Because as already been stated, we're not going to defeat terrorists on our own. We've got to strengthen our intelligence relationships with them, and they've got to feel a stake in our security by recognizing that we have mutual security interests at stake.

I thought that was pretty good. My top criteria in a candidate (since I don't expect to agree with or be inspired by any of them) is one who has the guts and brains not to have to nuke someone when we suffer a terrorist attack.

Obama listed out a sensible hierarchy of response. That's pretty good.

I'd love to hear all of them admit that the "terrorist threat" is from non-state actors, not any nation.

by janinsanfran 2007-04-27 05:47PM | 0 recs

Edwards, Kucinich, and Gravel DID NOT raise their hands (and Obama DID NOT look around before he did raise his hands)

by Benstrader 2007-04-27 08:21AM | 0 recs
The question...

Was "Do you believe there is a Global War on Terror?" (looking for transcript)

This question definitely needed a follow up. I am quite sure Brian Williams knew that this term is quite controversial, and I think he did a disservice to all involved (on this question and others) by the poor if not purposefully disingenuous phrasing.

Why didn't he ask if the candidates believe the term GWOT was appropriate to describe the United States current policy?

by Benstrader 2007-04-27 08:31AM | 0 recs
the exact question

and who raised their hands are important.

According to Hotline this was the question

"Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?"

which to me even frames it as a ridiculous concept

by TarHeel 2007-04-27 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: the exact question

Agreed, which further highlights how fucking stupid this whole debate was.

Show of hands?  Why don't we just play "Heads Up, Seven Up" to pick our nominee?

by Jay R 2007-04-27 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I think what Obama, and everyone really, means is that no REASONABLE options are off the table.  Does anybody honestly believe that nuclear strikes or invasion of Iran are something any of these candidates are considering?  The reality is that these people are referring to REASONABLE options.  Just because the person in the White House now has consistently lied, cheated, and stolen doesn't mean our candidates are considering unreasonable options.  Our candidates are reasonable and logical in their thoughts and ideas, one would think our supporters wouldn't be so illogical and unreasonable to suggest that their words should be taken with absolute meaning, there is some room for reasonable and logical people to interpret that "All options are on the table" to mean all reasonable options.

by rlharri 2007-04-27 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

If what you say is true, then they should have no trouble swearing off the use of nuclear weapons in a first strike. We all agree a nuclear first strike is unreasonable, right? So let's get some unequivocal statements on the issue from our candidates. Until I hear such a thing, I'm going to believe them when they say ALL options are on the table.

by arbitropia 2007-04-27 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

We do need unequivocal statements on the issue from our candidates, but in a forum where they can really express their beliefs. This format is a horrible setting for any type of rational debate, and Brian Williams showed many times how petty he is in his line of questioning. I could have imagined a follow up to saying that nukes are off the table...

"So imagine we learn that Iran has 15 nuclear bombs set to strike 15 major U.S. cities in 5 minutes, and they are launching from underground bunkers which can only be destroyed by nuclear weapons, you are willing to sit back and watch the U.S. be destroyed? And due to time constraints, you're answer must be 5 seconds or less..."

But again, I agree, we need to hear all of our candidates exact positions.

by Benstrader 2007-04-27 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I entirely agree.

The problem, I think, is that without explicitly saying all REASONABLE options, this appears to endose the right's urge to engage in unreasonable options.

Given the Bush administration and the current state of the right, this isn't a slippery slope so much as a freefall, and we have to expect--and demand--that the most visible Democrats oppose the unreasonable options as loudly as possible. Instead, if they say 'no options off the table' that appears to endorse the right's insanity.

They should take the opportunity of this question to make an affirmative statement of reasonable foreign policy instead of echoing a right-wing talking point.

I mean, of course no option is off the table: when the killer plague lands at O'Hare airport, we might have to nuke Chicago to save the rest of the country. But no presidential candidate runs around saying that, in re. Chicago, no option's off the table. They offer intelligent (or at least semi-) responses to the question behind the question: what're you gonna do about this problem? And, in the best of all worlds, they demolish the idiot frame behind the question, too.

by BingoL 2007-04-27 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Yes, this is a very important point. The Right vociferously and loudly argues for strong military action -- including using nukes -- on a regular basis. This is the context that many, many people hear this question in.

Just saying "all options are on the table" tacitly endorses this position. Democrats must explicitly oppose nuclear attacks and explicitly oppose using military force first. They must talk about diplomacy, working with the world community, and working within the constraints of international law to counter the militarists. The risk is that they will appear "weak", but the way to be strong is to be clear and directly oppose bad policy, not hide behind weasel words.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-27 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I agree.

While I think Matt is making a very legitimate point, I do not believe anyone on that stage would ever consider a nuclear first strike.

