The Politics Of Contrast Triumphant

In my first post for Talk Left in the summer of 2006, I wrote:

How did FDR do it and can Democrats defend FDR liberalism today? Maybe not by calling it FDR liberalism but they surely can and do when they have the courage of their convictions. The most prominent of these instances was the fight to save Social Security Faced with Media hostility, Republican demagogy and flat out lies, Democrats rallied to the FDR liberalism banner and crushed the Republican attempts to roll back the clock. FDR would have been proud of Democrats in that fight. No triangulation. Good old fashioned political populism won the day.

And that is FDR's lesson for Obama. Politics is not a battle for the middle. It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate. It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle. . . The lesson of Hofstadter is to embrace liberal governance and understand populist politics. It may sound cynical, but you must get through the door to govern. Lincoln knew this. FDR knew this. Hofstadter knew this. I hope Obama can learn this.

Last night, Barack Obama demonstrated he has learned that lesson. No more Post Partisan Unity Schtick. Last night was the Politics of Contrast. And it was Hillary Clinton's supporters, the Clinton Wing of the Democratic Party, that helped teach him. Remarkably, Barack Obama ran to the base rhetorically in the general election. More . . .

Kos wrote:

When was the last time we saw a speech like tonight's -- a full-throated defense of progressive principles, devoid of mushy "centrist" crap? It didn't avoid the tough social issues like abortion, guns, or gay marriage. . . . It drew sharp distinctions between Democrats and Republicans. It came from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

How about this one?

Look at the example the Republicans have set. In this decade, American workers have consistently given us rising productivity. That means, year after year, they work harder and produce more. Now, what did they get in return? Declining wages, less than one-fourth as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty, and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s.

American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other serious conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn't afford health care and couldn't qualify their children for Medicaid unless they quit work and starved or got a divorce.

Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of? What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by multiple, multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well-connected?

And what about Katrina and cronyism?

My fellow Democrats, America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will do better than that.

The choice is clear. The Republicans in a few days will nominate a good man who has served our country heroically and who suffered terribly in a Vietnamese prison camp. He loves his country every bit as much as we do. As a senator, he has shown his independence of right-wing orthodoxy on some very important issues.

But on the two great questions of this election -- how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America's leadership in the world -- he still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.

And it is, to be fair to all the Americans who aren't as hard- core Democrats as we, it's a philosophy the American people never actually had a chance to see in action fully until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and the Congress.

Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades actually were implemented. And look what happened.

They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty; and millions more losing their health insurance.

Now, in spite of all this evidence, their candidate is actually promising more of the same. Think about it: more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy; more Band-Aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families, and increase the number of uninsured; more going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.

They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Now, let's send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America, a simple message: Thanks, but no thanks.

The Barack Obama we saw last night practiced the Politics of Contrast. He followed the lead established by Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. And in doing so, he recognized the moment, the opportunity. He argued for Democratic progressive policies against the conservative Republican policies and he labelled Bushism as Republicanism and conservatism. He made John McCain its standard bearer.

When I supported Barack Obama in the primaries, I did so because of the Media's love affair with him, as I believed that, on the issues I care about, there was not a dime's difference between Obama and Hillary Clinton. At the same time, I critiqued Obama's Post Partisan Unity Schtick, as not only bad for policy (no mandate), I thought it was bad politics. I urged the adoption of the Politics of Contrast.

Happily, Barack Obama did that last night. He learned the lesson. And in no small measure, it was Hillary Clinton's supporters who helped him to learn it. And of course, the man responsible for creating this political moment is George W. Bush. But no thanks for that.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    Yes, (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:01:39 AM EST
    but will he back it up with some actions? He wasn't brave with his VP pick though I really thought Biden did a good job. Obama is really going to have to start getting a lot of us to trust him. He has been running the kumbaya schtick so long that while changing to be more like Clinton is a good thing, I still have to wonder whether he means it or not? Truly, if he had not flip flopped on so many issues after becoming the presumptive nominee all this would be a lot easier to believe. I worry that despite this speech, once he gets into the WH he'll revert back to doing exactly what Kerry/Daschle/Pelosi want him to do.

