Schtick Or Sincere? Does It Mattter? Would Obama's Political Strategy Work For Democratic Values?

In a very eloquent and well written defense of Senator Barack Obama and his political style (the central POLITICAL issue of this campaign imo), MYDD diarist Shaun Appleby makes the sincere case for Obama's political style, as opposed to Mark Schmitt's defense of Obama's political style as schtick. But Appleby miunderstands the key question in my opinion. He writes:

It could be argued readily that Obama is a potent progressive, and that his strategy for his own candidacy is his prerogative, as long as the end result advances progressive ideology significantly. But he is critiqued for his strategy as well as his positions . . .

(Emphasis supplied.) The reason he is critiqued for his strategy is precisely because those of us who do so believe "the end result does [NOT] advance progressive ideology significantly." This is perhaps the most frustrating thing about discussing these issues with Obama supporters. They seem incapable of understanding that we do not criticize Obama's political style on aesthetic grounds; we criticize his style because we think it will not work to actually EFFECT CHANGE. We believe that despite his being touted as the change candidate, his political style is the one LEAST likely to achieve progressive policy change.

We could of course, be wrong. Let's discuss whether we are or not. But please, respectfully, address the critique, not the strawman.

Here is Obama missing the point.

Is he going to politely get a "working majority?" He believes there is a Republican Party to work with in Washington? In the country?

No one is asking Obama to NOT be polite. We are asking him to see the reality that is the Republican Party. Some Obama supporters see this as a convincing video for Obama's style. Frankly, I find it the final nail in the coffin. He misses the problem entirely.

He is going to win tomorrow. But he lost a tepid supporter tonight.

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    Go educate yourself (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:50:07 PM EST
    And them participate if you can.

    You are nothing but a gnat in these threads now.

    Now?? (none / 0) (#78)
    by Edger on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:16:38 PM EST
    Obama's fatal error (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:52:15 PM EST
    In this clip he's conflating two very different things - on the one hand the grassroots Republican/Independent people who may agree with him and on the other the lobbyists, "industry people" and "Republican operatives" who will NEVER agree with him unless it is purely on their terms. The first group may be willing to work with him "outside of Washington" but they are POWERLESS. And the ones inside Washington NEVER will unless he caves utterly to their agenda - and they are the ones with the actual votes and influence, not the Heartland voters, the long-suffering American people.

    I can't decide if this is utterly cynical sleight of hand from him or if he really is taken in by the idea himself. In either case, severe disillusion is going to ensue in short order if he becomes our President.

    Bingo (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:54:03 PM EST
    He does not get it.

    I no longer supporter him.


    You should reconsider Edwards (none / 0) (#30)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:59:11 PM EST
    I think you dismissed him too precipitately. And I don't think the trade issues are as cut and dried as you've made them out to be.

    But it all may be moot tomorrow night.


    It is moot tonight (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:08:45 PM EST
    Yes but if part of (none / 0) (#36)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:25:31 PM EST
    their constituency votes for him, he has power over them.  I don't really see any other way to be effective against big special interest aside from winning and winning big.  That is the best way to get political capital in politics.

    Really any strategy will work "fighting" "gaming them " or "politely forcing them" if you have the political capital.


    No (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:29:02 PM EST
    He has no power over them so long as he is not winning the argument on issues.

    Clinton came to learn this.

    I was hoping Obama would not have to go through the same thing.

    The fact is Obama is now totally Clinton 92.


    Clinton (none / 0) (#48)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:44:44 PM EST
    didn't even have the popular vote, he nor she didn't have the kind of political capital to go campaign against people that were getting in the way.

    Think of how Bush got democrats like Hillary and Edwards to vote to authorize war.  Back then he could campaign for a Dems opponent and if they were in a competitive district they lost.

    If you want to have political capitol you have to be liked, doesn't matter how bad your argument is if people don't like you it isn't happening.


    So if bloomberg runs (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:48:25 PM EST
    and Obama wins with 48% will you make the same argument?

    And frankly you r argument makes no sense. Are you suggesting that Obama be as PARTISAN as Bush was in 2002?

    It seems to me that Obama has soundly rejected that.

    Moreover, Bush camapigned on WOT/Iraq. He negatively branded Dems. Obama is rejecting THAT too.

    I actually have no idea how you imagie Obama winning a "working majority" for Dems.

    It is all about how marvelous he is. What issue is he going to campaign against Republicans on when he will not campaign against them NOW?


    I dont think (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:56:54 PM EST
    Bloomberg would run if Obama were in the race, because Obama does well with independents, and if he did i think Obama would be the least hurt by it.

    And frankly you r argument makes no sense. Are you suggesting that Obama be as PARTISAN as Bush was in 2002?

    It seems to me that Obama has soundly rejected that.

    Moreover, Bush camapigned on WOT/Iraq. He negatively branded Dems. Obama is rejecting THAT too.