To me, saying all options are on the table means just that. While it leaves open the nuclear option, it also leaves open the option that we might send Sanjaya over there with roses. Also, I think that the messenger matters. The phrase is code for nuclear strike when it comes to Bush and NeoCons, but from Democrats, I think it is code for "we will be tough if necessary, but will also be open to diplomatic relations where the previous administration has not."

Maybe I'm wrong, but Obama spends an awful lot of energy trying to find common ground with those whom he disagrees with, and if he was speaking in code and really wants to nuke Iran, you'd think he'd be more forceful and hawkish the rest of the time.

Or maybe he's channeling LBJ in '64, pretend to be the peace candidate, win the White House, and let 'er rip. I guess time will tell.

by Benstrader 2007-04-27 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

People disagree about reasonable all the time. Some wingnuts might think it perfectly reasonable for us to nuke Iran, Syria, the West Bank, and North Korea until they are as smooth a sheet of glass. Pacifists might think it unreasonable to nuke another country even in retaliation for a massive first strike by an enemy.

by clarkent 2007-04-27 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

I think it's a mistake to think that MyDD and DailyKos represent the populist movement.  Being generous, they are read by less than 5% of the population and only a few thousand at most actually contribute.  Of those contributors, only about 15 people are "front pagers".  Do you really think the views of these 15 people represent the populous?  

And I don't think "all options are on the table" is code for nuclear war.  It simply means that they will use whatever is necessary and appropriate for the situation.  No president, Democratic or Republican, is going to launch a nuclear bomb except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.  The more important issue is finding the candidate that is most likely to resolve the conflict without resorting to force.

by BobbyWallace 2007-04-27 08:43AM | 0 recs
organized labor & blogging

I don't see organized labor and blogging as being natural allies within the Democratic coalition.

Blogging is fundamentally about letting everyone have their say.

Organized labor is about the group electing leaders who create a position and then manufacture consensus.

Bloggers and organized labor are probably on the same side on issues--as much as anyone can make generalizations about bloggers--but stylistically bloggers and unions are pretty different.

by Carl Nyberg 2007-04-27 08:45AM | 0 recs
Grist is a 501(c)3

they can't do political (maybe talking points).

by lojo 2007-04-27 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist is a 501(c)3

So is the Electronic Frontier Foundation which is the org with the strongest connections to Boing Boing.

by billybob 2007-04-27 06:30PM | 0 recs

A Democratic candidate who is perceived as NOT TOUGH ON TERROR/SECURITY is UNELECTABLE.  

by JoeCHI 2007-04-27 09:14AM | 0 recs

This posted while I was writing the below comment, or would have included a response. This is directly the assumption that we need to challenge. For all the talk on framing, we can't seem to get away from the "tough" frame.

Fuck tough. I want a President I respect because s/he is a leader, a thinker, and a doer, not because I'm scared of them.

by hubbird 2007-04-27 09:29AM | 0 recs

Yes, the way to be strong is to be clear and directly oppose bad policy, not hide behind weasel words.

A good politician should be able to avoid answering a "have you stopped beating your wife?"-style question and turn it around, frame a reasonable question, and answer that instead. That's what we are paying for when we support politicians, not their good looks and coifed hair.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-27 10:06AM | 0 recs

I still don't understand why Democrats don't go after these poorly framed questions head on, rather than just evading them and coming accross as evasive.

Rather than saying, "If you're asking me whether I think domestic violence is a problem in this country, the answer is yes," they need to be saying, "that question has a built in assumption that I'm not going to tacitly acknowledge. Domestic violence is a problem in this country, but asking a loaded question like this is not a solution."

by hubbird 2007-04-27 10:15AM | 0 recs
right wing frame

a war has a declared enemy that you can defeat militarily.

terrorism is a tactic not a military.

I consider the Virginia tech shooter a terrorist.  In his mind he was fighting the spoiled rich brats.  

Basque separatists could be terrorists.  the group in Mexico, Hamas, al-qaeda.. etc.. they have nothing in common - you can't have a single war.

by TarHeel 2007-04-27 09:42AM | 0 recs
Re: right wing frame

To say nothing of Rightwingers who want to blow up Federal buildings. Opposing terrorism is like being in favor of Mom and apple pie -- of course everyone opposes it, unless of course the terrorists are "our freedom fighters" who are undermining an oppressive regime.

We should not use Right-wing frames. We must be clear what we mean and not get trapped into saying nonsense.

If asked "Do you support the Global War on Terrorism?" Answer "Yes, I want to stop Rightwing terrorists in the United States from blowing up Federal buildings." This should provide enough of an opening to answer the question in an intelligent way instead of just feeding the Rightwing frame.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-27 09:56AM | 0 recs
that wasn't the question

this was

"Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?"

which seems laughable.

by TarHeel 2007-04-27 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: that wasn't the question

Answer: "Do you mean, do I believe that George Bush is waging a global war on people he doesn't like? Yes. If you mean, is George Bush trying to create a civilized society where people treat each other well and resolve conflicts through diplomacy and legal means -- the answer is No."

