A World Where Nuance Matters

Sally Quinn would like to live in a simple, binary world where the choices between good and evil or right and wrong are easy to make. That's John McCain's world. Unfortunately, she lives in the real world, where nuance matters. That's also Barack Obama's world.

That kind of nuance is hard to understand sometimes -- it's unclear, complicated. Obama's world can be scarier. It's multicultural. It's realistic (yes, there is evil on the streets of this country as well as in other places, and a lot of evil has been perpetrated in the name of good). It's honest.

McCain's message is easier to convey. Binary messages always are. Is there a lesson in that for Obama? [more ...]

If so, it's important that Obama not learn the wrong lesson.

Afterward, the commentators talked abut how Obama needs to have better stories, to be more accessible and less aloof, and to have sharper, shorter, simpler answers rather than be so cerebral. But Obama is authentic. He is who he is. To try to change would be a mistake. Al Gore's handlers decided he was too stiff and tried to loosen him up. What they did was rob him of his authenticity instead.

Maybe Obama could work on eliminating verbalized pauses, could memorize a few snappy sound bites, but trying to become John McCain, trying to convince voters that there are simplistic, pain-free solutions to the nation's problems, is the worst choice Obama could make. A president who understands nuance would be a welcome change after eight years of George Bush, and not one we'll see if McCain is elected.

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    Finally... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Nevart on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:27:42 PM EST
    ...someone with something nice to say about Obama.  I for one wouldn't mind having a president who thinks and doesn't talk in soundbites.  Too bad he's such a weak candidate, you know, only leading by a few points in reliably Democratic states like Alaska, Colorado, Virginia...

    FYI (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by kredwyn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:34:51 PM EST
    at this point in time during 2004, IIRC Kerry was leading in CO...and that CO would fall into the Dem column Nov. 2.

    I'm not believing that spin again.


    Nevart....I'm not sure who you mean (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by DFLer on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:11:07 PM EST
    by "someone" as in
    finally someone with something nice to say about Obama.

    someone, as in Sally Quinn? or someone as in TChris?


    Really? (none / 0) (#69)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:13:57 PM EST
    ...watching obama kiss his fanny goodbye... (none / 0) (#127)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:44:40 PM EST
    Maybe it's not about nuance (5.00 / 7) (#2)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:27:52 PM EST
    What would help him is if he could show that he appeared to give a da** about regular people.  Having the rah-rah rallies was nice, but voters aren't going to be enthusiastic about a large group of 18 year college students and (like it or not) professorial-types who drive their foreign cars and drink expensive coffee from Starbucks.  "Regular" people want someone who seems to understand where they are coming from.  Obama has had too many mistakes - the "bitter" and "clinging" comments, the expensive hams and lettuce he wanted to buy, the Caribbean and Hawaii vacations, Michelle's comments (all of them), the $10,000 for the girls' dance and piano lessons, etc.

    Try telling someone in middle America who is trying to hold down 2 jobs just to pay the bills that Obama "feels their pain".

    As opposed to John McCain? (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:34:27 PM EST
    The man who dumped a disabled wife for a wealthy one, who lives in multiple houses, wears $520 loafers, flies in his wife's corporate jet ... yeah, he's just a regular guy.

    I didn't say that (5.00 / 6) (#12)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:36:22 PM EST
    But McCain presents himself to people as someone who understands their troubles.  Obama is just aloof and a snob. (And Obama has never been poor either, and is also a multi-millionaire, so that argument doesn't really jibe).

    Doesn't matter if you said it. (5.00 / 7) (#43)
    by Lysis on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:57:28 PM EST
    The official response to all criticism of Obama is: "John McCain is worse."  We have no right to criticize him for the furthest lowering of the bar of any Democratic candidate in decades, because "John McCain is worse."

    In other words, shut up, all you folks under the bus, or I'm riding over some speed bumps!


    That's Sad (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:36:06 PM EST
    TChris counters a perception of Obama elitism with a credible response about McCain's affluence and his own privileged lifestyle and you interpret it to mean "Shut up."

    It is not credible to bring up the first wife (5.00 / 4) (#131)
    by angie on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:46:27 PM EST
    TChris presumes to know what went on in that marriage 20 years ago.  This presumption has nothing to do with McCain "being rich" (which, btw, for the millionth time doesn't mean he is an "elitist").  All it is is  muckracking -- people need to stay out of other people's marriages.  

    Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#152)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:08:44 PM EST
    Not interested in revisiting first marriage either.

    I was referring more to the bulk of his comment after those three words:

    "...wealthy one, who lives in multiple houses, wears $520 loafers, flies in his wife's corporate jet ... yeah, he's just a regular guy."


    But (none / 0) (#157)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:15:59 PM EST
    it is definitely not a $400 haircut.

    Yes.... (5.00 / 2) (#166)
    by tlkextra on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:21:38 PM EST
    Elitism is a state of mind - not a bank account

    I am a little baffled (5.00 / 4) (#116)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:37:59 PM EST
    at how some of you can suggest that McCain comes across as someone who feels their pain.

    Say what you like about Obama, obviously his schtick works for some people and doesn't work for others.  But McCain sure looks exactly like the standard out-of-touch Republican to me.  He reminds me more of Bush's dad in this famous clip.

    I don't think McCain comes across as a guy who will feel your pain, at all.  I just don't think people tend to expect that from Republicans, so maybe they get graded on a curve.


    Obama's (5.00 / 2) (#158)
    by JThomas on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:16:15 PM EST
    net worth when it was published last year was 1.3 million.

    John McCain's personal wealth was 50+ million which did not include Cindy who would add at least another 50 million.

    1.3 vs 100 million.

    Yes ,they are both millionaires.
    Only 98.7 million difference.
    McCain is super wealthy,racks up quarter of a million on a monthly credit card..and he is a man of the people?


    JThomas- I am sure that by the time (5.00 / 1) (#196)
    by kenosharick on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:42:45 PM EST
    Obama is in his 60s he will be worth 50million too.

    None of it inherited (none / 0) (#205)
    by MKS on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:48:01 PM EST
    So? (none / 0) (#208)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:50:23 PM EST
    You forgot (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:41:19 PM EST
    considers 4 million a year as being a not rich person.

    Fair point (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:52:21 PM EST
    But that's not what comes across to most voters. Even when he's speaking, Obama looks like he's looking down his nose at people, while McCain is in the trenches.

    Even this weekend, he arrogantly guaranteed voctory while Nancy Pelosi said he was a gift from God - all while collecting millions of dollars from big donors.

    Fair?  Maybe not, but Obama has done nothing to disabuse that image.


    This comes down (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:16:54 PM EST
    to Obama being a very intelligent person and coming off as such and McCain being a not very intelligent person and coming off as such.

    That's not to suggest that McCain is stupid, because clearly he is not.  But people tend to think that smart people look down on them.

    So our choice is to either elect not smart people, the Republican strategy, or we can continue to elect smart people and fight the B.S. caricatures of the Right that intelligence is something to be ashamed of.


    Well (5.00 / 3) (#93)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:26:48 PM EST
    I'm a smart person with the degrees and he think he looks down on people like me.

    No. You're mad that your (3.00 / 4) (#106)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:33:46 PM EST
    choice didn't win and you're going to get revenge on Obama  by viewing every single thing he does, says, thinks, wears as a negative.  

    Nope (5.00 / 5) (#114)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:37:27 PM EST
    Hillary has nothing to do with this.  I'm mad because we have the choice of "yuck" and "yuck" this election season - a choice we shouldn't have had to make.

    Right (5.00 / 2) (#123)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:41:35 PM EST
    A choice we wouldn't be making if your choice had been nominated.  

    To suggest that Hillary has nothing to do with this goes beyond all sense of credulity.


    Obama isn't "yuck" (5.00 / 2) (#145)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:55:54 PM EST
    to many voters.  And the fact that you consider Obama a "yuck" choice does have everything to do with HRC as a reading of your comment history shows.

    But he is to many more (5.00 / 3) (#147)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:59:30 PM EST
    I have never hid the fact that I thought Hillary was by far the superior choice and one who could actually win.  However, your history as an Obama supporter also shows that criticisms are not allowed of him because anyone who dares to point out his flaws is seriously misguided and blinded by hate that Hillary didn't win.

    Apparently you haven't read through the many comments here and elsewhere (including letters to the editor of many major newspapers) - people do not like him nor trust him.


    If you had read my posts you'll see that (5.00 / 2) (#183)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:30:56 PM EST
    I have both criticized Obama and praised Hillary. If I just wanted Obama praise I wouldn't have spent my time at this site during the primaries. Criticism is fine; bashing is not.

    I do agree with you that this site is full of people who don't like Obama or trust him.  Maybe some have legitmate concerns, but others seem to be on autopilot -- Obama bad - bash him.  

    No matter what the topic, the usual suspects show up in the thread with the Obama bad narrative.  Obama up in the polls - bad for Obama. Obama getting more donations from the troops - bad for Obama.  Obama has good fundraising - bad for Obama.  

    Lately I've been making bets with myself to see how many posts it will take until an Obama- bashing post appears, and which poster it will be. I wish there was some kind of prize for an accurate guess because it is very easy to predict.


    Right (5.00 / 1) (#187)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:32:29 PM EST
    Because TL is so intolerant of criticism of Obama.

    Once again... (5.00 / 4) (#161)
    by JimWash08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:16:56 PM EST
    it's the must-support-every-candidate-with-a-(D)-after-their-name meme.

    Please give it up. cmugirl can find whichever candidate "yuck" as she pleases, just as you can.

    It's the hardcore Obamans like you who get under our skin, and try to make us out to be the some sort of the outcasts of the party. Yes, I was, and will always be, a Hillary supporter, and if Obama could be anywhere near the standard that she strived to meet, you can bet he'll have a helluva lot more Hillary supporters joining the fold.

    Now before I launch into a comparison of their achievements, I shall stop. And I hope you will stop that oft-played meme too. Thanks.


    I do support every candidate with a D (3.00 / 2) (#188)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:34:02 PM EST
    after their name!  If you were accusing me of that as some sort of insult, you failed. I'm proud of it.  

    So why is it that..... (5.00 / 4) (#138)
    by Maria Garcia on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:50:27 PM EST
    ....my "choice" has never won an open Democratic primary in my long lifetime and I have always enthusiastically switched my support to the winner? I am not a PUMA, but the interesting thing about the PUMAs I know is that most of them have been loyal little soldiers for the Democratic Party, rain or shine. Until now.

