Obama PA Staffer: "[T]his campaign is about politics, not policies."

By Big Tent Democrat

Speaking for me only

ColumbiaDuck points out this quote from the Walter Shapiro article I wrote about earlier:

[Max] Lesko, speaking for the Obama campaign - "I don't want to sound like a broken record . . . but this campaign is about politics, not policies."

I think this is a gaffe, but it is also something more. Obviously the Clinton campaign can have (and probably will have) a field day with this comment. But the issue is deeper than a political "gotcha" to me. It is a fundamental problem I have had with Barack Obama the politician for three years - his post partisan unity schtick does not argue for a specific agenda of governance. Indeed, Obama has argued against a sharp ideological contrast between Democrats and Republicans. These are mere "labels" in the Obama philosophy. There is not real difference between the parties he often argues.

More . . .

This not what Obama believes imo. He believes that he can achieve a progressive agenda by playacting this Unity Schtick. This is the essence of the Mark Schmitt Theory of Obama Change. That this unity schtick is just an act and that Obama will not triangulate progressive values when governing. As I have written too many times to count, I believe this is bad politics (it lets Republicans off the hook for their disastrous ideology) and it can lead to bad governance - 1990s style triangulation. Others in the blogs who once believed as I did on this issue have seemingly changed their mind as they have fallen silent. To me, this is about Fighting Dems and the Politics of Contrast. It used to be a staple, a core value, of the progressive blogosphere. It appears the "creative class" really did not believe in the Politics of Contrast and Fighting Dems. I still do. And it is Obama's adoption of the DLC/High Broder/Lieberman/1990s triangulation politics that has always bothered me the most about Obama. It still does.

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    I Agree and take it a step further (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by Virginian on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:12:40 PM EST
    The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior...Obama has had and expects all things to be  handed to him by more powerful and influential people...

    How does THIS translate to a view/strategy of governance when you ARE the chief executive...

    It doesn't...and when coupled with the campaign trail rhetoric and gaffes...I think we're in for a presidency that is like a rudderless ship, taken by the currents...

    His message machine is great for manipulating the news on a campaign trail, but governance is much more than that...we may be in for a bumpy ride (in fact I think it is inevitable)

    It's these kinds of sentiments that I just can't (5.00 / 4) (#50)
    by MaxUS on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:26:52 PM EST
    seem to wrap my head around. I just don't get how it can happen.

    Virginian, in your post, you seem to have a healthy grasp of the issues. That you use the "rudderless ship" metaphor, in the current evironment, denotes a likely leaning toward Clinton.

    What I don't get is you write:

    His message machine is great for manipulating the news on a campaign trail

    This is the part that gets me. While I understand and agree that the media, particularly CNN and MSNBC have chosen to trumpet the Obama talking points uncritically, I don't see how anyone can attribute that to his message machine.

    As an example, Obama was able to equate Gerry Ferraro's statements with the vile spewing of the the Rev. Wright. The reason he was able to get away with that travesty is not because of his "message machine," it was because the Media and the so-called Progressive blogs acted in a way that we usually expect only from the Fox/Limbaugh noise machine.

    Big Media is not our friend, and I don't for an instant believe that the people who sold us the war and a second Bush term have seen the light of Barack Obama. The Obama noise machine will cease to function when Big Media gets behind the Republican in November. By alienating half of the Democratic electoriate, the Progressive blogger-boyz have marginalized their potential for countering what we know must be coming.

    Sniper fire? C'mon, that wasn't effective because of the Obama message machine. That got legs because of CNN/MSNBC's vendetta against anything Clinton, and it still didn't cut in to her huge solid base of support.

    IMO, the only reason that Hillary Clinton has not gone the way of John Edwards in this hostile Media environment is because of the effectiveness of her message machine. Her message machine was able to use the media's obsession with her against them. They were never able to ignore her like they did Edwards. Her ability to do this is why I support her as the strongest Democratic Candidate. Obama has yet to show that he can prevail against a hostile Media. Mostly, and through no fault of his own, because he hasn't had to.


    If I could edit my post I would add (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by MaxUS on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:43:37 PM EST
    (to make it more on topic) in reference to BTD's point about triangulation that the current Primary season has served a shined a light on the need for the First President Clinton's need to triangulate.

    The Democratic Party is fractured and even when they held a majority in both houses, the factions could not be counted on to work in concert like the Republicans have been able to do in forwarding the neoCon agenda.

    It's not the gaffe's, or the message machine or the triangulating that concern me. What concerns me is that what BTD quoted above:

    but this campaign is about politics, not policies

    may, indeed, be true.