    BTW, word on the street is that McCain has picked Sarah Palin as VP.

    If the word on the street is correct, (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by theybannedmeinboston on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:17:10 AM EST
    Obama's speech last night is moot. An Obama/Biden ticket will be crushed by a McCain/Palin ticket. One reason is that the Republican ticket will have the relative positions- experienced/less experienced - in the right order.

    Oh, really?? (none / 0) (#13)
    by independent voter on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:20:55 AM EST
    And where, exactly are you getting your information? "word on the street" is not a credible source of data for me.

    Well (none / 0) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:22:33 AM EST
    that's why I'm using "word on the street". If you check the conservative blogs, they are saying that McCain's plane has been sent to AK to pick up Palin. You can take that for whatever it's worth.

    NBC: Pawlenty is out, perhaps Romney too (none / 0) (#19)
    by Josey on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:24:39 AM EST
    Ga6thDem, you are SO tiresome (none / 0) (#56)
    by independent voter on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 02:40:49 PM EST
    I was not responding to you, and I was not questioning who the McCain pick is, because I do not care who the McCain pick is. I fully support Obama and believe he will defeat McCain regardless of the ticket of McCain/Palin

    Palin? Oh good. How has her scandal turned out? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:39:33 AM EST
    Palin Scandal here

    Gov. Sarah Palin, a rising young GOP star mentioned as a possible running mate for John McCain, could see her clean-hands reputation damaged by a growing furor over whether she tried to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.
    A legislative panel has launched a $100,000 investigation to determine if Palin dismissed Alaska's public safety commissioner because he would not fire the trooper, Mike Wooten. Wooten went through a messy divorce from Palin's sister.

    Usually it is the divorcing husband (none / 0) (#52)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:46:46 AM EST
    who suddenly quits his job.  Interesting twist.  

    Exactly (none / 0) (#45)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:32:37 AM EST
    Hope he sticks with it past the first salvo.

    I agree except (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by BernieO on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:03:04 AM EST
    I was not happy with his statement that at least we could keep AK 47's out of the hands of criminals. The public as well as cops strongly support the ban on these guns, which Bush allowed to expire (something most people don't know). I can understand why Barack might not have wanted to address this issue and give the right something to distract us with but I wish he had just not said anything rather than this weak remark.

    I have a couple of factual complaints and questions. His saying that he would go through the federal budget line by line, getting rid of programs that don't work implies he will have the line item veto. Without it I can't see how he can do this, although I have no problem with his getting rid of ineffective programs. That was a big part of Carter's appeal.

    Also he said "For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11". Is this true? I keep wondering if McCain is a neocon. On the one hand the military brass respects him (and Hillary) and do not like the neocons, but I know he was an early champion of the uber con man Chalabi. Can anyone shed any light on this?

    the talk about the programs (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by ccpup on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:17:38 AM EST
    also made me think of the Faith Based stuff he wants to do.

    As my partner asked last night, "what in his history tells us he even knows how to initiate or accomplish even 1/4 of the stuff he's talking about?"

    This laundry list will have people wondering, once again, about his inexperience.


    On the gun issue - (none / 0) (#17)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:22:36 AM EST
    Gore probably lost West Virginia because of a whisper campaign that had people believing that if he was elected he planned to go house to house and take everyone's guns away.  I know that this was widely believed in WV and western Maryland and have had others from others from other pro-gun states say that they knew about the same rumor.  I met a guy right after that election from that part of the world who had always been a Democrat but voted for Bush because he believed that rumor.  This is a long way of saying that the only thing that that guy would agree with abosolutely on the subject of guns is the position that Obama stated last night.  I think Obama said the right thing on that front.