    Bush ran on WOT because his popularity was from 9/11 not an election.  

    It is all about how marvelous he is. What issue is he going to campaign against Republicans on when he will not campaign against them NOW?

    First you have to build your political capitol before you can expend it attacking people. ON top of that he bashed repubs, just don't it nicely, in the end it has made people vote for him not repubs. Second  he is running in a primary where you run against other democrats, not republicans.


    correction (none / 0) (#50)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:46:57 PM EST
    Clinton didn't even have the 50 plus one percent.
    c        B        P
    43.0%     37.4%     18.9%

    A thre way race (none / 0) (#52)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:49:12 PM EST
    has a way of doing that.

    This is silly analysis as Clinton would have won well over 50% in a two way.


    The reality of Clinton 92 (none / 0) (#68)
    by dmfox on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 01:40:35 AM EST
    Clinton also was dealing with a much more conservative Congress than Obama will.  While Clinton had majorities in 92, a substantial portion of the Democratic caucus in 92 were southern Democrats who were about as liberal as Zell Miller.  Clinton was also facing a revitalized GOP in 93 and 94 under Gingrich.

    Today, the Republican party is demoralized and the Democrats are much more ideologically liberal than they were in 1992 (even the Bush dogs are to the left of every Republican member of Congress, this wasn't the case in 1992).

    Also, Clinton in 92, after his election, made his economic stimulus package his top priority over healthcare.  This took a considerable amount of political capital.  By the time Hillary started doing healthcare, the recession had ended and costs were going down.  Had Clinton done health care first, instead of waiting until HMO's temporarily relieved the cost crisis in the 1990s, his presidency would have gone down a more progressive track and triangulation may not have happened.

    Sorry for running through 1990's history, but context is needed.  2007 is not 1992.  The circumstances are totally different.  Obama will have a more progressive Congress, a weaker GOP, and a stronger mandate for change.  I don't see the correlation here at all.


    A more conservative Congress? (none / 0) (#72)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 07:00:06 AM EST
    Do you REALLY believe that in 1992 the Congress was more Conservative?

    That is antihistorical.


    Check out Krugman's book if you don't believe me (none / 0) (#76)
    by dmfox on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:02:17 PM EST
    While there were more DEMOCRATS in Congress in 1992, the Democratic Party was heavily dependent on conservative Southern Democrats

    Conscience of a Liberal p 199
    <block> The truly relevant comparison is between the Democratic majority now and the Democratic majority of 1993-94...By any measure the new majority, which doesn't depend on a wing of conservative Southern Democrats, is far more liberal.</block>

    So if you want to go ahead and dispute Krugman on this one, feel free.


    Ahh (none / 0) (#77)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:12:09 PM EST
    The DEMOCRATIC caucus.

    Now the GOP CAUCUS is much much more conservative.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#79)
    by dmfox on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:52:31 PM EST
    I was talking about the Democratic majority.  The point I was trying to make is that Obama can count on full support from his party once he's in, whereas Clinton had to appease the likes of John Breaux, Zell Meller, and conservative house Democrats, the likes of which do not exist with the exception of Joe Lieberman.  2008 points to be a good Democratic year for Congressional candidates and I think Obama is best suited to maximize possible gains in both houses.

    Reality (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:09:50 PM EST
    The bigger margin you have when you win, the easier time you will have getting your agenda enacted.  Most of the democrats are pretty similar.  The difference between them is that poll data, that you have shown, proves that Obamas Kumbaya "shtick" is effective at pulling in support of independents and even repubs.  meaning with the support of dems most indies and some repubs you can win a general with a huge margin.  So far he is the only one that makes a convincing case that he will have a big margin.

    The Edwards refute via kos and the "We" you refer to is that he appeals to them by attack Dems.  evidence of this is that he admits gore and Kerry lost, and says  crisis.  Actually this is a much better critique of the "we's" concearns.

    the Clinton refute is that the only reason people like him is because he hasn't been attacked like her. so as far as I'm concerned we can risk that they will make him not liked or go with her who we know isn't liked.

    This the best answer i can get to the royals we's concerns that are apparently impossible to express, or are supposed to be obvious or whatever.

    I think winning with 50 percent plus one means more gridlock and no results, as our 2006 gains in congress show us.  we need a president with lots of political clout, and i just don't see evidence that Clinton or Edwards will have it.

    Edwards idea that his populism and southern accent will attract southerners, has no basis in reality and Biden did a great job of refuting it. Here

    If someone actually believes Hillary will win with a large margin, we can discuss it in another post.

    thank you for a reasoned response (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:12:48 PM EST
    doesnt matter (1.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:04:23 PM EST
    This is an argument in hypotheticals assumptions and strawmen.  it is silly, we can have these same ridiculous scenarios, about how anger or working the system would work for any candidate, but we have a blogosphere dominated by Edwards lovers, who see Obama as the major threat so we are having useless discussions about how crisis is a republican talking point, or on how if you criticize Edwards you have criticized unions and therefore we get to this completely made up idea that Obama runs against democrats.

