February 11, 2008

"Make no mistake, Mr Obama is a once-in-a-generation possibility."

Writes Clive Crook in the Financial Times:
Admittedly, in many ways he is too good to be true. Hopes of what he might achieve are running out of control. His followers say he is uniquely able to restore US standing in the world, partly by adopting a more conciliatory approach and partly (it seems) by being black.....

What makes Mr Obama remarkable is that his message of hope, resonating so powerfully with black America, is cast to every American, regardless of colour, to Democrats and Republicans alike. This is surpassingly important: a man of outstanding intellect and magnetic personality, he is running on a one-nation platform, as though he merely happened to be black. And the best part is, the whole country is paying attention: polls say that he is more electable in November than Mrs Clinton. In a close election, he could make the difference.

Republicans, of course, are bound to dislike his liberalism – but what is there for Democrats to think about? Why are they even having this conversation? They have been waiting an awfully long time for a politician like Mr Obama. If, having come so close, they still manage to nominate Mrs Clinton, I think it is a choice they will regret for years and maybe decades.
Why are Democrats even having this conversation?

54 comments:

PatCA said...

What's wrong with our standing in the world? Canada, France, Germany elected pro-US leaders. Gordon Brown and Sarko are having an argument on who is America's BFF. Support for Osama and his cadre is way down.

And if we stay in Iraq until we win, as it appears we are doing, our word as an ally for liberty will mean something again. Maybe people hated us because we talk big but jump ship as soon as the going gets tough (Saigon, 1991 in Iraq.)

Bob said...

The Dems are gunshy about having lost the presidency so often. To this day they still can't believe that the American public is fundamentally conservative in many ways, and so they continue nominating liberal candidates who go down in flames.

Roger said...

Bob pretty well nails it.

Verso said...

Bob should know that Americans are basically liberal on almost every issue. The Republican Party fails consistently to represent its own members. This idea that Americans are conservative is one of the many myths that linger in our society.

joe said...

Change, change, hope hope hope change hope change.
Yawn.

Palladian said...

I love that someone named Clive Crook writes for the Financial Times.

Middle Class Guy said...

Why are we having this conversation? Because the DNC did not think- nothing new- that Obama could mount such a challenge to the inevitable anointed one.

If Hillary had any class or ethics, she would do the same thing Romney did; for the good of the party, she would drop out and let history be made. Then she could spend some more time in the Senate and get some actual, verifiable governing experience. Maybe she could mellow out some too.

Verso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Verso said...

*If Hillary had any class or ethics, she would do the same thing Romney did; for the good of the party, she would drop out and let history be made.*

LOL, the candidate who holds the lead in delegates should do what Romney did? That would be the "ethical" thing for her to do?

You mean after taking money from doners expecting her to make a serious run for office, and promising all her supporters she will work hard to get elected, the ethical thing to do would be to quit while she's ahead?

Hahahaha. Good one.

Verso said...

I understand why people are asking the question, but as a lifelong Democrat, I can explain why Democrats are even having this conversation.

To start with, they have two great candidates. Both represent major milestones in American history and the only shame is that we can't elect them both president at the same time.

I think it's pretty clear, then, that the choice is far from an easy one. Each candidate has significant pros and cons that make the choice extremely difficult.

In Obama's favor:

(1) He's a more inspirational candidate who could broaden the party's base by appealing to Independents and Republicans. A huge plus.

(2) He'd probably be a more liberal president pursuing a more liberal agenda.

In Hillary's favor:

(1) She's a strong candidate and would be much harder to Swift Boat. She would do better in debates against McCain. She could withstand and repel the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of lies and smears that will be directed at her from every direction.

(2) She could hit the ground running on Day One in the White House. She's been through the process before and would waste no time in getting her Executive Branch up and running. Anyone my age remembers how Clinton faltered for a year or so when he took office; this cost his dearly. On the other hand, when George W. Bush took office with a seasoned crew (especially Cheney), they were able to get right to work advancing their agenda. Against: This made a huge difference in his success advancing his agenda.

Against Obama:

(1) He may be easier for the Republican Lie Machine to destroy. He would be easier to defeat in debates.

(2) He would have to learn on the job in the oval office, exposing him to relentless media attacks, costing him momentum, and limiting his ability to enact his agenda.

Against Hillary:

(1) She would mobilize far more Republicans to vote.

(2) She would govern as a conservative Democrat. True Democrats were not very satisfied with Bill Clinton's Republican-Lite, and Hillary's administration would likely be just as bad on policy (while still vastly superior to another Republican.)