    As for your question about McCain - it is said in DC that "he's never met a war he didn't like".  Whether he is a neocon or simply a hawk on steroids is hard to figure out.  He has a track record of supporting any and all military actions.  That is my main complaint about him - I have many more - but he is pretty much the most likely of any of the Republicans to lead us into another war.


    But if that were true (none / 0) (#24)
    by BernieO on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:31:36 AM EST
    Why would the military brass respect him? They certainly don't support all proposed military actions. Many of these guys are Vietnam vets and do not want to repeat that debacle.

    A couple of things... (none / 0) (#35)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:52:58 AM EST
    There is plenty of brass behind Obama at the moment - many who left under Bush because of his insane policy.  Rear Admiral Juhn Hutson (ret.) gave quite a speech at the DNC about why he's switched parties - I think Iraq is becoming the Republican equivalent of Viet Nam which arguably destroyed the Democratic base in the military for years.

    McCain has a long history with the military as you know which means that he is a known quantity - he will have some support by default.  Military brass aren't averse to war either.  They are averse to badly managed wars.  So being a hawk is not a disqualifier - although IIRC McCain's support of Clinton's intervention in Bosnia really irritated many in the top brass as well as his GOP colleagues.  The military has been so badly mis-managed that some are realizing that the GOP ideology no matter who their candidate is is probably too risky a proposition.  Some of the hold outs though are more ideological than they are military - one change I am really hoping Obama will facilitate in the Pentagon if he is elected.  There are some scary guys in our military ranks these days who have been allowed under Bush to act on the basis of political ideology rather than exclusively in their capacity as soldiers.  I don't think McCain will address that problem.


    Bill Clinton also ran on line item veto (none / 0) (#22)
    by Josey on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:27:08 AM EST
    The Supreme Court said NO!

    He wasn't talking about the (none / 0) (#40)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:01:42 AM EST
    line item veto - he was talking about routing out Republican corruption.  There is a lot of stuff going on in this town these days that is beyond silly and extremely expensive to boot.

    He's got a stack of Bush Executive Orders to review and throw in the trash as a start - many of those things have price tags.

    The President has a lot of say about how the Agencies spend monies allocated by Congress.  That is why winning the White House is so important.  As I am sure you are aware, when Bush has not been interested in the Congress' agenda he has simply ignored or twisted their intent by ordering the Agencies to follow his directives.  The EPA is a good example - Congress keeps funding the agency and he has his people spending money on projects trying to protect corporate polluters.  The Justice Department sues states like CA on behalf of the EPA when they want to improve their efficiency standards.  These are the things that have gone on and will continue to go on if the Republicans are able to keep control of the White House.


    Yup, he essentially ... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Robot Porter on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:06:39 AM EST
    did the contrast thing.  And that was nice to see.

    A bit of the bipartisan crap pepper here and there, but generally a good, fighting Dem speech.

    Let's hope he sticks to this message.

    I hope he keeps up (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by sancho on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:13:22 AM EST
    the politics of contrast and I think he can make the contrasts sharper. Doing so is the only way, imo, he can win. If he campaigns as a Democrat, I'll have some hope he'll govern as one.

    OTOH, I dont care for his family over government line, especially when it is juxtaposed, as it was last night, with his health care for all appeal. I think he even "low information" voters can see the contradiction between claiming to keep family safe from government and claiming to use government to protect the health of families. Undercuts his message.


    I loved this part... (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by wasabi on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:14:21 AM EST
    "And it is, to be fair to all the Americans who aren't as hard- core Democrats as we, it's a philosophy the American people never actually had a chance to see in action fully until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and the Congress.

    Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades actually were implemented. And look what happened."

    That is what needs to be emphasized throughout the remainder of the campaign, although I would change the "hard-core Democrats" to something less partisan.

    I agree. (none / 0) (#32)
    by liminal on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:44:24 AM EST
    W is the ultimate triumph of Reaganism.  This should be the election where we put the myth of St. Ronny at least partially to bed.  I was very glad to hear that line.  

    I must have seen a different speech (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by kenosharick on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:15:45 AM EST
    while there were some nice things for the left, he also went after mushy middle, just as he has done in recent actions such as his FISA vote.

