straight talk and goodbyes

You might think the following analysis is not constructive. But I really think it needs to be said. Because much of the continuing vitriol among Democrats comes from a reluctance to face a stubborn truth.

The central rationales for the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are fundamentally incompatible. At the close of this extraordinary change election, certain progressive voices will suffer some degree of disempowerment.

The main idea behind a Clinton presidency is her win-at-all-cost nature. While her supporters may not phrase it exactly this way, they deeply trust her doggedness and her presumed ability to get things done one way or another. During this campaign her supporters have found comfort in precisely what disturbs Obama supporters: her steadily shifting strategies, messages, personas, etc - political proclivities that many see as necessary for passing a progressive agenda.

Meanwhile, an Obama presidency would represent the ushering in of a new kind of politics and a transformed cultural public sphere. Detractors portray him as a self-aggrandizing, empty-suited snake-oil salesman because of his soaring rhetoric, his frank conciliatory charm, and his Teflonish countenance - some of the very qualities that his supporters believe give him the best chance of passing a progressive agenda, as well as our best opportunity to move past the intractable bickering and partisan gridlock of the past few decades.

So, presumably, we're choosing either an expert at old politics or a visionary leading us toward something brand new. But as huge as these differences are, there's an even more important reason for today's astonishing level of fear and anger among the faithful.

I know many are dismissive of Barack's promise to redraw political maps and forge new coalitions, but, if he is at all successful in manifesting his vision of political/cultural change, some progressives will, without question, get left out in the cold. This is the dirty little truth we don't want to talk about. While his positions are generally liberal, those who have studied him carefully know that he really wants to move us away from our habitual left/right split toward a more relevant dichotomy for today's world: absolutism versus humanism. The losers in Obamaland will be the absolutists. Political and cultural warriors from both the left and the right will discover much in common when they attempt to wage old-style battles in a new environment that wants to treat them like irrelevant dinosaurs.

Many of us whose very identities have been fashioned by the good-versus-evil battles of the past few decades will adapt to the new realities on the ground - for that is part of the leadership Barack offers. But some of the more hardcore warriors, whose worldviews, like Reverend Wright's, have become static, will justifiably feel homeless as new coalitions proceed without them. Dedicated cultural and radical feminists, for example - those demanding that we never forget the oppressions of the patriarchy - are already, in the course of this campaign, fighting for relevancy against mostly younger post-feminists who no longer see the world in such stark terms.

And if Hillary somehow manages to become president? Those who hitched a ride on Obama's dream - the emerging front line of post-warriors - will experience a rather profound hopelessness. Like someone burned by love, they had been slow to allow themselves to hope again. After getting a taste of the dream, it would be awfully hard to jump back into politics as usual as if nothing had happened.

One way or another, this is a time of real change. A time for serious reevaluations of alliances and philosophies. The question, of course (for those whose main interest is making sure the Democratic Party retakes the White House) is which nominee would prompt the most deserters in November. It could be argued that Obama's supporters ought to more easily re-embrace the politics of old, since the dream is still new and ephemeral. My guess, however, is that Hillary would have more trouble holding on to the wave of newly motivated voters.

The good news is that the number of deserters will be pretty much limited to those who have cranked up their emotional investment, and vocalized their determination in places like this site. The vast majority of the electorate will find itself much more fluid and open-minded. After the dust settles, after all the realignments, this is still a year for Democrats.

But it's important to acknowledge that some will inevitably feel left out. We shouldn't pretend we will all come back together.  The times they are a changing. Desperate attempts to preserve all the old alliances may be short-sighted. Maybe it's okay to recognize, and perhaps even respect, our new divergences. If we can discuss these core differences openly and honestly, we might start to see a bit less vitriol emerging out of the daily grievances that are blown out of proportion by our deeper underlying fears.

[note -- after posting this on Daily Kos I thought it might be instructive to cross-post it here]

Tags: barack, Culture, Democrats, Hillary, Politics, war (all tags)

Comments

59 Comments

Re: straight talk and goodbyes

"It could be argued that Obama's supporters ought to more easily re-embrace the politics of old, since the dream is still new and ephemeral. My guess, however, is that Hillary would have more trouble holding on to the wave of newly motivated voters."

Well, I'll just point you to the latest poll numbers:

From March 24 - 31, Quinnipiac University surveyed:

  * 1,136 Florida voters with a margin of error of +- 2.9 percent;
    * 1,238 Ohio voters with a margin of error of +- 2.8 percent;
    * 3,484 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +- 1.7 percent, including 1,549 Democratic likely voters, with a margin of error of +- 2.5 percent.

"Roughly one in five Democrats in the three states say they will vote for McCain against Obama, but less than 10 percent say they would vote for McCain over Clinton. Among white Democrats, 23 percent defect to McCain in a matchup with Obama, but only 11 percent defect when Clinton is the Democratic candidate."

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x2882.xml?Rele aseID=1164

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-04-02 07:09AM | 0 recs
polls are a snapshot

-- a snapshot recording this down-and-dirty period of the campaign where Dems have been eating their own and John McCain is allowed to pretty much write his own narrative.