    Sounds more like a reponse (none / 0) (#56)
    by Virginian on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:37:43 PM EST
    that you were looking to make, rather than a response to my opinion...

    You assume that Obama has not utilized the web and media willingness to parrot his talking points, and that all of this has just been unorganized and organic...I think you hold that position in error, and you give Obama to little credit for seeing a fertile environment and taking advantage of it.


    You are correct (none / 0) (#58)
    by MaxUS on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:56:13 PM EST
    I do give little credit to anyone who can recognize a fertile environment and taking advantage of it. I expect that to be a minimum requirement for any politician.

    If Bush can do it, it can't be all that hard (wink)

    As to your main opinion, regarding the "rudderless ship," I agree...and I thought I had said as much; if not, then, yes, I think that's an apt metaphor for the situation, and your reasoning in getting there seems sound and shows an insightful grasp of the circumstances.

    Actually, I don't assume that he hasn't utilized the web the media. My own point is that the tools that he is relying on to win the Primary will likely not be available in the General Election.


    I couldn't agree more... (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Maria Garcia on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:14:58 PM EST
    ...it's DLC/High Broder/Lieberman/1990s triangulation in a shiny new package. But another thing that disturbs me about the "it's about politics" notion is that this is no change at all. This is what the past 5 administrations have all been about, whether D or R. Some good things happened along the way (mostly under the Clinton administration) but the rest of the time was spent fighting wars of one kind or another...cultural, actual, and mostly political.

    Let's not forget that Daschle... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:57:49 PM EST
    ... was an early and influential Obama supporter.

    So, in their minds, the real problem with the Dems of 2000 and onward is that they were too partisan.


    Joe Lieberman (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by madamab on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:09:09 PM EST
    was Obama's mentor in the Senate.

    Explains a lot of his rhetoric, IMHO.


    Too Partisan? (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by facta non verba on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 05:35:05 PM EST
    How many times did the Democratic Party bend over and have their asses shoved up their asses (technically I am going for a pun of the Democratic Party symbol)? I've lost count how many times they failed to find their spine, especially those in the Senate.

    Tom Daschle was a mediocre US Senator and an awful Majority Leader in my opinion. But don't be surprised if he becomes the Attorney General or Chief of Staff in an Obama Administration.

    I do realize that you are saying in their minds, not yours, so are they really that clueless?

    Then again I can't argue with how many people want to believe in Obama the transformer, he who we have been waiting for all these years.


    classic problem of all politics and no policy (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by DandyTIger on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:15:42 PM EST
    that we see with the Bush administration. Perhaps it's not fair to assume this of someone who appears to be good at politics, but it is a worry. Obama does come across this way though not only with his triangulating but with his statements of how he's a delegator (when it comes to policy issues).

    I've been really looking forward to a major change from the last 7 years where the policy makers are in the offices near the white house and the politicians are further away as things used to be before Bush. I think we'll get that change with either McCain (but bad policy) and with Clinton (better policy), but not sure sure about Obama (flip a coin policy, but great politics).

    Oh No!!!, not another Delegator (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by BarnBabe on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:53:24 PM EST
    with his statements of how he's a delegator (when it comes to policy issues).
    I flinch as I think of GW saying that so much can be done from his ranch and that there is no reason to be in DC constantly compared with people saying Gore would be a hands on President. Too much delegating can get a POTUS in trouble. Look at Reagan. Look at GW. We are not voting for Delegators, we are voting for a leader who has full control of the reins.

    Past is Prologue (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 05:55:47 PM EST
    I don't share BTD's optimism about Obama's belief system.

    The Roberts incident tells the story.  

    In discussing the Roberts nomination Obama said that he hoped no one would reject one of his appointments because of ideology.  He wanted to vote to confirm Roberts because he was impressed by his intelligence.

    Personally I find this alarming.  If Obama taught Constitutional law he surely must realize that the Constitution is in many cases subject to interpretation and that interpretation in the hands of conservatives is all too often warped to satisfy a specific set of objectives.

    Still more alarming that he praised his senior Senate aide, who steered him away from a yes vote, saying that aide was able to "see around the corner" for the potential future political problems (for Obama)that such a vote could bring. Again political. Again Obama. No thought to the damage that a Mr. 'how can Exxon avoid liability for damages?' could wreak on the nation from the highest court.

    I don't believe that there's a shred of passion for any policy or issue beyond winning the nomination.  It's all about him.

    Here we have a freshman Senator who has not called a single meeting of his foreign relations sub-committee.