    It isn't worth arguing because it is a bunch of junk, floated by bloggers with a political agenda.  If Obama critisizes something, the i'll do anything Joe Trippi tell me to, bloggers will call it a symbol of progressives.

    Lets talk about an actual issue for once.

    Talex II (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:11:04 PM EST
    stop calling me names (1.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:35:02 PM EST
    i dont know who you are but you never have anything of substance to contribute, you always resort to attacking me PISS OFF

    Your complaining about (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:48:55 PM EST
    a lack of substance is very funny.

    strawmen (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:58:20 PM EST
    describes your comment.

    go read your post (1.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Jgarza on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:38:39 PM EST
    their isn't an actual argument in it. this crap about weare saying his style wont work, my guess being you and kos or who ever we is.  there is nothing to argue in your post you say nothing.
    Seriously try and outline what you wrote you can't.  I cant argue with his style wont work if you don't articulate what you think his style is, or what it wont work.

    Make a coherent argument and someone can refute it.  No one can respond to pointless rambling that concludes Obama is bad.


    Excuse me (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:49:06 PM EST
    you just came to the issue idiot - I have been writing about for YEARS now.

    Go educate yourself if you have no idea what the arguments are.

    I am heartily sick of your ignorance.

    go bother Jeralyn for a while.


    Getting a Dem in the WH (none / 0) (#1)
    by ontheground on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 08:23:48 PM EST
    is the biggest, most important change and if Obama's style can accomplish that, I'm all for it.  With more Dems in congress the rest is easy(ier).  I don't understand why Democrats should ape the Republican style partisanship or even attempt to.  i just don't think it is viable for Democrats.

    I think all 3 major Dems will win the GE (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 08:26:01 PM EST
    So the question is deeper than that imo.

    Narrative Is Important (none / 0) (#5)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:20:27 PM EST
    I think narrative is extremely important in building a political movement.  The conservatives have been masters at this.  All the things we take for granted now as talking points by the MSM hasn't always been their favored points - "Dems weak on National Security,"  "Tax and spend liberals", "social security crisis," and all the rest - are the result of nothing so much as 30 years of conservatives repeating those talking points and creating a narrative out of them.  The narrative that democrats are weak, cater  to their left wing while ignoring real America, are culturally more liberal than average Americans and can't be trusted to govern.  That narrative has helped the Republicans frame and win elections since Richard Nixon.  It hasn't been about any one politician, although obviously Reagan did the most to solidify most of these frames.  Still, they were frames that could be used by other, weaker politicians like the Bushes.  Even now, with the Republican party in tatters and a failed presidency, the media still uses these frames.

    That's why this matters because voters often don't vote based on who the candidates really are, but on how they perceive the candidates.  So most Bush voters didn't actually know what his policies were or how he would govern (there are studies showing that people voted for a very different person than Bush actually was).  

    Now, maybe Obama is doing the same thing as Bush, using some Republican frames to take the edge off, just as Bush hid his true nature by claiming to be a uniter and compassionate conservative.  But Democrats don't have that luxury because all of the current frames for Republicans are better than the ones for Democrats.   We don't need a Bush, someone who blurs themselves with the other side to get elected.  We need a Reagan, someone who creates and redefines our own frames.

    Frankly, I think Edwards is the closest to this person.  I'm not an Edwards supporter because I think you have to be able to win to change the framing, but he's the closest to doing it.  Clinton isn't as good, but she's decent.  She at least understands the importance of framing and how the Republicans use it against Democrats.

    Framing isn't everything, but it isn't nothing either.  Obama would probably be a decent president, but he's been an incredibly disappointing candidate.  Of all three leading candidates, he has the most political talent and the best opportunity to change the current political framing.  Instead, he's chosen to simply try to win within it, even to the point of adopting some of the Republican framing as his own.  

    ACitizen (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 09:57:30 PM EST
    deleted for language.

    No cursing please.

    Deleted? (none / 0) (#15)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:31:09 PM EST
    I never realized (or forgot) that this site has DKos-like TU privileges, since I can still see it.

    But thank you for making it not so for most.

    I am for forceful and harsh criticism, when warranted. And much that Obama has said and done of late warrants it IMO (even though--sigh, I know--I continue to be a mild supporter). But attacks of this sort are not warranted, I believe, for all sorts of reasons, most if not all of which are quite obvious.

    --ACultist. ;-)


    Look (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:52:45 PM EST
    I am heartily sick and tired of you folks.

    For your information, that comment, HARSHLY and UNFAIRLY ciritical of Obama btw, was deleted for violating the rule against profanity AS MY COMMENT CLEARLY INDICATES.