I think the environment will be entirely different in November, and that it's short-sighted to draw conclusions based on today's climate.

by Petey 2008-04-02 07:14AM | 0 recs
Shortsighted, indeed

You wrote:

"The question, of course (for those whose main interest is making sure the Democratic Party retakes the White House) is which nominee would prompt the most deserters in November ... My guess, however, is that Hillary would have more trouble holding on to the wave of newly motivated voters."

by mnicholson0220 2008-04-02 07:29AM | 0 recs
Not necessarally contradictory

Dean was on the radio this morning saying that it took three months to get most of his disaffected supporters to support Kerry.  I can only imagine that, if this goes to the convention like Clinton hopes, the idealism that now pervades Obama supporters may be crushed, and the "anything to defeat McCain" activism might be blunted.

The numbers in early April are not indicative of what will happen in November.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-02 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: straight talk and goodbyes
I went and read the poll and found it to be a very accurae assessment of what I see and hear on the ground here in PA. Hillary has a huge measure of support here in the NW part of PA, especially among those "lunchbucket" Dems.
I had the chance to see her in Erie last night and spent the waiting time looking at the crowd. People of all ages, colors and economic backgrounds- a veritable micro America.
Her message was received with resounding cheers, she spoke to the economy- a huge issue here, of creating good jobs so our kids dont have to go out of state to make a living, on healthcare and how to insure everybody and bring down costs, of a responsible withdrawal from Iraq that entails the Iraqi's stepping up. (We have a National Guard unit here that has been deployed six times!) She was passionate and laid out her plans in a compelling manner.
Thanks for the link to the poll.
by ProudMilitaryMom 2008-04-02 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: straight talk and goodbyes

What's hilarious about this is that for the first several months of this campaign, the "netroots" and others tore into Hillary again and again because she was a "triangulator," and by that I don't mean constantly shifting positions, I mean adopting positions between the left and the right.  In other words, she, Bill Clinton, and the DLC were the most horrible thing imaginable because they tried to get past old left-right divisions and adopt new positions that could attract, and speak to, both the left and the right.

Now, she is attacked for the opposite problem, for being too hooked into the old left-right split.

So which is it?  Is she a triangulator who will not hold true to leftist positions, or is she too dug into leftist positions?

The bottom line--the wine and cheese liberals simply hate Hillary, for reasons I won't care to speculate about, and will find any combination of reasons, no matter how irrational, to attack her.

by markjay 2008-04-02 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: straight talk and goodbyes

It's whatever works at the time and for the audience.

The liberal blogosphere types despise the Clinton triangulation and see Obama as a hope for forming a liberal majority.

Black voters are understandably excited about the prospect of a black President.

The divisive, old politics tag is to bring in the Independent voters and that is probably put Obama over the top.  I don't think independents voters are all that well informed or issue based. Though the Clinton policies and policy results were wildly popular, on a personal level they seem to left a bitter taste with many independents. Policy wise I think most independents would prefer the moderate, third way Clinton policies, but the emotional and symbolic appeal of Obama and lack of appeal to many of Hillary looks like it will carry the day.

by Clintonomics 2008-04-02 07:30AM | 0 recs
these are different things

Barack's vision is not about triangulation in the classical sense of political maneuvering. He asks us to step back and reevaluate how we communicate with our adversaries. Also, he asks for a certain transparency in our debate (like his proposal to televise all health-care debates) -- leading to a real change of mindset and a more likely mandate.

This is about creating much deeper change than plain old political compromises. That's why many of his supporters truly feel any health care initiatives (for example) that he could eventually get passed would ultimately go much further than any watered-down compromises Hillary would wind up with.

by Petey 2008-04-02 07:22AM | 0 recs
Transparency? Well then let him

open up the phone lines for all to hear when he and his surrogates make threatening phone calls to citizens and public servants who support his opponent.

by mnicholson0220 2008-04-02 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Transparency? Well then let him

and what purpose does your continuing to wage a battle of daily grievances serve? Do you think the most productive way to wage a campaign is to see who can produce the longest list of dirty tricks? And then debate which ones are true or false, or partly true, or the uncontrollable actions of surrogates, or blown out of proportion by the biased media....? I mean, where does it end?

You can point to this or that error or flaw as evidence of the shallowness of Barack's vision. I can point to Hillary's many stumbles as evidence that she's really not so great at "getting things done on day one." That doesn't mean these central rationales are not still relevant operating principles.

by Petey 2008-04-02 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: these are different things

"He asks us to step back and reevaluate how we communicate with our adversaries. "

He DOES?????

I suppose his supporters aren't listening to him......

by 07rescue 2008-04-02 08:01AM | 0 recs
It's hard

We'd like to play by new rules, but it's hard when we keep getting baited into old habits by the other side.

We're not perfect.  Cut us, we'll still bleed.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-02 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: It's hard

"We'd like to play by new rules, but it's hard when we keep getting baited into old habits by the other side."

The devil made you do it?