    His past reveals no evidence of a man willing to do battle to establish progressive policy.  And battle, partisan battle, is what it will take to establish progressive reform. Battling Republicans and Blue Dogs will require a foot stamping, go to the mat White House.


    Was it a gaffe? (5.00 / 7) (#4)
    by dianem on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:15:48 PM EST
    In context:

    "Not everyone at the house party was an Obama acolyte. Tom Russo, who is partly retired from teaching chemistry at Penn State, pointedly announced, "I'm an uncommitted Democrat who is looking for differences between the candidates, especially on abortion and gun control." Lesko, speaking for the Obama campaign, could not help him with his issues checklist. "I don't want to sound like a broken record," Lesko said, "but this campaign is about politics, not policies.""

    This sounds like Lesko meant what he said - he couldn't respond to the issues related questions from Russo because he wanted to focus on the political aspects of the campaign, not policy. This is consistent with the Obama campaign's position that people should vote for him not because he has the best policies, but because he is for "unity" and "change" and has a good character. They really aren't running on policies, they are running a straighforward political "vote for my guy because he's nicer" campaign.

    ouch, much worse, and you're probably right (n/t) (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by DandyTIger on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:18:17 PM EST
    Ouch. I thought the 'broken record' part (5.00 / 5) (#14)
    by nycstray on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:27:19 PM EST
    was interesting, but thought he may have just mixed up the placements of the politics/policy. Methinks any wiggle room I was giving the quote went {poof}

    And even if the campaign is about politics not policy, Lesko should have been able to answer the questions, imo. I know many of Obama's fans that I've run across can't speak to his policy, but shouldn't Lesko be able to?


    How can his advisors or staff speak about his (5.00 / 5) (#18)
    by MMW on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:32:58 PM EST
    policies, when he cannot?

    I know his advisors are supposed to be Progressive Know Everythings, but they are displaying irresponsible levels of incompetence. It's like all they want is to win, they got nothing else.


    And not so progressive at that (none / 0) (#72)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 05:59:52 PM EST
    Obama's Milton Friedman Memorial Economics team is hardly stocked with progressive know everythings.

    That crowd would feel at home working for Bush.


    I agree with your (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ruffian on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:56:43 PM EST
    assessment of the context.  I don't think this was a gaffe.

    Wholeheartedly agree with you, BTD (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:17:36 PM EST
    And it's hard to get past the fact that each of Obama's supporters has to have a Theory of Obama, since he's not telling what his intentions actually are.

    Transparency in government, hah!

    And it does strike me that Obama's refusal/inability to deal with either Rezko or Wright all these years is a possible indicator of his instinct for going along to get along.

    And how far are Obama's defense of his relations with Wright and Rezko from Bush's claims to be able to "see into Putin's soul" anyway?

    Might as well vote (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by bjorn on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:18:48 PM EST
    for RALPH NADER if there is no difference between the two parties, as Ralph has been saying his whole life.  

    I agree that it is wrong to use the "unity schtick" or any "act" to get elected and then do whatever you want - progressive or conservative.  That is what George Bush did!  

    Obama needs to stand for something and win voters that way.  This is why he has not won the working class vote.  They don't like his "schtick" whereas the  the media and elites seem to love it, can't get enough of it.  Agree with Clinton or not, she is running a better "policy" and "issues" campaign than Obama.  He however, seems to be running a better "tactical" campaign with his 50 (oops 48)-state and mostly red-state caucus emphasis.

    Interesting.... (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by Maria Garcia on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:28:29 PM EST
    ..because it seems like in this primary election cycle the "low information" voters are actually the ones craving more information. The "high information" voters, in contrast, apply their own preferred information to the unity schtick.

    Which brings to mind MMW's comment (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:45:37 PM EST
    above -- how smart are such voters, really, if they  don't know enough to know that they don't know enough?  But combine that with a tendency I have seen in some, a tendency to arrogance that they know more than me or others who are just as involved in seeking information . . . the result, when more is known, will be disaster.

    Of couse (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 06:06:15 PM EST
    the media and elites love it.

    As soon as Democrats get control of Congress the first thing we hear from these people is: you must be bi-partisan.

    Interesting that in a year when Democrats are poised to gain seats in both Houses that candidate Obama says now's the time for unity.

    To make any headway on progressive policy will require the use of those majorities. Compromising with Republicans will blow the whole deal.


    This may be wishful thinking (none / 0) (#79)
    by hairspray on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 11:11:02 PM EST
    but after hearing jackie Speier speaking upon her swearing yesterday in I am hoping  she will be the catalyst to wake the slumbering Dems up.

