April 20, 2007

Is Obama a gasbag?

I'm reading this commentary from Charles Krauthammer, about the things Barack Obama said on the day of the Virginia Tech massacre:
[I]t is simply dismaying that a serious presidential candidate should use it as the ideological frame for his set-piece issues.

Politico columnist Ben Smith has brought attention to a speech that Barack Obama made in Milwaukee just hours after the massacre. It must be heard to be believed. After deploring and expressing grief about the shootings, he continues (my transcription): "I hope that it causes us to reflect a little bit more broadly on the degree to which we do accept violence in various forms. . . . There's also another kind of violence . . . it's not necessarily physical violence."

What kinds does he have in mind? First, "Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women [of Rutgers]. . . . For them to be degraded . . . that's a form of violence. It may be quiet. It may not surface to the same level of the tragedy we read about today and we mourn." Good to know that Don Imus's "violence" does not quite rise to the level of Cho's.

Second, outsourcing. Yes, outsourcing: "the violence of men and women who . . . suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job has moved to another country."

Obama then cites bad schools and bad neighborhoods as forms of violence, before finishing with, for good measure, Darfur -- accusing America of conducting "foreign policy as if the children in Darfur are somehow less than the children here, and so we tolerate violence there." Is Obama, who proudly opposed overthrowing the premier mass murderer of our time, Saddam Hussein, suggesting an invasion of Sudan?

Who knows. This whole exercise in defining violence down to include shock-jock taunts and outsourcing would normally be mere intellectual slovenliness. Doing so in the shadow of the murder of 32 innocents still unburied is tasteless, bordering on the sacrilegious.
So I go to listen to the speech. Am I offended that Obama reframes his usual material with the Virginia Tech story? He had a speech to give that day, and it would not have worked to omit the subject. Plenty of other people went out of their way to use the massacre to promote their favorite issues -- notably gun control.

What really struck me about that audio clip though was what a gasbag Obama is. I hear a tired-sounding man, who rambles on and on. I know he's speaking before a group. I hear them respond now and then, when he mentions that Iraq is a war that should never have been waged and when he says teachers deserve higher pay. But if I didn't know who he was and that there was a crowd there, I would picture an old man slumped in an armchair, expatiating for the benefit of anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot. It's formless stream of consciousness. Oh, there is that theme of hope. The stream swirls back there at predictable intervals.

So the original question was whether we should be offended that he mixed the murderous violence of the day with other things, like the "verbal violence" of the dreaded Don Imus. But a better question, I think, is why does Barack Obama have a reputation as a good speaker? From this clip, I'd say he's a gasbag.

Here's a line:
"This campaign cannot be about me. This campaign is a vehicle for you. It's a vehicle for your hopes. It's a vehicle for your dreams."
Spare me.

Well, a candidate can get weary. It was a very stressful day. Maybe that was Obama at his worst. But really, such drivel. Just listing a lot of issues and saying hope, hope, hope should not inspire real hope. I can't believe people are hearing this and thinking: brilliant rhetoric. "Intellectual slovenliness" is a much more apt phrase.

92 comments:

Simon said...

"This campaign cannot be about me. This campaign is a vehicle for you. It's a vehicle for your hopes ... [and] dreams."

Presumably because if we looked too closely at you, Barack we'd see that the suit is empty.

He's got to do everything he can to make sure people can project their ideals about what a good candidate might look like onto him, because weighed dispassionately, there's nothing to him or his campaign. It's a sham.

Bruce Hayden said...

He may be tired. This is the problem of peaking so early - it is still a year and a half away from the election.

But I ask myself, if we are going to get a Democrat in the White House, who would I prefer, and I would definately prefer Obama to Edwards. What is scary is that Hillary is starting to look like the best of all the evils.

Tom T. said...

If you're untroubled by Obama linking the violence at Virginia Tech to the "violence" of Imus and outsourcing, imagine that a Republican candidate had linked the violence at Virginia Tech to the "violence" of abortion. How would you react then?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Of course he's a gas-bag. He's a Senator. What do you expect? So are Edwards, Brownback, etc ad nauseum.

I'll keep pounding this until people start to 'get' it -- Senators make lousy Presidents. Kennedy. Harding? Or the two that came via the Veep slot, LBJ and Nixon? Great bunch, that one.

Obama's only real attraction right now is that he's not a self-absorbed Baby-Boomer like (Mr. and) Mrs. Bill Clinton.

Der Hahn said...

I can hear a faint undertone ..... Then we're going to Washington, yeeearrrggghhhhh ...

AllenS said...

Well, he certainly doesn't sound very articulate. Since he sounds tired, he probably isn't very clean anymore either.

bill said...

Ann, you sound a little harsh. Try to remember this:

Oh, he may get weary
Candidates they do go wearied
Repeating that same old address
but he when gets weary
try a little tenderness

Simon said...

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...
"Obama's only real attraction right now is that he's not a self-absorbed Baby-Boomer like (Mr. and) Mrs. Bill Clinton."

I disagree. He's self-absorbed in the sense that he sees himself as a moderate, reasonable guy, and thus his preferred policy options are moderate and reasonable compromises. Thus, when he talks about how we have to get past the "smallness of our politics" or the fights of the baby boomers, what he means is "the other side needs to shut up." He's so absorbed in his self-perception that he can't see that his views are basically standard liberal dogma; Clinton, at least, is self-aware enough to realize that her views are ideological. (I concede, as I have before, that it may be the case that he's a liar rather than pathologically self-absorbed. Y'know, one or the other.)