    Jesse Jackson, Jr. warned Obama followers (none / 0) (#25)
    by Josey on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:36:20 AM EST
    during a meeting with the Illinois delegation, not to be concerned during the next few weeks as Obama turns right to attract Obamacans (his words) and Indys.
    Obama's flip flops this summer and his final Centrist position on FISA was a big disappointment!

    on healthcare (none / 0) (#59)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 12:52:08 PM EST
    Obama talked about making healthcare available to those who chose it; I note this especially in light of the fact that Hillary mentioned her commitment to universal healthcare many times in her speech. I got the sense Hillary was telling us that she plans to focus on getting us UHC in the years to come.  Anyone with a different take?

    In short (5.00 / 10) (#8)
    by Edgar08 on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:16:39 AM EST
    To answer Kos's question:

    When was the last time we saw a speech like tonight's -- a full-throated defense of progressive principles, devoid of mushy "centrist" crap?

    The answer can be quite direct:  

    The night before and the night before that by the people you keep trying to purge from the party.

    and all through the Primary (5.00 / 7) (#14)
    by ccpup on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:21:17 AM EST
    by the candidate people kept shouting at to drop out.

    "kos wrote:" (none / 0) (#48)
    by Mshepnj on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:55:30 AM EST
    '...When was the last time we saw a speech like tonight's -- a full-throated defense of progressive principles, devoid of mushy "centrist" crap?...'

    "The answer can be quite direct:  

    The night before and the night before that by the people you keep trying to purge from the party."

    That's exactly right. It would be nice if Mr. Moulitas and his ilk would acknowledge that Hillary and Bill along with Dennis and Joe and Brian and Al all spoke eloquently about progressive priorities before Obama jumped on the train.

    I'm am persuaded to vote for Obama, despite my skepticism, BECAUSE of Hillary and Bill and Al - who articulate the Democratic and progressive message, but I'm taking it on faith that Obama believes all those things that they have claimed for him. His words were encouraging last night.

    Now that it's apparently confirmed that Sarah Palin is McCain's running mate, there is a real contrast on issues that matter to progressives. I want to hear Obama keep up the contrast. I'm taking a "wait and see" at this point. I want to see what he says as the GE campaign progesses.


    at we at last all Olbermanns? (none / 0) (#49)
    by AlSmith on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:57:58 AM EST

    We cant tell whats going on by actually looking at the content of a speech?

    "    When was the last time we saw a speech like tonight's -- a full-throated defense of progressive principles, devoid of mushy "centrist" crap? It didn't avoid the tough social issues like abortion, guns, or gay marriage. . . . It drew sharp distinctions between Democrats and Republicans. It came from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

    This speech was from the DLC wing of the party.

    Mentions of unions: 0
    Mentions of environment: 0
    Mentions of global warming: 0
    Mentions of abortion: 1
    Mentions of pro-choice: 0
    Mentions of tax cuts: 4
    Mentions of defense: 5
    Invasion of Pakistan: 1?
    Mentions of gun control: 0
    mentions of ed testing: 1
    Social Security: 2
    Mentions of Gitmo: 0
    Mentions of torture: 0
    Mentions of Stem cells: 0

    I see Slate claims this was the "triple bacon cheeseburger" of specifics.

    Where exactly were those? How he is harnessing nuclear energy? How he is buying new cars for everyone? How is he hiring these new teachers since the federal government doesnt employ any.  Was he going into the "cave where he lives" in Pakistan?

    How exactly is he protecting social security since that wasnt even a complete sentence?

    Its not that this was a horrible speech. But can we be reality based enough to admit there we no specifics? And that this speech, pumped up by the netroots, is really more like the hated and pilloried DLC positions than almost anything else we heard this week? Shouting and spiting things like Olberman doesnt make them so.