MadisonMan said...

True Democrats were not very satisfied with Bill Clinton's Republican-Lite,

I think you mean your brand of Democrat. I was satisfied with much of Clinton's reign, although he lost me with his lying and sexual dalliances.

You left out, by the way, Hillary's biggest problem: More Of The Same in Washington. Bush Clinton Bush Clinton. Bleah.

JohnAnnArbor said...

would be much harder to Swift Boat.

Not at all, if by "swift boat" you mean "point out things that are true that the candidate wishes to not talk about."

Just for starters: have a campaign ad about how her "health care reform" would have jailed doctors and patients who did not report treatment to their overlords--ah, I mean the government.

(If your definition of "swift boat" differs, feel free to point out anything the "swifties" said that wasn't true.)

former law student said...

If, having come so close, they still manage to nominate Mrs Clinton, I think it is a choice they will regret for years and maybe decades.Why are Democrats even having this conversation?

Democrats believe in sharing, in taking turns. First, it was Al Gore's turn, for sitting so patiently waiting for Bill to leave. Then it was Bush, jr.'s turn. Now it's Hillary's turn, for sitting so patiently waiting for W. to leave.

Democrats are wondering, "Where the hell did this Obama come from all of a sudden? Doesn't he know he's got to wait his turn?" "Step to the rear of the bus; everyone please go to the back of the bus."

She's been through the process before and would waste no time in getting her Executive Branch up and running.

Sure, I remember Travelgate, and her misplacing all those records for so long. She spent more and more time in the West Wing the longer Bill's remained in office, which is why she was the first to notice how much time Monica... no wait, let me try again.

joe said...

And don't forget Obama's ability to heal the sick and raise the dead. And how the sun shines out his posterior. He truly is God-like.

Palladian said...

"Step to the rear of the bus; everyone please go to the back of the bus."

Ouch. Not a good metaphor when discussing a black candidate.

Jim Howard said...

"Ouch. Not a good metaphor when discussing a black candidate."

But it does reflect Hillary's basic argument.

I mean how can anyone claim Hillary has experience at ANYTHING related to leadership or management beyond sitting on committees and royally screwing up a chance for the US to have national healthcare?

We know that Hillary is a highly divisive screwup. Obama isn't at all divisive, and might not be a screwup.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bob should know that Americans are basically liberal on almost every issue. The Republican Party fails consistently to represent its own members. This idea that Americans are conservative is one of the many myths that linger in our society

Which of course explains why we have universal health care, Gore won in 2000, Kerry won in 2004, gay marriage legal in all states, welfare reform was soundly defeated, liberal outcry prevented the Iraq war, tax cuts never happen because they’re despised, happiness at the performance of the public school system and 75% of the American people want more illegal immigration and not less.

garage mahal said...

Why are Democrats even having this conversation?

Because out here in the real world where being served $5.00 Starbucks by icky substandard servants doesn't qualify as an injustice, people actually are weighing issues like health care. And Hillary's plan makes more sense to many people. Hence, the working stiff votes she is getting, and not the Enlightened Liberal vote that makes you feel sooooooo good about yourself.

Super-Electro-Magnetic Midget Launcher said...

Maybe I'm not paying close enough attention, but Obama seems to be focusing on baby-talk bumper-sticker slogans: "Hope Change Hope Change", as Joe observes above.

Obviously, right now his thing is communicating with liberal Democrats, and you have to speak to them in childishly simple, purely emotional terms. "Hope Change" is two words. More than that, and they get confused and frightened. He's speaking slowly and clearly to stupid people.

In the general election, I assume he'll "tack to the right" -- or, in plain English, he'll start speaking plain English. I'll be interested to hear from him then. My gut says he's a smart guy. Wrong about a lot of things, maybe, but not stupid.

If it turns out in the end that he really is a liberal and he actually thinks only in simple bursts of pure emotion, God help us.

former law student said...

Hillary's plan makes more sense to many people.

Of course. Millions of people needlessly go without health insurance now, just because there's no law forcing them to. Hillarycare will wisely make them divert funds they waste on food and shelter.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hillarycare will wisely make them divert funds they waste on food and shelter.

Nonsense. Hillary will also ensure that everyone has universal housing and free hot breakfasts, lunch and dinners as well.

Bruce Hayden said...

Hillary's plan makes more sense to many people.

Of course. Millions of people needlessly go without health insurance now, just because there's no law forcing them to. Hillarycare will wisely make them divert funds they waste on food and shelter.