AJ Lynch said...

Ain't no there there. Guess that is why someone came up with the term empty suit.

Roger said...

It was my privilege as a young officer to serve under General Creighton Abrams--his philosophy was "never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut." Too bad Senator Obama didnt have my opportunity.

Jeff said...

I don't see a problem here. As Jacob Weisberg and much of the chattering classes never tire of reminding us, the most important ability for a president to possess is the ability to bloviate fluidly. You know, like those other super-important examples to humanity, journalists and academics!

Hoosier Daddy said...

I wonder how much his haircuts are?

Richard Dolan said...

I don't see Obama as an "empty suit." So far, Obama's attraction has been his life story, coupled with real accomplishments early in his academic career. What's missing are accomplishments since then. Still, it's quite strange that Obama has lost his way by turning into the ultimate sound-bite-driven, handler/consultant controlled candidate. He sounds mindless, speaking almost by rote from a list of worn-out cliches. the one thing we know about him is that he's far from mindless. Instead, I think he's forgotten the basic truth that he has to be true to himself before he can be true to anything else. (And, if that doesn't work, perhaps the realization that Hillary is much better at the sort of thing he is currently trying to pull off may be more persuasive.)

Obama would be well advised to forget about what works with the focus groups, what cliches the various pressure groups among the Dems want to hear, and talk about what matters to him in an honest and candid way. It's the only way to connect his one strength -- that life story -- with a candidacy that might have broad appeal. It may turn out that, even then, the voters wouldn't be interested in him. But no sensible person could possibly be interested in the kind of foolishness he has been spouting recently.

Simon said...

Richard,
What is your understanding of the term "empty suit" if Obama doesn't qualify as one when "his one strength" is his personal history, he is "the ultimate sound-bite-driven, handler/consultant controlled candidate," and he "sounds mindless, speaking almost by rote from a list of worn-out cliches"? Obama comes across as an empty suit because he comes across as having no substance at all. Now, that might just be an elaborate scheme to hide the fact that what evidence we do have for his policy views are your bog-standard boilerplate liberal dogma, so he might just be faking being an empty suit so that people aren't pushed away by the contents of his suit, so to speak. But since either possibility marks him as chronically unfit for the Presidency, does it matter which?

I don't like Hillary much, but I find Obama outright offensive.

Slim Tyranny said...

Richard Dolan said...

So far, Obama's attraction has been his life story, coupled with real accomplishments early in his academic career. What's missing are accomplishments since then.

----------------

Now, I now this will get no traction here, since Althouse clearly despises Obama and the conservative commentariat will trash any liberal Democrat, but at least we should eliminate the outright lies.

Yes, Obama had real accomplishments in his academic career.

What Dolan is lying about are Obama's accomplishments post-law school: "On returning to Chicago, Obama directed a voter registration drive. As an associate attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 1996, he represented community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004" [Wikipedia, that great source for the lazy]. That little quote doesn't even mention the 8 years Obama spent serving in the Illinois state senate. No accomplishments? The man is a U.S. Senator! What does it take to be accomplished in the Dolan household? U.S. President PLUS being an astronaut?!?

Obama has had accomplishments of a private career, public interest and civil service nature. To deny those is to deny the truth. Calling Obama an "empty suit" is a joke and a lie.

Is it too hard for some on the right to simply disagree with Obama's politics?

The irony is, the "empty suit" lie is an attempt to avoid discussing specific policies and substantive issues --- it's easier to make a vague insult than discuss anything real. Sort of makes those using the lie "empty suits" themselves.

gemma said...

Well that hope hope hope thing and no addressing the issues in any way got Duval Patrick elected Governor in Massachusetts....but then look at who we elect to the Senate -- Kennedy, Kerry....never mind ...I only hope hope hope that the rest of the country will see through this fellow.

Slim Tyranny said...

gemma said...

Well that hope hope hope thing and no addressing the issues in any way got Duval Patrick elected Governor in Massachusetts

-----------------

Yet another lie. "No addressing the issues"? Not true. Let's address just the #1 issue in America: the Iraq War. From his website:

"Senator Obama introduced legislation in January 2007 to offer a responsible alternative to President Bush's failed escalation policy. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008 -- a date consistent with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's expectations. The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces. If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the 13 benchmarks for progress laid out by the Bush Administration, this plan also allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided Congress agrees that the benchmarks have been met."

Hmmmmmm.

Introducing legislation as a U.S. Senator on the biggest issue of the day.

Yea, I would call that the exact opposite of "no addressing the issues."

paul a'barge said...

imagine that a Republican candidate had linked the violence at Virginia Tech to the "violence" of abortion

I think it's a much, much shorter trajectory from abortion to Cho than it is from Cho to outsourcing. In fact, I think you can make the argument that a culture that indulges in the murder of unborn children is the same culture that indulges in any number of other forms of murder (thanks NBC!).

That is if you're actually looking for connections, and not just expiating.

Robert said...

Candidates not only "can" get weary -- they do get weary. Running for statewide or national office is incredibly demanding. Obama's never run a tough race before, or faced the rigors that a competitive statewide or national race demand. That's a good reason not to support him this time around -- and one of several.