    How long did you want it to be? (none / 0) (#50)
    by OldCity on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:27:43 AM EST
    me? (none / 0) (#53)
    by AlSmith on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 11:27:06 AM EST

    For me I would like it to be long enough to contain some specifics so that a guy with no experience or accomplishment isnt saying "trust me".

    But since the speech is in the can, he cant add to it.

    But, can we at least stop lying to ourselves about it?
    "When was the last time we saw a speech like tonight's -- a full-throated defense of progressive principles, devoid of mushy "centrist" crap? It didn't avoid the tough social issues like abortion, guns, or gay marriage."

    Can anyone show me where there was a full-throated defense of
     - abortion
     - gun control
     - gay marriage


    I really (none / 0) (#57)
    by tek on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 03:32:34 PM EST
    read that he gave a repeat of Hillary's speech.

    Is Kos acknowledging (none / 0) (#58)
    by denise on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 07:05:22 PM EST
    that everything Obama's said prior to yesterday WAS mushy centrist crap? Cause no one at Cheetohland was  allowed to say so before.

    The speech was phenomenal (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by independent voter on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:18:26 AM EST
    content, delivery, execution.
    To me it came across as completely heartfelt and sincere. Has anyone seen the results of the reactions to the speech by indies? Looks good for Obama.

    A One Night Stand? (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:19:35 AM EST
    I share your optimism on the Party direction. Last night he did speak as a true progressive Democrat. It will be interesting to hear this same rhetoric a month from now. I hope this wasn't just a case of playing to the crowd. The next couple of weeks will be interesting to follow.

    Just words (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by trillian on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:22:11 AM EST
    Of course he had to abandon his unity schtick...well except for the ending. His numbers have been languishing with the only up-tick coming after Hillary's speech Tuesday night. Axelrod saw the writing on the wall.

    But will he stick to it?

    If he does he stands to lose the very people he has been going after, like the evangelicals.

    No one knows what he believes in. He says whatever the current audience wants to hear. Last night they wanted red meat. He delivered. But time will tell whether he sticks with it or falls back onto the schtick he is most comfortable with.

    Either way, it is all just words. We have no idea whether he will rule as a Dem or as a post partisan Prez.  I fear the latter.

    Hillary, unsung hero of this election (5.00 / 7) (#18)
    by robrecht on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:24:10 AM EST
    Early on, Obama's campaign made it about him and his star power and the groundswell movement of suppoters was truly impressive.  He had some  lofty speeches, but even more inspiring was his dominance of the ground game.  It seemed like it could have become a great populist movement.  But Hillary made the case for the democratic message and gathered the populist momentum.  For all of the CDS, she was really the one who was secondary to the message.  We wanted her because of her message.  
    McCain's people think Hillary showed them how to beat Obama, but she also seems to have shown Obama how to beat MCain.

    Hillary is the unsung hero of this election.

    I dunno I could hear her song (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:27:26 AM EST
    Of course (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by robrecht on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:38:08 AM EST
    TalkLeft has been an oasis in the midst of a populist desert.

    I heard her song in many places (none / 0) (#31)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:42:59 AM EST
    some unexpected.

    18 MM Voting Booths (none / 0) (#34)
    by robrecht on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:52:56 AM EST
    The main thing now is whether or not Obama has truly heard it.  I think he has.  A bitter pill to swallow for many, I know, but practically speaking in terms of the general election, Hillary's message is more important than her job title.  Our best shot is to hold Obama to this message.

    You got your wish - Lincoln 1860 (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:26:56 AM EST
    As you used to call it.

    My original complaint about Obama was the Post Partisan Unity Schtick as those who were here before February may recall.

    So I am glad he finally chose your path. I much prefer to fight on these grounds. Our ideas are better than theirs. Even the least of our candidates is better than their best.  

    What do you think (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Steve M on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:48:24 AM EST
    specifically of the way he raised the abortion/gay marriage/etc issues?

    Some people were disappointed he didn't proclaim himself proudly pro-choice and so forth.  To me it seemed like a classic example of defining the center and placing the Democratic position squarely within the mainstream.