We Clinton supporters are very nice compared with what the Republicans will do to Obama. Wait until they start pulling "Obama girls" out of the woodwork, and whatever other nefarious things they have up their sleeves. John McCain won't necessarily be directly behind it, either, and won't be able to prevent any of it.

There is tremendous, and I mean TREMENDOUS money behind defeating the Democratic candidate. It won't necessarily ever be in John MCCain's hands, either. Don't be fooled by that. They will stop at nothing. There is no "communicating with your adversaries" that hasn't already been tried and failed over and over.

The Republicans have 8 years of quid pro quo corruption to cover up, and they will fight to the death to keep the lid on it. They won't be dissuaded by moral argument, they care nothing about people's lives, except their own.

by 07rescue 2008-04-02 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: It's hard

I don't agree -- either that Hillary's campaign has been relatively gentle, or that voters won't see GOP  attacks (including from 527s) differently than they see fierce intra-party attacks.

I also think you underestimate the public's mood and its demand for a change in tone. Still, Barack has well passed the test for defending himself when he needs to, but he will keep returning to his new-politics message every chance he gets.

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:39AM | 0 recs
"Obama girls?"

They're going to condemn him for YouTubes unrelated to his campaign?  Why not pull out the MadTV where they have Obama and Clinton having sex?

Or perhaps you mean that they'll try to conjure up some actual love affairs.  It's possible, but... well, unlikely.  Michelle has Barack pretty well whipped into shape, and I say that with the most possible affection.

My wife is not impressed by what's said about me in the press.  She's impressed by whether I take out the garbage, take the kids to the park. - Barack Obama, 2006 Essence

It is important that when I'm home to make sure that I'm present.  I still forget stuff.  As Michelle likes to say, "You are a good man, but you are still a man."  I leave my socks around.  I'll hang my pants on the door.  She lets me know when I'm not acting right.  After 14 years, she's trained me reasonably well. - Barack Obama, 2007 Ebony

That doesn't sound like a woman a sane man would cheat on.  If there's one thing that I've got faith in, it's that Obama is sane.  If he had "Obama Girls" out there, he wouldn't have even attempted to run for office.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-02 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: these are different things

Note that he is applying for the job of "leader" -- implying that we have a need to be lead. Meaning most of us are going to be clumsy at this stuff for awhile until culture digests it over time with the help of strong leadership.

No, it won't happen overnight, but anyone who has studied the man knows he sincerely cares about this and considers it vital to the health of our democracy.

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:34AM | 0 recs
divisiveness

Diaries like this demonstrate how deeply divisive and destructive the Obama campaign has been. A largely substanceless campaign that relies on character attacks does nothing to promote Democratic and progressive ideas.

We all feel bad and somewhat hopeless when our candidate loses, but campaigns are not about our feelings, they are about changing what our government does. If you can look back and be proud that you were promoting progressive causes like universal health care, or addressing poverty, then you know you were working for something real. If you were invested in the promise of transformation and transformation doesn't come, then when you look back you will inevitably feel you were stabbed in the back by the dinosaurs who just don't get it.

by souvarine 2008-04-02 07:22AM | 0 recs
What you're failing to see

is that Obama supporters actually and rationally believe that his vision of transformation -- including the way it taps into our emotions -- ultimately has a much better chance of moving us past gridlock and successfully passing a progressive agenda than the continued politics of the last few decades.

You may certainly disagree with this on a pragmatic level, but what's not constructive, I believe, is when you conclude that his supporters are whimsically abandoning progressive goals to promote someone of no substance. Debate the rationales all you want, but arguing that we really have no rationale is simply closed-minded.

by Petey 2008-04-02 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: What you're failing to see

They may actually believe, perhaps, but one cannot rationally claim that the 'emotions' Obama has been tapping into have done anything but deeply divide the Democratic party. Given that evidence if you think his tactics will move past the approach of Republicans, then I think you have long abandoned reason.

Obama has a lot of appeal among young people and independents who have not formed any particular political goals. I don't think they have whimsically abandoned progressive goals, I don't think they ever had any. Then there are a number of people who put their hatred of Hillary Clinton above whatever political goals they may have. Obama asks them all to project their hopes and feelings onto him, and their fervor for him gives them license to hate his opponent.

by souvarine 2008-04-02 07:52AM | 0 recs
It's not the emotions

It's what the emotions do to the other side.

Idealism makes people uncomfortable; especially people who are set in their beliefs and strongly believe that their way of doing things will eventually get it right.

It's just that Obama supporters are starting to realize that the way we've done things has only led to disaster.  It's let a cabal of evil men hijack our country while the other side tacitly accepts it, waiting for the pendulum to swing the other way, when they can get revenge.

It's not productive, we think.  It's not helping.  Old-school Clinton supporters wonder why we're trying to change things that are as they always were... it could lead to disaster!

Sure, it could lead to disaster.  But, to be honest, I'm willing to roll the dice and risk a Jimmy Carter when there's a chance at a JFK.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-02 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: It's not the emotions

"Idealism makes people uncomfortable"

I'm not in the least uncomfortable with idealism, and neither are any of the Hillary supporters I know. We love idealism and practice it every day. Whatever are you talking yourself into there?

