What It Means To Be a Democrat

Todd Beeton discusses John Edwards and Barack Obama's speeches on poverty:

John Edwards concludes his Road To One America poverty tour today with a major speech in Kentucky, the site where Robert F Kennedy ended a similar trek in 1968. . . [L]last night on Hardball, Chris Matthews asked a more meta question that hit on the larger ramifications of Edwards' focus on poverty:
MATTHEWS: . . . How do you get back to being the party of regular folk? EDWARDS: My party and the Democratic party that I believe in stands up for ordinary people, stands up for the little guy, stands up for people who don't have health insurance, who live in poverty and who don't go to fundraisers. That's what the heart and soul of the Democratic Party is and we can never lose that because if we lose it we lose our soul. And it's gonna require us to have a little backbone and stand up for what we believe is right regardless of who's affected by it.
Barack Obama gave a speech about poverty invoking Bobby Kennedy today as well. . . [N]o matter how you read Obama's timing, it's telling that his speech doesn't contain the word "Democrat" once.


Indeed. And it is worse than that. Yet again Obama reverts to the "above partisan politics" New Politics pol that simply does nothing for forwarding the fortunes of the Democratic Party. Here is a part of Obama's speech:

What you learn when you spend your time in these neighborhoods trying to solve these problems is that there are no easy solutions and no perfect arguments. And you come to understand that for the last four decades, both ends of the political spectrum have been talking past one another.

It's true that there were many effective programs that emerged from Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. But there were also some ineffective programs that were defended anyway, as well as an inability of some on the left to acknowledge that the problems of absent fathers or persistent crime were indeed problems that needed to be addressed.

The right has often seized on these failings as proof that the government can't and shouldn't do a thing about poverty - that it is a result of individual moral failings and cultural pathologies and so we should just sit back and let these cities fend for themselves. And so Ronald Reagan launched his assault on welfare queens, and George Bush spent the last six years slashing programs to combat poverty, and job training, and substance abuse, and child abuse.

Well, we know that's not the answer. When you're in these neighborhoods, you can see what a difference it makes to have a government that cares. You can see what a free lunch program does for a hungry child. You can see what a little extra money from an earned income tax credit does for a family that's struggling. You can see what prenatal care does for the health of a mother and a newborn. So don't tell me there's no role for government in lifting up our cities.

But you can also see what a difference it makes when people start caring for themselves. It makes a difference when a father realizes that responsibility does not end at conception; when he understands that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. It makes a difference when a parent turns off the TV once in awhile, puts away the video games, and starts reading to their child, and getting involved in his education. It makes a difference when we realize that a child who shoots another child has a hole in his heart that no government can fill. That makes a difference.

So there are no easy answers and perfect arguments. As Dr. King said, it is not either-or, it is both-and. Hope is not found in any single ideology - an insistence on doing the same thing with the same result year after year.

Can't we all just get along? There is an essential dishonesty in Obama's approach. HE acts as if there is only the need to find common ground because Republicans really DO care about poverty and the common man and the Common Good. There is little difference between Democrats and Republicans on such issues says Obama. We're just "talking past each other."

Obama may have an approach that works for an activist, but it sinply is inexcusable for someone who wants to be the standardbearer for a political party. A standard bearer for a political party argues why his or her party has the right ideas to combat the problems we face. He argues why voters should pull the lever for his or her party, why voters should trust his or her party, why his or her party should govern.

Obama does none of this.

I repeat again, Obama seems not to like the actual business of engaging in politics. At least not when it comes to politicking for the Democratic Party. Whatever other talents he may have, it is clear that as party standardbearer, Obama appears to be tone deaf.

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    #1 way to tell political dishonesty: (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by andgarden on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:56:17 PM EST
    "Why can't we be less partisan?!" (A Lieberman favorite).

