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October 31, 2007

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I'd ask this: What, in your opinion, would "going in for the kill" entail? What should Obama have said that he didn't?

I agree than meanness is necessary - but there are two senses of "meanness", and when you get one you tend to get the other.

The "I can't tell if you're for it or against it" stuff reminds me uncomfortably of 2004. According to Bush, you had to have a simple Yes or No answer to complex questions.

The reason Edwards is able to "go in for the kill" is that he is not voting on anything, and so he doesn't have to defend what would surely be "compromise" positions. To me, Edwards' positions on Iraq sound nearly as naive as Kucinich's. This is not simple yes-or-no stuff. Edwards knows this.

Also, it's one thing to point out inconsistency and another to accuse someone directly of dishonesty. Assuming good faith is a basic rule of debate. If you can't win the argument with an assumption of good faith, don't argue.

I thought Obama was very effective in going after Clinton on the archives thing. He could assume good faith, but point out that withholding information about relevant experience made no sense to him.

Obama-Stevenson '08?

think Al Pacino in The Godfather

Naw, I like Scarface better.

Obama: Hey Hillary – Say hello to my little friend…

Obama is in a rather unusual position, wouldn't you say? I believe he is bidding for power (in a "Journey to Ixtlan" Carlos Castenada way), not assuming he has power. He is going to ride the wave, not make the wave. First, the wave has to form. Anyway, I think I have to believe that the essential Obama knows what brought him this far, and he is going to be true to that. What ho, Laertes.

Rich Lowry agrees with you:

Obama was tentative and long-winded; he's not comfortable with landing punches. Edwards was crisper and more effective, but doesn't have a lot of credibility. And to the extent he gains, it hurts Obama and helps Hillary who benefits from a divided opposition.

'going fo the kill' could entail going after the Republican side with a lot more vigor and vehemence than has been seen. HRC seems to be trying to create the air that she doesn't need to pay any attention to the RW side of things because she has been thru it all. Obama has been pushing this 'new way of doing things' that, in a sense, forgives and forgets and in this sense, I think Publius is right to note that Obama is looking at FDR et al thru the lens of hindsight rather than what they were like at the time and his choice to go after Hillary on a range of issues that can, at best, be described as trivial, is missing the point.

LJ - do you think the archive thing was trivial? It seemed to me to make a much better contrast than the social security thing.

[Obama] is trying to emulate how these presidencies are remembered in the popular mind.

Astute, pub. Additionally, I'd like to risk sounding like a pedantic old [explosion between the legs] by citing Oscar Wilde's truism, which obviously is totally appropriate to politics: 'The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.' Sometimes being serious - as FDR was serious - means doing things you prefer not to do, in order to accomplish bigger things you *do* want to do. (That's not an endorsement of HRC, BTW.). I suppose it helps to be naturally half-mean, but if you aren't, you must be able to at least pretend.

One other point, and I'll shut up:

"HRC seems to be trying to create the air that she doesn't need to pay any attention to the RW side of things because she has been thru it all"

I don't see it that way. Clinton talked more about the current administration and how much work it will take just to get out of the hole than anyone else on stage. If she's honest about anything, she's honest about the fact that things aren't going to get better right away.

Several of the candidates (at least Dodd and Biden) tried to point out just how bad the Republican line-up is in this election. There needs to be a lot more of that.

I have a feeling I'm starting to sound like a Clinton shill. I don't actually know who I'd vote for if I could, and there are certainly things I don't like about Clinton.

I think it's a measure of how effective the demonization of Clinton has been that johnnybutter and dkilmer

1) both describe how a true leader works and the importance of emphasizing how awful the GOP is
2) both note that Clinton does these things better than the other Dem candidates
3) and yet both are careful to point out that they're not Clinton supporters

The GOP and RW maniacs can pat themselves on the back. They've won their 15- year war against Hillary Clinton.

Casey - I'll be wearing a Cynical Bloggers for Hillary '08 shirt if she wins. It's just as compared to Obama and Edwards, I like her least - mainly b/c of foreign policy fears.

But that said, Roger Simon's piece was absurd. I actually watched the entire thign last night (fast forwarding through the minor leaguers) and she did excellent. (I didn't the driver ID thing at the end though).

She attacked just enough. She laughed just enough. Frankly, I'm less anti-Hillary than I was, just b/c it's the devil i know. I have no fears throwing her into the lion pit.

But I'm not ready to concede the primary just yet.