    Sometimes a horse is just a horse. (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by BarnBabe on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:20:15 PM EST
    This is not what Obama believes imo. He believes that he can achieve a progressive agenda by playacting this Untiy Schtick
    Maybe it is what you really really want to believe but there are some bells going off in your head that are saying something is not calculating right. As far as achieving a progressive agenda by playacting, maybe he really is more centralist and playacting at being more progressive. Maybe Progressives only see what they want to see and believe. That is the problem here. You really do not know what is his real agenda. He thought Roberts was just fine until he was told that was not the way to go.

    if he were from GA, he'd be a republican (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by DandyTIger on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:23:26 PM EST
    I'm not kidding, that's what I think. I think he's a politician. If he landed in GA instead of IL, I think he would be where he is today, but just as a republican because that's what it would have taken to get there. Wow, that's cynical.

    Playacting (5.00 / 8) (#17)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:30:02 PM EST
    If he is playacting, he's certainly not going to fool the Republicans in Congress.  They're not going to accept a 90% progressive agenda from someone who campaigned on a 51% progressive agenda - they'll start the negotiations at 51.  (And I doubt they'll be more eager to partner with him because, gosh, he's so nice and all the college kids support him.  Why would they want to help his legacy?)

    Obama's broderism was the first thing that set off my alarm bells and it still does.  It's either shockingly naive to think the Republicans care about "getting things done" or unbelievably bad for the Democrats to sell out our ideas to win favor with the Washington Post.  

    (Psyched to get a shout out though!  :))


    There's nothing to figure out (5.00 / 2) (#60)
    by mm on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 02:16:01 PM EST
    I remember occasions early in the campaign when Obama would say something kind of strange like Senator Clinton is not being straight with the American people about the "social security crisis".  All these supposedly progesssive blogs would scramble around for a few minutes trying to figure out what he meant by that.  And then they would sweep it under the carpet and never mention it again.

    And I kept saying to myself, there's nothing to figure out.  This is who he is.


    There are too many similar statements (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by madamab on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:22:46 PM EST
    for this to be a gaffe or unrepresentative of Obama's core beliefs IMHO.

    Obama's supporters' standard response to Hillary's claims of executive experience is "Well, I'm running a better campaign. That means I can run the government better." He is entirely focused on campaigning and not at all on governing.

    As we know from many bitter years under government-hating Republicans, campaigning and governing are two entirely different skills. I truly do fear Obama's competence in governance, since he has so little experience to back up his claims.

    He had a better campaign manager (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by BarnBabe on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:58:40 PM EST
    "Well, I'm running a better campaign. That means I can run the government better."
    No, his campaign manager is running a better campaign. Is his campaign manager going to run the government too?

    Think "Wizard of Oz." (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Susie from Philly on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 02:24:56 PM EST
    In point of fact, it is Tom Daschle who put together most of Obama's campaign team and is very involved behind the scenes - so much so, many Obama people believe Daschle would be his pick for VP.

    The list of GWB similarities grow by the day...


    Many HRC supporters (none / 0) (#44)
    by rilkefan on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:17:05 PM EST
    have been very unhappy with the people running things at the top.  The recent reorgs have been applauded.  I think it does speak a bit to HRC's executive skills that she wasn't more active there.

    I agree that she should have been more active (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by madamab on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:21:10 PM EST
    since I don't think Mark Penn was a good choice at all. (Okay, he's a slimebucket.)

    However, I think that Axelrod is also a slimebucket. And so is Plouffe. And I don't think Obama's campaign is that great - he's made tons of mistakes that are not being covered at all by the media. Were they not deliberately pushing him down our throats, his campaign would seem a lot less competent.

    So I really don't think Obama has much to say with that comparison, since I don't think it's true.


    Rove did (none / 0) (#74)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 06:24:33 PM EST
    I can't help laughing about the 'better campaign' 'better president' schtick.

    Bush didn't run his great campaign in 2000 and neither did Reagan in 1980.

    Among the more laughable claims we've heard and those 'creative class' genuises have rolled this one out like it's a brilliant debate ending coup.


    what part of (5.00 / 11) (#11)
    by Turkana on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:23:00 PM EST
    "change you can believe in" don't you understand? i mean, besides the "change" part. and the "believe in" part.

    It's the "you can" part (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by echinopsia on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 03:48:41 PM EST
    As an Obama supporter told me today, "Hillary promises to do things for us. Obama promises us an opportunity to do them for ourselves."