    Join the pre credit-sequence Dem who dies horribly (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Ellie on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:23:15 PM EST
    PCS Dem who dies horribly: People, people, be calm. We can learn to make peace with the brain-eating Republican zombie-folk, I just knowwww---

    ::: chomp :::

    If you liked Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead II, Armies of Darkness, and Dawn of the Dead III-X, For CRYING OUT LOUD don't miss Dem Election SNAFU / GOP:CYA Election '08!!!

    now with even less brain matter than ever before!

    Obama is finger-pointing (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Dadler on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:42:50 PM EST
    With his "both ends of the political spectrum have been talking past one another" and his "inability of some on the left to acknowledge that the problems of absent fathers or persistent crime were indeed problems that needed to be addressed."   How has HE talked past others?  How did HE fail to think absent fathers or persistent crime should be ignored?  Or is it just everyone else who is the problem?

    I find him bereft of actual ideas and the imaginative ability to put them into action.

    What does he actually propose DOING?

    And sorry, Barack, but hope is found in the only ideology that matters: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."  That single ideology is the solution to every social problem we face.

    maybe... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Sumner on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 12:13:28 AM EST
    ... "the solution to every social problem".

    Closer to home, are you ok with Blackwater moving into your community's back yard?

    I am reminded of Lobengula, in Africa, the last King of the Matabele, who insisted that his people neither fight nor resist the English mining magnate, Cecil Rhodes. Lobengula did fight in the end, finally, but by then it was too late.


    I think you are being unfair to him. (none / 0) (#1)
    by timber on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:08:22 PM EST
    Disclaimer--leaning Edwards

    Anyway,  Obama is saying let us stop partisan politics.  He talks to everyone -does not identify Dems or Repubs --everyone is an American.  Mind you he means voters not the corrupt Republicans leaders in power.  Poverty is an American issue that we all should be united on.

    He says to  fight poverty together --  we get good, working ideas whether they are from right or left as long as it is a solution that will work--- instead of tug of war between right and left and calling each other names.

     --this is his movement --to make One America not dividing people from right or left, Dems or Republicans, black or white, poor or rich.

    And many people tired of partisan politics are drawn to it.  

    The same people (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:20:05 PM EST
    who are tired of negative ads right?

    Honestly, I find this view naive in the extreme as to how the American Public react to politics.


    Enough of this "bipartisan" crapola-- (none / 0) (#9)
    by wlgriffi on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:58:18 PM EST
    If you watched the sad performance of the Republicans at last night's "overnighter",the idea that you are going to get Republican support for the ideals of the Democratic party's rank and file ideals you need to see a shrink. Obama is trying to follow the DLC's foolish notion that "going along to get along" can lead to bipartisan deals.  Bill Clinton bent over backwards trying this tactic. You must see where that got him.

    A good start to.... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:48:47 PM EST
    being the party of regular folks would be to stop talking to lobbyists and accepting their payoffs.

    The poor don't need us to solve their problems or put food on their table...they need us to stop rigging the game that puts them behind the 8-ball from square one.

    What the hell (none / 0) (#5)
    by rdandrea on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:56:38 PM EST
    gives you the right to tell me what it means to be a Democrat?

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:19:21 PM EST
    If only Obama would say something (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by andgarden on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:12:00 PM EST
    like THAT.

    I don't see anything wrong with Obama's speech (none / 0) (#11)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:32:20 PM EST
    The bolded parts are true.  

    He's not running for standard bearer; he's running for president.  If he gets the nomination they'll try to give him the damn standard and it will be like an anchor weighing him down.  It's what is slowing Edwards down.  Edwards isn't just talking about what he believes - he's trying to rehabilitate the Democratic party at the same time.  Waste of effort imo.  Nobody likes or trusts political parties anymore.  Not even the people in them.

    Disclaimer:  I'm not deciding until 2008.

    Part of the job description (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:01:38 PM EST

    The least important part. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:32:16 PM EST
    This Presidential election especially.  

    Oh (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:38:15 PM EST
    That is quite wrong imo.

    It is one of the most important parts of the job, ESPECIALLY in this election.