So, when are any of the Democrats going to actually attack the fatally flawed "conservative" ideology that Bush used that led us to this disaster, and all of the Republican candidates have already sworn fealty to? Seriously, every thing Bush has done has failed, and not because he was "not conservative enough", but because the Republican ideology is wrong on pretty much every important point facing the world today?

both describe how a true leader works and the importance of emphasizing how awful the GOP is
2) both note that Clinton does these things better than the other Dem candidates
3) and yet both are careful to point out that they're not Clinton supporters

You are stretching wildly, CaseyL. I never 'noted' the second thing. I, of all people, am throughly immune - in fact, at this point have a homeopathic reaction - to said '15 year war' on HRC and anything else which comes out of GOP or RW maniac's mouths or pens. You can be for HRC all you want, but please don't insult someone you don't know in support of that. If she is the nominee, I will surely vote for her and argue for her, because she will make a far better president than any of the GOP candidates. I do think that nominating her is a big mistake, given the options; that's hardly the same thing as being bullied by maniacs.

Casey - There's a brighter way of looking at it: If non-Clinton-supporters are arguing that attacks against her are unjustified, it means that the maniacs have failed to convince us.

Signed,
Pollyanna

You can be for HRC all you want, but please don't insult someone you don't know in support of that.

First off: No insult meant. But the more I hear progressives badmouth Clinton, the more it sounds like they have, indeed, internalized the RW/GOP attacks on her.

And, oddly, I wasn't "all for HRC" a few months ago: I supported Obama and Edwards first. My gripe against Clinton was (and remains) her incrementalism and centricism. I still have those gripes against her.

However, the most important thing to me now isn't getting a bona fide progressive into the White House. The most important thing is getting someone in the White House who can fight the MSM and the GOP smear machines tooth and nail, effectively.

We knew this in '04 - Kerry knew this in '04 - but didn't suit actions to the knowledge.

I really don't want us to make the same mistake in '08, by nominating someone who either won't fight dirty or won't fight dirty effectively.

dkilmer,
I'm not sure, personal circumstances make it hard to follow specific points very closely. But it seems like Obama is trying to define himself as not-HRC (which inevitably ties into RW attacks on the Clintons) and takes for granted that if he defines himself as not-HRC, he will sufficiently define himself as not-Republican, even though he ends up echoing, or at least reminding people of those attacks. My feeling is that he should define himself as not-Republican and the not-HRC part will take care of itself.

However, the most important thing to me now isn't getting a bona fide progressive into the White House. The most important thing is getting someone in the White House who can fight the MSM and the GOP smear machines tooth and nail, effectively.

If they aren't a bona fide progressive but can fight the GOP and MSM effectively...er..what's the point? What does that even mean? It means that it's still the GOP's world and we just live in it.

The most important thing to me is to seize this moment and carrom our politics way away from the wacky suicidal rightward edge we're on. I don't think you do that via what is essentially a defensive position (what you describe). Action, not reaction, please. That's not to say you don't want Fight. But you have to make your enemies react to *you*, not the other way around.

The problem with Kerry was not that he wouldn't fight 'dirty' (which doesn't mean much out of context), but that he wouldn't fight at all (eg Swiftboat stuff). Showing fear to a bully gives the bully strength. Nominating Kerry - see?! he's a WAR HERO! - telegraphed Democrats' fear about as clearly as it was possible to do. Naturally, he almost didn't lose. In some respects, nominating HRC would be similar (she's so moderate and sensible, especially on foreign policy!). As I said, I'll vote for her enthusiastically over any Republican, but she's hardly the best we could do.

"Like many intellectuals before him, however, Obama is losing himself in a false romantic narrative of the mythical 'Great Presidency.' Instead of acting -- instead of seizing the existential moment -- he is trying to emulate how these presidencies are remembered in the popular mind. He’s seeing what we today remember about FDR and Kennedy’s challenges to the nation, about Reagan’s public optimism, etc."

What number am I thinking of?

The most important thing is getting someone in the White House who can fight the MSM and the GOP smear machines tooth and nail, effectively.

That sounds odd to me, because even though I don't read as many blogs or listen to the radio as much as I used to, it seems to me that many center-right pundits (Hewitt, Bruce Dumont, etc.) seem to think that HRC is well qualified to be president, and is quite likely to be the next president.

By the way, Democrats are plenty willing to "fight dirty" , and do it all the time. Just look how Senator Kennedy suggested that John Roberts might somehow be racist or sexist or against the disabled.

And he was plenty proud to do it, over and over again.