    And "we" can fix Iraq, the economy, health care, foreign relations, taxes, corporate welfare - how? Without policy from the president, just "an opportunity"?


    That hurricane (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 06:28:13 PM EST
    blow away your community.  'An opportunity to do it yourself.'

    Do these people know they sound like Bush.  


    I've never had much use for (5.00 / 6) (#13)
    by Edgar08 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:24:49 PM EST
    Overton window paradigm shifting and all the heated rhetoric that surrounds that discussion.

    But if that is what one cares about, the dirty little secret is that Sen. Hillary Clinton is better than Obama on that issue.

    It can't be said enough, if two years ago you told me progressive bloggers would be supporting the incremental health care plan (no mandates) over the one that pushes the overton window on what should be thought of as acceptable and mainstream (mandates), I'd have.... well.... You know what, I would have actually agreed with you -- or said it won't surprise me -- because I always knew blogging was a self-serving enterprise commercializing embittered activism.

    Can Clinton jump on that gaffe and make hay?  I don't think it matters.

    Edgar (none / 0) (#48)
    by oldpro on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:22:34 PM EST
    yyou are seriously depressing me.  

    I think you've hit the nail on the head with "...I always knew blogging was a self-seving enterprise commercializing embittered activism."




    A real suspicion (none / 0) (#53)
    by Edgar08 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:33:55 PM EST
    Another blogging pitfall.  Exaggeration.

    Oh... (none / 0) (#68)
    by oldpro on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 04:56:56 PM EST
    (relieved sigh....)

    well, then...


    I agree, but think it dangerous that some are so (5.00 / 5) (#15)
    by MMW on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:28:26 PM EST
    assured that he will have any political capital to utilize or that his policies will be progressive or even good. A leader must know the direction in which he wants to move. Obama appears to believe his own press right now, that he's the greatest thing since Jesus Christ.

    I don't think he knows enough to know that he doesn't know enough.

    But O's "politics" stink (5.00 / 5) (#19)
    by davnee on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:37:41 PM EST
    There are two reasons to hate the unity pony the man is riding into the ground:

    1) If you take it seriously, it sells out progressive values.  Triangulate away.
    2) If you recognize it as a bs cover for O's true agenda, that isn't even remotely bipartisan or centrist in nature, does it make you feel at all good about yourself as a progressive that you are afraid to campaign on your own beliefs and fight for them openly?

    On 1, I'm less put off by Clintonian style triangulation that says we can't always get what we most want, because the reality of politics is compromise and it is better to move forward with half a loaf, and yes perhaps having learned something, or gotten something of value from the other side to better our policies along the way, than it is to accept no loaf at all.  I prefer that to the unity schtick which suggests that compromise and triangulation is the ultimate virtue in itself rather than simply an acceptable means to an end.

    On 2, I see visions of GWB dancing in my head when I see Obama in action.  Bush ran under the hope and change cover story of compassionate conservatism and all the R's winked and nodded that it was just a ruse to get in office and then when there you steamroll 'em with your true partisan agenda.  Only a lot of those winking and nodding R's had to take on faith that Bush was their kind of conservative.  There was no long record, no certainty to draw conclusions from.  Don't you think a lot of fiscal conservatives, libertarian leaners and other good R's wish they knew now what they were really winking at then?  Pardon me if I'm skeptical about what the Washington rookie with no record, who talks out of both sides of his mouth, Mr. Obama, really considers progressive.

    I don't believe (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 06:38:44 PM EST
    that Clinton would need all that much triangulation or have to settle for half a loaf.

    The circumstances are different than they were in 1993.

    Hillary would be taking office during a period of progressive ascendancy with the public clearly favoring progressive policy.

    In '93 Conservatives were still in a position to exploit public suspicion of liberals, enough to kill universal health care and then win Congress.

    Now Conservatives are on the run.

    And Obama wants to let them back in the game.  

    Big of him isn't it?


    agree on Obama (5.00 / 5) (#20)
    by Truth Partisan on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:43:42 PM EST
    BTD wrote:
    It appears the "creative class" really did not believe in the Politics of Contrast and Fighting Dems. I still do. And it is Obama's adoption of the DLC/High Broder/Lieberman/1990s triangulation politics that has always bothered me the most about Obama.

    I completely agree! Besides the MI/FL vote thing, what you have said (again) here is my problem with him. Yesterday, a relative who has been an active, fighting Dem for years, said to me that his hope of us retaining--and regaining--a decent society was based on Obama getting elected.

    No projection there.

