Friday, February 01, 2008

The Progressive Case for Obama

As Ezra and Matt have already attested, this Chris Hayes column at The Nation makes the case for Obama while also accurately expressing the frustration many of us have had with Democratic campaigns and candidates these last few decades and the caution with which progressives have greeted Obama's calls for bipartisanship. I think Hayes draws the right conclusions here, or at least the ones I've been inclined to draw about Obama's campaign strategy.

I would also add that Obama's calls for unity have not been an empty shell; rather, they have included defenses of gay and lesbian equality, as Andrew Sullivan has noted.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Dean: Obama Abides

It's not often I read The Dean anymore, but I did this morning, and I found his conclusion about the Democratic nomination pretty interesting as well as counter-intuitive. It wasn't what I was expecting someone like The Dean to say:

On the Democratic side, the battle is closer, but the advantage has shifted back to Barack Obama -- thanks to a growing but largely unremarked-upon tendency among Democratic leaders to reject Hillary Clinton and her husband, the former president.

The New York senator could still emerge from the "Tsunami Tuesday" voting with the overall lead in delegates, but she is unlikely to come close to clinching the nomination. And the longer the race goes on, the better the chances Obama will prevail as more Democratic elected officials and candidates come to view him as the better bet to defeat McCain in November.

To begin reading the column is to sense that one is being led down the path of proclaiming Hillary's inevitability. He begins with the emerging sense that on the GOP side, it's McCain's nomination to lose, then on to the Democratic side where I imagined The Dean would salute Obama's galent and historic effort, but then say the one-term Senator from the Land of Lincoln oughta just hang 'em up. But he goes off in an entirely different direction. Maybe the Kennedy endorsements are having an influence.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alan Keyes!

Matt Yglesias is in rare form today:

Whatever else happens in 2008, one thing that's certain is that Rudy Giuliani won't be elected president. That's something I'm thankful for. And, based on the results, I think it's something that virtually everyone in America can be thankful for -- something that can unite Americans across the cultural divide. From Red America to Blue America, everywhere but the Commentary office and the foreign policy wing of the American Enterprise Institute, we stand proud tonight as a nation that refuses to be governed by Rudy.

Josh Marshall, too:

I still believe in Mitt's dream. But man, that was one really dejected group of people standing behind him. They couldn't even manage to seem excited as Mitt talked aimlessly about all the conservative claptrap he doesn't really believe in.


I think TPM Reader AF has it right. At this point, even with 35% of the precincts reporting, we can declare this one for Rudy. Rudy now has 16% of the vote. And Ron Paul has only 3%. So it's basically impossible for Ron Paul to come back and keep up his winning streak over Rudy Giuliani.

And not to be left undone, Andrew Sullivan briefs us on the campaign strategery of Alan Keyes.

Meanwhile, it was being widely reported last night, even before the networks finally called the Sunshine State for McCain, that Rudy would drop out and endorse the Arizona Senator by today.

But this morning's first surprise is that another big name is dropping out first--John Edwards.

Let the punditrywonkery as to who this benefits begin.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Kennedys' Endorsements

High profile endorsements are a little like vice-presidential picks. They attract attention, are much debated, and seem important at the moment, but after everything's over, there doesn't seem to be much evidence that either affected the election's results.

And that may end up being the case here, too, with the Kennedy family endorsements of Obama this week, beginning with Caroline's NYT op-ed on Sunday and wrapping up with Uncle Ted's appearance at American University on Monday.

But the one-two punch of Caroline's, and then the Senator's, endorsements, on the heels of Obama's landslide win in South Carolina, combined to create a powerful, moving image, simultaneously calling to mind the heroic liberalism of decades ago with that era's hopefulness for the future, together energetically reinforcing the mood of Obama's campaign and resurrecting it's momentum from its post-NH fall.

I don't know if the endorsements will change many minds, but if my own reaction is any indication of how others might respond, it has helped cement my support for Obama.

Margaret Truman, RIP

She was 83.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama in the Bubble

I have to say that I find this account troubling:

All traveling campaigns have a bubble-like quality, but Obama seems unusually insulated. One moment of absurdity came Tuesday, when reporters on the press bus were asked to dial into a conference call in which Obama announced a congressman's endorsement — even though the candidate was nearby and just as easily could have delivered the news in person to the bus captives. Obama answered a few questions, but reporters are generally placed on mute after they speak so there can be no follow-up.

....Obama often goes days without taking questions from national reporters, and when he does, the sessions can be slapdash affairs. In Nevada, for instance, correspondents were reduced to shouting queries at him during a photo op in the kitchen of the Mirage Hotel.

....Some reporters say Obama seems disdainful toward journalists, having submitted to precisely one off-the-record chat over beer several months ago in Iowa. To them, the absence of a senior official traveling with the press is a sign of benign neglect.

The primary reason, say those who have observed Obama most closely, is that he's never had to court the press, even in Illinois. Obama rocketed to national prominence with his 2004 Democratic convention speech, had an easy Senate election, and has gotten largely upbeat coverage from the moment he got into the presidential contest. His tactics have sometimes been criticized but not, by and large, his character.

The result: He has never had to learn press relations as a survival skill, not when he can just trot out Oprah Winfrey and ride the resulting wave.