    Is ignorant nonsense now the order of the day at THIS SITE? In my threads?

    No, I will not tolerate it.

    You owe me an apology.  


    "you folks"? WTF? (none / 0) (#43)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:36:14 PM EST
    In case it went over your head, that last line was snark, referring to me, not ACitizen, but an obvious play on his/her pseudonym.

    Pre-caucus anxiety syndrome, perhaps?

    As for apologies, for what, may I ask? My comment thanked you for deleting a comment that was offensive on multiple levels, as you yourself indicate. I in no way meant or tried to mock you for doing this. My thanks was sincere. So I'm puzzled as to what I'm supposed to apologize for.

    I may not always agree with you but I generally respect your opinions, and of course your passion and dedication. But seriously, you have a tendency to overreact, and misinterpret or totally miss subtext (and my sense of humor), that I very rarely encounter elsewhere in the blogosphere.

    If you do not want to engage me and vice-versa just say so, and I will not respond to any of your comments or diaries in the future--and vice-versa.


    If it was snark (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:44:59 PM EST
    I missed it.

    My apologies.

    No jitters. Why would I have jitters?

    I am on record as thinking the choices between the top 3 are practically meaningless now.

    The one candidate who could have been grreat has saddled himself with a disatrous political style.

    One of them will win the Presidency.

    I frankly am not much interested in the result.

    I weill be opposing Obama's political style vehmently.


    Yes it was snark (none / 0) (#59)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:08:06 AM EST
    And not a conveniently after the fact snark (what Al Franken calls "kidding on the square", e.g. what Coulter does when she's said something typically heinous and wants to pretend that she was just joking), but actual, premeditated, genuine snark. A play on ACitizen's pseudonym and your calling me a cultist in the past (and I'm not sneeringly trying to get back at you for that, as I thought that it was kind of funny at the time). I even winked, IIRC.

    Anyway, I am also on record as saying that none of the three thrill me, and that my support for Obama, tepid as it is, is much more because I have even bigger problems with the other two than because I view Obama as heads and tails above them. I honestly have a hard time seeing myself caucus for him in WA next month (that's how we do it here, as the open primary is meaningless in picking delegates). But by then, it'll probably be moot. Or not.

    And my problem with him is less about "style" than with substance, namely his senate track record and really stupid statements and actions of late such as going after Krugman, misrepresenting social security, renouncing mandates, the whole homophobe incident, etc. But I honestly hope that the whole Slick Willy II schtick is just an act, or all surface, and that there's political substance beneath that surface. It was charming at first but now it's getting really old, really fast.

    Get ready to hear "Fired up? Ready to go?" a LOT from now on.


    There is one particular person (none / 0) (#61)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:15:03 AM EST
    at daily kos who keeps repeating the mantra. I have had only very unpleasant interactions with that person.

    I want a cave.


    Heh (none / 0) (#65)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:37:49 AM EST
    Not me, I assume, since this is the one and only time that I've used it, IIRC, and only as snark at that. But as I've written, I view most politicians as insincere (at least publically), and tend to write this all off as unavoidable playing to the masses nonsense. It's the substance that I look for. The fluff just bounces off.

    And I seriously doubt that you really want a cave, or else you wouldn't keep subjecting yourself to this.

    To quote Most Glorious Leader Bush, freedom is hard work! ;-)


    The person is otherwise toxic (none / 0) (#66)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:41:01 AM EST
    but the slogan reminds me of, ahem, that person. (avoiding gender pronouns intentionally. . .)

    I wouldn't know who you mean (none / 0) (#69)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 01:52:08 AM EST
    or need to know, as I tend to follow Hunter's advice to just stay away from food fights. Plus, having been in enough myself, I can do without the agita.

    Although I'm quite shocked to find that there are trolls at DKos. ;-)

    (None compare for sheer chutzpah and tenacity, though, with the ones at Greenwald's blog, in my experience.)


    ACitizen (none / 0) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:53:26 PM EST
    is a commenter, a harshly critical of Obama commenter.

    Um (none / 0) (#44)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:37:41 PM EST
    He/she and I have had some recent run-ins at TalkLeft, so I well know this.

    Again, I was snarking.