    I'm not a PUMA either, (5.00 / 4) (#169)
    by Grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:22:02 PM EST
    but I am a bitter knitter.  ;-)

    Seriously, the Democrats did a dirty deed this time -- putting up someone with hardly any experience and then telling us to lump it or leave it.  


    PUMA Annoys Me In A Lot of Ways (none / 0) (#164)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:19:08 PM EST
    but the main reason I don't feel like scolding people who are not supporting Obama this season is because of all the times in years past when I have NOT been the good little soldier, voting for whomever was at the top of the ticket, and I was insulted by that "Where else you gonna go to get anyone near progressive in office?" whine.

    As an independent, sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't vote Dem. Never went Repub. The funny thing about your post to me is that this is the first time I have felt ANY real enthusiasm for the candidate.


    NO it does not (5.00 / 6) (#105)
    by angie on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:33:44 PM EST
    there is a difference between being "intelligent" and being "smug" -- There are millions of intelligent people in this world who do not come off as smug. Obama is smug. Furthermore, I sincerely doubt he is as intelligent as everyone likes to pretend he is -- as certainly he wasn't intelligent enough to pick Hillary as his VP back in JUNE, he hasn't been intelligent enough to try to win the votes of the 18 million of us who voted for Hillary in the primary, and he hasn't been intelligent enough to get a debate coach! Actually, I think he's pretty much proven himself to be the opposite of "intelligent."

    Seriously (4.00 / 3) (#129)
    by nell on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:44:54 PM EST
    If we want to get into discussions about what signs of intelligence are, I would like to know why Barack Obama was the only editor of the Harvard Law Review to never publish a single academic paper...

    That's not normal...professors of law (or professors of anything) are expected to publish. I have always found it odd that he never did. Did he try? Did all of his papers get rejected? Why didn't this turn into a problem for him at the University of Chicago?


    Sorry (5.00 / 9) (#124)
    by nell on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:41:41 PM EST
    This is a silly way to put it.

    Bill Clinton has a brilliant mind, but he never talked down to people, and he convinced working class Americans that he understood them. Barack Obama has not accomplished that. All of his if, then, and, what, but waffling loses voters because people have no idea what he is talking about or what he stands for by the end. It's not that I am too stupid to understand him, I have got some fancy degrees behind my name, but it is that he says everything and nothing all at once, all of the time.

    Say whatever you want about John McCain - call him dumb or whatever other names you want - but that doesn't change the fact that he is doing a better job connecting to working class voters, $520 shoes and all. And it doesn't change the fact that with us or against us GWB managed to win in 2004 over the ever nuanced John Kerry. People want to know that their leader can make decisions. Obama's waffling suggests that he cannot.

    And as for the comments about McCain's wealth, honestly, I don't think people begrudge others their wealth, I think they just want to know that their government is going to help them get a fair shake too. I don't care how much money John and Cindy have, I admire the good they have done with their money abroad. What I do care about is that I don't think McCain's economic policies are right for the country. That's it.

    My dad grew up dirt poor and he made it a point to mention a few weeks ago that he really doesn't like it when people go on and on about how much money candidates make. He was saying this in reference to a story about Cindy McCain's money. He said good for her, she has money, and she has done good with that money. All he cares about is which candidate is going to help him get some too through a stronger economy, etc.


    That could be said about many men and (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:46:41 PM EST
    women when they decide it is time to move up...you don't choose who you fall in love with or whose money for that matter....I understand your point, but not sure I totally agree.  If obama didn't always appear like he is above the fray, it would go a long way towards people thinking he is just a regular guy....so far, no deal.

    This is (5.00 / 4) (#42)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:56:12 PM EST
    the mistake Democrats always make. It's about appearances not about how much money they have. Obama comes off as elitist. He isn't used to talking to people at Wal Mart at looks at them like a sociology experiment or people who live an alien existence.

    Phil Bresden said it best: "Obama needs to go to Wal Mart and tell people what he's going to do in 10 words or less." It's about being direct and plain spoken not necessarily having "binary thoughts" on every subject.

    Bill Clinton was able to do this.


    You have to know yourself (5.00 / 1) (#173)
    by DJ on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:24:19 PM EST
    before you can know other people.  It's all about being comfortable in your own skin and reaching out to people at their level...making them feel comfortable.  Bill Clinton is able to do that.  McCain can do that to a much lesser degree.  IMO Obama has spent so much of his life trying to figure out who he is (thought and prose) that he doesn't have the energy left or ability to figure out who these other people are.  He may care about them in some cerebral way but he cannot convey that to the average person..whoever that is.

    After February, after research, I never doubted Hillary has a genuine interest and desire to help people.  I don't see that in Obama.  I am really trying.  God help me I am.


    Sure Bill could do it... (4.00 / 7) (#53)
    by Jjc2008 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:02:36 PM EST
    but don't you know.  Bill was pure trailer trash or white trash who had no business even being in the White House according to DC elites.   It really p*ssed off the likes of Kennedy, Kerry and probably Dean to realize how well Bubba got a long with ordinary folks.  In the end, Bill and Hillary don't fit the DC power brokers and they wanted them both out.  
    Obama gives them, the elitist, the chance to pretend they are "of the people".  Or so they think.

    We are all so screwed.


    Screwed (5.00 / 6) (#63)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:11:31 PM EST
    doesn't even begin to describe it. I would say we are waaaay beyond screwed in this election cycle. The middle class is going to get the shaft big time no matter who wins.

    You are so on target (5.00 / 3) (#211)
    by mogal on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:52:48 PM EST
    During Bill Clinton's second campaign Marion Liasson (sp) said on PBS Wash. Week that Bill had lost the press because he "spent so much time talking to people in the rope line."

    I still can't believe that statement. I loved him for it.


    Hmmm.... (5.00 / 6) (#150)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:02:27 PM EST
    "Dumped a disabled wife for a wealthy one."

    How about Edwards cheating on his cancer-ridden wife?

    I thought that, during the Edwards scenario, we were told that good progressives were not supposed to talk about other people's sex lives, cheating, marriages, or divorces, lest they be viewed as 'puritanical' or 'disrespectful of privacy'.

    Seriously, TChris, despite all your other true points, this talking point is lame IMO.


    It's part of the syndrome. (none / 0) (#175)
    by DJ on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:25:23 PM EST
    None of that matters (5.00 / 4) (#207)
    by Valhalla on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:50:17 PM EST
    I was just talking to a friend about this.

    Dems make this same effing mistake over and over.  So busy trying to win the argument they totally miss how to win the freakin' election.

    Money has nothing to do with elitism.  But even if it did it does not matter how rich McCain actually is.  Or his wife is.  All that matters is how he is perceived.

    You can itemize the purchase prices on his shoes and socks and chair cushions all day long.  It doesn't matter.  You can argue he's an elitist all day long.  Doesn't matter.  You can convene an entire symposium on elitism, what it is, and whether McCain fits the criteria, and issue Final and Irrefutable Conclusions on Elitism in the Known Universe.  It doesn't matter.  

    The GE is 2 months away.  All that matters now is what the people who are not already in the bag for Obama think.

    John McCain only has to build minimally on 30+ years of Republican mythology that they are the party of the average Joes, the cowboy party, the party that is careful with your money, the party that will keep American safe.

    Obama, on the other hand, has to start from behind the starting block to refute the same 30+ years of Republican mythology that Dems are effete, condescending snobs who care more about their foofy whining theories than your hard earned money and peace of mind.

    BO's done himself pretty few favors in that direction so far.

    You can argue that it's wildly unfair and untrue, keeping at it until you wrench and pound an admission that you're right out of the people who you want to vote for you, or you can get over it and start trying to convince people that Obama is not an effete, condescending and unfeeling snob who will fiddle with his arugala while the US economy burns.

    Time's short, it's already run out imo, but which do you think is more likely to win the election?  

    Win the argument, or win the election.


    there are thousands of Americans that (none / 0) (#84)
    by kimsaw on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:21:53 PM EST
    dump their spouses everyday, this argument is so stale. So Obama wears loafers from Target everyday and doesn't live in a mansion with a chunk of land bought from a questionable associate? Obama doesn't fly on jets with a seat designed just for a president? Yeah they are all regular guys aren't they?

    If Obama had dumped his (5.00 / 2) (#90)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:24:51 PM EST
    disabled wife for a wealthy woman, Obama-bashers wouldn't regard the point as "stale."

    Obama didn't dump his wife but he (4.00 / 3) (#137)
    by kimsaw on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:50:17 PM EST
    publicly tossed his Grandma who raised him. Is that honorable? His supporters don't have a problem with that. Disabled people get dumped, just like everybody else, I didn't say it was right. What Edwards did wasn't all that honorable and didn't Kerry leave his first wife who had mental health issues, do we want to go on? A marriage is between two people, so is divorce, but now its a major character fault in comparison to Obama.  We can discuss McCain's marriages, but  Obama dishonoring his Grandma is right up with his infidelity.  I'm not supporting either, neither passes the smell test of character.

    You are (5.00 / 2) (#171)
    by JThomas on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:23:10 PM EST
    saying that Obama's making one comment about his beloved Grandma who raised him and who he just visited in Hawaii is worse than John McCain repeatedly committing adultery before divorcing the infirmed woman who waited for him patiently for five years while he was a POW?

    I guess you are surprised that Obama's grandma did not shoot him on sight last week?
    That is a ridiculous comparison.


    Nonsense (5.00 / 1) (#172)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:24:13 PM EST
    He never "dumped" his grandma. He quoted something the grandmother who DID help raise him said to make a point about his own understanding about some white peoples' discomfort with AA people sometimes.

    It was all the more poignant because he knows she loves him and it related to that...uh oh, here's that word...nuance of how human beings feel and perceive things sometimes.


    It wasn't nuanced (5.00 / 1) (#184)
    by tree on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:31:18 PM EST
    it was stereotyping.

    Not At All (5.00 / 1) (#195)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:41:50 PM EST
    He used an experience he had with a loved one to epitomize how some of us white people are sometimes uncomfortable around AAs.

    It wasn't stereotyping a whole race or even a whole age group as racists. He was telling the truth about an uncomfortable reality.

    One of the beautiful things about that speech was that he outlined the many variations of tension/discomfort between races in the U.S. none of which are racism, but all of which inform our contemporary scene.


    Neither Obama nor his supporters (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:25:20 PM EST
    are aguing that McCain is an elitist.  McCain's supporters are making that argument, here and elsewhere.

