Saturday, October 01, 2005


There's a growing [another-continuous-tiresome-typical] dustup in the liberal circles over a letter Barack Obama sent to the Daily Kos community. There have been a number of diaries there that have been ripping Obama and the Democrats.

As a sidelight, it IS interesting that Obama took the time to write to DailyKos, acknowledging the blogosphere. It's also interesting to note that he chose Kos as the place to do that, a further indication of how DailyKos is moving quickly into the mainstream (for better or worse....more worse IMO)

I'll give you the short version. Obama seems to be Senatized and is defending those Dems who voted for John Roberts. He uses the arguments that you need to go along to get along, and that the only way to really have effective change is to win the White House and Congress.

It's amazing to me that everyone seems to think that they only have one tool to effect change.

Kevin Drum sums up Obama's point. He also notes the anger expressed by Garance Franke-Ruta, who speaks to the discohesion on the left:
There has been a very weird backlash on the blogs against so-called civil-rights liberals in the past year, and, frankly, the more time I spend on the blogs, the less I know what liberalism still stands for, other than hating Bush and getting out of Iraq. There's a lot of talk of movement-building these days, but it's not at all clear to me what this new movement actually values.
She is criticizing, rightly so, several "liberal" bloggers who are defending Bill Bennett's comments about aborting black babies. This has brought to my mind several issues for me.

First, Barack Obama and many in the "establishment" Democratic Party still don't get it. I wrote about it here in some detail. I went to hear a speaker in 2001, Michael Krasny, who at the time was speaking about the post 9/11 political environment. In short, Krasny's point was that the electorate was looking towards strong leaders...leaders communicating a meta message of toughness, i.e. Bush in a flight suit and Ahhhnold. Since that speech, his predictions have been spot on.

The Democrats do not seem to understand that everything they do is messaging. And the meta message the establishment Democrats send is not one of strength, but one of appeasement. Not voting against Roberts says to the voting public that the Democratic leaders are weak, and therefore not likely to protect you, which by the way validates that conservative attack machine's message.

Incidently, I think the environment for the success of this particular meta message is ending. But I fear that about the time it ends, the Dems will get it an come out tough....again being out of step. But I digress....

The second thing that struck me was how the Senate ruins politicans for national leadership. Obama is showing all the signs of having been Senatized, becoming one of the club with the back-slapping comraderie, playing it safe, and generally being a team player rather than a leader. Well, that's fine if he wants to be a career Senator. It works in the Senate and is the rule of the game there. But integrating this style into his political persona will "Kerryize/McGovernize/Kenndyize" him and make him unsuitable for national leadership. If he wants to run for President, I'd suggest he run for governor of Illinois....soon.

Finally, I agree with Franke-Ruta on the rudderless nature of the Democratic party. But I wonder if that's not endemic to being 1) out of power, and 2) without a national party leader. I think it's clear that party leadership is at it's strongest when you have a nominated candidate for President, when you hold the White House, or when you at least have a majority somewhere in Congress. Obviously this is not the case for the all. And anytime anyone on the liberal left sticks their head up out of the foxhole, there's ten liberal interest groups ready to knock it off (witness Cindy Sheehan, the protest, and this latest Barack Obama thing)

I think this period of turbulence will settle down a bit as elections near. Hopefully, there can be some party centering and leadership going into the 2006 elections. Perhaps the campaigns of 2006, like a bunch of lab experiments all over the country, will clarify a bit the issues and stances that the Democrats may want to use. But I think that certainly after the 2008 primaries, there will be a sense of leadership.

However, I still fear the liberals are too analytical for their own good. It's been a large joke about liberals being a part of the "reality based community". Maybe we're too reality based? A little IRrationality might not hurt us. Using the media well and pounding messages are not the strong suit of the left, and a weakness of the Democrats no matter who is in the leadership position. This has certainly been my recent frustration and I suspect is a part of being a Democrat.


At 3:08 PM, Blogger mike81859 said...

I have to say you are correct about Obama. I am from Illinois.. and I don't see the attraction to him anyway. For the record I'm Republican and he's Democrat, but that aside...I just don't get it. He certainly is a media darling with a so-so record. He hasn't attained any real leadership status, but he might. I agree that he needs to run for Governor of IL and he might in 2010.


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