For example, take Kennedy's statement:

At many private institutions, financial assistance to students was the only form of federal aid, so Judge Roberts' suggestion would have left those institutions largely free to discriminate against women, the disabled, and minorities in both education and hiring.

I've been researching private colleges for my daughter, and it is extremely rare to find a school that does not have more female students than male students. Some schools approach a 2:1 female/male ratio. So the sexism in higher education argument at the very least, is nonsense on stilts. But this kind of thing is repeated over and over again, the mean old conservatives have control of the private liberal arts schools and will not let women, minorities or the disabled attend classes. Sheesh!

At many private institutions, financial assistance to students was the only form of federal aid - Oh lord have mercy! these poor schools will somehow have to scrape by on their endowments!

Honestly, I think Senator Obama's strategy is more likely to position himself well for the 2012/16 election. The Clinton Machine (tm) is a juggernaut (as much as I wish it were not), and I suspect he realizes this better than any of us.

If he runs a respectable campaign, placing a solid second place - without opening himself to charges of hypocrisy - he can spend the next 4-8 years building the sort of inside support he'll need to not only win a national election, but be an effective president.

What number am I thinking of?

Pi.

Mmmm, pecan pi. You can never quite eat the last crumb.

If he runs a respectable campaign, placing a solid second place - without opening himself to charges of hypocrisy - he can spend the next 4-8 years building the sort of inside support he'll need to not only win a national election, but be an effective president.

I dunno, a lot of people who have given him a lot of cash are beginning to feel like he's proving to be an indecisive dud. If he blows this chance, all that good will and expectation, I don't seem him coming back ever again. Right now, to be honest, he looks like he's on the Howard Dean trajectory (although perhaps for opposite perceived traits of character, ironically). If he's judged to have gone done without a fight he'll never get a second shot.

I reckon.

I think it is entirely possible that, at this point, O’bama believes his own lies. Morris critiques The Audacity of Hope:

Sometimes he sounds downright juvenile. Consider this missive, which opens chapter five: "One thing about being a U.S. Senator — you fly a lot." Brilliant! It gets worse: "Most of the time I fly … in coach, hoping for an aisle or window seat" (But not always.) " … there are times when … I fly on a private jet." Then, "the flying experience is a good deal different." Wow. Obama then describes the experience: "lounges that feature big soft couches and big screen TVs." Hog heaven. "Restrooms are generally empty and spotless, and have those mechanical shoe-shine machines and mouthwash and mints in a bowl." The planes? "Well, they're nice." The purpose of the trip was "fund raising" but the senator was thrilled when his staff "explained to him" that he could travel on "someone else's jet" and only have to pay the comparatively minor cost of first class airfare.

Bill - my favorite one about planes is this:

"You eight hours? Me too. Russia’s a big country and you’re a big country. Takes him eight hours to fly home. Not Coke, diet Coke. ... Russia’s big and so is China. Yo Blair, what’re you doing? Are you leaving?"

“Yo, Blair. What are you doing? Are you leaving?”

I think he believes his own lies too. Kinda makes you miss the Clintons.

My theory is that our campaigns require in candidates a benign megalomania. Obama has some interesting qualities, but that vital one seems to be missing.

Obama is in his element when he is delivering a speech. But he does not seem comfortable at all in the format of a debate. In spite of his excellent response to the stupid question "is there life after death?" posed to him by one of our wonderful journalists, Obama is just not as witty as I want him to be.

I don't think that most Democrats who dislike Hillary feel that way because they're giving credence to Republican attacks. Most of their opposition is because they think she's too centrist or even "Republican lite" -- someone who's not going to be progressive and bring real change. That hardly corresponds to the Republican image of her.

There are also those of us who don't like American dynasties very much, or who simply find Obama and Edwards more appealing.

And some non-Democrats have started to call her “Cheney with hair”.

Unfortunately, the former president most frequently brought to MY mind by Obama is Jimmy Carter. Brilliant, yes. Politically effective, no. Obama's too much in his head. And very, very full of himself. (And by the way, anyone who was president of the Law Review - especially at Harvard, but really anywhere -- who didn't go for a Federal clerkship to round out their legal education has demonstrated sketchy judgment.)

HRC is the most "presidential" but really, Edwards appears to be the candidate that will deliver the most change, especially on populist issues. He is the most representative of the old fashioned Democrats of the past, FDR and JFK included. HRC, more a Rockefeller Republican, more elitist. Edwards also is a guy with a solid history of accomplishment, doesn't just talk about pie in th sky platitudes. What I like most about him lately is that he really doesn't suffer fools -- and I generally (but not always) agree with his identification of a fool.