    McCain wants to restart the Cold War (5.00 / 1) (#200)
    by MKS on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:44:49 PM EST
    over an oil pipeline on southern Georgia.  He wants to put missiles in Poland.  If he were President in October 1962, there is very little doubt he would have started a nuclear war.

    And he likes Scalia et. al. as justices and does not like any of the justices who favor Roe.

    That is a cold dose of reality.


    John McCain owns 10 homes... (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by mike in dc on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:35:27 PM EST
    ...wears 520 dollar shoes, flies around in his beer heiress wife's private jet, and wants most of his tax cuts to go to the super-rich.  Do you think he feels your pain?  
    The Obamas grew up middle-class, went to law school on merit, and came out with the same massive student loan debt most grad students have.  They didn't really become "rich" until after 2004.  And his proposed tax cuts go overwhelmingly to the middle and working classes.

    When I look at the backdrop and the audiences for Obama events I see a lot of people much older than 18, male and female, from diverse backgrounds.
    As vacations go, the Caribbean and Hawaiian Islands are actually pretty "middle brow".  If you want a highbrow, elitist sort of vacation, try Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod, or anywhere in Europe.  And, seriously, when was the last time Starbucks really represented something "elite"?  They're everywhere, and I'd wager that half the country is getting their coffee their at least once in a while.  


    Ha Ha (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:37:34 PM EST
    Your post is funny, since I just got an email from my mom with almost the same verbiage from a video I'm supposed to watch when I have time.  You must have gotten the same email today!

    I never heard about the $520 shoes.... (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Maria Garcia on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:42:24 PM EST
    ...until today and now I've heard it a bunch of times. Oh well, maybe they are orthopedic shoes. Ooops, I made an old man joke! ;-)

    Gotta tell ya (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:42:17 PM EST
    Most people do not decide the "feels your pain" issue based on biography.

    Liberals keep wanting to intellectualize emotional issues like this one and it just doesn't work that way.  "Obama can't possibly be elitist, he just paid off his student loans!"  Sigh.

    Now, let me say this: I don't personally see Obama as elitist at all.  In fact, he seems like someone I would have no problem relating to as a yuppie dad, which is my peer group.  But all too often, when I talk to people and comment that Obama strikes me as much more grounded in the real world than McCain, who lives in a senatorial bubble of privilege, all I get are blank looks.  Not everyone picks up on the same vibe as me - and I'll say it again, it's not something you can intellectualize.


    I agree with that (5.00 / 1) (#136)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:49:37 PM EST
    But if McCain keeps suggesting that making 4 million a year does not make you rich, he is going to lose those people who may identify with him.

    I agree with your point about biography (5.00 / 2) (#215)
    by tree on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:58:08 PM EST
    not equaling empathy. One example of that is the friend or acquaintance who, upon listening to the first few lines of your personal lament, interrupts and goes on at great length as to how exactly the same thing, or something they consider much worse, happened to them. Blah, blah, blah. Similar biography, check. Empathy, nope.

    I see that as one of the failings of the Obama campaign. They seem to want to have Obama "connect" with the voters, but amazingly don't understand that that connection is not achieved by talking about Obama but by showing that Obama can LISTEN to and empathize with the voters.  


    McCain comes from a career Navy (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:43:07 PM EST
    family and his top earning power was about $45,000.00 and then he married up and is now rolling in the dough.  So, I suspect at some level he can relate to the middle class.  So, I am not sure if he has not felt some pain at some time in his life...who's to say....just saying.

    Ah, the myth is alive an well still (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:58:52 PM EST
    "To say John McCain comes from a military family is a little like pointing out that Prince Charles is a scion of the upper class. Born in 1936, McCain is the Navy captain son of a four-star admiral who was the son of another four-star admiral, all named John Sidney McCain. And that just scratches the surface."

    McCain is a tired act.  Period.  He completely pretends to be something he NEVER HAS BEEN.  Would you prefer Obama start doing the same?  You have what you have with Obama, a man with an intellect that makes McCain look like the retrograd dumbsh*t he is.  If the American people fall for the same garbage again, they'll get what they deserve.  I'd love Obama to do many things differently, and maybe he will, and maybe he won't.  But at some point the American people need to take a good deal of blame for being very easy to dupe.  


    That's ridiculous (5.00 / 3) (#206)
    by Emma on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:48:30 PM EST
    He is from a Navy family.  That kind of biography does tend to come from people whose fathers were officers or highly ranked enlisted men.  It doesn't make his family less of a Navy family and it doesn't make him an elitist, as you imply.

    Another reason Dems lose the elitist sweepstakes:  the open disdain for the military.  Saying McCain is "royalty", read: elitist, because his father and grandfather were Admirals is such a fundamental misunderstanding of the military and its ethos that it comes across as disdain -- too elitist to give a d*mn about the military.  

    Your attempt to paint McCain as elitist because his father and grandfather served their country at the highest levels of the military, and as members of the "greatest generation" fighting WWII, is so hamhanded and tin-eared as to be laughable, if it wasn't the same ridiculous trap dems fall into every single time.


    Heh, "Navy Family" (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by Ramo on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:21:33 PM EST
    Quite the euphemism for a guy whose father was Commander in Chief of Pacific Command during Vietnam, and whose grandfather also happened to be a 4 star Admiral.

    Middle class, my ass.


    Did you ever read the article (none / 0) (#87)
    by Grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:24:21 PM EST
    comparing Obama's and McCain's Senate offices?  I think it was on Yahoo or in the NYT last week.  

    Obama's is stark and sterile and looked more like a modern art gallery.  McCain's is messy and full of stuff he's collected over time:  Bobble-head dolls, stuffed animals, fortune cookie messages, etc.  McCain likes to read so there are books all over.  

    It was quite a contrast.  (There was a photo gallery with the story.)    


    Wow! McCain who has been in the Senate (5.00 / 2) (#121)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:41:25 PM EST
    over 20 years has a messy office and Obama's is neat. And, of course, you see that as a McCain positive and Obama negative.  Is there anything that you wouldn't spin as being an Obama negative?  His tie choice?  The color of the flowers outside his house?  

    It is from my experience and observation (4.25 / 4) (#181)
    by JimWash08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:29:31 PM EST
    that the best professors and students are often never the neatest. They have open books, files, papers everywhere, but they know exactly what is where and how to find it.

    Not always, but often.

    I've also had friends who kept their dorm rooms like museums and they often weren't the best-performing students. Of course, not always the case.

    I think it shows some level of interest, a degree of immersion into their work ... that they care about what they are doing more than how tidy their workspace is.


    It certainly is not a justification (5.00 / 1) (#199)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:44:17 PM EST
    to vote McCain. It is more than a stretch to imply that since McCain's office is messy and Obama's is neat McCain would be a better leader. Of course, I haven't gotten my pair of "Obama is bad colored glasses" so I don't see every single thing about him as bad.

    And I had a messy prof once who lost our blue books exams.  Never did find them.  


    The only one putting any spin on it (none / 0) (#210)
    by Grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:52:37 PM EST
    is you.  I never said one was preferable to the other one -- I only said they were different.

    And, of course, you see that as a McCain positive and Obama negative.  Is there anything that you wouldn't spin as being an Obama negative?

    Is there anything you can't spin as a negative for your candidate?  If I were to say "Obama is black, McCain is white" you'd say I was spinning that as Obama negative too, even though I am just stating a fact.  


    tastes (5.00 / 10) (#25)
    by p lukasiak on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:44:02 PM EST
    Obama's disconnect with the middle-class isn't about money -- its about taste.

    McCain has cultivated a "domestic" image, while Obama's is "imported".  McCain eats a lettuce salad with Blue Cheese dressing.  Obama has arugula and radicchio with baby carrots and bean sprouts lighted tossed in a raspberry infused balsamic vinaigrette.

    And Middle America eats lettuce with Blue Cheese dressing.


    exactly: arugula and nuance will get you (5.00 / 4) (#44)
    by kempis on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:57:29 PM EST
    defeated in elections. Just ask Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, and Carter (for nuance) in 1980.

    Class isn't about money; it's about culture. Obama was not raised by a working class mother, I don't care how many food stamps she used in graduate school.


    I guess owning 10 homes (4.50 / 4) (#70)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:13:58 PM EST
    is also something the blue cheese contingent enjoys?

    I find it almost unfathomable that Democrats would actually suggest that Obama is somehow more elitist than John McCain.  

    The Republicans do this EVERY election.  And this time you're buying into it because your candidate didn't win?

    Just McCain is a ridiculously wealthy person who has lived a life of privilege his entire life.  

    Barack Obama is a person who grew up in a traditional middle to upper middle class home and worked his way through life.  Took college loans out to get through school.

    The Obamas are not lunch pail blue collar workers.  But they are far closer to them than John McCain ever was.


    Ah yes (5.00 / 2) (#88)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:24:22 PM EST
    That's right.  He was a Prisoner of War.  I completely forgot about that.  If only McCain would mention that once in a while I might remember.

    Obama has never worked a day in his life. Get over the crap being spewed by his campaign.

    This is just a lie.  A contemptible lie.


    How do you define work? (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:30:38 PM EST
    Community organizing isn't work?  Teaching law isn't work (I've done it, and it's a lot of work)?  Representing citizens in state and federal legislatures isn't work?  What is there to prove, exactly?  

    And there it is (5.00 / 2) (#180)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:28:57 PM EST
    He hasn't done real work because he never had a manual labor job.   Cause you know people who work in offices are not really working.

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by trublueCO on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:35:43 PM EST
    The fact that you insinuate that John McCain, a prisoner of war, is not who he pretends to be when campaigning is outrageous!

    Flyerhawk, you are absolutely right. The Republicans do this to Democrats every election cycle. It wouldn't matter if you had some former mill worker-turned politician, they would still find something to try and paint him/her as an elitist liberal.

    It is more that Republicans have been very successful in branding ANY national Democratic candidate as elitist, not just this one.


    That is their M.O. (5.00 / 3) (#132)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:47:14 PM EST
    Bill was the only one who effectively combated it.  The only Bubba imagery was designed to specifically deal with the smear that has been applied to every Democratic nominee since LBJ.

    Heck they nailed Dukakis on this going against the bluest of blue bloods, George Bush.   The guy was the son of immigrants and worked his way through life.  Yet he was the elitist, not the Yale grade from the Yankee elitist family.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:39:05 PM EST
    We know he has worked in political office for the past dozen or so years.  We know that he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago.  We know that he was an on the street community organizer.