    Schtick or Sincere? (none / 0) (#11)
    by byteb on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:00:30 PM EST
    Schtick or Sincere? Well that is the question but not just for Obama, for all the candidates, especially the top three contenders: Obama, Edwards and Clinton. Afterall, we are talking about politicians and not an order of religious ascetics or Temple Virgins.
    Is Edward's new firey, take-no-prisoners message sincere or an attempt to win the nomination? I would suggest that perhaps it's a mixture of both, for afterall, only in Bushworld are complex questions answered by a simple yes or no. Will he effect change? If past is prologue his past Senate history would suggest no.
    Is Hillary's I'm a-tough-experienced-kind uberwoman sincere or an attempt to reach out to voters? I would opine both afterall, hasn't her Senate history been one of reaching out to the other side and voting in a less than progressive manner for both the Iran and Iraq matters. Effecting change? I would say no.
    Is Obama's reaching out to progressive independents and moderate Republicans to build a progressive coalition schtick or sincere? You k now what? I would hasten to guess it's a bit of both. And while I'm less than pleased with some of his remarks over the past week, I do think that by building a progressive majority of democrats, independents and disenfranchised moderate Republicans, he can effect progressive change.
    Finally, I find the scrupulous examination of Obama's progressive credentials while neglecting to exam other candidates with the same fury and distrust disingenous. When Gore and Kerry ran, the MSM did a great job of slicing and dicing them, with Obama we don't have to wait to see if he wins the nomination, the netroots elites are doing it for them.

    Obama Not Sincere (none / 0) (#12)
    by Cillalaw on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:18:18 PM EST
    I don't get sincerity from Obama. I only saw him twice, but I wasn't that impressed. His voting record bothers me. 130 present votes in the legislature and he missed 167 votes in the Senate in this year alone.  Gee he sure cares about leading.  He missed a lot of important votes, he did manage to support building a wall on the border and to vote yes on the last Suplemental funding for Iraq.

    Do you know how this compares to his peers (none / 0) (#18)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:35:11 PM EST
    in either legislative body and party? I read something recently that indicated that comparatively speaking he did not miss that many votes in IL. I'd argue that if anything, his "present" votes, last-minute votes and cloture votes are more troubling than his non-votes--and his lack of leadership in blocking bad bills and confirmations. But the same can be said of Hillary, and of Edwards when he was in the senate. So it's almost a wash on this issue.

    Alright, this is a serious question (none / 0) (#13)
    by brklyngrl on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:18:55 PM EST
    So I will try to give a serious answer. The Obama strategy, whether sincere or shtick or some combination thereof, argues that disengaged voters are the leverage point in the system, and that he can effect change by growing a movement that brings in disengaged voters who already support progressive policies.

    I'm not quite sure who 'we' is in this post, so I'm having some trouble identifying the alternate leverage point and strategy. Can you help me out here?

    Disengaged voters? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:31:07 PM EST
    Is that what we are calling Republicans these days?

    I am not sure who you mean by we. My we in the post was a group of us who have been critical of Obama's political style.


    I'm saying I'm not familiar (none / 0) (#21)
    by brklyngrl on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:40:50 PM EST
    enough with the group and the content of the ideas (I think there's potentially some substantial diversity of ideas in there) to critique the argument you're making without a brief refresher. I can't agree or disagree with it on the merits because I don't remember it that clearly. What's the leverage point?

    And no, disengaged voters are not necessarily Republicans - though I think there are a lot of disgruntled Republicans out there who might be brought on board with the right appeal. Disengaged voters are people who are tuned out from politics and either don't vote or don't pay much attention. Independents who are (or could be) sympathetic to progressive goals and Democratic non-voters.


    Start with this one (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:47:11 PM EST
    Thank you. (none / 0) (#39)
    by brklyngrl on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:32:21 PM EST
    I read that and followed the links back through Digby and Stoller. I agree with the take on the conservative movement presented there, certainly.

    It seems as if your major points regarding Obama (as presented there) are

    • politicians should have the courage of their convictions. I don't think anyone can disagree with that.

    • populist politicking worked for FDR, so Obama should try it too. To that I can only say - if it works as well as you expect, Obama shouldn't get the chance to try it because Edwards will win just fine.

    So the leverage point there is bringing in new Democratic voters via partisan populist rhetoric? Am I understanding that correctly?

    If the insurance companies (none / 0) (#16)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:32:05 PM EST
    get in his way he'll just push them aside very politely?  

    My biggest concern about Obama being elected is that by the time he's forced to acknowledge that nobody gets politely pushed aside in Washington he will have wasted the crucial first 12 months of his presidency when something could actually be accomplished.

    I thought he was faking (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:36:48 PM EST
    This "rebuttal" to the critiques convinces me he does not know any better.

    It will be a squandered Presidency.

    I know longer even tepidly support him.

    I am now uncommitted but vehemently opposed to Obama's political style.


    I don't know, (none / 0) (#34)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:20:23 PM EST
    since the sentences that he strings together in this rebuttal don't really make any sense if you listen closely (as someone below says, he's conflating two ideas), it's just as likely that he's faking it as that he doesn't know any better.  

    The words tend to show that he doesn't know any better but the context of them being spoken in the last hours before an election could show that he'll just say anything to go on record as having a rebuttal - even if it makes no sense.

    But someone who had to decide by tomorrow would be justified in deciding not to go with the risk that he's not faking it.


    Re the mythical undecided (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:24:39 PM EST
    caucus goer:  according to Dem. procedure, the undecides are grouped together; then representatives from the various decided groups can try to snag both undecideds and people decided for a different candidate.  Red rover,come over.