Or, more likely, beer and pot. One dirty little secret here is that a large percentage of the uninsured are young adults, and they go uninsured because they believe that they are invincible and will have access to ERs anyway, should they crash their mountain bikes.

This reminds me of working at a ski area a couple of years ago. One of our younger guys, on his day off, tried to do a flip, crashed on his head/neck, got hauled out on a backboard. The company wouldn't allow him to work on skis until a doctor released him to work, and the doctor wouldn't do that until he had a CAT scan. He didn't have any insurance, so spent the rest of the season as our dispatcher.

He was offered and turned down accident insurance that covered this, and that would have cost him $5 a month. Talking with the rest of the under 30 crowd, most of the rest of them hadn't taken that $5 a month accident policy either (and none took the higher general medical policy). This was not a case of these guys not being able to afford insurance, but rather, them spending their money on more relevant expenses, like beer, pot, and trying to impress the few women of their age in the vicinity.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree that the Republicans are not going to be able to Swift Boat Hillary. After all, there is no taped Congressional testimony of Hillary accusing our troops in Vietnam of war crimes.

But that doesn't mean that her various exploits into venality won't be dragged up again, running from her commodities "trading" up through, at least, selling presidential pardons for campaign contributions for her 2000 Senate run. Her husband's refusal to release his records, including a refusal to publish the donors for his library, won't help her either (I think a lot of people figure that the damage from such a release would be worse for her than the scandal of them not being released - somewhat like Kerry refusing to this day to release his military records).

rhhardin said...

I think Obama would be great for ending the race trap that blacks are in, waiting for whites to change where it's blacks that have to make the next step.

It would work by discrediting Sharpton, Jackson and the media proclaimed black leaders.

How insulting would that be, if they talked about white leaders? Yet blacks accept it, or anyway those that don't are not heard by the media. The story is unkillable in the usual ways.

But Obama is himself insulting - you are so stupid that you don't care what I say, only the cadences matter.

Try running a different black. There are many to choose from. Why choose this sleazeball?

Fen said...

What makes Mr Obama remarkable is that his message of hope,

Whats his message, other than repeating Hope and Change over and over again? Seriously, all I've heard from him are useless platitudes.

And abandoning Iraq is counter-intuitive. The "soft" power of diplomacy [which has caused more wars than its prevented] is useless if its not backed with the threat of force. Why should any ally trust us if we bail on the Iraqi's? Why should any enemy fear us? Osama's message will be validated: if you hang in there against America for a few rounds, they'll lose the will to fight and go home.

BTW, how can Amercians be tired of the war? The Marines are at war, America is at the mall. If it wasn't for CNN et al, most of America wouldn't even know we were at war.

Balfegor said...

Re: MadisonMan

You left out, by the way, Hillary's biggest problem: More Of The Same in Washington. Bush Clinton Bush Clinton. Bleah.

Jeb Bush for President in 2016!

Re: rhardin:

But Obama is himself insulting - you are so stupid that you don't care what I say, only the cadences matter.

Can you say he's wrong? Yes, Americans are exactly that stupid. And he knows it, and is taking advantage of it.

Fen said...

What's wrong with our standing in the world?

Nothing. The Democrats think foreign relations is a popularity contest. They want the world to "like" us because they're ashamed of their opulence. It makes them feel better about themselves if we're "popular" with the Eurotrash.

nina said...

Interesting discussion. Very speculative, of course. And in this lies the answer (as to why we, Democrats, are having this as well). Verso's comments above sum it up well.

But if you want it even in simpler terms (because simple words have appeal to both sides of the political spectrum it seems), the problem for us is two-fold:

- who will survive best in the months leading to the election
- who will be more adept at pushing through the agenda they have spelled out.

We can make reasonable guesses as to both, but the truth is, they are only guesses. We just don't really know.

former law student said...

Why should any enemy fear us?

Why indeed. Why should any enemy fear us, knowing that our ground forces are tied up in Iraq for the foreseeable future? W. failed to beef up the Army and Marine Corps. Only a pullout would give us the flexibility to respond to other hotspots.

Balfegor said...

In the general election, I assume he'll "tack to the right" -- or, in plain English, he'll start speaking plain English. I'll be interested to hear from him then. My gut says he's a smart guy. Wrong about a lot of things, maybe, but not stupid.

If it turns out in the end that he really is a liberal and he actually thinks only in simple bursts of pure emotion, God help us.