    I assume that you know all this but chose to claim that he has never worked a day in his life.  As such the only logical conclusion is that you are lying.  


    Hey (none / 0) (#115)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:37:53 PM EST
    that is my line.

    Being A Senator Isn't Work? (none / 0) (#128)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:44:51 PM EST
    Omigod, Hillary!

    What happened to (5.00 / 4) (#109)
    by Molly Pitcher on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:33:55 PM EST
    single mother on food stamps?

    career... (5.00 / 2) (#170)
    by p lukasiak on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:22:35 PM EST
    I find it almost unfathomable that Democrats would actually suggest that Obama is somehow more elitist than John McCain.  

    John McCain does not come off as elitist -- and hasn't come off as an elitist for as long as I've known who he is.  If he's an elitist, his ability to maintain a false front for over 20 years is impressive in and of itself.

    Obama's contempt for "common people" has been demonstrated over and over agaon.  Its not that he has a hard time communicating with the working class -- its that he acts as if his failure to communicate is THEIR fault -- and that he can't be bothered to keep trying until he gets it right (his refusal to campaign in WV and Kentucky, and his refusal to participate in additional debates, are evidence of this tendency.)

    If McCain is an "elitist" than a comparison of McCain and Obama to "old money" and "new money" would be apt.  I worked in high end catering for years, and was in a lot of homes of very wealthy people.  "Old money" people were almost always gracious toward 'the help', and their homes looked lived in -- the dogs were allowed on the furniture.  "New money" was far too often decidedly ungracious, and their homes often looked like no one lived there (one sure sign of 'new money' is white wall to wall carpeting.  Yeah, it looks great, but its completely impractical.)  and if they condescended to have dogs, they were certainly not allowed on the furniture.


    Guess those 5 years didn't (4.50 / 4) (#97)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:29:03 PM EST
    really bother him or he wouldn't be so eager to send other young men into harm's way so the same thing can happen to them.  McCain's first response to every international crisis is war.



    if I could (4.25 / 4) (#46)
    by ccpup on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:58:30 PM EST
    I would rate you a 5 ten times over for this comment.  Not only did it make me laugh -- thank you for that -- but it is so true it hurts.

    Whenever Obama tries the "I'm just like you" bit (see, bowling, $10,000 on dance lessons), he fails miserably.  The only other recourse is to be himself ... which in no way, shape or form helps those Voters he desperately needs (blue collar and rural) feel like he sincerely cares about them.  They just have no way of connecting to him.

    Ergo, they vote for McCain -- who appears to understand them and makes them laugh -- and Inauguration Day ends up being the worst day of Obama's life as he watches HIS job being given to McCain.


    Reminds me of a scene in The Sound of Music... (none / 0) (#178)
    by Pianobuff on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:28:08 PM EST
    When the kids are in the courtyard playing ball and the Baroness attempts to play with them but can't and they are begging for Maria.

    Those familiar with that scene will get my point.


    Doesn't (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:58:26 PM EST
    matter. It's the perception. Obama has spent too much time in an insular circle of Academia and in his chi chi district in Chi town.

    And McCain... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:59:50 PM EST
    ...has been entirely a Washington insider.  Again, when do the American people take any blame for being easier to dupe than a toddler?

    Never, I guess.


    Well (3.50 / 2) (#59)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:09:26 PM EST
    apparently the fact that McCain is plain spoken makes a difference. Obama's best is a speech where he sounds like an AA preacher. I don't think that has very broad appeal.

    An AA preacher? Really? (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by IndiDemGirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:22:04 PM EST
    His speech at the last Dem convention didn't sound like an AA preacher. Nor his speech on race in Philly.  Nor his speech in Europe.  In fact, just which speech are you talking about?  And how many of them were there?

    This thread is about how Obama gave "nuanced" thoughtful intellectual answers to questions regarding his faith.  Seems like that is the opposite of the "AA preacher" stereotype you mention.


    His (5.00 / 2) (#130)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:45:51 PM EST
    speech on race sounded just like it came out of a church. So did his speech at the 2004 convention. The thing is, I loved his speech in 2004. The problem is that you can only tolerate so much "preaching" imo.

    Obama's problem isn't that he's nuanced. It's that you don't have a clue as to what he's saying. I've watched him in debates where I was more confused about where he stood on an issue after he finished talking than before the question was even asked.


    Your Definition of 'Regular' Excludes A Lot (5.00 / 4) (#99)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:30:20 PM EST
    of people.

    College students and the 'professorial' types who teach them. By the way, I see a couple of 'regular' TL posters who seem to both teach at the  college level and are strong HRC supporters.

    People Who drive foreign cars--wow, how many Toyota, Honda, VW, Suburu drivers etc. ARE there in the U.S. Not enough to be regular.

    Starbucks customers.

    You didn't even get around to the Obama supporters like me who are:



    earning under $50,000/ yr.

    small business owners

    and who have never been to a Starbucks. (Really!)

    I also don't know who your 'regular' folks are who are turned off by the Obama excesses like his children's pricey lessons and his 'expensive hams and lettuce' (?) but I never heard of these things until I read them in your message. I'm not doubting you that somehow these have figured into the Obama campaign narrative. I'm just suggesting not everyone--especially people working two jobs to make ends meet--is paying quite so close attention to these details as you are.

    But one detail I think you're missing is that Obama supporters come in more shapes and sizes than the MSM captures. And you might be surprised  how many 'regular' voters we are.


    Obama Aggressively Reaching Out To 'Rubes' (5.00 / 0) (#141)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:54:17 PM EST

    "Recognizing an opportunity, Obama has opened more offices in rural areas than any other Democratic presidential candidate in years, pushing a message focused on job creation."


    "Indeed, AP says Obama has an opportunity here. While Bush carried 60% of the rural vote in 2004, an AP poll in June found that McCain isn't doing as well, winning rural voters over Obama 40%-34% (also suggesting a large undecided bloc there)."


    Reaching out and connecting (5.00 / 2) (#182)
    by Valhalla on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:30:16 PM EST
    are two entirely different things.

    I grew up in a small town, rural area.  If the unity ambassadors I've seen here are any example of reaching out, they will not go over well with rural folk.

    It's the attitude, not the geography.


    Of Course They're Different (5.00 / 1) (#191)
    by daring grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:36:18 PM EST
    But putting an operation on the ground in peoples' neighborhoods to have the conversation is a good first step, and far better than relying on their hearing the message delivered at a stump speech nearby--or worse in the media.

    Sheesh..... (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Maria Garcia on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:29:20 PM EST
    ...did Al Gore's handlers decide that he was too stiff or was it people like Sally Quinn who decided that?

    Gee I wonder...... (5.00 / 4) (#52)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:01:26 PM EST
    Sally Quinn is a hypocritical snob. She actually had the nerve to be appalled by Clinton's cheating when her own husband, Ben Bradlee, told the story in his memoir of how she had pursued him when she was a nobody at the Post (even though he was married)and finally engaged in an affair with him.  Apparently she feels that the rules for inside-the-beltway elite should be different than those for the rest of us, particularly if we are hicks from Arkansas. It doesn't get any more hypocritical than that!

    You, my friend, nailed it (5.00 / 0) (#81)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:20:56 PM EST
    Good post (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by CST on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:31:47 PM EST
    I agree.  A lot of people cite the fact that he says "uhh" a lot.  I know it doesn't play well, but to me it signals that he is actually thinking about the question.

    Sound-bite politics may work, but we don't have to act like that's a good thing - or that not being good at sound bites makes you incompetent.

    Or (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:33:41 PM EST
    A lot of people cite the fact that he says "uhh" a lot.  I know it doesn't play well, but to me it signals that he is actually thinking about the question.

    It could signal that he is not prepared for the question, when he obviously should be, and is stalling for time.


    You call it a sound bite (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Democratic Cat on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:40:12 PM EST
    I call it being able to clearly express a view. Issues are complicated and I don't need someone to pretend that they are not. But it is a very good skill for a politician to be able to condense his thinking into simple, clear, direct language.

    I'm glad Sen. Obama appears to be a deep thinker.  If he had more experience and was more steeped in the policy issues, he might be able to express himself more clearly. His inability to do so leaves the impression that he is making it up as he goes along. Some of these issues are not new, they've been in the public debate for decades. The questions he is asked should not come as a surprise to him. Heming and hawing and talking around issues rather than addessing them squarely leaves the impression that he doesn't really know what he thinks about a raft of issues. Or he doesn't want to tell us.


    What was heming and hawing (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by brodie on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:00:09 PM EST
    and dodgy about O's answer about abortion -- he clearly stated, succinctly, that a) he's in favor of a woman's right to choose, and b) he's in favor of protecting Roe v Wade.

    What was dodgy about saying outright that Evil needs to be confronted?  And what's not to like about a guy who's honest enough not to have easy answers to each and every impossible-to-know question?

    Or are you just saying you prefer McCain's rehearsed game-show "lightning round" yes/no, good/bad, kill/drill simplistic answers to difficult questions?


    abortion (5.00 / 2) (#142)
    by cawaltz on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:54:27 PM EST
    Oh his position on abortion is as nuanced as they come. He supports limiting choice during the third trimester. He also is considering a running mate that decided it is hunky dory and acceptable that a woman be at greater risk of hemmorhage and uterus preforation. All that but he's FOR CHOICE(just with lots and lots of limitations).

    He supports choice (5.00 / 1) (#153)
    by samtaylor2 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:11:35 PM EST
    Choice has always been very limited in the third trimester.  Both by law and the fact that most doctors would not perform an abortion on viable child so late in the process unless the women's life was at stake, and at that point, very few doctors would hesitate.  After a point at which the child could survive outside the womb, the for choice becomes more complicated.  

    Personally I think any discussion for or against abortion should be be sandwiched by discussions of pre-natal and post natal funding.   By switching the debate to limiting abortions, not through limiting choice in anyway (except the third trimester), Democrats will take the moral high ground and the position that I believe most Americans hold.


    I said (5.00 / 1) (#179)
    by Democratic Cat on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:28:51 PM EST
    that issues were complicated but that politicians should be able to express themselves clearly. Why do you have to twist what I said into a statement on my prefering McCain?  I can't stand either one of them.

    Taking his responses throughout the campaign, I find Sen. Obama to be less than clear about choice. And I'm not particularly interested in whether he clearly said "evil" must be confronted. That's a bs question.