I can think of nothing more idealistic than trying to get real universal health care passed against the stranglehold of the drug, insurance, and health care industries. That's David and Goliath if I ever saw the story told. That is only one example of the true progressive idealism of our campaign.

We aren't giving in to "bipartisan" free market tidbits that do nothing to solve the problems our country faces. We are the ones advocating real change.

by 07rescue 2008-04-02 08:38AM | 0 recs
I hope this doesn't come off as offensive, but

What you're failing to see is that Obama supporters actually and rationally believe that his vision of transformation -- including the way it taps into our emotions -- ultimately has a much better chance of moving us past gridlock and successfully passing a progressive agenda than the continued politics of the last few decades.

What you are failing to see is that the vision of transformation and the way it taps into our emotions having a much better chance of..... is not a "rational belief", as you suggest.  It is quite simply an ignorant and simple-minded belief.

Which Republicans do you plan to use your emotional transformations on?  John Boehner?  

Are you going to make him into a liberal Democrat who cries real tears in support of civil rights instead of fake tears in support of prepermanent war?

Give me one big f'ing break.  If Obama gets elected, I'm afraid he really is going to disappoint his followers when he can't get anything accomplished, even with a Democratic majority in Congress.  At least when they fillibuster Hillary, we'll be prepared for it.  When they do it to Obama, thousands of citizens will probably jump out the window in despair.

by PJ Jefferson 2008-04-02 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: I hope this doesn't come off as offensive, but

Why is it that you can not just simply agree that we need to unify.  i do not care who we unify behind at this point, only that we unify to win in November. I wish all the superdelegates would come out tomorrow for one or the other. I am tired of this not so civil war within our party and want to move on to bashing McSame.

Again i do not care who we unify behind only that we hurry up and get this god forsaken joke of a primary over.  I used to think 2000 was horrible with thousands disenfranchised, and that we Democrats would never let that happen again... and then i find out about superdelegates and our own party telling people they can't have a primary before a certain date.

It's all nuts and i am not a squirel

by gnosis 2008-04-02 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: divisiveness

"If you can look back and be proud that you were promoting progressive causes like universal health care, or addressing poverty, then you know you were working for something real."

This is exactly why I support Hillary Clinton. I know she will persevere and get as much of a progressive agenda enacted as possible.

Some days I feel like the rest of the Democratic Party simply doesn't want to be put on the spot to get this done, the way she would put them on the spot. For many reasons.

by 07rescue 2008-04-02 08:05AM | 0 recs
Wow, I have to hand it to you.

You've moved from cultish devotion to outright insanity.   You're repeating the anti-Hillary talking points that reasonable people might've believed a month ago but no reasonable person can believe now.  

"The main idea behind a Clinton presidency is her win-at-all-cost nature."

Meanwhile, an Obama presidency would represent the ushering in of a new kind of politics and a transformed cultural public sphere."

Which of these two threw an elderly mentor under the bus to win an election?  Which of these two places threatening calls to prominent citizens who support his opponent?   Which of these two has been caught lieing to the American people about NAFTA and his plans for getting out of Iraq?   Which of these two exalts a racist as his spiritual mentor, but now lies claiming he would've left the church if the Rev. Wright had not retired?    On which of these two is there documented evidence of a conspiracy to use charges of racism against his opponent?  

by mnicholson0220 2008-04-02 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, I have to hand it to you.

I agree with the the diarist's premise.  Hillary's win-at-all-costs mentality was actually what had me supporting her up until very recently.  After years of Republican dirty tricks, I was rooting for (as Bartcop would say) the Democrat's knife-fighter.

Its only recently that I've begun to believe that maybe we don't need knives to win an election.

by XoFalconXo 2008-04-02 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, I have to hand it to you.

If you want the best knife fighter I will concede that Obama is the most skilled. I think you need both the real understanding of the issues that appeal to the Democratic base and the ability to fight.

by souvarine 2008-04-02 07:58AM | 0 recs
As Bill Richardson wrote

in his Washington Post commentary:

"I can only say that we need to move on from the politics of personal insult and attacks. That era, personified by Carville and his ilk, has passed and I believe we must end the rancor and partisanship that has mired Washington in gridlock. In my view, Sen. Obama represents our best hope of replacing division with unity. That is why, out of loyalty to my country, I endorse him for president."

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: As Bill Richardson wrote

"I can only say that we need to move on from the politics of personal insult and attacks. "

Unbelievable. It's Orwellian speak from Bill Richardson. From the Chicago slap down pol we get this transcendent message? The dinosaurs plead disbelief.

by 07rescue 2008-04-02 08:08AM | 0 recs
Thus he reveals a woeful ignorance of

what has actually happened in this campaign.   I'm sorry but Richardson never impressed me with his insightfulness, and this was back when I had no "horse" in this race and was looking at them all equally.    The biggest mystery to me in this whole deal is how come Biden didn't do better.    But I digress.