But say whatever else you will about him, he is a compelling speaker. Part of the reason his 2004 Convention keynote is so hyped is because it's so damned good. A lot of the themes in the Convention speech are absent from his current stump, and that's lamentable.

If it's any consolation, Simon, his nonpartisan appeals to hope and consensus seem to me a huge liability in the Democratic Primary. Primaries for both parties are dominated by - partisans! Democratic partisans don't want to hear about how we can all get along. They want to hear about how bad the last six years have been and how they are going to kick some Republican ass in the general election. A candidate who can't tap into activist anger or the competitive spirit of a political campaign is going to have a tough time winning.

Patrick said...

Obama's gift, and it's an important one, is that he is successful enough, gifted enough, intelligent enough, to serve as a placeholder for whatever a person wants him to be. By being vague and "empty" he allows supporters to invest in him what they want to see in him, what they want in a candidate and want for this country. He's not in this race because of some stand out performance or exceptional leadership. He's in this race because he was pushed by people who needed a symbol and needed someone without baggage to invest their hopes and dreams in.

He doesn't bring a new dream, but allows people to invest their dreams in him, and if he's vague enough this will keep happening.

That's why there's so much passion for him. Attack him and you're not attacking him, you're attacking this rare moment of free dreaming and unvarnished hopefulness that not a single other candidate possesses.

I suspect Fred Thompson, in a way, can serve in much the same role for Conservatives.

Both have qualities that make them ideal containers for our dreams. Which isn't necessarily a bad quality in a President

Slim Tyranny said...

Patrick said...

Obama's gift, and it's an important one, is that he is successful enough, gifted enough, intelligent enough, to serve as a placeholder for whatever a person wants him to be. By being vague and "empty" he allows supporters to invest in him what they want to see in him, what they want in a candidate and want for this country. He's not in this race because of some stand out performance or exceptional leadership.

---------------------

Sorry, Patrick, that's how you wish it was, I know. You wish Obama was this magical empty vessel, a holder of projected hopes only.

It's just not true. He is a liberal Democrat. And not only that, but his views on major issues of the day, including the Iraq war and healthcare, are mainstream American viewpoints.

There is so much vague talk here on Obama. I figure it stays vague because it's easier to pretend this is only about the undefined hopes and dreams of the American electorate. To talk about the actual substance (i.e. American support for withdrawal from Iraq) would be... too difficult?

Doyle said...

Maybe Obama could take some lessons from George Bush on how to sweep you off your feet?

Simon said...

Slim Tyranny said...
"Yes, Obama had real accomplishments in his academic career. What Dolan is lying about are Obama's accomplishments post-law school."

Your understanding of the term "lie" seems pretty tenuous. Perhaps Richard simply doesn't agree with you that the activities you list constitute the sort of "accomplishments" that count for the purposes of running for the leadership of the free world. "[D]irect[ing] a voter registration drive" might be an "accomplishment" if you're running for Eagle Scout, or maybe even a state legislature, but it's thin gruel for a Presidential run. Is it really an "accomplishment" that a man with a law degree from Harvard spent three years practising law? That sounds like the soft bigotry of low expectations to me. And as for this silly notion that it makes Obama special that he taught constitutional law (in some capacity or another, I'm not clear; it certainly wasn't full-time tenured faculty) - as I've pointed out before, "[t]hat doesn't necessarily mean that he understands or has any particular love for the Constitution. For pete's sake, Sandy Levinson, who wants to flay the Constitution alive, teaches ConLaw!"


"No accomplishments? The man is a U.S. Senator!"

The man is a U.S. Senator because Jack Ryan was forced out of the race by his own avarice late in the game. If he hadn't, Obama would very, very likely still be in the Illinois state senate.

Patrick said...

slim tyranny, thanks for supporting my view. He's great isn't he?! Someone who agrees with America and will do exactly what we think is right!

Yay for Obama! Obama is indeed dreamy.

Roger said...

I am hoping Senator Obama is elected President only to find out if he will be tagged as "chimp." Have you checked out the ears on that dude?

Sloanasaurus said...

So far, Obama's attraction has been his life story, coupled with real accomplishments early in his academic career

What is Obama's life story? You mean the story about him going to elite prep schools and then going to Harvard. Obama has not lived a life of hardship.

Bill Clinton had a life story. Ronald Reagan had a life story. Obama's story is more like GWB.

In fact, Obama's only American virtue is that he is a successful minority. He has no other American virtues. He never served in the military. He did not grow up poor. He was not successful in private business. He did not come from a farm or work as a laborer. Will people get tired of Obama's sinlge story line - that being a privileged African American who got elected to the Senate?

Eventually, Obama will have to admit that he is for higher taxes, more regulation, more gun control, socialized medicine, and a denfensive posture in the war on terror - all of the great liberal ideas that he votes for in the Senate. Eventually he will have to admit that he doesn't have much of a life story, at least not one worth reading about.

The Sloanasaurus.

PatCA said...

I've always thought he is boring--low, droning voice, flat affect--but I would vote for him if I agreed with his philosophy and policy stances (I don't).

The real problem with this speech, to me, is the reductio ad absurdum of equating a mass killing with the "everything is the same" or "everyone is guilty" bromides, a hallmark of the moral relativism and kumbaya-ism poisoning our culture.

Richard Dolan said...