    Good Point Here (5.00 / 2) (#79)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:19:36 PM EST
    His inability to do so leaves the impression that he is making it up as he goes along.

    That's the impression I often get.


    CST (5.00 / 2) (#78)
    by DJ on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:19:10 PM EST
    "it signals that he is actually thinking about the question"

    I hope and expect that the presidential nominee would have thought about these kinds of issues and actually have a position before he throws his hat in to the ring.  That he is just now "thinking about the question" on a national stage is disappointing.


    Look (5.00 / 2) (#92)
    by CST on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:25:58 PM EST
    I didn't say he is "thinking about the question for the first time".  That's very different from having a pre-fab answer hand-picked by a campaign aide to everything.

    I am a big "ummm, ahh" person too.  It doesn't mean I have never thought about the issue.  It means I'm thinking about it more, and getting my thoughts straight in my head so they come out right.

    But, I digress, you all say potatoe I say something else...  I don't expect people here to agree with me.  I was just saying that's how it comes across to me.


    You know (5.00 / 20) (#5)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:33:31 PM EST
    I have become officially sick of Democrats whining that no one appreciates their nuanced positions.  Too often "nuance" is just a code for having given a mushy, unclear answer that tries to mean all things to all people.  Witness: John Kerry's 2004 position on Iraq.

    Obama isn't as clumsy with the language as Kerry, but when you look beneath the so-called "nuance," too often you find that there isn't an actual answer there.  For example, a few months back I had an argument with an Obama supporter here who contended that Obama had a "very specific" stance on gun rights.  What was this stance, I asked.  Well, he believes that people have a right to bear arms, but that some amount of common-sense regulation is acceptable.  Period.

    Now, that is a position.  In fact, it's pretty much the mainstream Democratic position right now.  What it is NOT is a "very specific position."  In fact, it doesn't say a whole lot of anything, except that the speaker isn't at either of the two extremes of the gun debate.  In between "the government can completely ban handguns if it wants to" and "absolutely no regulations on gun ownership are permissible" there is a wide, wide range of possible viewpoints, and this "position" attempts to grab that entire middle ground without staking out any specific territory of its own.

    That's the sort of thing we Democrats call "nuance," presenting ourselves as being "somewhere between the two extremes" in an attempt to capture all the voters who are also between the two extremes.  It may be good politics, it may not be
    good politics.  But if some people respond negatively and say "I don't really know where he stands on that issue," it is not the fault of those people for failing to understand our awesome "nuance."

    Here is a classic example of a "nuanced" position that actually WAS specific: Hillary Clinton's infamous answer on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.  It couldn't be encapsulated in a sound bite, but her position was still easy to understand: she didn't agree with that specific proposal, but she understood that the states were being forced into that sort of stopgap measure as a result of the federal government's inaction on the immigration issue and she didn't have a problem with their efforts to do something about it.  Her position was that the federal government should enact comprehensive immigration reform so that the states wouldn't have to resort to controversial stopgap measures.  I didn't find that hard to understand at all, and Hillary wasn't even my favored candidate at the time.

    But the shameful reaction from Barack Obama, John Edwards, and countless other people who would fight to the death to defend Democratic nuance in other contexts, was like "WHAT?  I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND A WORD OF THAT!  A PRESIDENT MUST ALWAYS BE ABLE TO ANSWER YES OR NO!"  So now if people want me to feel sorry for Obama because he gets no love for his awesome "nuanced" answers, I have a sound bite for them: boo hoo.

    I thought Obama's answer to the same (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by samtaylor2 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:49:43 PM EST
    Question was very thoughtful as well.  

    People look at answers like "above my pay grade" as non answers.  I am not sure their could be a better answer.  Who knows, I certainly don't.  But that doesn't change my stance on choice.  


    Well (5.00 / 0) (#41)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:55:54 PM EST
    If he becomes POTUS, the question definitely will NOT be above his pay grade - this absolutely a non answer (as he is prone to do).

    Untrue. (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:59:34 PM EST
    If he becomes POTUS, his obligation is to uphold the Constitution.  The Supreme Court decides what the Constitution means, not the president. Nothing in the president's job description requires him to decide at what point, if any, a fetus acquires human rights.

    Yes, I understand that (5.00 / 0) (#60)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:10:11 PM EST
    And since the Constitution (for now) guarantees a right to abortion, and since as POTUS, he will take an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," then I would still argue that it will be within his "paygrade".

    The key (none / 0) (#189)
    by JThomas on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:34:33 PM EST
    phrase you used was that abortion is constitutional ''for now''.
    John McCain made it crystal clear on saturday nite that he would be ''the pro-life president''.
    He said he would get rid of Justices Ginsberg,Souter,Kennedy and Stevens.
    He embraced Roberts and Alito.
    He made it clear he expects to appoint two justices in his term as president.
    He will seek to overturn Roe vs Wade by packing the court with Scalia clones.
    Support John McCain if you want to criminalize abortion in this country.

    There's (5.00 / 2) (#202)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:45:17 PM EST
    already the votes to overturn Roe. V. Wade. And Obama has Cass Sunstein who thinks RVW was wrongly decided. Sunstein also doesn't support the fourth amendment.

    This argument has expired. Yeah, McCain is pretty bad but I don't know that Obama is any better. He really has no record to stand on and his judgement argument went out the window when Rev. Wright showed up.

    FYI, I'm leaving the Presidential ballot blank.


    The key (none / 0) (#190)
    by JThomas on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:35:12 PM EST
    phrase you used was that abortion is constitutional ''for now''.
    John McCain made it crystal clear on saturday nite that he would be ''the pro-life president''.
    He said he would get rid of Justices Ginsberg,Souter,Kennedy and Stevens.
    He embraced Roberts and Alito.
    He made it clear he expects to appoint two justices in his term as president.
    He will seek to overturn Roe vs Wade by packing the court with Scalia clones.
    Support John McCain if you want to criminalize abortion in this country.

    Was he being asked to make (5.00 / 0) (#75)
    by my opinion on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:18:08 PM EST
    a decision on that or give his position/opinion?

    If that's the case... (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by JimWash08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:32:25 PM EST
    If he becomes POTUS, his obligation is to uphold the Constitution.
    Where does his FISA vote fit into that argument? He was even formally nominated for President, yet he already was compromising the Constitution. So how does that bode for our future if he does become President?

    But you knew that... (5.00 / 0) (#108)
    by JimWash08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:33:55 PM EST
    Should read "... He wasn't even formally nominated for President..."

    It bodes better than a John McCain future. (5.00 / 2) (#111)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:34:43 PM EST
    His job right now is to uphold the Constitution (5.00 / 2) (#177)
    by angie on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:27:41 PM EST
    US Senators swear to "support and defend the Constitution." Obama's answer about the "above my pay grade" was stupid because the question was not when does God say life begins but what was his (Obama's) opinion on when life begins -- so it was a non-answer.  

    Uh (5.00 / 8) (#65)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:12:01 PM EST
    Yeah, Obama gave a fine, nuanced answer to that question at a later debate, after he had spent weeks beating up Hillary for not answering it as a simple yes or no.

    There is this little political game we play where MY candidate's long answers are a sign of intelligence and thoughtfulness, and YOUR candidate's long answers demonstrate that they're confused and have no firm position on the issues.  Now, I'm not saying that you're playing that game, but Obama sure did.


    I don't remeber (none / 0) (#74)
    by samtaylor2 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:17:25 PM EST
    The Hillary and Obama debating abortion?

    Huh? (5.00 / 0) (#103)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:32:55 PM EST
    Who brought up abortion?  I made a comment about Hillary's answer on driver's licenses, and you said "I thought Obama's answer to the same question was very thoughtful as well."  Are we talking about two different things here?

    Sorry my bad (none / 0) (#155)
    by samtaylor2 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:13:40 PM EST
    Steve M- Trully  enjoy your comments.  

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:33:27 PM EST
    The difference is, that would have been one of Kerry's CLEARER answers.

    Remember Obama's nuanced (5.00 / 6) (#162)
    by Grace on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:17:46 PM EST
    position on FISA?  

    Yeah.  Now that was a nuanced position.  While everyone thought he meant one thing, he meant exactly the opposite.    


    Half Way (none / 0) (#26)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:46:24 PM EST
    Through your post, when you said "That's what Democrats call "nuance"..." I immediately thought of Hillary's answer to the driver's license question, which of course, you cited.  While I agree, to some degree, with you about Obama's lack of clear positions, Hillary's issue is to be, the perfect example of the problem we are discussing.  Her answer to the question left her floundering for days, even weeks, until the NY Gov. had to finally disavow his position. That's just the problem, and it's always going to be the Dem's problem in elections of ever echelon.

    you seem to be confusing.... (5.00 / 10) (#7)
    by p lukasiak on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:33:55 PM EST
    you seem to be confusing "nuance" with "lack of specificity" and "substance free rhetoric".

    Hillary Clinton had nuanced views -- and was able to explain those views with extraordinary specificity that displayed a wealth of knowledge.  Obama's views aren't "nuanced" so much as they are content-free.  Nuance isn't achieved by saying "its complicated" or even citing the complications themselves.  Nuance occurs when one takes a position on a complicated issue, and has sufficient command of the facts to justify that position.

    Oh, I think Obama has a (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by brodie on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:50:37 PM EST
    sufficient amount of the right kind of nuance that you describe.

    In the Pastor Rick chat the other day, instead of easily accepting the four choices Rick offered about addressing Evil in the world, O chose another -- to confront it.

    And had sufficient grasp of the difficulties involved to also caution that it's not always possible in the RW to confront each and every instance of it, and also offered the substantively correct notion of not doing evil yourself in the effort to defeat same.

    He's also offered the right kind of content-laden nuance on withdrawing from Iraq -- 16 mos, with a necessary smaller noncombat force remaining to protect vital interests.

    The economic recovery plan by Obama is also nuanced in the right way -- tax cut for the middle class, remove Bush's tax cut for the rich above $250k.  Energy proposals are also chock full of substance.

    McCain, by contrast:  Drill drill drill.  Bush tax cuts permanent.  Surge is working/stay there for 100 years.  Evil must be Defeated!

    (btw, I appreciated Hillary's attempt at answering the trickly DL's for undocumenteds question, but it was the type of response ill-suited for a contentious debate, and particularly that one where her opponents and the Timster had called into question her alleged tendency to waffle on thorny issues.  Not the time to feed that false meme or to do other than lead your answer with, I can't go along with the Gov's plan, but I understand his position ...)