He was apparently an awesome trial lawyer, so he knows how to frame issues in a convincing way as well as effectively deliver his message so as to prevail. Alone among the candidates he actually takes reasoned positions and puts them out there and stands behind them.

"And by the way, anyone who was president of the Law Review - especially at Harvard, but really anywhere -- who didn't go for a Federal clerkship to round out their legal education has demonstrated sketchy judgment."

It's the fact that he chose to go be a Saul Alinsky-style community organizer in Chicago, and not climb the ladder of lawyerly success, that is one of several that goes into my preferring Obama, or Edwards, over Clinton.

"Unfortunately, the former president most frequently brought to MY mind by Obama is Jimmy Carter. Brilliant, yes. Politically effective, no."

Yeah, it's wonderful to conclude that based on a few weeks of not advancing in the polls, but his entire career in the Illinois legislature makes clear this is complete crap.

I'm relatively teeter-tottering between Obama and Edwards, myself, for now, to be sure. But I don't think making judgements depending on how things look in a given month has historically proven to work out well.

Maybe someone has said this up above but we don't need a 'post partisan' president and we don't need a 'transformational' president. We have exactly the same problems every large empire has as it dodders its way towards the end of empire and we have some new problems too. There isn't some magical 'transformational president fairy' who comes out and makes all those problems solveable. There is politics: the art of the deal, the art of compromise, the art of the hatchet and the bribe. Maybe we need someone with vision and integrity and all that stuff to
a) figure out what to do and
b) figure out how to bludgeon, bribe, and organize our way to it

but its not going to be a mystical experience. Its going to be politics as usual.

I was sick of obama quite early on. I'm not inspired by someone telling me he's inspirational. And I'm *really* not inspired by someone telling me that this moment in history, as our country stumbles into war crimes, dictatorship, torture, a widening split between the haves and the have nots is somehow nobodies fault and if we just clap our hands we'll all come together and these problems will dissapear. That's not the problem with the country: disunity is the symptom of the kakistocracy we have put into power. Unity won't repeal the Iraq war or magically bring the dead to life, or restore our international standing, or bring health care to the uninsured. Fighting for better policies and raisign the money to pay for better programs and fighting to bring our troops home takes....well...fighting. And Obama is dreaming of glory after the battle, not willing to go down in the trenches and take the bullet with the rest of the grunts.

aimai

I have never cared for Obama either. He is one of those stupid brainiacs -- completely high on his own LSAT scores and otherwise completely ignorant.

I wouldn't trust him to represent me on a speeding ticket if he was the only lawyer in town and cousins to the judge and police chief.

And how can you compare hime to Saul Alinsky? Apples and oranges.

Why do progressives like Hillary, er, not so much?

Because she is too hawkish on foreign policy and defends her Iraq vote.

Because she tends to favor executive power, and we need a counter to Bush's power grab.

Because she is a bit over-corporatish.

Why do progressives like Hillary?

Because she seems to have what it takes to fight the dirty low-down Rovian Republicans an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

These are NOT RW or GOP talking points. In short form a lot of progressives wish Hillary was more left, but we basically like her just fine.

"Obama also said he would try to discourage an escalation of sectarian killing after American forces left Iraq by making clear that the United States would investigate war crimes and hold the perpetrators accountable."

Here’s your link Gary:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/01/america/obama.php

The man is a child.

Didn't read the comments, so please excuse redundancy. In "As Good as it Gets," Jack Nicholson gives one of my all-time favorite lines, when he asks Greg Kinnear for relationship advice and Kinnear's babbling brings old Jack to life (say in your best Nicholson impression): "I'm drowning and you're describing the water!" Or as every writing instructor has said thousands of times: "Don't say it, show it." Obama has impressive analytical skills, perhaps the best of the bunch, but I agree with publius: he's describing the water. A quick look at the American political performers publius lists shows at least one thing: performance (though Reagan's was a tad...kitchy). I'll go a step further: if Obama's true interest is the country, then he'll dip his wick into the fray and keep it there until it's over. Edward's clearly has figured that his positionings are at least as important as a tool to shift the national narrative schema as they are tools for electability; I assert that if Obama's concern is truly what he says it is, i.e., 'a new way forward,' then he will do what needs to be done in the context in which he finds himself in order to advance the true interests of this country. If he's just a closeted narcissist and/or inveterate academic, then he won't change, and he can continue describing the water as everyone pulls ahead. Even Mark Spitz needed a Howard Cosell.