    And he didn't mention any New Deal style plans. Does the creative class think Obama can just wing it? But Obama's already said he doesn't want to go all old hippie love-in and wants to go back to the foreign policy ideas of Reagan and Bush I--and that people must accept responsibility for the change themselves (in GOP code, this means, I ain't helping.)

    Many of the blind-Obama bloggers cannot see that Obama is doing the DLC triangulation they objected to and were going to fight against--and that it's Clinton who is going right for fixing the problems. It's much too bad because we need those voices to make Obama better.

    Examples... (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by OrangeFur on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:47:54 PM EST
    Whether it's

    • Health policy adviser David Cutler saying that Obama is open to mandates while he sends out flyers opposing them...

    • Austan Goolsbee telling the Canadians that Obama doesn't mean what he says about NAFTA...

    • Samantha Power saying that "of course" Obama isn't going to rely on his current Iraq position once he becomes president...

    • Obama's penchant for taking every position that Hillary Clinton does, a few days later...

    it's clear that policy isn't something the Obama campaign really cares all that much about.

    Hot Button (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Stellaaa on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:49:07 PM EST
    This to me is the hot button strategy mistake.  The left "thinkers", elites and bloggers, have bought the whole Lakoffian framing gibberish.  What Lakoff has done is basically describe the Republican methods:  say nothing;do what you want; just win at any cost, then tomorrow is another day.  He has convinced the "politicos" that is all we need to do to win.  Copy the RNC.  

     What did that get the RNC?  A weak coalition  that is coming apart and the worst president ever.  

    So, being wrong, the left intellectuals miss read the American people one more time.  Americans were ready for policies.  They were ready to change from the Republican way of doing things.  It is time for the Democratic  issues and agenda, but all we have is going back to the RNC playbook: Heroes vs. Cowards etc.  Dueling life stories.  

    I am truly pissed cause I wanted to see Edwards pushing the edges of the left and Hillary on the more right, we would have gotten a true liberal/Democratic platform.  Now we are awash in nothing.  

    People are uncovering the Obama mystique is nothing but politics.  People wanted change from that kind of politics, they are not idiots.  

    Obama delivered the election to the Republicans.  

    Lakof is a fool (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:06:15 PM EST
    who has made a living out of saying absolutely nothing. He is a joke imo.

    Do you not agree (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Stellaaa on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:15:24 PM EST
    that many of the "creative class" have bought this notion of "framing" which I think of as how to confuse and delude the voter.  

    Lakoff is instrumental (none / 0) (#55)
    by Edgar08 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:37:17 PM EST
    In deconstructing Republican nonsense.

    He becomes a fool when he advises Democrats to behave just like Republicans in this regard.

    I have no desire to Willy Loman-ize the positions I have, and how I express them.

    I hear Obama is well liked in .....


    Ah, the Phonebooth Theory! (5.00 / 9) (#31)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:55:41 PM EST
    That is the theory that Obama, after getting the nomination with a small margin of Republican voters, then triangulating his way to victory in November, then disappears into a phonebooth, loses the Clark Kent glasses, and re-appears, garbed in a progressive unitard!

    I don't believe it for a minute, never mind that the Boiz and the OFB have irretrievable contaminated the  "progressive" brand with truly vile misogyny (I'll stay a "liberal," thanks very much.) Why would I believe it?

    Leaders lead, as Atrios is found of saying, and if Obama wanted to lead, instead of being a meta-leader, he could have done so on at least three occasions:

    1. Filibustered FISA

    2. Fixed his health care plan

    3. Not dropped the "national conversation about race" like a hot potato after the Wright controversy died down.

    Oh, and:

    4. Held hearings on Iraq on the Senate.

    So, with Obama, what we don't see is what we're not going to get.

    Give me some boring bullet points on policy, please!

    Always has been about the politics (5.00 / 4) (#46)
    by ruffian on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:18:37 PM EST
    Obama has always said that his main differences with Clinton were about 'old style politics' vs his new politics by concensus. He says he can achieve progressive policies via concensus rather than confrontation.

    I have problems believing this because I can't hold all of these conflicting thoughts in my head:

    1. He expects and depends on a huge electoral mandate to give him a tail wind in consensus-building.

    2. He is trying to build that mandate by selling himself rather than the policies. How can he then claim a mandate for the policies?

    3. His policies are less progressive than many of those of his opponents in the primaries anyway.  If he tries to claim a mandate, it will be for less progressive policies.

    4. His nomination depends on support from Republicans and Independents who want unity, not progressive policies.

    5. He's not going to get a huge mandate anyway, because the Republicans nominated a darling of the Independents themselves.