    So Obama's nuance was good but Hilary's (5.00 / 3) (#144)
    by Teresa on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:55:18 PM EST
    was bad? That is the source of the anger I have about this primary. Damn double standards everywhere.

    No double standards (none / 0) (#156)
    by brodie on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:14:56 PM EST

    As I recall from her answer at the end of that long night, in the context of a short-answer segment to boot, she lead her response not with a clear statement of her position (or the one later clearly enunciated in a press release by the campaign), but with a statement of support for her major backer, Gov Spitzer.  I merely said it was a very suboptimal response given the short-answer requirement of the segment and the way she began her answer, and the context of the evening's proceedings which clearly was about trying to paint her as a waffler.

    She unintentionally fed the night's story line that had been encouraged by Timmy and several on-stage competitors -- including especially Edwards and an unusually aggressive Chris Dodd.

    Obama, by contrast, was lead to believe by Pastor Rick, whose church he'd visited once before, that his Saturday appearance would be more in the nature not of an adversarial debate, like HRC had to deal with, but of a friendly "conversation".  He answered many questions at length in that spirit -- or tried to, since Pastor Rick seemed to want to interrupt O's thoughtful responses, something he curiously didn't do to St John of McCain.  

    McCain of course decided to treat it more as an opportunity to score debating points off of Obama with the GOP-friendly crowd and so launched immediately (lest he forget the answers he'd just rehearsed after being given the Qs during his beyond-the-Cone-of-Silence half hour) into his rote RW talking points and factually dubious anecdotes.


    Nuance didn't win the race in 2004. (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Lysis on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:35:45 PM EST
    Voters want conviction. That's what Kerry lacked and Obama's even worse on that front.

    Gore won the popular vote after being behind in the polls until the last few days, when he switched to a populist stance.   Said populism also delivered the later primary victories to Sen. Clinton.

    Pres. Clinton could be as nuanced as he wanted, because voters knew he was already on their side.  That's what Obama needs to prove.

    Bill Clinton's positions on issues were... (5.00 / 7) (#15)
    by Maria Garcia on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:38:09 PM EST
    ...frequently "nuanced" but his explanations were almost always clear.

    Exactly (5.00 / 2) (#134)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:47:33 PM EST
    Nuance bracketed by simplicity...

    "It's the economy stupid".    

    Obama needs to get off his high horse.  He can be the smartest person in the world after becominy president.

    As the democratic govenor of TN said...

    "Instead of giving big speeches at big stadiums, he needs to give straight-up 10-word answers to people at Wal-Mart."


    I agree it's not about nuance (5.00 / 7) (#13)
    by pmj6 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:37:10 PM EST
    It's more about decisiveness and standing on principles. And, frankly, Obama's "nuanced world" strikes me as a cover adopted to hide his indecisiveness and lack of confidence which in turn is due to his general inexperience and lack of knowledge about the world. Take the recent Georgian brouhaha, for example. McCain spoke forcefully and with conviction about the crisis, while Obama read (!) a statement that was prepared for him, and he read it without projecting even so much as a sense of comfort with the topic. Obama's world tour fell flat for the same very reason. He simply failed to capitalize on this opportunity because he's out of his depth in that kind of environment.

    Your perception (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:41:30 PM EST
    is greatly at odds with the rave reviews Obama almost universally received for his deft handling of foreign heads of state during his travels.

    Well, that's at odds with the fact that Obama's (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by tigercourse on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:48:00 PM EST
    campaign started to fall apart on that trip. The media might have given him race reviews... the people didn't.

    foreign heads of states (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Fabian on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:54:45 PM EST
    can't vote.

    Obama needs to wow voters.


    What rave reviews? (5.00 / 5) (#40)
    by JimWash08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:55:49 PM EST
    I hardly saw any. The truest "rave review" comes ONLY from the voters, not his media lackeys and spineless surrogates who made the rounds on the news-show circuit.

    Obama did not receive that post-world tour bump that everyone was expecting him to get, and his campaign was rightfully knocked down a couple of pegs with those volleys of Celebrity/The One ads.

    Watch as the backlash continues with his poor choice for VP and his insistence to be nominated in front of a 75,000 crowd. He has his priorities all wrong, and its showing.


    obama "handled" foreign leaders... (4.25 / 4) (#34)
    by PssttCmere08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:51:37 PM EST
    He was not in a position to do anything but have photo ops....presenting yourself in a faux light is not handling anything imo.

    I agree -- and just what WAS the point of (5.00 / 2) (#160)
    by camellia on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:16:46 PM EST
    his trip?  He's campaigning for president of The U.S.A., not of the EU.  It seemed like a total vanity trip --self-indulgent egostroking.  It's nice that he met with foreign heads of state, nice that they were nice to him, nice that he got lots of press, nice that he made a speech in Berlin, nice nice nice.  The point?  Ummm .......

    By the way, I haven't seen this anywhere -- does he speak a second or third language?   Wouldn't that be a nice little pourboire for us if he were able to meet some foreign leaders face to face without translators?


    Well, of course... (3.50 / 2) (#28)
    by pmj6 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:47:00 PM EST
    ...they treated him nicely and there were plenty of smiles and handshakes all around (he could be the next US President, after all,...), but nothing of substance came of it. I'm really not sure where the deftness was. Apart from the fawning press, the US public has not really been impressed by his performance, given that this poll numbers seem to be sagging.

    There was nothing of "substance"? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by samtaylor2 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:52:17 PM EST
    First there was nothing that was supposed to happen at a policy level.  That is not his job nor was it his purpose.  But substance did come out of it.  His going there and putting his plan forward came at the exact same time the Iraq's endorsed his plan for getting out of Iraq.  Is that not substance?

    Nope ;) (5.00 / 0) (#72)
    by pmj6 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:14:37 PM EST
    It was a restatement of his earlier positions, and he did not need to go to Europe for that. I expected something that would signal the direction of the Western alliance after the Bush administration, some kind of a foreign policy framework, etc. What we got instead was a display of his unwillingness to visit wounded US soldiers in the absence of cameras, and a few shots of him in Berlin with the Siegessaule in the backdrop (which in turn led to that silly Bob Herbert column accusing McCain campaign of subliminal racism). So, overall, there were no "ich bin ein Berliner" or "tear down this wall" moments, which is what he really needed. The trip's effect certainly fell short of the immense expectations that preceded it.

    Right wing talking point. (5.00 / 3) (#82)
    by TChris on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:21:32 PM EST
    The "unwilling to visit soldiers" smear is straight out of the McCain camp, and it's untrue as has been well documented.

    Actually (5.00 / 0) (#89)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:24:28 PM EST
    He was unwilling to visit soldiers if he couldn't have his entourage with him because it would be a political event.  He was always welcome to visit them here and abroad as part of his duties in the Senate.

    His entourage consisting (5.00 / 2) (#94)
    by flyerhawk on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:27:16 PM EST
    of his himself and his military adviser.

    And (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by cmugirl on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:31:53 PM EST
    campaign staffers


    Senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs said Friday that retired Major Gen. Scott Gration, a policy adviser to the campaign, received a call from Pentagon officials earlier in the week expressing concerns about the trip -- specifically because Obama was heading there on his campaign plane and campaign staff members would be accompanying him on the visit.

    After speaking with Gration, the campaign decided to cancel the trip. Gibbs said Obama is "comfortable with the decision" because he did not want to make the troops part of a campaign event.

    Post (5.00 / 2) (#125)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:42:56 PM EST
    of the day.  Spot on.  Obama is unsure of himself and his answers.  He wants to make sure he is all things to all people, so he is verbose and nibbles at the edges.  McCain takes a big bite.  

    Obama's runs a less binary campaign? (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by cawaltz on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:40:39 PM EST
    I don't think so. I was pretty much told that elections were binary by an Obama supporter the other day. My options are McCain or Obama and if I don't vote Obama then I by default support McCain. How is that not binary? It's the exact treatment we have been given. Vote Obama,he's not McCain.

    Or, worse... (3.50 / 2) (#23)
    by pmj6 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:42:31 PM EST
    ...vote for Obama, or you're a racist. It's as binary and nuance-free as it gets.

    It's Interesting (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:49:17 PM EST
    That you use the word "binary."  I struggled to find the perfect word to describe the Republican's position of the "good v. evil"  "us v. them" narratives.  That is exactly how I came to describe it.

    The problem is... (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by kredwyn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:55:44 PM EST
    that the Democratic Party is also very good at setting up such binaries as well. Howard Dean was on NPR talking "us v them" over the weekend.

    Except... (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:58:40 PM EST
    Bush/McCain does it every time they open their mouths.

    And thousdands die as a result.


    Ummmm (none / 0) (#55)
    by kredwyn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:04:45 PM EST

    Make the logic connection between binaries in election politics and the non-sequitor, please.

    And yeah...the DNC does it every day...indeed, it appears to be a required part of Sunday morning pundit discourse these days.


    What Non-Sequitor? (none / 0) (#57)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:07:07 PM EST
    Surely, you aren't suggesting that Iraq, terr-ism, evil-doers and all the boggie men conjured up be the right aren't "election politics"  Please!  WTF do you think they've been running on for the last 8 years?

    and the Dems help sell it (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by cawaltz on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:37:59 PM EST
    How many times have the Dems capitulated because thet can not or will not fight the binary storyline?

    The Dems would have us believe that if the Iraq war were not funded that the troops would be reduced to eating camel and throwing stones.

    They had us believe they passed FISA because if they didn't the terra-ists would get us.

    It'd be different if it was solely a GOP tactic but the truth is its a party ploy BOTH parties use pretty routinely.


    I Hear Your Point (5.00 / 2) (#139)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:50:48 PM EST
    and yet I do draw a distinction between succumbing to the way the binary tactic sells, and actually doing the selling.  I don't intend to give the Dems a pass on funding, FISA, etc.  They have been a huge disappointment.  They have struggled to find a message that resonates with the voting public like the "Good .v Evil", etc.  The public almost always takes that bait.  The fact remains that the Republicans have gotten away with so much incompetance and corruption, and are still relevant because, in a very large part, their simple, unquestioned and faux binary positions sells well to the voting public.

    Has anyone ever considered (5.00 / 4) (#151)
    by cawaltz on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:02:38 PM EST
    that perhaps people don't like the Democratic brand because they don't appear to actually steadfastly stand for anything?

    The platform says they respect a woman's right to choose but over a dozen of the Democrats were instrumental in LIMITING that choice for women in the third trimester.