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-27 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: that wasn't the question

You'd have to have that written on your hand and hope they zoomed in, because this was one of the idiotic "show of hands" questions.

by hubbird 2007-04-27 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Since so much of the leftie blog chatter (and I use the term affectionately) has focused on dismantling the manufactured aura of inevitability around Hillary, I think it's interesting to read lines like this:

The people on that stage were not leaders, and except for Gravel (who isn't a credible candidate) they had very little understanding of the deep betrayal felt by the public in the last seven years.

Gravel has more experience than anyone else who was standing on that stage, especially in the area of ending an unpopular and foolish war. Yeah, he's 76 (almost 77), but is that the only reason he "isn't a credible candidate?"

Don't misunderstand me: I agree with you. I just think it's important that we examine why someone like Kucinich or Gravel isn't credible. Because on the issues, I sure agree with them a lot more than anyone else on that stage.

My point, basically, is this: if we're going to complain about the media creating an aura of inevitability around Sen. Clinton, is it fair for us to turn around and create an aura of inelectability around Kucinich and Gravel?

I really don't know the answer to this, I just thought I'd throw it out there.

by hubbird 2007-04-27 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table


Kucinich isn't credible because he's been running for President for more than 4 years and has yet to show any signs of knowing how to campaign effectively.

Gravel isn't credible because he hasn't been involved in anything related to government for the last 25 years.  The last time he was in office, a computer took up a room and processed about as fast as a blind guy with a slide rule.  And he likewise won't be able to create a credible campaign infrastructure, unless he's sitting on a few billion dollars in personal wealth we don't know about.

by Jay R 2007-04-27 01:03PM | 0 recs
Kucinich also was...

...the only canidate on that stage who has never won a state-wide election.  Of course, the last time Gravel won any election was when I was in first grade.

by Geotpf 2007-04-27 10:20PM | 0 recs
Global war on terro

we all know what it means in the popular media usage.

I think it was brave thing for Edwards to do and fits in with his answer earlier about trying to get at the root causes of terrorism like poverty, poor health, education that need to be addressed internationally.

I was hoping Williams would ask him why, but didnt happen.

by okamichan13 2007-04-27 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

You missed the best part of the debate last night, Matt: all those fresh-faced kids playing their hearts out in the college marching band. Their future is what makes our work worthwhile.

by joyful alternative 2007-04-27 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

Good post. I like "Open Left" as a moniker. In your subsequent post on confidence you make a quite allusion to 2009, and what that might mean. That's where the payoff is: bringing these ideas back into to real realm of public service. It's possibly the only way to undo the framing and appointee landmines and prevent a Carter/Regan redux in 2012.

I also really appreciate this sentiment:

The people on that stage were not leaders, and except for Gravel (who isn't a credible candidate) they had very little understanding of the deep betrayal felt by the public in the last seven years.  And that means, as usual, that it's up to us to organize around this ignorance on the part of our elites.

My biggest fear is that one of ours will grind out a depressing 50.5% victory and nothing will change because they "barely won" with the conventional methods, and can't afford to make any moves.

by Josh Koenig 2007-04-27 12:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Taking Options Off the Table

These non-political blogs are political, these non-political networks are political.  And they should start learning about politics and approaching it with respect.

This respect thing is a two-way street. There is some level of resentment on the techie/creative side that the political people think and act like they invented the web. The people who built many of the tools and invented the forms and mediums have kind of been shunted aside by this vast explosion of blogging into a mass medium. However, these people and their expertise and influence are still potentially very valuable, and SXSW and other places where the two groups coincide are an excellent opportunity to build bridges, one that I feel like the political wing has wasted terribly so far. Part of it is indeed political apathy or obliviousness from the techie side, but when most of the political web contingent flies in, does their talk, and then quickly heads off for the next stop, or has mostly private parties that don't mix with the web contingent, and when others cough*Kos*cough are more interested in hawking their book than in learning from all these brilliant people they have the privilege of speaking to, the state of affairs you lament is not surprising. The results-oriented political ethic when it comes to the web is a big turnoff for many creatives and techies, especially when we meet on neutral ground in places where the hard-sell is not expected or wanted.

Things like SXSW are not about hawking your candidate(the Warner people were especially egregious about this in 2006) or your site, or your issues, they're about a meeting of the minds, and a rare opportunity to learn, build relationships, and hatch projects with the best in the field, on neutral ground. Until some of the political people start staying around and really engaging with the tech/creative people as peers and potential allies, I don't see the situation changing much. As someone with a foot in both worlds, I really wish it would happen, but I've been disappointed with both sides so far. I dunno, I didn't make SXSW this year, so maybe it has improved a bit, but the 2 years before that were pretty lousy and disappointing in this regard.

by jddunn 2007-04-27 02:00PM | 0 recs


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