I reject the idea that attacking Hillary would improve Obama's chances at the nomination... or anyone else's, really. Part of the reason many people like Obama is that he seems classy. Part of the reason some people like Biden or Dodd is that they seem partisan -- i.e., willing to attack Republicans instead of Democrats. To attack Hillary is to surrender that appeal. I may support Edwards (him or Dodd, I think), but I liked him better when he was asked to offer a compliment and a criticism to Hillary in an early debate, and his criticism (after a lavish compliment) was "not too sure about that dress".

Hillary is getting attacked right and left by the mainstream media: that weakens her hold. The task for her challengers is to rally the people who don't want her as the nominee. You know what might be cleverer than attacking her in the debates? Defending her from nasty questions by the moderators. It'd sure get my attention, anyway.

If Obama implodes its good for Edwards. At least when Edwards criticizes HRC its a) based on reasoning and b) he presents an alternative course of action. That isn't necessarily bad, because if his ideas are better, he'll get a second look from the HRC pack

When Obama just pulls out the same old rhetoric and reframes it as "nya nya, your mother" type stuff, its not really going to pull any votes away from HRC. It only energizes his base, which is mostly as immature and superficial as he is, and half of them are kids and don't actually go out and vote.

The problem I have with HRC is that she seems to be the candidate of all of those Democratic consultants that gave the Democrats their great electoral victories of the last 12 years (/sarcasm).

That said, look at actual results. (The biggest success the Republicans have had is in getting people to pay attention to what they say and ignoring what they do.) Edwards didn't do much as a Senator. I'm quite disappointed in Obama's performance (not that he's been bad, but that he hasn't been better). HRC, from all I've seen, seems to be doing a pretty good job.

For those who think Senator Clinton is "Bush-Lite," go to her website and take a look at what she's been doing with her life. Does this really look like Bush's resume? Does this really look like what a "business as usual" Republican would invest his/her time in? Remember all that rhetoric about Gore back in 2000, about how he was just the lesser of two evils, yadda yadda yadda? I think we're being sold another line of BS, folks.

I started out not liking Clinton so much, but I've been watching her and checking out her record, and while I don't agree with all of her positions, I'm coming to respect her quite a lot. More than the other guys, anyway. She's smart, competent, and has devoted a lot of time to the most vulnerable people in the country. And her husband is a big fan, and I trust his judgment in this area at least.

There's nothing wrong with looking at her record critically,but let's do it with an open mind, and be careful not to get caught up in the spin cycle.

Jess - Clinton's negatives may well turn out to be positives. Candidates that were very likable (even idealized) at the start are prone to disappoint people (Fred Thompson, for example, and even Obama to some extent). Clinton has a better opportunity than most candidates to pleasantly surprise.

Part of the "Bush Lite" thing, I think, comes from Clinton's tendency toward pragmatism. She's a liberal who can think about privatization without getting the jibblies.

I'm guessing that "Bush Lite" will end up being a short-lived meme -- it's set to deactivate around February.

Bush-Lite is apt for HRC as she is the most hawkish of the Dem candidates.

Obama is not good? He's not willing to go for the jugular?

I find that humorous coming from a group of progressives whom I'm sure have been lamenting lo, these many years the dirty tricks, jugular attacks of Rovarian politics.

Edwards represents a real change in DC. He's a trial lawyer by training, so naturally he's good at succinct, hard hitting points.

Clinton is better than the Rep candidates.

Biden knows conventional thinking on foreign policy better than any of them.

Dodd is much stronger domestically and does work well with others.

Richardson should run for the Senate. Kucinich was given the final death blow by the UFO question and his answer to it. Should have said he saw something, not 'yes I did see a UFO'.

Obama is a teacher. His vision of the world is entirely different than the others and he will have to teach us what it means. He also is not a killer, and thank god for that. I, for one, am sick of the fighting, sick of the divisiveness of DC.

We face more serious problems right now than I can remember in my long lifetime. We don't have the energy, the resources, the time to pick at each other's open political sores anymore.

If any one can get us beyond the mire we're in now and move us toward a new role in the world, it's a teacher.

Try listening to him. Try thinking of him as the velvet glove with the well concealed brass knuckles inside.

I'll vote for any Dem over any Rep.

But Obama has captured my imagination of a new political world and I'm willing to stay in class a bit longer, leaning a bit further forward in my chair while he tries to teach me.

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