Simon: An "empty suit," to me, connotes a person of no ability, essentially a fake, the human equivalent of a Potemkin village. Obama strikes me as someone quite different: a man of considerable abilities, about which there is nothing fake or illusory. And when he started musing about a presidential candidacy, he offered a theme that struck a chord -- partisan girdlock is unworthy of a great nation, the smallness of our politics holds us back, all of that. Of course, if all Obama does with it is strike chords, it will come to nothing. He needs to take those themes and make something out of them, to offer a direction to the country and a means of achieving it, that will help get us past the stagnant state our politics seems to be stuck in.

But he hasn't lived up to any of that. Instead, as Ann says, he's been offering a lot of gasbaggery recently, just a rehashing of the same partisan cliches in only slightly new (and rhetorically flat) dress rather than anything different from the standard partisan yak, etc. In part, I think this reflects his inexperience -- the intensity of the scrutiny is causing him to wilt a bit. In part, he has never taken his own themes of excessive and gridlocked partisanship seriously, reflecting (I think) a lack of confidence in himself as a true leader. In part, the more standard-issue candidate he is turning into reflects the triumph of ambition over his better instincts.

If Obama were just an empty suit, no one would have ever expected anything from him. Because he isn't, there is instead a feeling of disappointment, that in a way he's let himself and the rest of us down. One can share that sense of disappointment regardless of whether you or I would ever consider voting for him.

Kirk said...

Tom T,

I'd react by thinking he was an idiot. I do understand that catchword association is a popular form of discourse in some environments, it's just that it troubles me when people think our public political discourse ought to be one of them.

And bill gets genius of the day award. That was awesome!

Ann Althouse said...

"Maybe Obama could take some lessons from George Bush on how to sweep you off your feet?"

I hate to tell you, but I've never felt excited by a political candidate. At least not since Bobby Kennedy died. I'm always just voting for the person I can't stand less. I've never particularly liked Bush. I just couldn't accept Kerry. I don't like any of the current candidates for President and can't think of who could enter the race and change that for me. Get used to it. I'm not going to like any of them.

Roger said...

Given the nature of the senate as the ultimate of old boy (and a few girls) clubs, I would be impressed if he could show any leadership in that group.

I could onlyl imagine how the dinosaurs like Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and others who have paid their dues view this upstart.

Given his near perfect ADA score, he is going to have to move a bit more to the center, otherwise he will be the source of gridlock in this divided country.

Seven Machos said...

What I learned from reading this thread:

1. At first, everybody saw Obama as this really interesting, cool candidate because they didn't know much about him and were able to invest him with their own fuzzy hopes and beliefs.

2. Then he started actually taking positions and giving speeches.

3. Consequently, some people saw that he is a cliche-ridden hack with liberal to far-left opinions, boring soundbites, and unsound arguments.

4. Others continue to invest him with their own fuzzy hopes and beliefs.

I can't believe that Hillary Clinton is my favorite Democratic candidate. It pains me deeply to say that.

SteveR said...

"Get used to it. I'm not going to like any of them,"

These are the people we hated in high school unless, of course, we were as full of crap as they were. You go to your 30th reunion and are glad to talk to the ones who've grown up. And then there are the politicians.

Roger said...

7M: Re your number 2 point. Go to his web site and look under issues. He's long on pointing out problems, but very short on proposing specifics. I, for one, can't wait for his currently gestating Health Care Plan.

Doyle said...

By the way, it's becoming increasingly clear that this blog is the rectum from which long-since digested right wing talking points finally make their exit from the national discourse. Not Krauthammer on Friday, but Althouse reproducing Krauthammer on Friday!

Mmmmm... derivative!

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- Don't you find it strange that you take time out of your day to visit a blog you ostensibly do not like? And don't you find it strange that all you do is make vile comments?

It's not healthy.

Mike said...

Outsourcing = Mass Murder??

I sure hope the excuse is that he was tired.

Revenant said...

Racial slurs merit condemnation. Empty-headed hyperbole from a politician just merits an eye roll.

Xoff said...

Ann: As Pee Wee would say: "I know you are, but what is he?"

Simon said...

Slim Tyranny said...
"[gemma said that the 'hope hope hope thing and no addressing the issues in any way got Duval Patrick elected Governor in Massachusetts'] Yet another lie. "No addressing the issues"? Not true. Let's address just the #1 issue in America: the Iraq War. From his website..."

The Iraq war is not the number one issue in America, and even if it were, Obama's bill is weak. Merely having dropped a piece of paper distressed by a mess of ink stains arranged awkwardly into the rough resemblance of a Congressional bill into the hopper doesn't constitute "addressing" an issue. The substance matters. The man is a rohrschach test, and I suspect he wants to keep it that way.

AlphaLiberal said...

This is a typical right-wing hit job, picked up by the mainstream media and the clueless elite (and rich) pundit class.

Glenn Greenwald had a great, if long, post on a related episode:

STEP 1: A new right-wing gossip (Ben Smith) at a new substance-free political rag (The Politico) seizes on some petty, manufactured incident to fuel personality caricatures of Democratic candidates.

STEP 2: The old right-wing gossip (Drudge) uses his old substance-free political rag (The Drudge Report) to amplify the inane personality caricatures.

STEP 3: Right-wing hacks with pretenses of respectability -- like Mickey Kaus and others -- follow the script by "analyzing" the gossip and embracing it.