I think he's probably a smart liberal. There are such things, after all -- university faculties are full of them. But I also think Obama would take the country in the wrong direction, especially on economic policy.

A lot of people who would otherwise be much more worried about a man with Obama's background (machine politics Democrat, community political agitator, etc.) seem to be assuaging their worries by looking at his team of economic advisors, and by the fact that he sometimes throws rhetorical sops to the laissez-faire crowd by parroting their arguments back to them -- they don't recognise this for the sophisticated pandering that it probably is. On the flip side, I think a lot of them under-rate Clinton II on the economic side of things, for the simple reason that they take her statements (e.g. when she says she thinks the free market has failed) at face value. I don't think that's right.

As far as I can see, in the Senate, both Obama and Clinton II have pretty much indistinguishable records on economic matters, except that Clinton has been a little more responsible on things like ethanol, by voting against subsidies (even if, rhetorically, she tried to pander to Iowa voters by speaking in favour of the subsidies).

My suspicion is that Obama would be worse on economic matters than Clinton would, and that the confidence many people on the centre-right place in the prospect of his economic governance may be disastrously misplaced.

Only a pullout would give us the flexibility to respond to other hotspots.

Well, or we could take our 100,000 troops out of Germany, and our 50,000 troops out of Japan, and our 35,000 troops out of Korea. A lot of our forces have been tied up occupying these countries for longer than is really necessary -- we could probably halve or quarter those forces to no ill effect. Well, other than on the local economies (although in the case of Korea, I suspect it would be a nontrivial boost, since some of the prime real estate we occupy in Seoul could then be opened up for more productive development).

Middle Class Guy said...

What's wrong with our standing in the world?

Nothing. The Democrats think foreign relations is a popularity contest...


Their idea of foreign relations is sending money all over the world to solve or cure problems that have no solutions or cures. They beleive that throwing money at problems with no oversight or accountability ends them. Thus, throw money around and be popular; the problem still exists, but hey, everyone loves us.

Balfegor said...

What's wrong with our standing in the world? Canada, France, Germany elected pro-US leaders.

You can add South Korea to that list! The execrable Noh Mu-Hyon is being replaced by Lee Myung-Bak, of the GNP! Elected in a landslide this past December.

Han-nara-dang! Mansae!

Joshua said...

Their idea of foreign relations is sending money all over the world to solve or cure problems that have no solutions or cures.

'tis true. Unfortunately, the Republican idea of foreign relations is sending bombs all over the world to solve or cure problems that have no solutions or cures.

Fen said...

Why should any enemy fear us, knowing that our ground forces are tied up in Iraq for the foreseeable future?

Afganistan?

Only a pullout would give us the flexibility to respond to other hotspots.

Simply not true. But before we continue, do you know what a MEU-SOC is?

Fen said...

the Republican idea of foreign relations is sending bombs all over the world to solve or cure problems that have no solutions or cures.

No, we did the diplomatic thing with Iraq since the end of the first Gulf War. It was only after 12 years and 14 feckless UN resoltions, and another six months of talking at the UN that we backed our ultimatim with force.

But what particular problems are you talking about that have no cure or solution? Are you saying we should have ignored Iraq, let them continue to develop WMD programs and support global terrorism?

TMink said...

I thought we had a candidate who believed in a place called hope just a few years ago.

Trey

Paddy O. said...

One would think that if enemies didn't fear us and our resources are tied up in Iraq so that we can't respond to other hotspots that those enemies and those hotspots would be flaring up right now.

But they are not. And it seems that even Iran is happy to keep things relatively low key, though with a bit of push now and again.

Clearly, other countries don't see this as a time to take advantage of American weakness. Probably not because they are sporting fellows.

Kirk Parker said...

Jim,

"royally screwing up a chance for the US to have national healthcare"

You say that like it's a bad thing.

FLS,

"W. failed to beef up the Army and Marine Corps."

Ah, so then you're for higher taxes to pay for more troops and a logistical buildup? Cool, I'm with you all the way.

Fen,

Thanks for an injection of reality via your 2:51. Indeed, Iraq was perhaps the slowest "rush to war" in history. Waaaaaay too much talking and second-chances involved, IMO.

Fen said...

No prob.

higher taxes to pay for more troops and a logistical buildup?

For starters, how about free tuition & books at any state university in exchange for a one term enlistment? I would include private colleges too, but am not sure the government can force compliance.

With rising tuition rates, the GI Bill is out of date.

John Lynch said...

I thought Bill Clinton was the only black President we would get this generation...