    I could go on...I just don't see how this gets tied up in a nice progressive package when all is said and done.

    Obama can organize (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Josey on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:22:46 PM EST
    and attract large crowds buying into his "hope and change."  Not much different from Tony Robbins and other motivational speakers who lack the red carpet media treatment Obama has received.

    Big crowds and more Dem voters are the basis for most SDs endorsing Obama - not his policies.

    I keep thinking about the "Music Man"...

    It's amazing how quickly we forget (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by madamab on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:27:33 PM EST
    that Oprah got the butts in the seats at first. She gave him a really big head start in that area.

    Oprah helped Arnold Schwarzenegger (none / 0) (#80)
    by hairspray on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 11:24:19 PM EST
    get elected in CA.  She had him and his wife on her show and was showcasing him like crazy.  He is a moderate Republican, but still a REPUBLICAN at the end of the day.  We are still in a mess here in CA and he promised "fix it all"  What hogwash.

    You think (none / 0) (#77)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 07:00:55 PM EST
    Obama does the organizing?


    Candidates at that level don't do detail organizing.


    Obama the insider (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by pluege on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 03:30:25 PM EST
    This not what Obama believes imo. He believes that he can achieve a progressive agenda by playacting this Unity Schtick.

    this is dangerous. Politics is best served by WYSIWYG (what You See Is What You Get). Too many people felt for 'bush doesn't really mean that' crap. Well yea, he really did mean all the insidious  stuff he said he was going to do. Just like Obama, if elected, is an insider that will govern as an insider.

    Obama believes _________ (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by ricosuave on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 09:04:43 PM EST
    I am a big BTD fan, but I have to take him to task for this comment:

    This not what Obama believes imo. He believes that he can achieve a progressive agenda by playacting this Unity Schtick.

    To me, this highlights the most annoying aspect of many Obama supporters: the fill-in-the-blank for Obama's beliefs.  He supplies everyone with enough ammunition to support whatever belief they want to see in him through his (often contradictory) speeches, but if we judge him on his actions he cannot be seen as having a history of pushing progressive policies. When given the opportunity he has chosen a path of triangulation and compromise that ends up getting nothing done.  That's the unity schtick.

    Universal health care in Illinois is an excellent example of this, where instead of championing the progressive cause, he bargained with the health care lobbyists and sent it to death by committee.  His ethics reform is another, where he frittered away any chance of progress while trying to compromise with McCain (getting rolled in the process).

    Let's judge Obama for what he actually is and has done, and not for what we think we might like him to be.

    P.S. Kudos to BTD for using (and spelling) a Yiddish word correctly!  So rare these days.

    It used to be a stale (none / 0) (#9)
    by rilkefan on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:20:30 PM EST

    "Triangulation" is associated first with WJC, so the politics of this argument is hard to parse.  The Rs were ascendant in the early 90s, of course, so it was arguably about policy at the time (or the politics of getting policy enacted)...

    Have you commented on this - the "Obama aligns FP w/GOP"-headlined AP article?

    The FP stuff is mind-boggling (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by davnee on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:02:24 PM EST
    Only because it's the lefty anti-war types that have drunk the strongest kool-aid.  Does the rubber ever meet the road for these people in their thinking about Obama, or is the passion for punishing Clinton over her war vote that great?

    I think (none / 0) (#59)
    by oldpro on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 02:10:05 PM EST
    it's a kind of desperation to 'believe'...in...someone/something/someway/somehow...

    It's a brilliant choice for a slogan for Obama and you see it everywhere "__ You Can Believe In"  Makes me want to scream...or throw up.


    Yup.  GWB all over again.  Same phenomenon.

    Loved the movie but hate the reality.  Maybe it's time to remake Elmer Gantry with an AA cast.


    Is HRC clearly better on contrast politics? (none / 0) (#25)
    by rilkefan on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:49:25 PM EST
    I tend to think so, given her coining of "VRWC", but  she has made a point of the importance of working with the other side and the (rest of the) liberal sphere argues she's in with the DNC etc.

    Not really (none / 0) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:05:35 PM EST
    She is not my candidate.

    I am trying to see if WE, the blogs, might regain our souls.


    perhaps it's time (none / 0) (#66)
    by DandyTIger on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 03:35:53 PM EST
    for a blogger 12 step program. Hello, I'm <insert name here>, and I'm a progressive blogger that took on the hate behaviors of republicans and helped crippled the democrats. I couldn't help myself. I'm addicted to hate and bullying and being nasty. I would like to become a human again though. And with your help, I can. Snark.