    They say they are for equality but then dozens of them tell us that they think marriage is only between a man and a woman.

    I could go on and on.

    As abhorrent as I find the GOP's core values, at least they are willing to fight for them. With the Democrats, all we get are "just words."


    Well, (5.00 / 1) (#168)
    by chel2551 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:21:53 PM EST
    that perhaps people don't like the Democratic brand because they don't appear to actually steadfastly stand for anything?

    some do.  But not enough of them have supported the platform for fear of losing the next election.  Instead of figuring out ways to convince voters of the merits of voting dem, they choose the easy way out and mimic republican values.

    In some ways, Obama is doing that now, and it's not hard to see why people are disillusioned.

    Between that and the ever-present criticism that his qualifications and experience are lacking, as well as (ahem) other issues), is it any wonder that he's having trouble connecting to more dems?

    Look, he's blowing it.  He's no more uniting the different factions than al-Maliki is in Iraq.

    What a mess.


    Well, As (none / 0) (#165)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:19:52 PM EST
    Will Rodgers famously said, "I'm not a member of any organized party; I'm a Democrat."  Core Democratic values are the right values, and worth fighting for.  If a dozen Democrats wanted to limit a  woman's choice, does that mean 535-12= 523 Democrats didn't want to limit it?  How many Republicans worked against it?  I don't know the numbers, and I'm not going to look them up.  But I can say that overwhelmingly, the Democrats represent my values over the Republicans.  Indeed, the Republicans are the more displined of the two, no doubt in part becuase it is easier to defend choices that are oversimplified to the point of mental numbness.  Democrats get involved; Republicans get in line.

    Ohhhh...that's what you meant... (none / 0) (#64)
    by kredwyn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:11:31 PM EST
    I see.

    Yup they have been running on that.


    Sorry If I Didn't Make That Clear (5.00 / 0) (#66)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:13:19 PM EST
    What?  You can't read my mind? :)

    But that wasn't my point... (none / 0) (#68)
    by kredwyn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:13:41 PM EST
    And yes, the Dem Party has been using the "us v. them" binary for a very long time...and often on a daily basis.

    If You Are Saying (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by flashman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:29:45 PM EST
    that they are equivalent, then I have to disagree.  There is, in my recollection, no Democratic equivalent to "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists"  or, "To not invade is to do nothing..."  or, "The only way to solve the energy problem is to drill..."  The world to Republicans is of simplistic binary choices.  To Dems too, maybe is it so often.  But Dems will always be less binary.

    I'm tired of a world... (5.00 / 8) (#37)
    by kredwyn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 02:52:43 PM EST
    where confusion and lack of direction can be referred to as nuance. And I'm tired of a world where binary positions on some issues can be seen as simple minded and basic.

    There are some things that I am very nuanced about. In part, because I know a lot about the topic and I am fully aware that there are a lot of different aspects that are tangentially connected that need to be addressed or at the very least...examined.

    There are other things that I am quite binary about...indeed, some have argued down right stubborn and stuck in the mud.

    There are very few people who are 100% nuanced or 100% binary all of the time.

    And I'm tired of a world in which hyperbole and generalizations are used to make people into a caricature of themselves in order to puff up the weakness in another.

    Look, (5.00 / 4) (#54)
    by frankly0 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:03:50 PM EST
    are you going to claim that Bill Clinton couldn't or didn't do "nuance"?

    Of course he did. But he knew how to combine his nuance with his ability to convince ordinary voters that he really cared about them.

    I think that Bill Clinton will always be the gold standard for how Democrats can and should communicate their concerns and ideals.

    And, yes, it sucks that your guy Obama isn't even worthy to kiss Bill's hem when it comes to basic communication with voters.

    Playing it safe (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by KeysDan on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:05:12 PM EST
    The "nuance", the uhhs, the--well look, the --you knows, the as I have said many times, all seem to be either pauses to shape responses to the particular audience or iterations of the earlier 'present'  or skipped votes with subsequent explanations if ever needed.  But the playing it safe mode may not be as effective in the general election. Senator Obama needs to make his positions crisp and sharpen his answers, or his opponents will interpret his positions and answer his questions for him. Moreover, some of the electorate will simply see hesitation as either crafty or unsure.

    I'm not ready to defend Obama on this issue (5.00 / 3) (#58)
    by Edgar08 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:07:44 PM EST
    although the issue being discussed here is very important to me and I will come around eventually for now I believe people reduced the AUMF to an absolute binary and created a with feingold/with the neocons binary.  I believe Obama politically exploited that oversimplified paradigm and so I will stick to my pledge to treat Obama only in a way that he has found himself capable (or incapable of) treating others.

    He's a grown up.  If he knows how to exploit it, he should know how to avoid it.

    There's a huge (5.00 / 7) (#62)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:11:25 PM EST
    difference between



    did he even answer the question?

    Obama is way to seeped in the latter.

    I'm all for nuance. For instance, tell me exactly what you're going to do about healthcare....oh yeah, I was told specifics were boring.

    Heh (5.00 / 7) (#67)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:13:34 PM EST
    I had a really long post upthread and you managed to convey the exact same thought in like two lines.

    Being a good Democrat, I should probably start whining at this point that my answer was just more "nuanced" :)


    I vote this post (5.00 / 4) (#140)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:51:50 PM EST
    as post of the day.

    I'm still laughing.


    and, (5.00 / 2) (#143)
    by ccpup on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:55:04 PM EST
    like the good Democrat I'd like to be, I'll just say "ditto"

    yeah..what s/he said. (none / 0) (#186)
    by DJ on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:31:55 PM EST
    I think the problem with Obama is (5.00 / 6) (#71)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:14:11 PM EST
    that he delivers every answer as if he is required to present every possible view, without ever telling us where he comes down on an issue.  

    Now, it is not necessarily a bad thing to be able to look at an issue from more than one side - I think people like knowing that someone's mind is open enough to acknowledge and even consider other viewpoints.  And as Democrats, we are more likely to be able to accept that on issues like abortion and marriage, we do not presume to legislate for others the choices we would make for ourselves.

    However, at some point, in order to make policy and to move the country forward, he has to take a position, and the people deserve to know where he is on these things.  If he's said something is good and bad and okay and possibly not a good idea, how am I supposed to know where he is headed with an issue?  Will he advance it, try to kill it, table it for later, what?

    I happen to think John McCain is wrong on just about everything, and while there has been some flip-flopping on his part, too, I think it's easier to dismiss that as the normal pandering just because he has a long record and one can see for one's self where he stands.

    With Obama, ask him a question, and he will give you all kinds of answers, and when he's finished, I usually have no idea what it adds up to.  I think I'm a pretty intelligent person, I've been working with lawyers for forever so I'm pretty good at parsing, so am I just better at seeing that there's not much "there" there, or is he really not saying much?

    Sadly, I have this feeling that Obama is the guy who always got by on his ability to BS his way through, who never cracked a book or started a project until the last minute, and then expected to ace the course.  He probably managed to do it often enough that he grew to believe that it would always work that way, but I think his lack of preparation, and his seeming disinterest in the effort this race may require, is becoming more than a little off-putting.

    TChris, this is easy to agree with (5.00 / 2) (#80)
    by Teresa on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:20:13 PM EST
    Sally Quinn would like to live in a simple, binary world where the choices between good and evil or right and wrong are easy to make. Unfortunately, she lives in the real world, where nuance matters. That's also Barack Obama's world.

    It's appropriate for a President to live in Obama's nuanced world, but you have to get elected first. Unfortunately, most voters do want the right and wrong, good and evil answers. Look at our history.

    People can understand nuance (5.00 / 2) (#95)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:27:29 PM EST
    if people like Quinn do not talk down to them like children. Plenty of politicians can explain complicated ideas clearly - one immediate example springs to mind.  Obama can too, on the issues he knows best. Communication is a skill he can practice - doing so does not make him inauthentic.

    Yes and I have seen him be quite (5.00 / 4) (#135)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:47:41 PM EST
    succinct, effective and straight-forward on several occasions.  

    Personally, I think his problem is lack of study.  I think that he hasn't "learned the material" as well as he should.

    I don't know how they are prepping him, but I would say they are probably lacking in good old-fashioned conversational discussion about key issues he should be able to talk about without overtly pausing and thinking.

    I've seen him when he knows his subject and his position and he tends to be direct and comes off as quite clever too.

    My suspicion is that his handlers have drilled into him the notion that he should be as non-committal as possible on key issues so as not to get caught out.  That doesn't give him much to work with in terms of material and it leaves him searching for words and phrases that are as meaningless to him as they are to everyone else.  My suggestion is that they drop that and start letting the man say what he thinks.


    Did you ever (5.00 / 2) (#176)
    by camellia on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:25:52 PM EST
    try to answer a question about something you didn't know much about, and you tried to sound as if you knew something without really saying anything that would give away your ignorance?  Well, that's how Obama sounds quite often.  And that's the nuance I get from him mostly.  I honestly try to listen and learn,but I just don't get what it is that has brought him to this place.

    Just to make one further point (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by frankly0 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:33:47 PM EST
    there material and presenting it sharply and memorably to people of diverse backgrounds.

    It's really at the base of the gift for teaching.

    Some people who understand complex material can manage to communicate it superbly; some can't seem to do so for the life of them.

    We've all met professors who can teach their courses so that everyone pays attention and catches on, and others who seem only able to talk to themselves and other professors -- or at most graduate students.

    I think it's pretty clear Bill Clinton was an example of the former. Clearly, too, Obama is an example of the latter.

    I really don't think that's going to change much.

    A knack for teaching is, most of all, and certainly at the extreme end required by a successful national politician, a true gift.

    Obama didn't catch that bouquet.

    I don't know - I think he probably isn't (5.00 / 2) (#146)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:58:30 PM EST
    a bad teacher when he has 45 or 90 minutes or three hours at his disposal.  But the craft of communicating your ideas as a politician is different from teaching students.  The former doesn't have a captive audience and time to spare for one thing.

    I noted last night in a thread that someone has to tell Obama that he's not defending his thesis here.  He often sounds very much like an academic laying out a thesis who is trying to cover all the possible areas that might be critiqued or challenged by his peers.  

    As a politician his job is different.  He is there to communicate a vision and a few specific ideas in hopes that people will respond positively to him.  Where he can "teach" he should, but we live in a short-format world where people are impatient and looking for "the bottom line" answers most of the time.  People who don't deliver at least some portion of the time on that level are often viewed as suspect and opponents are often successful in painting them as trying to hide something.  That's where Obama is at risk if he doesn't find some balance here.  I also think a little less teaching and a little more "I feel your pain" would help him make stronger connections too.