    I loathe the mainstream (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:54:57 AM EST
    The mainstream is seductive, but the mainstream is fickle.

    Better to market a good program aggressively and to woo the mainstream to you than to be ever chasing the shifting tide of public opinion.

    We didn't get civil rights legislation passed by waiting for mainstream opinion to support it.


    big difference (none / 0) (#41)
    by OldCity on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:11:44 AM EST
    We got civil rights when a powerful President beat congress down and forced them to pass the voting rights act, etc.  

    And, Johnson, like Truman before him, was not passive on race.  What was unique was that both put asisde personal biases in favor of bedrock American principle:  equality.  But, they did it in part by appealing to the center.  It's historical revisionism to suggest otherwise.

    In recent years the Right has done exactly wht the democrats need to do; they convinced the center that conservative pronciples were, in fact, centrist.  Democrats need to fight to regain that ground.  They need to illustrate to the center that government does have a responsibility, that the social contract not only exists, but that the government should live up to its end.  

    We have over three hundred million people in this country.  the idea that we can run the country with a "small" government is ludicrous.  Federalism is great, it's our system...but look at the unfunded mandates we conveniently push off to the states...no one can say that federal; taxes foregone by the Republicans didn't metamorph into state taxes for education, infratstructure, and the like.  

    Unless Democrats take the macro view, we're forever, regardless of our passion, and ultimate correctness, going to be seen as "fringe".  So we need the credibilty of the center...no really big idea succeeds without it.


    I gotta start spell checking... (none / 0) (#42)
    by OldCity on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:12:21 AM EST
    It's all about marketing. (none / 0) (#44)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:29:44 AM EST
    But it doesn't work overnight or even over the course of one election and the minute you stop pushing, inertia will take over and public opinion will retreat.

    See civil rights and equal rights.

    Gore has it right.  Politicians are mostly weenies, wimps and cowards.  The best way to force a politician's hand is public pressure.  Gore isn't lobbying Congress.  He's running an advertising campaign to reach...the public.  Push that Overton window!

    If leaders won't lead, then make them.


    I really can't figure out what you're saying... (none / 0) (#51)
    by OldCity on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 10:41:06 AM EST
    We have one of the most inefficient systems of government in the world...for a reason.  That's how it was designed, because efficiency invariably produces bad policy.  Debate does matter.

    This whole "lead" thing is so ephemeral...what people really mean is, "Do what I want.  Now."  

    You simply cannot base your elctoral decisions on that sort of thinking.  Politicians will never be 100% in your corner; they have to be pragmatists.  Both political movements seem to have convinced themselves in recent years that absolutism is the way to go.  It's not, what's more it's really not possible.  What we should all want is to get the greatest amount of good with the least possible compromise.  But, to assume that compromise is some sort of "betrayal" is ridiculous.  The reality of our system demands that we "give to get".  

    Gore is running a public relations campaign.  Please explain to me how his messaging really differs procedurally, from political messaging of campaigns.  It doesn't.  the same tactics are used.  Saturation, theme, etc.

    The difference is that politicians can actually make things happen.  Maybe not all things, but they can make changes.  If you look at the time span between the integration of the armed forces and the voting rights act (I'm not in any way suggesting that the situation was acceptable), the pace was pretty swift.  45 years later, you have a man of color running for President.  May seem a long time to you, but it took almost 200 to get a Catholic President.  Over 200 to get a Jewish national candidate.

    Leading is encouraging the foment of debate within the branch of government that actually has the power to vote and make the laws.  The guy is going to do that.  


    It was "safe, legal and rare" (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:54:46 AM EST
    What's not to like?

    "accessible" or "available" (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:58:39 AM EST
    ought to be added to that trinity.

    One of the best ways to make something rare is to restrict access to it.  


    Great speech but (none / 0) (#5)
    by Saul on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:14:12 AM EST
    I have seen Obama not live up to his speeches.  Remember all the flip flops after he won the nomination.  He needed to say last night what was needed to get elected but will he deliver if he wins.  In the past he has give us reasons to doubt him.