I find it ironic in the extreme that an Obama surrogate would be calling an end to mud-slinging and name-calling, when these behaviors have been the hallmark of Obama's campaign against Hillary.  

by mnicholson0220 2008-04-02 08:09AM | 0 recs
Honestly, I mean really...

Would you look me straight in the eyes and tell me with conviction that mud-slinging and name-calling have been "the Hallmark" of Obama's campaign? Meaning nothing defines his campaign more? Implying such mud-slinging was significantly worse than that coming from the Clinton camp?

If so, you leave me... speechless.

by Petey 2008-04-02 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, I have to hand it to you.

You see, you're again getting bogged down in the daily grievances -- a battle that can never be won by either side.

I admittedly framed the candidates' rationales with my own biases, but do you take issue with the basic characterization that one of the key reasons people support Hillary is her supposed ability to get things done?

by Petey 2008-04-02 07:40AM | 0 recs
Hey, it's only words right?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident."   "I have a dream."

So, you get to choose your words.  Obama and his surrogates, if they know anything, know the power of words.   So, what's it going to be for Hillary:

"Hillary is a tough fighter who will fight for you, the middle class, the little guy, the racially and economically oppressed."

OR

"Hillary has a win-at-all costs mentality."

Only words.

by mnicholson0220 2008-04-02 07:47AM | 0 recs
The whole diary is an exercise in perception

and emotion vs. reality.  I don't vote based on perception and emotion, and that's why I don't support Barack Obama.

by PJ Jefferson 2008-04-02 08:09AM | 0 recs
as I've said elsewhere:

"I could not vote for him solely on the basis of his dream. To me he clearly possesses the basic skills to run the country, with better proven judgment than Hillary."

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:18AM | 0 recs
If you're using his speech vs. her vote on Iraq

as the method to prove that he has better proven judgment than Hillary, I respectfully suggest you are using an entirely inappropriate method.

You simply cannot gauge what someone who is not in Congress says vs. the manner in which someone who is in Congress votes.  There are too many things to take into consideration that could change your vote, such as but certainly not limited to the concern that you will be labeled weak on defense.  And sure, you could say she was too weak to stand up for what she believed in, but the same would apply to Obama once he actually joined Congress and had to vote on the issues.  For example, see the manner in which Barack Obama has voted (or refused to vote at all) with respect to military issues since he has been elected.  He took the cowardly way out on Iran and didn't even have the balls to stand up for what he believes in, because he was afraid of pissing off AIPAC etc., and he consistently votes to fund the war in Iraq, because he is afraid that people will blame him for troops being left without bullets, and then vote him out of Congress.  The manner in which he votes is simply far different than the manner in which he gave speeches before he joined Congress.  

Another example is the way John Edwards spoke on the stump after he left Congress, vs. the manner in which he voted when he was there.  He voted in favor of the war, and also voted in favor of bills that hurt the middle class in favor of huge corporations, such as the bankruptcy bill.  Then he left Congress and called his votes a mistake.  What?  Did he press the wrong button?  No, he knew what he was doing.  Its just that he had pressures on him as a Senator that caused him to vote against his own platform.  Who knows why?  Perhaps he traded a vote on Bankruptcy for a vote on an issue that helped the middle class more than Bankruptcy hurt them?  

Who knows.  All I know is that comparing a speech to a liberal anti-war audience to a vote in the U.S. Senate is just plain silly.

by PJ Jefferson 2008-04-02 08:37AM | 0 recs
One might even call it a "fairytale". nt

by PJ Jefferson 2008-04-02 09:00AM | 0 recs
Not helping

It's bundling up insignificant gotcha issues that we're trying to get beyond here.

I've answered them before, but:

Alice Palmer was cheating.  Everybody was cheating except Obama.  They paid the price.  Hopefully they won't cheat again.

Obama's campaign never threatened anyone.  Some of his supporters might've.  Two different things.

The Canada/NAFTA thing was a hoax and has been debunked.  There's also reports that it was Clinton's people who actually contacted the Canadians.  That's probably a hoax, too.

The plan to get out of Iraq is nuanced for both candidates.  Neither has said that they would not let external events affect their plans.  That would be myopic and stupid.

Wright is not a racist, he's a bit misguided and against the excesses of the American government, which we can all agree has done some terrible things.  To believe otherwise and without doing the true research is to act as a patsy for conservative media outlets.  Stop it.  Obama's religion is not a big deal, nor is what cell of "The Family" Washington fellowship cult Clinton belongs to is.

Both candidates have used race to their advantage in this contest.  Don't try to claim otherwise when official campaign staff have been trying to stoke fear about Wright in superdelegates.  That's not nearly the only thing.

I suspect that, if you're regurgitating all of this outdated hatchet junk, you're not honestly a Democrat, but in the off chance that you are: Take a long look at why you're going after Obama the way Republicans go after Democrats.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-02 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Not helping

"Both candidates have used race to their advantage in this contest.  Don't try to claim otherwise when official campaign staff have been trying to stoke fear about Wright in superdelegates."