STEP 4: National media outlets -- such as AP and CNN -- whose world is ruled by Drudge, turn the gossip into "news stories."

STEP 5: Our Serious Beltway Political Analysts -- in this case, the very somber and smart Substantive Journalists at The New Republic -- mindlessly repeat all of it, thereby solidifying it as conventional wisdom, showing that "even Democrats and liberals are embarrassed by their candidates."

While Ann provides a bit of needed criticial thought, we're seeing al the leading Dem candidates get the same treatment.

Roger said...

Inasmuch as we are nine months away from the compressed democratic primary schedule which seems to occur next February, it will get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

Simon said...

Richard Dolan said...
"[W]hen [Obama] started musing about a presidential candidacy, he offered a theme that struck a chord -- partisan girdlock is unworthy of a great nation, the smallness of our politics holds us back, all of that."

That "theme" is the emptiest part of the entire sham, the most fake and illusory part of all, per the the links in my 8:57 AM comment, above.


"He needs to take those themes and make something out of them, to offer a direction to the country and a means of achieving it, that will help get us past the stagnant state our politics seems to be stuck in."

Our politics is divisive because we are divided over deeply important issues. Abortion, for example, is extremely divisive - and should be. But Obama isn't the slightest bit interested in finding novel solutions to getting us past those issues - he just wants his view of them to prevail. And that would be fine if he were honest about it, as many liberals as; but the problem with Obama, and people like him, the really offensive part is that they cloak themselves in the mantle of wanting to heal old wounds, while their actual agenda is far more simple: "they don't want to end the culture wars, they want their side to win them, and [they want] the other side to stop getting in the way. To call what they have in mind 'com[ing] together around our common interests and concerns as Americans' is flatly disingenuous. Their idea of 'compromise' runs something like this: 'at the Battle of Caporetto, the Italian army compromised with the Austro-Hungarian and German armies.'"

And even if there were ways to achieve genuine consensus on divisive social questions, there is nothing in Obama's record that suggests the slightest reason to believe he is interested in forging such a path. "In order for []his 'national unity' rhetoric to seem less phony, Obama must ... explain[] where he will deviate from the liberal line, either out of conviction or willingness to compromise. Do tell us, Senator Obama: do you want to move beyond divisive politics, or do you just want the people who disagree with the Democratic party line to quit struggling?" One has to assume the latter - "[b]y '[w]e have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans,' what Obama really means is 'conservatives need to accept liberal dogma, or at least, shut up and sit in the corner while we implement it.'"

ShadowFox said...

Gemma,
You went through nearly a decade of Celucci, Swifty and Romney and you are now complaining about the "hope hope hope thing" and Duval Patrick? You're kidding, right? And who was governor before those three? Why, it's Bill Weld, who, at the time, was more liberal than most Democrats.

Rest of the gang:
You're a fun bunch to be around. So this is the "bash Obama" thread of the day? Krauthammer is the gasbag, evil little troll.

Shall we compare Obama, say, to Al Gonzales? Or, better still, his boss? You know--the guy you voted for.

Too many jims said...

Simon said...
The man is a U.S. Senator because Jack Ryan was forced out of the race by his own avarice late in the game. If he hadn't, Obama would very, very likely still be in the Illinois state senate.


Do you really think that it is "very, very likely" that Ryan (or any other Illinois Republican not named Mike Ditka) would have beaten Obama in 2004?

I don't know why you would seek to denigrate Obama's accomplishments but he was elected a U.S. Senator and if Ryan had remained in the race (even wthout the disclosures) it is very, very, very likely that Obama would have beaten him. (Though probably not by as much as he beat his final opponent.)

vrse said...

Oh my, and then you wonder why reasonable people trash you publicly!

You give a pass to everyone, almost anyone on the right, starting with Bush's incoherent ramblings to the AG's much worse, longer and meaningful performance yesterday, but why post about that? Because if you do, your small yet obsessive fanbase would stop pumping your site meter.

Instead, let's talk about how much Obama sucked on 4/16. He sounds like a gasbag to you because his demeanor was somber, sad, hurt. Thirty-two kids had just died. And you call him a gasbag? Are you serious lady?

Perry Belfiore said...

"This is a typical right-wing hit job, picked up by the mainstream media and the clueless elite (and rich) pundit class."

I wonder how many LEFT wing blogs would allow this sort of criticism to appear... Kos? Nope. Anything with "Truth" or "Reality-based" in its name? Nope. Democratic Underground? Please!

AJ Lynch said...

Alpha liberal squawked about what he called "substance-free" comments.

In fact, substance-free is the cause for the general frustration and disdain on this blog with longstanding senators.

Think about this - would you agree it is very very difficult to pinpoint achievements of our sitting senators let alone someone like Obama?

blake said...

So I guess this is a "hit piece" because the (sock) puppet master says so?

I didn't read anything about McCain yesterday looking tired but, man, didn't he? He looked beat up and old and barely able to stand up. A few phrases from a Beach Boy song was all he could squeak out.

Early campaigning is going to be a mistake, I think.

SteveR said...

vrse, if you are going to be critical, at least pay attention. Go down about four threads and about ten comments. Nevermind this thread.

Roger said...

For those suggesting this thread is a hit piece on Obama, I would love to have had enough substance on which to have a debate; when all you have are mindless platitudes and bad comparisons there isnt much left to address other than the fluff.