Balfegor said...

I thought Bill Clinton was the only black President we would get this generation...

That was back then. Recall that Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas for over a decade, was considered inexperienced when he ran for President in 1992. At that time, surveying the field of governors, congressmen, senators, and generals making their way through the cursus honorum, there didn't seem to be any plausible Black candidates on their way. The only plausible one -- Colin Powell -- had taken himself out of consideration by declining to run.

Of course, that was then. Now we don't care a fig about experience. When you don't select for relevant experience, the field is wide open.

former law student said...

do you know what a MEU-SOC is?

No, but I know what a stop-loss order is.

Eli Blake said...

patca:

Canada, France, Germany elected pro-US leaders

And Spain, Italy, Australia and Britain, our erstwhile 'allies' elected leaders who put some distance between themselves and the United States, including withdrawal from Iraq.

Proving what? Proving that politics is cyclical, both here and abroad, and if we believe that 'relations with the U.S.' is more than the most minor of issues in foreign elections then we give ourselves entirely too much credit.

PatCA said...

I agree, Eli, it's politics and it waxes and wanes--which is why I am not as worried about it as our liberal friends who go around apologizing for being alive.

Balfegor said...

Proving that politics is cyclical, both here and abroad, and if we believe that 'relations with the U.S.' is more than the most minor of issues in foreign elections then we give ourselves entirely too much credit.

I think there is a nontrivial tendency of political failures abroad to shift towards anti-Americanism, though. We're a convenient external "enemy" to point to, as a distraction from domestic failures. Noh Mu-hyon certainly used us for that purpose in Korea, after he made a hash of things domestically.

Eli Blake said...

As far as the answer 'why are we having this conversation?'

My answer would be that really we are not.

Because of her national name recognition, fundraising machine, organizational machine on the ground, husband, and political connections throughout the party, Hillary Clinton was even as recently as October the putative nominee, and it was hard to see how she could lose. She was ahead 20 percent in the national polls.

However, since then she has not moved forward. One could say that she has won a few important states, but they were states where no one doubted that she'd win just a few months ago. We now see Obama surging into the lead, and I doubt if she will come back. The 'conversation' is more like a 'conversion.'

Yeah, Hillary still has her supporters, but considering how firmly the Clinton hand held much of the Democratic party (and in fact the party itself, sans Howard Dean) in its grasp it is quite remarkable how quickly the party has wrestled free from it to support someone else.

Eli Blake said...

patca:

What liberals apologize for being alive? I'm a liberal and I offer no such apology.

Middle Class Guy said...

TMink said...
I thought we had a candidate who believed in a place called hope just a few years ago.

Trey



We have one now. His name is


Huckabee.

Chip Ahoy said...

American politics is like a video game in that the closer you get to the goal the more enemies come pouring out in high attack mode. That's how you know you're doing the right thing, adversaries become shrill.

Chip Ahoy said...

Once in a life time opportunity. Hasn't Obama been continuously compared to John Kennedy? Wasn't John Kennedy in the same lifetime? That would be two and you're still alive. Stop exaggerating.

Chip Ahoy said...

"As a life-long Democrat ..."

I've heard more people say that. Blows my mind. That must be awfully g***amn easy.

George said...

Obama certainly doesn't have the gansta vote. Witness these remarks...

Tony-T interrupted me: “Let me tell you something about a black man as president. Everyone on the streets better get ready, because the police will get fierce.”

Shine saw that I didn’t understand, so he went on: “See, a black man has to get tough on his own people, show he’s tough. That’s the only way white folk will support him. That’s why, when you got black folk leading the police, you get more [black men] getting their asses kicked.” (Economists? Criminologists? Freaks? Is there a correlation between crime and the ethnic makeup of the commander?)

Flavor laughed, “See, that’s why Marlo is going to go crazy on the streets! Because that white mayor won’t have the balls to do nothing. But a black man as president? Whoo! I’m getting out of the game if that happens. Black on black policing. That’s a b—h.”

From Freakonomics (gang members discussing 'The Wire' and more)

PatCA said...

Eli,
Apologetic liberals even posted their apologies on line! Just google "standing in the world" and you will see endless references to Dems bemoaning our supposed rejection by The Entire World.

Apology Day

Blake said...

We know that Hillary is a highly divisive screwup. Obama isn't at all divisive, and might not be a screwup.

There's your hope right there.

I say that without snark, either. If I were inclined to vote Dem, I'd pick Obama in a heartbeat.

I see no such hope on the Rep side at all.