That's not at all about race, it is about electability. Like it or not, Wright powerfully diminishes Obama's electability, and it must be discussed. I am certain Obama's staff is facing the same questions and doubts from the superdelegates as Clinton's staff is facing, but they aren't talking about it.

The Wright thing will never be over, it's shock value was too great, and it came at precisely the wrong time for Obama - when he was in the process of first introducing himself to the voters. Wright is now an indelible first impression on many voters' minds.

This is part of why I have said many times that he should not have run for president at this time, with his baggage. He has no additional record of accomplishment to offset the negatives that Wright, Rezko, and Ayers bring to his image in the public's eye. He will be overwhelmed by the right wing assault of negative images, like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming mack truck.

by 07rescue 2008-04-02 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Not helping

I think he's well proven he's no "deer in the headlights."

You make a good point about what you perceive to be his lack of "accomplishments" that ought to help him offset attempts at character assassination. (I'd argue the point, however -- both on the grounds that his accomplishments are significant, if atypical, and on the grounds that Hillary's supposedly superior accomplishments are more ephemeral than actual.)

But I think you're ignoring alternative ways that he can offset negatives. For example, the courage, wisdom, and leadership he showed in response to the Wright controversy. Sure he'll lose some votes permanently because of it, but he'll also gain some in the long run.  

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:57AM | 0 recs
Not an argument you want to be having

Honestly, I think Wright does come down to race: he's a black preacher talking about black anger, which makes white folks uncomfortable; we barely bat an eye these days at the Hagees and the Fallwells who preach hatred these days, and they're on a whole, far more disgusting. There have been other remarks, some of which are subtle and interpretable by those who can read the invisable ink, others of which could be construed as kamikazi attacks that also smack of race.

If Wright will never be over, then Monica and Travel Office and 140 pardons and Bosnian sniper fire will never be over, either.  

Rezko has no provable connection in terms of wrongdoing to Obama, and Ayers never personally hurt anyone, and his his crimes were 30 years ago.  They're both non-starters.  If they try those, Obama will give another fantastic speech in front of eight to ten U.S. flags and most will love him more for it.

You keep saying that Obama will be overwhelmed... well, seems to me that he's done a pretty good job so far despite Clinton not pulling many punches.  I say give him a shot to prove himself.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-02 10:44AM | 0 recs
Half an Army

What you--and Obama--are really calling for is unilateral disarmament. The right, the Republicans, the conservatives, they are not going to play by the new, "Obamaland" rules. In every session of every State legislature, and in  every session of Congress, they are going to ruthlessly and relentlessly continue to press their agenda of hate, intolerance and oppression. Their well-funded sources of institutional power (business, billionairs, the media, the think tanks, even, increasingly, academia) are simply not going to go away and become extinct like the "dinosoars" just because that is what you and Obama want them to do.

Do you really think those tired old liberals like Hillary, who you disdain so much, want to fight the same battles every year? Do you think that they wouldn't prefer to work on a positive agenda for the real "change" that the country needs?

A few years ago, my brother and I had occasion to visit Harrisburg, PA, while the State legislature was in session. Every day, while driving from our motel towards the State house, we passed a guy standing on the main street with a disgusting poster showing what was, I'm guessing, the results of a so-called "partial birth" abortion.

Now, imagine yourself a newly minted, fresh-faced, progressive Democratic state Rep. in the 1980's. From then to now, every year, without fail, the Republicans draft some novel and nefarious proposed legislation to curtail reproductive freedom. Every year, from then to now, you have had to battle them in committees, on the floor, in the media, in your district, and elsewhere on this issue. At least once, legislation passed that was thrown out by the US Supreme Court. No matter, the Republicans were back again the next year, just as they always are, with a new gimmick, a new label, a new scheme. And, 20 years later, there they still were, with their horrible poster for you to look at every day, and their newest attempt to deny basic bodily freedom to half the population.

But, in your view, and Obama's, somehow, that once idealistic and "hopeful" State rep. who is now a battle-scarred and disillusioned veteran, is as much to blame as the Republicans for the "stalemate." Somehow, you think that just by being himself, Obama is not only going to make that Democratic State rep., and all of her counterparts in the other States and Congress, irrelevant, but he is going to make the Republicans who have opposed her all these years irrelevant too.

And, I'm just using reproductive freedom as one example here. On all of the other issues: health care, gay and lesbian rights, militarism and imperialism, education, economic justice, cultural pluralism, separation of church and state, etc., etc., there are entrenched, well-organized, and well-funded interest groups, and plenty of supporters among GOP officeholders and in the other power centers that I mentioned, that are going to fight tooth and nail against the "generally liberal" policies that Obama wants. How is Obama going to end this "left/right split" and make a new dichotomy based on "absolutism and humanism?" Merely by saying so? Great, throw the tired old liberals and "radical feminists" out of the ranks so that our Party is no longer encumbered with "absolutists." But explain how you're going to get the GOP to do the same.

The right is not going away. According to you, Obama wants to divide the left and march into battle with half an army. That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

by freemansfarm 2008-04-02 07:31AM | 0 recs
You've stated your case well

This is the argument. Others (including me) have concluded that today's environment is ripe for reevaluating how we deal with our adversaries. For a whole host of reasons, we believe Barack has some special insights/abilities into this.