    Yes, that's how I remember it from when we had (none / 0) (#40)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:32:52 PM EST
    caucuses.  Actually, everyone chooses a group and one of the groups is "undecided".  It's not like the "undecideds" have to go stand in a corner together or anything while everyone else is together.

    So if you are caucusing for a candidate you are physically in a group of people who support that candidate.  Then after there is a count to determine who is viable or not, there is a period of time when the larger viable groups try to convince the unviables and the undecideds to join them.  If successful, the person physically walks over to the other group.


    And this is how I ended up at Clinton (none / 0) (#38)
    by BDB on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:29:08 PM EST
    I love Edwards political style and message, even if I don't agree with some of his policies (his trade position requires a time machine, IMO).  I think it's a shame that Obama has become the "change" candidate and sucked a lot of air and money out of Edwards' campaign.  I would've loved to see him and Clinton, the establishment candidate, go head to head.  It would've been good theatre and good for the party, with whoever emerging having better policies and politics behind them.

    Or I would've loved to see Obama as a transformational candidate, using his vast talents to make the arguments Edwards is making even if he did it in a less confrontational way.  He could've been our Reagan and changed the way policy arguments are framed.  Unfortunately, he's our George W. Bush, trying to blur what he is so the opposing side and independents vote for him (NOTE - this is about style, not substance, I'm not saying he would govern like George W. Bush).   He doesn't move the ball forward for the party or progressives.  He could have been a game changer, but he's chosen not to be.  I judge him harshly for this because he's squandering his talent and potential, IMO, and at a time when the country can least afford it.

    Clinton has the money (unlike Edwards) and the partisanship (unlike Obama).  She lacks Edwards' populist framing and Obama's innate political talent and so she's a compromise candidate.  But I think a decent one.  She'd be a work-hard, policy-wonk president with a strong partisan bias.  I worked for Clinton appointees in the last administration and they were mostly a qualified bunch trying to do the right thing.   They didn't always succeed and weren't perfect, but they tried to make the country a better, more progressive place.  

    So she will not change the game like Obama could, but I think she will move the ball down field and I'm not sure Obama would even do that.  I think of all the leading candidates she has the best chance of getting some sort of healthcare reform passed and that will be a huge benefit to the Democratic party and progressives.  

    And, although she's seen as the establishment figure, she's every bit as hated by the Village as Edwards is and, in many ways, her election will be seen as a repudiation of the media that has done so much damage to the country in the last twenty years.  I'd rather have the repudiation come through populist framing, but I'll take what I can get.  Better some repudiation than a candidate sucking up to the Broderists.  Added bonus - first woman president, expanding political participation while sticking it to the Christian right and Republicans who have sucked up to them by promising to limit women's rights for 30 years.  

    So that's why I'm a Clinton supporter.  She's not perfect, but she can win (I don't think Edwards can), she'll be a solid progressive president, and she understands the importance of political and party strength.  Maybe that's not a ringing endorsement, but I'm past the age of thinking any of these folks can walk on water.  They're politicians and none of them are going to be my perfect candidate and if they were, they couldn't win.  

    Clinton seems the best of the three to me (the rest are never going to be the nominee).  So much so, I'm headed to NH next week, which for a Southern Californian at this time of year is quite the sacrifice.  ;-)


    IAre you worried Clinton will (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:34:02 PM EST
    keep the U.S. in Iraq?  

    In a word (none / 0) (#45)
    by RalphB on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:39:11 PM EST
    No.  Why would anyone?  She's said a withdrawal would begin within 2 months and a brigade or two per month afterward.  Frankly, that's pretty reasonable.

    She previously supported (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:41:14 PM EST
    drawing down U.S. troops but placing U.S. forces in secure bases in Iraq.  I would be delighted to learn she no longer states this.  

    We're Done and Screwed in Iraq (none / 0) (#74)
    by BDB on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 11:46:06 AM EST
    I believe we're basically done with any major deployments in Iraq under the next president.  That said, I also think the next president is largely screwed on exactly how to get out.  If we leave and there's a huge wave of violence, the Dems are going to be blamed.  Moreover, we have untold numbers of American contractors over there, who need to either get out or get some kind of protection.

    So we cannot stay in any large number because the military and people won't allow it.   But getting out without making a bigger mess will be incredibly difficult.  Screwed.  

    This is why the Democrats do themselves a HUGE disservice by not putting more pressure on Bush to force him out.  Of course, the troop drawdown might begin before next year's election anyway to help Republicans. But you can bet that they are going to leave the hard part to the next president.


    Should've Added (none / 0) (#75)
    by BDB on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 11:51:36 AM EST
    One of the smarted political moves Clinton made was getting on the Armed Services Committee.  Her husband had a hostile relationship with the military brass and they killed him on the HIll.  By every account I've read, she has an excellent relationship with the military leaders.  I think they trust her to do right by them and that's going to make getting out much, much easier.  