Is Senator Obama suggesting we take unilateral action in Darfur? or should we go through the United Nations? Didnt emerge in his remarks; Is Senator Obama suggesting there be a national prohibition on outsourcing? Is Senator Obama suggestion there be rigid codes of speech for radio shock jokes? Is Senator Obama in favor of strict gun control? or involutarily commitment of individuals suspected of having some mental illness?

He could have proposed solutions rather than mouth platitudes--platitudes which have led many on this thread to label him a gasbag.

Slim Tyranny said...

Simon said...

Slim Tyranny said...
"Yes, Obama had real accomplishments in his academic career. What Dolan is lying about are Obama's accomplishments post-law school."

Your understanding of the term "lie" seems pretty tenuous. Perhaps Richard simply doesn't agree with you that the activities you list constitute the sort of "accomplishments" that count for the purposes of running for the leadership of the free world.

-------------
ALSO:

Simon said...

Slim Tyranny said...
"[gemma said that the 'hope hope hope thing and no addressing the issues in any way got Duval Patrick elected Governor in Massachusetts'] Yet another lie. "No addressing the issues"? Not true. Let's address just the #1 issue in America: the Iraq War. From his website..."

The Iraq war is not the number one issue in America, and even if it were, Obama's bill is weak.

---------------

Sorry, Simon, you're wrong on both counts. Richard and gemma were clearly lying.

Richard specifically contrasts Obama's academic achievements with his later life achievements. This isn't only about Presidential-style achievements; this is about life achievements generally. And he has them. Richard lied.

gemma also lied, and you pretty much prove it yourself. --- Simon, you think Obama's bill is "weak." FINE. That is a substantive criticism of Obama's policy approach. gemma, however, said there was NO addressing of the issues. That is blatantly false.

Face it, Obama's detractors here would generally rather deal in vague untruths about the man than debate his policies.

Is it laziness? Is it knowing that Obama's view are generally mainstream and consistent with the majority American viewpoint (on Iraq, on healthcare, etc.)?

Seven Machos said...

Hey, no fair bashing Obama while we focus all our bashing on the Attorney General!

vrse said...

Were you directing me to a post about Gonzalez's poor performance? Or Bush's embarrassing town hall in Ohio? Cause I missed it.

Oh, I see! You were pointing to her post re: McCain joking about bombing Iran. I see, Obama gives a poor speech after a tragedy and he gets blasted in a 400 words post; McCain jokes about BOMBING a country, and he gets a youtub link and a timid disapproving remark in the Comments section.

Is this your point? Did you have breakfast this morning?

Anthony said...

My usual thought when Obama speaks is "Where does he get this stuff?"

He sounds like he never quite made it out of high school civics class.

Slim Tyranny said...

Simon said...


"The Iraq war is not the number one issue in America..."

---------------

Simon, polling generally disagrees with your conclusion.

Go here:

http://www.pollingreport.com/prioriti.htm

for some illustrations of the high(est) importance of the Iraq war issue.

Just something to chew on.

SteveR said...

"Is this your point?"

No. Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

You're the one that said give a pass to everyone and when you bother to justify a generality, you end up splitting hairs.

Oh I forgot, DFTT

Roger said...

Here are the issues Sen Obama lists on website. Absent from the same website is any substantive proposal to deal with them. That translates to fluff for me.

Daryl said...

Chobama.

The speech he gave was rambling and illogical like Cho's, and it hit the same themes.

Obama is often accused of telling the audience what they want to hear, how they want to hear it. So why does it seem like Obama was tailoring his remarks as if they were directed at Cho?

What I want to see is a mix on YouTube with audio from both speeches interspersed. That would be an awesome political dirty trick.

Slim Tyranny said...

Roger said...

"Here are the issues Sen Obama lists on website. Absent from the same website is any substantive proposal to deal with them. That translates to fluff for me."

-------------

What's funny is that if you had clicked on the heading called "Plan to End Iraq War," you would see the specific reference to the legislation he introduced to the U.S. Senate.

Once again, an Obama detractor denies the very existence of substantive proposals rather than debating their pros and cons.

I guess it's easier to call something fluff than to debate the actual merits.

Slim Tyranny said...

Daryl said...

Chobama.

The speech he gave was rambling and illogical like Cho's, and it hit the same themes.

Obama is often accused of telling the audience what they want to hear, how they want to hear it. So why does it seem like Obama was tailoring his remarks as if they were directed at Cho?

What I want to see is a mix on YouTube with audio from both speeches interspersed. That would be an awesome political dirty trick.

-----------------------

Bravo, Daryl, you've posted the perfect embodiment of unethical, cliched, far right wing bizarro slander. Nice work tying together a mass murderer with a Democratic opponent.

Aren't you embarrassed by your own posting?

Ann, any thoughts on this political dirty trick idea? Or is Obama enough of a gasbag to deserve such treatment?

Roger said...

Slim--he has put forth a piece of legislation that he can't even get thru his own party leadership let alone override a veto. Legislation that can't be passed is worthless; thats my substantive critique of his legislation; now--how about YOU describing the rest of the policy proposals of the Senator--here's one for you discuss: how does he propose to solve the Darfur genocide?

Slim Tyranny said...

Roger said...