    Oops (none / 0) (#118)
    by frankly0 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:38:24 PM EST
    there material and presenting it sharply and memorably to people of diverse backgrounds.

    Should be:

    there is a gift for taking complex material and presenting it sharply and memorably to people of diverse backgrounds.


    Authenticity (5.00 / 2) (#110)
    by lilburro on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:34:36 PM EST
    is an easily manipulated quality.

    I think Obama's issue is more the gap between his charismatic speech appearances, with which we are all so familiar, and his at times rambling Q&A answers.  It's not so bad that he's like two different people, but it could use some improvement.

    And nuance is all well and good, but the debates will be a war of talking points, and we should win - our principles when polled do.

    Thought Vs Action (5.00 / 2) (#149)
    by Manuel on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:02:04 PM EST
    Warning Gross generalities ahead.

    McCain is being precieved as a "man of action" vs. Obama's "thinking man".  Many voters find the "man of action" appealing because they think that, in the executive, the ability to make decisions based on incomplete information guided by core principles is valuable.  Nevermind that the need for this ability is exagerated.  Obama's problem is that even his "core" principles appear nuanced.  It is unfortunate that this caricature is pushed in the media coverage.  Nevertheless, Obama should do something to project decisiveness.  Answers such as "above my pay grade", the shifting handling of the Reverend Wright story, and the failure to drive the party unity message have not helped with his image.

    all discussions on this board (5.00 / 2) (#154)
    by Howard Zinn on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:12:11 PM EST
    get convoluted by this issue: are you voting for your candidate or against another?

    When someone says they dislike Obama for X, someone else says that McCain invented X in 1904 and is soooo much worse than Obama (I know McCain didn't invent the drug X, though it woulda been interesting).

    So the idealist might say, well I won't vote for Obama because of X, even though McCain's X is much worse. (In this world, one should only vote for a candidate, not against another one).

    But the realist might say that there are only two choices (assuming no major scandals) and that a vote for one is inherently a vote against the other.  So the realist would say that even though they dislike both candidates, they dislike Obama less, so they'll vote for him.  

    In this world, insulting Obama can be matched with the argument, "McCain is so much worse."  Also, people who espouse this view would be voting against McCain instead of for Obama.

    There are multiple parties in these discussions, some of which are from the first perspective and some from the second.  That's why these discussions spiral outta control; there are two philosophies involved.

    Sorry if this is off-topic -- I think it's relevant to every discussion, personally.

    Good point (5.00 / 3) (#167)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:21:51 PM EST
    And I guess that, the more I hear and see McCain, the more I am forced to move from 'idealist' to 'realist' and have to support Obama in order to stop McCain. I dislike and disrespect Obama, and even more so many of his supporters, and I will never trust democrats again on many issues. But from a realist perspective, McCain is miles worse. I mean, I have a 17 year old son, and there are many other kids that age in my life that I love, and McCain NEVER stops talking about war. That is just one problem, there are many more, like the environment, that are just too important now.

    The fact that you have (5.00 / 1) (#192)
    by chel2551 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:36:34 PM EST
    a 17-year-old son may be an issue for you.  Totally understandable.  

    Unfortunately, it was one that was used by a poster on another blog all the time as her biggest reason for not supporting Hillary.

    So excuse me if I wince just a bit when I hear it being used now.

    Are you suggesting we'll have a draft?  Seems highly unlikely.


    No, not suggesting a draft (5.00 / 1) (#203)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:46:01 PM EST
    I just don't want to see any more needless war, or any more innocent people killed, or any more kids (not just mine) get sent off like they are nothing by republican warmongerers.

    This is not about Hillary - I am one of her biggest defenders. I understand your wincing. I will never forget how vicious people have been to her or her supporters.


    I know this isn't about her. (5.00 / 1) (#209)
    by chel2551 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:52:18 PM EST
    But they made her a warmonger, didn't they.

    Maybe the same can be said of McCain.

    Obama has slightly more credibility.  That's also a problem.

    If only the man would take a stand...


    Was it "my national guard Staff Sgt son and (none / 0) (#214)
    by Teresa on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:54:29 PM EST
    his friends"? I'll bet I read that 200 times.

    I understand your pain exactly - (5.00 / 4) (#194)
    by Xanthe on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:40:49 PM EST
    I don't like Sen. Obama.  For awhile I thought it was because I didn't like his cadre of bloggers and that seemed unfair.  But I suspect they got their orders from the campaign.  

    I am in Illinois and really haven't seen a good reason to respect him as he's only been a senator for a short time and I don't get a sense of him.

    I do feel protective of him when the Repubs begin tearing at him - but get no sense that he feels protective of me and people like me - working class, older woman -  hanging to my Democratic ideals with my fingertips.  I don't want to fall off this  roof but I can't hang on much longer.

    As to your son - we all get that.  Please no more.  Notice that everyone now seems to shrug and accept the war.  I actually agree with Obama on the nonsense of the "surge" but he didn't knock it out of the park.  I think:  doesn't he want to alienate the Indies or the Republicans he thinks may vote for him.  He should educate the public here clearly and concisely -


    Dr.Molly (4.00 / 4) (#198)
    by JThomas on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:44:03 PM EST
    Thanks for thinking about the consequences of a McCain victory. My son is in Baghdad right now in the middle of a 15 month deployment and he has told me that altho he will always do his duty as he has sworn to do, he and his mates are very angry with President Bush and his inept management of our military and country at large.
    They are all ready to jump out of the military as soon as they are not stop-lossed yet again as they were last year before being deployed again.
    They respect that Jim Webb and Obama pushed thru the new GI bill. They do not care which democrat was the nominee as much as just getting a democrat into the White House. They are fed up with Republican rule. Thanks for thinking of them. One of their mates was killed last week by a snipers bullet and they are very despondant.

    So sorry.. (4.00 / 3) (#212)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:53:28 PM EST
    You must be very worried. My heart goes out to every kid and parent, American and otherwise, involved in this stupid war.

    Actually, there is a third: (5.00 / 1) (#185)
    by chel2551 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:31:33 PM EST
    voting for neither one.

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#193)
    by CST on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:38:41 PM EST
    That was the "idealist" option.  Otherwise you and I have confused the second option.  However, I agree there are 3;

    I thought he was talking about Obama and none-of-the-above.


    I guess I disagree with his (5.00 / 1) (#204)
    by chel2551 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:46:58 PM EST

    I don't vote against someone.  That's never the way I have ever looked at an election choice.

    I vote for someone.


    Very true (3.00 / 1) (#174)
    by CST on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:24:27 PM EST
    But you missed one.  There is a third "philosophy".  The "I'm so mad Obama did X that I will vote for McCain who did worse than X" followed by a "at least he is consistent" or "at least he has EXPERIENCE doing worse than X" or "but he didn't do it to Hillary..."

    I think you can make good arguments for either of your philosophies.  I personally find the third one extremely hypocritical.


    false assumption.... (5.00 / 4) (#201)
    by p lukasiak on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:45:12 PM EST
    your thesis is based on the false assumption that those of us who are critical of Obama are voting for McCain.  Yet few of PUMAs are actively supporting McCain -- instead, they are just refusing to support Obama.

    And that is a huge distinction.  To bring you slightly off-topic post back to the subject at hand, the PUMA/anti-Obama position is far more nuanced than you would have it. ;)

    Yes, McCain is a simplistic binary-thinking fool (4.00 / 3) (#120)
    by Dr Molly on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:40:53 PM EST
    The Saddleback forum was a bit of a watershed for me, a bit of a sobering up. McCain clearly lives in BushWorld - completely simplistic. (My favorite of the night:  "What should we do in the face of evil? A) ignore it, B) be afraid of it, C) can't remember, D) defeat it?" McCain: I choose D Rick! Defeat it!)

    McCain has officially shed all pretense of the moderate label. As I said in other threads, I had not been paying attention to McCain for a while and it's a good thing I watched the other night because it re-energized me to STOP HIM at all costs. He is nothing but a warmongering, woman-hating, right-wing fool. (It's not that I didn't always know this, I just needed a dose of McCain to snap me out of my apathy apparently.)

    His words that night were forceful and clear, yes, but they were forceful, clear pronouncements of the same old neocon saber-rattling, bigotry, and republican disdain for the have-nots. He has truly returned to his base.

    Obama is smart and thoughtful, yes, and his ums and ahs have never bothered me very much as they do other people.

    All that said, I agree with many of the other commenters that Obama's style just doesn't play well with the electorate. As noxious as McCain's positions are, his direct simplistic style plays well. Obama needs to focus up.

    Please tellme what is nuanced and what is (none / 0) (#126)
    by mogal on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:44:26 PM EST
    Please tell me what is nuanced and what is ( / ) (#0)
    by mogal on soon


    It has to be confronted squarely. And one of the things that I strongly believe is that, you know, we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God's task. But we can be soldiers in that process. And we can confront it when we see it.
    Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil. Because, you know, a lot of evil's been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

    I thought that was confusing (none / 0) (#148)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:02:00 PM EST
    and I really enjoyed reading Plato - thought I "got it".

    What? (none / 0) (#133)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:47:29 PM EST
    Point out the bigotry of the other night, please.

    I didn't read through (none / 0) (#197)
    by tlkextra on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:43:05 PM EST
    every comment because part of this thread evolved into what I hated during the Primaries - a tit-for-tat argument. It's fine to voice different opinions, but what's the point of all the "yeah, but...." on both sides? Especially when you're debating who has more money, who is lacking more morally, who did what to whom...so on and so forth. Neither side is taking the high ground today and it's only Monday.

    Ok let's try to agree (none / 0) (#213)
    by DJ on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:54:14 PM EST
    that Obama should try to clarify answers to questions he knows he will be asked.  He can indicate that it is complicated
    such as:
    Abortion..This is an incredibly complicated subject and because of the complexities I do not think we should to legislate what happens inside a woman's body.
    Gay marriage - This is a complicated subject but we should all agree that an adult couple should that choses to establish a personal partnership should be respected, should have all rights under the law available to other relationships.  If it is against your religious beliefs then you don't have to do it but you must not legislate your views on others.

    TChris (none / 0) (#216)
    by coigue on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 09:35:52 PM EST
    I really like this post.

    TChris (none / 0) (#217)
    by vbdietz on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:46:15 PM EST
    Keep up the good work.