    Deval of Massachusetts talked just like Obama and swooned the voters to pick him.  Yet now they are very dissatisfied with him as was shown in the primary.  In the primary when Obama had guns like Caroline, Deval, Kerry and Ted he lost Massachusetts big time when this was a state he should had a rout in.  

    Let see how the polls go after the republican convention.

    Actually (none / 0) (#26)
    by Coral on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:37:46 AM EST
    Patrick has begun to settle down and settle in, and is doing some good things. Also the MA health care plan is beginning to kick in. Not perfect, but we now have the lowest percentage of uninsured in the country, and some low-income people I know have been able to get subsidized insurance.

    So, I'm willing to give the "yes, we can" rhetoric a chance.


    I read that it was a lot more expensive (none / 0) (#30)
    by BernieO on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:40:32 AM EST
    than predicted but that was because there were a lot more uninsured than the planners thought. Does not mean it is a failure, though. Just the opposite because people are finally getting coverage.
    BTW did McCain support getting prescription drugs from Canada? I heard something to that effect.

    I have no faith in Obama to (none / 0) (#38)
    by dk on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:55:01 AM EST
    do anything progressive if he is elected, but I will defend Deval Patrick.  The big differences between the two are:

    1. Deval had a great deal of experience in both the public sector (asst. AG in the Clinton Administration) and private sector (General Counsel of Coca Cola).  He's had a shaky start because of structural reasons (the MA legislature is very powerful and distrustful of newcomers at first), but he has executive experience and is beginning to find his footing.

    2.  Deval, from the very beginning of his campaign, ran as a progressive.  There was never any post-partisan unity stuff, and never any religious social conservatism a-la-Obama.  

    He doesn't need a line item veto... (none / 0) (#20)
    by OldCity on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:24:58 AM EST
    he needs a majority and to win.  He submits the budget, Congress does it's usual shtick, and then they vote.

    Democrats in Congress are going to have to recognize that they are going to have to cut programs, even those that beneift their states, or at least funnel funds to their states.  

    As for gun control...Obama really gets a bad rap.  For starters, he's a constitutional lawyer, so he's got an inordinate respect for the rule of law, which means he doesn't waste a lot of time trying to change the immutable, and that frustrates people who just want to hear him b!tch, even if it will have no affect.  He's right though, that there's enough grey in the various gun laws in this country to pass restrictions...we will not, not ever, get rid of guns.  The Supreme court is pretty clear on that.  But, it's worthwhile to be sensible, as he suggests, in HOW we allow gun ownership and WHAT we allow people to own.  

    And, yeah, almost immediately after 9/11 Mccain was quoted as saying, "Next stop, Baghdad."

    I wrote in earlier post that the negative comments on the speech have just about blown my mind.  I'm all for having expectations, but this was a nomination speech.  What in the world do people expect?  A de facto schedule of exactly when we will leave Iraq?  Specifics on which programs are gonna go?  C'mon.

    And, the cynicism of the posters, these supposed "Progressives" is appalling. (I hereby propose a ban on the word.  It was, and is, a weak attempt to get out of using the traditional "Democrat" and "Liberal" which the other party so effectively demonized.  We need to take back, and own, our appellations, and not allow the Right to force us to redefine ourselves.)

    Every political success has been tied to a so-called "movement".  The derision that these posters launch at Obama for insisting that "change" is necessary is so foolish, I can't believe it.  How do you change the direction of the country, which, if they're to be believed, they want, without actually CHANGING the way things are done?  Without a new approach?  Are we to suggest that Bush, et al, didn't CHANGE things when they took over?  Jesus.  The mind boggles at the pettiness and the clear personal dislike, which seems to be supplanting common sense among many of the posters.

    Obama is it.  There aren't any other viable options.  McCain will be, if it's possible, worse than Bush.  And if those anti-Obama posters think that their personal dislike of Obama, and their apparent ignorance of history is some validation for allowing McCain's election, then they deserve what they get.