Slim--he has put forth a piece of legislation that he can't even get thru his own party leadership let alone override a veto. Legislation that can't be passed is worthless; thats my substantive critique of his legislation; now--how about YOU describing the rest of the policy proposals of the Senator--here's one for you discuss: how does he propose to solve the Darfur genocide?

-------------

Heh, your definition of "substantive" proposals is "worthless", not currently unpassable legislation. Obama has staked out a substantive position on the major issue of the day --- just because it currently doesn't have the legislative support to become law does NOT make it a non-substantive position.

Seriously, your moving of the goalposts is hilarious. First, there are no positions and there is only fluff. Now, Democratic positions that don't command enough legislative support to overturn a Presidential veto are all worthless.

You're not fooling anyone --- you disagree with Obama's substance and you disagree with his approach to the Iraq war. Fine. That's legitimate. What is illegitimate and not worthy of serious consideration is your insistence on the false premise that Obama has NO positions whatsoever. Demonstrably false. Stop telling lies.

Roger said...

"Stop telling lies!" Slim: you want to support Senator Obama be my guest; the legislation put forward was a rewrite of the ISG recommendations; moreover, putting forward legislation is a no cost solution for any senator: it comes with little downside--you can claim to have done something that you know is never going to see the light of day. Now you may think thats a signal piece of legislation; all that suggests to me is you have a very marginal understanding of the US political system.

So far, in my estimation, obama has done nothing significant, has not displayed any leadership in the Senate (although in fairness to him a junior senator isnt going to be able to do much.)

Still waiting for how he is going deal with the other issues he cited..You got any insights? Has Senator Obama? Didnt think so

Joe Hogan said...

Ann, I think you did your readers a disservice by not posting a clear warning label near your link to the audio of Obama's speech.

Leaving aside entirely the content of the speech, the Senator's lack of energy is so overwhelming that no one should attempt listening to the thing without mass quantities of caffeine. Drowsiness is the guaranteed result without the use of stimulants.

And imagine, we and the candidates have to endure twenty more months of this election marathon.

Slim Tyranny said...

Roger said...

"Stop telling lies!" Slim: you want to support Senator Obama be my guest; the legislation put forward was a rewrite of the ISG recommendations; moreover, putting forward legislation is a no cost solution for any senator: it comes with little downside--you can claim to have done something that you know is never going to see the light of day. Now you may think thats a signal piece of legislation; all that suggests to me is you have a very marginal understanding of the US political system.

-------------------

Roger, you pretty much just admitted that Obama has a substantive position on the Iraq war. Upside vs. downside is irrelevant; the man has a position. Clearly you disagree with it; it's a shame you can't merely disagree but must deny the position's very existence.

Face it, saying the man has no position is a lie. Now, if only the Althouse commentariat would stop pushing the lie.

Roger said...

Slim--you are indeed correct that Obama has a position on the war as evidenced by the legislation he put forward. I was most certainly wrong to say that he had no position on any of the issues he cited on his web page.

Roger said...

Slim--you are indeed correct that Obama has a position on the war as evidenced by the legislation he put forward. I was most certainly wrong to say that he had no position on any of the issues he cited on his web page.

Revenant said...

Ann must have gotten linked to from one of the lefty wingnut blogs. Starting at around 1:30 half a dozen people who seldom or never post here suddenly popped up to parrot the same Democratic talking point.

EB said...

Obama screwed this up but I was offended at the first memorial service on the VA Tech campus when a speaker brought in Africa etc. etc. in her comments. She preceded a rousing chant from the audience so I guess I was in the minority but it ticked me off.

Simon said...

ST, I'm puzzled by your remark that "Roger ... pretty much just admitted that Obama has a substantive position on the Iraq war. Upside vs. downside is irrelevant; the man has a position." I missed the part where anyone denied he had a position - but just having a position doesn't make it substantive. Regardless of whether he's introduced a bill, or whether it can go anywhere in this congress, that bill is not substantive, as I explained in my post linked earlier. I don't mean that it had substance and I disagree with its substance, I mean it has no substance; it's a bunch of hollow anti-war rhetoric with no actual active ingredient. It's legislative placebo.

Simon said...

Revenant - this post is linked from the front page of Real Clear Politics.

Mike said...

Speaking of legislative placebo, go look at his energy proposals.

[ducks]

Roger said...

I like to try to be fair and I did say he had no positions; inasmuch as he did propose legislation (based on the ISG proposal and very much the same as that put forward by Senator Dodd a bit earlier in the year) I was most certainly wrong (not lying, mind you, just wrong). And, I am also aware that Senator Obama has the luxury of being one of the few democratic senators who has been on record before he had to vote on the AUMF as being against the war--so he does have the inside track among the democratic anti-wartypes.

Having said all of that, and reviewing his list of issues, his solutions to issues ration is approaching zero as a limit.

Roger said...

OOPS--Obama didnt vote on the AUMF of course; he is on record as being opposed to the war during his state senate days in Illinois.

Jonathon said...

Slim T:

Are you on the Obama payroll or something? Are you one of those people payed $10/hr. to defend 'candidate x' on the blogosphere? Seriously. If you are, full disclosure would be a prudent ethical step.

If not, I would say you have serious crush on this guy; the slightest observations and criticisms are met with scathing and furious rebuttals.

Everyone knows 'Barry' Obama is a lightweight. Give him a few years and I don't doubt he will be a serious and legitimate force in politics. But right now he is capable of little else than bloviating in sentimental platitudes ad nauseum.