    She's also right, IMO, that it can't happen instantly.  Withdrawal is very dangerous and will need to be planned and executed in a way that makes sense.  I want Iraq over as much as anyone, but I frankly think Richardson's idea that we can just immediately leave is naive.  We can't.  We have too many non-military personnel there (read contractors) and too many moving parts.  Ending wars takes time.  It doesn't have to be years and years, but time.  Again, another reason why the Dems in Congress are idiots for not pushing this Administration harder to begin the process.


    It seems (none / 0) (#41)
    by RalphB on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:33:08 PM EST
    to me that he really believes that his own marvelousness can just make it happen.  It looks to me like the same egomania that I've sensed in Bush.  None of the other democrats actually scare me, but Obama does because the messianic complex looks real.

    I fear you are right (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:41:58 PM EST
    Bush got his tax cut (none / 0) (#54)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:50:20 PM EST
    but the methods HE used lost him the Senate (Jeffords took off).

    Who will be Obama's Tom DeLay? Rahm Emanuel? I'm having trouble seeing this working.


    He's drunk on the crowd and vice versa. n/t (none / 0) (#70)
    by oldpro on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 02:08:03 AM EST
    I think you missed the point (none / 0) (#67)
    by dmfox on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 01:14:02 AM EST
    Obama was arguing that the purpose of his campaign style is to win big, and use his capital with independents to elect Democrats into Congress to pass legislation.  I had concerns about this, but he addressed all of them in the clip above.  I really think you're missing the point of what he said.  If you win 54% of the vote, and get big majorities in Congress by appealing to independents and disaffected Republicans, you can pass progressive legislation.  If you run a 51/49% campaign like Hillary or Edwards, you won't.

    I just don't get this critique.  BTD thinks because Obama is appealing to independents and disaffected Republicans that he is making himself impotent.  It's called coalition building.  The Democrats haven't done that since the New Deal.  It's about damn time.


    I think so too, but... (none / 0) (#71)
    by along on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 03:27:44 AM EST
    I also immediately heard that clip the way dmfox did.

    Obama does not argue his point well here. It is too elliptical, the logic doesn't flow properly.

    I may be misreading it, but here is what I think he is saying, with my estimation of it at the end:

    "If you know who you are, if you know what you stand for, if you know your principles that cannot be compromised..."

    that will resonate with the electorate, and

    "then suddenly there are going to be some Republicans and some independents, outside of Washington, who I believe are also frustrated with our government, have also lost trust that they are being listened to..."

    and these voters will join with Democrats in his movement and support him in November, giving him a victory significantly greater than 51%, creating an effective mandate for change. This electoral support, together with Dem gains in Congress, will establish a "Working Majority."

    As the leader of this working majority, he can then "afford to be polite. you can afford to be courteous. Because you've got the numbers," as in popular support for his programs, and "you've got the votes," meaning Congressional support for his programs.

    With all that at his back, he will be in a position to negotiate from strength on many issues. He can then be polite to his adversaries, and "you can sit across the table from people you don't agree with, you can reach across the aisle..." But if , say, "the insurance companies get in my way," i.e., they don't play ball, then he'll "just push them aside, very politely, and go ahead and do what's right for the American people..."


    It does make sense to me. It bypasses the rhetoric of "conciliation" and "negotiation," which I believe have mostly come from opponents, pundits, and other critics trying to define him, not from his own rhetoric.

    But the big problem is at the start: Obama hasn't yet declared unequivocally what he stands for, hasn't espoused his "principles that cannot be compromised." He has not, and apparently will not, run on a Progressive ideology. And he has so far not defined a new, coherent ideology, as opposed to simply an electoral strategy.

    He's running on style, charisma, and persuasion. And I'm not sure that will be enough to build what he envisions. I hope his vision matures enough in the next few months for him to understand this, and recenter his campaign on a strong commitment at least to Progressive policies, if not ideology.


    Am I the only person who (none / 0) (#53)
    by kovie on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:49:28 PM EST
    views his "politely" remark as pure snark, and a jab at people who criticize his apparent overpoliteness? Whether or not he'd actually do it is a different question, but I read this as his promising to do what Edwards basically promises to do, i.e. go after these companies, but only after an obligatory initial negotiating round to at least give them the due diligence benefit of the doubt and make it clear to all that they are not interested in meaningfully compromising in good faith, at which point the shoving can occur.

    My problem is with whether he'd actually follow through with the "shoving aside" after the initial kabuki opening round, not with the kabuki. Politics is all about kabuki on the surface (e.g. "My distinguished colleague from across the aisle [whom I obviously despise]", "Social Security is going bust"), and I tend to sort of ignore it as so much theater that masks the reality underneath. Although, I suppose that a lot of people really do buy into this nonsense, which is why I understand the complaints about how his "style" might undermine his supposed true intentions, even if I don't necessarily agree with this take on it.