Which is not to say any "transformation" will necessarily be permanent -- that we'll never need knives again. Just that there's a window of opportunity right now to move us past some rather stubborn political and cultural habits.

by Petey 2008-04-02 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: You've stated your case well

I thank you for your compliment.

I only wish that you would be a little more explicit about the nature of Obama's "special insights/abilities" that will enable him to "move us past" the current, "stubborn," stalemate. I have yet to see any evidence that Obama has demonstrated in his career as a State and US Senator these unique qualities that you refer to. Obama has not, to my knowledge, been particularly successful as a State or US Senator in getting the Republicans to lie down, or to change the paradigm of bitter, partisan division. It's all well and good that Obama played poker with his Illinois GOP colleagues, but, again, my understanding is that the only time he had any real legislative success was when the Democrats controlled the legislature. And, in his short stint in the US Senate, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Obama has been able to breach the party lines, or that he has "transformed" anything.

It seems to me that you are asking us to take quite a lot on faith. . .

by freemansfarm 2008-04-02 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: You've stated your case well

Sure, there's some faith involved. (And, if we're being honest, there's faith involved in the selection of any president, for we can really only guess how anyone will interact with the future world.)

Some of us who have studied him (read his books, interviews, profiles, etc) have developed faith in his mind. We've concluded that he possesses the requisite intelligence, judgment, experience, etc to smartly lead this country. BUT, on top of that, because of the way he thinks about the world and politics and culture, we've concluded he has the best chance of moving us to someplace new and healthier.

I could cite examples of his "proven success" as a unifier, but that would miss the point. He hasn't yet been in a position (such as the bully pulpit) to actualize his vision. Although his success in this campaign, while messy, provides partial evidence of his ability to rally people behind his ideas. But, I repeat, I could not vote for him solely on the basis of his dream. To me he clearly possesses the basic skills to run the country, with better proven judgment than Hillary.

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: You've stated your case well
Thank you for your diary, Petey, I think you made a good effort to explain your support for your candidate.
However, Freemansfarm's post above yours is exactly what I feel.
I have no doubt that Obama would make a great president, and if he wins the nomination, I'll do whatever it takes to get him in the White House, because the alternative of 4 more years of Republican rule and the Iraq war is too terrible to contemplate.
But I would like to take exception to your comments that Obama will "transform" politics- in his career so far, he has shown no willingness to do so, unless you want to call compromise with Republicans a "transformation".
I only became interested in politics as recently as 1992, when Bill Clinton was running.
I was thrilled and excited about this "new", young and charismatic candidate, who promised to change the way we do things in Washington (sound familiar?). The man even appointed Republicans to his cabinet and administration.
The next 8 years were spent by Clinton trying to get his policies passed, and the Republicans fighting every single step of the way against him.
When they couldn't destroy him with that, they hired Ken Starr to investigate every moment of his political and private life, right down to his Christmas card list. His Christmas card list!!!
How many people do you know that have been investigated for losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a land deal?
So I have to agree with Freemansfarm- Obama will still have to deal with the same Republicans that we've dealt with the last 15 years- because he talks to them nicely is not going to change the fact that they are and always will be opposed to what we want (UHC, the end to the Iraq occupation, more jobs, a balanced budget, etc.,etc.) and they will fight, as they always have,  to oppose and obstruct those goals.
Hillary understands this, I don't think Obama does.
by skohayes 2008-04-02 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: You've stated your case well

Yes, I wouldn't support him if I didn't think he was capable of running the country skillfully with good judgment. But I also wouldn't support him if he didn't hold the promise of potentially transforming the way we function politically and culturally. You may be right that he's doomed to failure on this score (but I think there's plenty of evidence he's far different from the self-absorbed Bill Clinton).

To me, the stakes are high enough (after so many years of gridlock) that it's worth taking a chance on this man's marvelous mind -- just so long as he passes the basic threshold test, which, in my opinion, he does.

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: You've stated your case well

Well done Petey.  I don't think it's a coincidence that this is one of the most civil back and forths I've read on this blog for a while.  You are an excellent personal example of what you see in Obama - and whadya know, people are engaging with you.  Baby steps.

by interestedbystander 2008-04-02 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: You've stated your case well

Thanks, Interested. I can't help but think the main reason this campaign has turned into a battle of smears, is because so many on both sides are convinced the other side is simply always spinning cynically.

The more we can accept that we have genuine differences rooted in real facts, logic, and, yes, emotions, the more we are likely to debate the real differences with some semblance of respect.

by Petey 2008-04-02 09:47AM | 0 recs
Major mojo for a great response.

I posted something similar, but you were far more specific.

Apparently, Barack Obama is going to make Mitch McConnell and John Boehner into tree-hugging liberals with his transformative talk on an emotional level - - - he's just that good, folks!

by PJ Jefferson 2008-04-02 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Major mojo for a great response.