    Waiving the Democratic standard? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11:55:38 PM EST
    Saying nice things about the party?  Being a team player?  You're wrong.  All that does is make people distrust you.  No matter how much John Edwards talks about what the Democratic party cares about -- nobody believes it anymore.  They haven't believed it in years.  They believe that he cares about it and they hope he can bring a change in the party and make it match those ideals again.  But nobody believes it's true today.

    The Democrats as a brand need refurbishing.  They had a great victory in 2006 but mostly because people were angry at Bush and wanted a change.  You want a long term electoral change?  Waiving the tired old Democratic standard and being careful not to say anything negative about Dems or the left isn't going to do it.

    But you're on the right track. What you really mean is that the person needs to have coat tails.  I agree.  I just don't think that saying things that people believe are true but happen to be negative about the party and the left is going to harm any possible coat tails.


    When Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 12:21:02 AM EST
    attack the brand, or at least do not defend the brand, then the probelm gets worse.

    I do not understand your comment frankly.


    On the other hand (none / 0) (#18)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 12:15:14 AM EST
    who would ever mistake that speech as being by anyone but a Democrat? Maybe the brand isn't as broken as all that.

    Heh (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 12:19:54 AM EST
    An applogetic Democrat? You are right. Only a Democrat would do that.

    Not that that didn't occur to me (none / 0) (#21)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 12:31:46 AM EST
    But mostly I meant that it wasn't full of insane evil about the virtues of more war, more militarization, and the I-got-mine-Jack school of public policy.

    All part of O's plan (none / 0) (#22)
    by hhex65 on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 04:57:04 AM EST
    to run to the center for the primary and then run a sharply partisan general.

    Or not.

    A Clintonian trick (none / 0) (#23)
    by koshembos on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:32:14 AM EST
    Obama may be trying to prepare for thr general elections where appealing to a wider group of voters is clearly an advantage.

    Even Edwards, my favorite, doesn't talk about unions and slidarity; he talks about the generic poor. No black poors, no Hispanic poors, no white poor.

    I would like both Obama and Edwards to refine and deepen their statements as to imply more about the actions needed to be taken once the criminals lose power.

    a view from overseas (none / 0) (#24)
    by Sumner on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 03:52:20 PM EST
    Spiegel gives their take on presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

    That (none / 0) (#25)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 05:06:24 PM EST
    was just a snide hit piece. I kept expecting it to get around to his haircut, but I guess that's exclusive Politico territory.

    poo (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sumner on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:39:24 PM EST
    Yeah, nary a word from Spiegel about Obama Girl.

    But the latest drivel by our very own Democratic Senators tells me that much like Republicans, they are also playing misdirection with the populace.

    First Amendment? Constitutional Rights? Maybe Democrats are all about posturing.

    Maybe that all-nighter was all show.

    uh, can we still spell the "F-word" out if we use a µ?


    OMG (none / 0) (#28)
    by Sumner on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 08:54:22 PM EST
    WOW, even the M$M is going nutcase. Not just the several Democratic Senators and their nut-job bill to re-ban bad words.

    The scare-mongerers are out in full force, with a full court press to distract us from something.

    With full blown hysteria now. (Yes they used all caps):


    what an effing twit! that's nuts

    something's µp.


    Cult of Kumbaya Won't Win the Ticket (none / 0) (#27)
    by Dem4Good on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 06:49:17 PM EST
    Some of these points hit the nail on the head,and may be why Hillary Clinton could be the best equipped to pull the entire ticket against republicans in '08.

    She's already shown she's committed enough to care about more than just her own election,and won't hesitate to urge everyone to vote a straight Democratic ticket in November 2008.

    She's also strong enough not to prematurely throw in the towel, like our leaders did in the 2000 and 2004 stolen elections.

    All this rock-star-cult-of-kumbaya won't help us keep control of Congress.If we lose that, it may not much matter who's sitting in the Oval Office.