    Even taking out the "politely" as snark (none / 0) (#56)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 11:58:03 PM EST
    I'd have the same criticism.  

    He's not saying the same thing as Edwards.  Edwards is very clear that you can't just push them aside, it will be a battle.  

    He's given me no evidence that he understands that the next Democratic President will be locked in battle with the conservative movement aided and abetted by interests, like the insurance industry, who don't want to see change.  If President he will have to eventually acknowledge the war with the conservative movement and adjust his tactics to it if he really wants to bring about change.  

    The first 12 months in any president's term are crucial.  If it takes him months to learn the lesson that Edwards (and Hillary) already know, he will have squandered what should be the most productive part of his Presidency.  


    But I interpret "shove aside" (none / 0) (#64)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:29:07 AM EST
    as Edwards-like confrontation, with all the bare-knuckle political fighting that it would entail, as opposed to naive sidestepping as if they didn't exist or have enormous power. I view him as using different words to say the same thing.

    The real issue to me is not what he means, but whether he has the stomach, desire and intention to actually fight them, and this isn't just a put on for the credulous masses (of which I would be one if this turned out to be the case). Or, perhaps, he's convinced himself that he means it, but will prove to lack the moral fortitude to see it through, a la Clinton. That's my biggest worry.

    Of course, he will not only be up against big corporations and their lobbyists if he tries to push through a progressive agenda, but other powerful entrenched special interests, including PACs, the military, big media, the GOP, and more than a few Dems--the latter perhaps his most intractable future adversary.

    The Emanuels and Hoyers of the party are unalterably opposed to a progressive agenda and will fight him or anyone else tooth and nail to prevent it in all but the most superficial way. No amount of snark will help him then.

    Still, I am not entirely convinced that he's either insincere, or is sincere, but lacking the skills and/or courage for such sincerity to mean anything. And since we may well end up with him at 1600, I'm just hoping for the best.

    How audacious of me. ;-)


    That's the beauty and the problem with (none / 0) (#73)
    by Maryb2004 on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 09:36:57 AM EST
    all Obama speeches.  People listen, people applaud wildly.  Then when they are over and people talk about what he said - everybody heard something different based on how they interpreted the words.

    Good for getting elected.

    Not so good for building a mandate.


    Heh (none / 0) (#58)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:01:29 AM EST
    He has no room for snark as he has not fought on any issue yet, politely or rudely.

    True enough (none / 0) (#62)
    by kovie on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:15:38 AM EST
    At least on the senate level. "Aw shucks" doesn't work unless and until you've actually proven that you've got teeth and know how to use them. Only then can you pretend to be nice and humble and play the dumb country lawyer routine, and everybody not only gets it, but is ok with it, and even finds it charming.

    LBJ pulled this off (as majority leader, not president), but he had to first earn it. We'll see what Obama does with it once he's really tested. He hasn't been, yet.


    Working Majority (none / 0) (#17)
    by JanL on Wed Jan 02, 2008 at 10:34:50 PM EST
    Whoever wins the Democratic nomination wins the election, imo, whether by squeaker or blow-out.  Frankly, we of the netroots/grassroots need to put pressure on the currently elected Democrats where we can in the next year to try to start un-doing the greatest of the Bush/Cheney snarls of foreign and domestic chaos.  My concern, as one of those liberal activist types, is going door-to-door in the summer and fall with a "loser" Congress to defend while asking for a vote for any of our presidential nominees...2 of whom are sitting senators who are going to have some hard votes upcoming very shortly. Even people here in fly-over country may wonder what the "there" is in Obama's (or Clinton's) policy proposals if they don't stand up/show up for these votes.  (Think FISA, NCLB, etc.) The Democrats currently in office will need to show they are willing to take steps to support our nominee - is that even possible?  

    On the other hand (none / 0) (#57)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:00:33 AM EST
    Obama may be slyer than all of us give him credit/blame for. This bipartisan naïveté of his may be nothing more than "whatever it takes to get in the door so that you can govern." Once he's in the Oval Office, then we'll see the true fire and steel - and Republicans gnashing their teeth recalling their glory days of endless filibusters as Congress enacts progressive bill after progressive bill due to the Dem supermajority the awesome Obama swept into power on his awesome Indie-attracting coattails.

    Ha ha, I know, dream on, dream on.

    That was my wishful theory (none / 0) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:12:53 AM EST
    Not much else to hold onto at this point (none / 0) (#63)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 12:28:00 AM EST
    But then I've been reading your tepid Obama support as crypto-Shrillaryism for a while now. Consciously or unconsciously so.

    I don't really see much difference between any of the front-runners. Not one of them is interested in addressing the central issue, the issue that's driving everything else bad that's happening. Glenn Greenwald laid it out very nicely today.