SteveR said...

ST=NL

ModNewt said...

The source of this whole discussion is Krauthammer who is the worlds greatest gasbag. He complains about Obama using the VT tragedy for political purposes and then does the same thing himself in the article. He criticizes Obama for not waiting some unknown amount of time before commenting on Cho. Yet the day before Krauthammer was on Fox attributing Cho's actions to radical Islam. Now if that's not politicizing the tragedy then I don't know what is.

Blue Texan said...

I'm reading this commentary from Charles Krauthammer...

How very nonpartisan!

Revenant said...

"I'm reading this commentary from Charles Krauthammer..."

How very nonpartisan!

Because, of course, only "partisans" actually read anything written by conservatives. Good, solid "non-partisans" only read stuff written by liberals.

Randolph said...

Is Obama a gasbag?

Well if the saying, "it takes one to know one" has any truth then Ann is certainly the one to ask.

Ofc. Krupke said...

Slim -

You keep mentioning health care as a "substantive" Obama issue.

From The Economist, Apr. 16, 2007:

A few weeks ago the Democratic candidates held a forum on health care in that well-known centre of policy debate, Las Vegas. John Edwards produced detailed proposals for universal health coverage, including tighter regulations and a tax hike. Hillary Clinton left no doubt of her mastery of the subject. But Barack Obama resorted to empty waffle, endorsing the idea of universal coverage but confessing that he had not yet produced a health-care plan. An odd failure, given that the forum was devoted to the subject - and that this is one of the most important issues for Democratic voters.

The Obama team now says that a plan is in the works.


Basically, he showed up at a major policy showdown and claimed the dog ate his homework. When people say Obama lacks substance, this is the kind of stuff they mean.

Ann Althouse said...

"You give a pass to everyone, almost anyone on the right..."

Three posts down I attacked McCain at about exactly the same level of ferocity.

"Oh my, and then you wonder why reasonable people trash you publicly!"

Eh, you're behind the times here. I know why people trash me (publicly or privately). What I'm saying hurts. If you think I'm trying to write things that will make people like me, you're not paying attention.

Blue said...

Because, of course, only "partisans" actually read anything written by conservatives. Good, solid "non-partisans" only read stuff written by liberals.

Uh, no.

Nonpartisans generally don't read and cite approvingly Charles Krauthammer, who's totally partisan. They're usually turned off by and therefore avoid political attacks by known partisans.

But let's call this one a fluke.

I look forward to Ann's next post, in which she cites lovingly an article by Bob Scheer, attacking Mitt Romney or John McCain.

Yeah -- probably not gonna happen.

Blue said...

Because, of course, only "partisans" actually read anything written by conservatives. Good, solid "non-partisans" only read stuff written by liberals.

Uh, no.

Nonpartisans generally don't read and cite approvingly Charles Krauthammer, who's totally partisan. They're usually turned off by and therefore avoid political attacks by known partisans.

But let's call this one a fluke.

I look forward to Ann's next post, in which she cites lovingly an article by Bob Scheer, attacking Mitt Romney or John McCain.

Yeah -- probably not gonna happen.

Simon said...

Blue said...
"Nonpartisans generally don't read and cite approvingly Charles Krauthammer, who's totally partisan. They're usually turned off by and therefore avoid political attacks by known partisans."

Spoken like a true partisan.

Johnny Nucleo said...

I really would like to see a black president or a woman president. It would be good for the country. It would be good for the world.

But Obama? I do not like this guy. He's second tier, he's blah, he's got no je ne sais quoi. He's not the guy.

What's he got? He's got nothing. He's black. That's it. That's what he's got.

Anyone who says, "I like Obama for Obama" is totally full of shit.

Revenant said...

Nonpartisans generally don't read and cite approvingly Charles Krauthammer, who's totally partisan. They're usually turned off by and therefore avoid political attacks by known partisans.

Intelligent people read all sorts of stuff, partisan and otherwise. But what's really funny here is that you're (a) claiming that nonpartisans don't read partisans and (b) painting Ann is a partisan.

And yet here you are. Reading her blog. Commenting on it. Even after learning she's a "partisan".

The only possible explanation is that you've already caught the Wicked Right-Wing Partisan Cooties brought on by reading partisan commentary, and will henceforth be a regular fan of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

Well, actually, there is one other possibility -- which is that you're a silly leftie wanker whose "anyone who reads partisans is a partisan" argument has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.

DoubleImpact said...

Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. Get used to it...

Michael said...

But if I didn't know who he was and that there was a crowd there, I would picture an old man slumped in an armchair, expatiating for the benefit of anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot. It's formless stream of consciousness.

Hmmm. Sounds kind of like my experience reading your blog.

Blue Texan said...

Intelligent people read all sorts of stuff, partisan and otherwise. But what's really funny here is that you're (a) claiming that nonpartisans don't read partisans and (b) painting Ann is a partisan.

No, what's really funny is that you're going to such lengths to assert that Althouse isn't partisan.

Whatever floats your boat.

rhhardin said...

He's always struck me as an empty suit, right from the first sound bite.

Learning language is mostly learing to take cliches apart, rather than putting words together. Obama doesn't have interesting ways of reassembling them, is all.

Christian Schutze, cited in Adorno's _Jargon of Authenticity_, had a stenciled speech for all occasions that I copied out here that he could use.