No, they are the absolutists on the right (along with Rush, O'Reilly etc.) that are to be left behind in irrelevancy, if it works.

A Hil victory for whatever good it will produce, will strengthen those right-wing absolutists & rally their supporters, I'm convinced

by wrb 2008-04-02 08:58AM | 0 recs
What a pile of garbage.

"The main idea behind a Clinton presidency is her win-at-all-cost nature. "

Are you nuts?

The 'win at all costs' campaign has been the one Obama has been waging.  Glorifying past GOP Presidents while ignoring the achievements of the only two term Democratic POTUS in our lifetime, labeling a Democratic contender by 'she'll say anything to win'  and then having surrogates paint two good Democrats who have stood for minority rights time and time again as racists shows just who was willing to 'do or say' anything to win.

Yeah, I bet this got you all kinds of admiration over at dKos.  No surprise there.

by emsprater 2008-04-02 07:33AM | 0 recs
More daily grievances here

But it's impossible to argue that Reagan didn't transform the country with his "Morning in America" much more successfully than Bill Clinton with his welfare reform, his NAFTA, and other DLC-style initiatives. Still, amazingly, Clinton's presidency can best be remembered for solidifying our divisions. Every sign points to Hillary doing the same.

by Petey 2008-04-02 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: More daily grievances here

One main reason for Reagan seeming to do this for the country were "just words" and good speech writers.  He broke the unions by firing all the air traffic controllers; cut the taxes for the wealthiest; began the spiral downward destruction of the middle class; ran up the federal deficit by spending huge sums of money on the military; ran an illegal arms deal with Iran to secretly fund a militia in Central America; I could go on an on.

Those were just some of the "major accomplishments" of the Reagan years.  By comparison, I would take the eight Clinton years of progress and prosperity anytime over the "just words" and good speech years that Reagan gave us.

Bill Clinton gave us good speeches, too.  However, he backed his good speeches up with good actions like passing and signing the FMLA bill and turning a deficit into a huge surplus.

I am fearful that an Obama presidency will be more like the Reagan years: "just words" and good speeches.

by mcctx 2008-04-02 09:10AM | 0 recs
We're talking at cross purposes here

Because, really, you're making my point. Reagan was able to take the actions he did because he was able to generally convince America that this was the kind of America they wanted to belong to.

A strong president helps shape national identity. Since we haven't seen this from a progressive's point of view since JFK, we don't trust it when it's in our lap.

Clinton failed utterly in this because he deeply lost our respect. Our national identity wandered into deep cynicism. LBJ, although far more accomplished than Clinton, failed utterly in this because he deeply lost our respect. So far, even though he makes mistakes, Barack has repeatedly proven himself worthy of our respect.

Very few people would even begin to imagine the possibility of Hillary becoming such a visionary leader as a Reagan or a JFK, someone who can help us cement our national identity in positive, progressive ways. The key gambit with Barack is that, not only is the time right, we desperately need this kind of leadership right now. The "fierce urgency of now" is something Barack really believes -- not merely a line he stole from MLK.

by Petey 2008-04-02 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: straight talk and goodbyes

superb analysis

by wrb 2008-04-02 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: straight talk and goodbyes

And if Hillary somehow manages to become president? Those who hitched a ride on Obama's dream - the emerging front line of post-warriors - will experience a rather profound hopelessness. Like someone burned by love, they had been slow to allow themselves to hope again. After getting a taste of the dream, it would be awfully hard to jump back into politics as usual as if nothing had happened.

I realize that "hope" is a word applied almost exclusively to Obama and his campaign, but I think you're being a bit melodramatic. "Like someone burned by love"? Some Obama supporters act as if everyone who's been voting for him has been overwhelmed by hopelessness for years -- until he came along, of course. As if he's singlehandedly unified and inspired the nation. That's just not the case. There are a whole lot of people who find little cause for inspiration and hope in Obama.  And what about the Hillary supporters who "got a taste of the dream" and now fear that their hopes and dreams will be dashed? Especially the women who have faith in Hillary and who dared to believe, for just a moment, that perhaps that highest of glass ceilings might be shattered. No matter who wins, there will be equal numbers of disillusioned, angry people.

But don't worry. The super delegates will be terrified of the riots which will inevitably occur if Hillary "steals" the nomination. They'll take their own fear into account when they vote. There's no cause for Obama supporters to worry.

by sricki 2008-04-02 10:15AM | 0 recs
thanks, I agree...

that my prose was melodramatic.

And I agree that a lot of Hillary supporters will feel equally shattered (something that has taken me awhile to realize).

My point was simply that there's an equivalence between those who will, for whatever reason, feel shut out, regardless of the results.

by Petey 2008-04-02 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: straight talk and goodbyes

"And I agree that a lot of Hillary supporters will feel equally shattered (something that has taken me awhile to realize)."

That is something that reading this site has taught me.

I had no conception of the depth of attachment some people have to her or to the idea of a woman president.

I'd assumed that at most people thought her most competent or most scrappy, not that she could inspire passion

by wrb 2008-04-02 10:58AM | 0 recs

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