    Working with the other side must include (none / 0) (#42)
    by 1jpb on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:13:28 PM EST
    the time when she was pushing an unconstitutional flag burning ban.  Don't misunderstand; I'm against flag burning, but I'm more against political posturing (while sitting on the Senate sidelines waiting for a presidential run) at the expense of the constitution.

    Of course this legislation never had a chance, which further emphasizes how this was a case of political pandering designed to give the impression of bipartisanship without actually accomplishing anything.


    Heh (none / 0) (#45)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:18:37 PM EST
    You mean unconstitutional in your mind, right, as distinct from unconstitutional as defined by the courts?  Because there's little doubt that that legislation would have been upheld.

    As Michael Kinsley Said (none / 0) (#26)
    by BDB on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:51:30 PM EST
    A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.

    I find it odd (none / 0) (#34)
    by flyerhawk on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 12:58:05 PM EST
    that you choose to completely change the context of the quote from a comparison between 2 Democrats to a comparison between the Democrats and the Republicans.

    His point is 100% true whether it is politically smart to say so or not.  People are not voting for Hillary or Obama based on their policies, at least when compared against each other.  Their policy positions are too similar to make any meaningful distinctions.

    Um (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:04:25 PM EST
    what? I have no idea what you are trying to say in that comment.

    I am voting for HRC (none / 0) (#38)
    by madamab on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01:05:07 PM EST
    because she has better policies. I will also vote for Obama if he wins the nomination, because he has better policies than John McCain.

    If you vote on politics, fine. Just don't tar us all with the same brush.


    I think nuclear power is another (none / 0) (#81)
    by hairspray on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 11:28:23 PM EST
    area they differ on as well.

    I think a number of blogs who support Obama (none / 0) (#62)
    by RickTaylor on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 02:39:18 PM EST
    are uncomfortable with his unity talk and his penchant for distancing himself from left wing groups and conflict. Even some who support him have taken to calling him MUP, for Magical Unity Pony.

    Skex wrote a post at daily kos I found enlightening. He argued that "People don't make decisions based on facts and logic they make them based on emotions," and that Obama is using this to bring in people who wouldn't normally consider themselves conservative, but actually do have liberal values.

    I find it interesting. I'm the sort that likes policy wonks and politicians who stick to what's right and don't triangulate, but I've noticed I haven't ended up backing many winners as a result. For all we value reasoning and being able to argue policy details, a President also has to be able to lead and inspire; that will be especially difficult given the times that are coming.

    Anyway, judging by his record (which in the end is all you can trust), Obama and Hillary Clinton are very close, and where they differ (talking to Cuba for example) I tend to favor Obama. So I'm not worried about his politics, or that he'll turn out to be a right winger in disguise somehow.

    Not sure what your point is (none / 0) (#64)
    by Korha on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 02:53:07 PM EST
    Clinton is no better, surely. Probably worse.

    Unity Whaaa??? (none / 0) (#69)
    by pluege on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 05:34:49 PM EST
    I am yet to understand who is clamoring for unity between democrats and republicans. republicans most certainly are not (they're laughing like hell that anyone would be stupid enough to do such a thing given all the advantages Democrats have.) And after all the abuse of democrats at the hands of republicans and Corporate Media the last 28 years I can't fathom why Democrats would. About the only group I can think in favor of unity could be bush dogs (because they're really republicans in Democratic districts).

    In theory I suppose independents might think about unity, but 81% of Americans think the country is on a very wrong track, and we've been on a distinctively republican track for at least 8 years if not 28.

    So where is the constituency for unity?

    Obama's "unity" schtick is merely a tactic to beat Hillary Clinton - and it has done well dragging republicans into democratic primaries. It will be a colossal failure in the general election.

    I am all for the politics of clarity - give the voters an unmistakable choice. Sure many won't think that they like a strong progressive agenda because GOP propaganda corporate media will lie and smear it to death...but so what? The choice will remain unmistakable: endless war, national bankruptcy, lowered living standards, international derision and disgrace under mccain, or god forbid liberal politics of community, financial security, healthcare security, equality, and opportunity. Let the people decide.

    But as for Obama - Clinton unity,...now that's a completely different story.

    I don't think it is a "gaffe" as (none / 0) (#82)
    by hairspray on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 11:32:50 PM EST
    much as a window into what Obama is all about. The gaffe shined a light on what is important to Obama and really isn't about a foolish mistake in telling a story as in strategy.