    And, you know what?  I could give a sh!t how condescending this comes off.

    If it were that simple (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by BernieO on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08:38:31 AM EST
    Bush would have gotten rid of a lot more programs than he did. Both Democrats and Republicans resist cutting programs because they always affect someone's constituents. Just look at how hard closing military bases were.
    Congress inserts all kinds of things into the budget and can reinsert things that have been omitted. Congress controls the purse strings. That is its main source of power.

    That's what I said... (none / 0) (#54)
    by OldCity on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 11:42:56 AM EST
    The art is in pursuading Congress.

    He Learned from You and the Clintons (none / 0) (#43)
    by kaleidescope on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:28:08 AM EST
    He's worthy.

    kos is, and has been in the tank (none / 0) (#46)
    by pluege on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:39:00 AM EST
    no point even looking at his blather. he is a wingnut of the shrillosphere.

    I was delighted with the speech (none / 0) (#47)
    by esmense on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:39:51 AM EST
    for exactly the reasons you give. Finally, I thought, Obama is talking like a Democrat and making the case for why the Democrats must be returned to power. In fact, for a great deal of the speech, I thought he was talking like a Clinton Democrat.

    But after thinking on it, getting beyond the excitement of the moment and the grace of his oratory, I realized this; the speech didn't take us BEYOND Clinton or make the case for "change" beyond doint the very necessary job of rejecting the actions, ideology and damage inflicted on the country by 8 years of Bush/Republican rule. (A job he did very well.)

    There was no over-riding, and memorable, theme that made the case not for Obama as a person but for an Obama vision -- he did not create a picture of the America he wants to lead us toward, or provide specifics for the new programs and actions that will get us there. No New Frontier. No bridge to the future. No New Deal. Not even a "thousand points of light" or a "compassionate conservatism" that specifically includes "faith based initiatives" and "No child left behind."

    In spirit the speech's message came close to Reagan's 1980 "Let's Make America Great Again." But that thought wasn't backed up with any kind of new, uniquely Obama direction or road map.

    I went from being pleased that he was returning to the the kind of policies and commitments made by Bill Clinton's campaign to worrying that he really only seemed to be asking for a Clinton 3rd term. He didn't argue for anything new and uniquely Obama or tell us -- as Clinton did with his "bridge" and his argument that new approaches were needed to meet the new challenges posed by dramatic and on-going economic change -- why we needed or wanted those new approaches and how those things would relate to the demands of and his hopes for the future.

    I think he still needs a theme, beyond "Change you can believe in." One that provides a vision that while it builds on and embraces "Clintonism" also goes far beyond it to offer something new and aspirational (and much more concrete and focused on the life of the country, rather than political life in Washington, than "a new kind of politics").

    A powerful theme that creates a vision for the country is what's needed to really make the campaign about us rather than about him.

    I think he is, at least he has been so far, lucky in the fact that McCain does not have, or hasn't so far indicated he has, any new vision, theme or direction for the country either.

    But I think the failure of both these candidates to present such a vision is the reason this campaign has so far been fought along such petty, redundant and depressing lines.

    I'd be interested in hearing what others think about this.


    The first 12 minutes (none / 0) (#55)
    by lilburro on Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 02:37:36 PM EST
    were a Hillary Clinton esque speech, complete with "the litany of woes and promise to do better" scheme that works so well for her.  If Kos actually couldn't see that, he needs to get his eyes checked.  

    Impressive (none / 0) (#60)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:03:17 PM EST
    to me about Obama's speech was the emotion he showed in giving it -- more so than I had ever seen from him before. If he wants to win white working class votes, he has to show them he cares about their issues, & I think his acceptance speech was a start.  I was also impressed that given the pressure on him, not just from the very nature of an acceptance speech, but because of the forcefulness & good reception of the 2 Clintons' speeches, Obama nevertheless rose to the occasion; he performed quite well under all the pressure.