alien & sedition.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
  How They'll Try to Destroy Obama

Mike Allen has a post at the Politico about "the coming effort to dismantle" Barack Obama. Seems that strategists - from both parties - have been leaking information outlining points of attack in their upcoming offensive against the Senator from Illinois. Donna Brazille claims Obama is prepared for the onslaught but there's no doubt that his rivals are hoping to achieve what one of them calls a "souffle effect," whereby his media goodwill is deflated.

The whole piece gives the impression that Allen was just letting himself be spun by a bunch of canny operatives, and then went on to re-post their talking points. A number of the criticisms of Obama are weak, or already well-known. But, for the record, here's what to expect:
Why has he sometimes said his first name is Arabic, and other times Swahili? Why did he make up names in his first book, as the introduction acknowledges? Why did he say two years ago that he would “absolutely” serve out his Senate term, which ends in 2011, and that the idea of him running for president this cycle was “silly” and hype “that’s been a little overblown”?

In interviews, strategists in both parties pointed to four big vulnerabilities: Obama’s inexperience, the thinness of his policy record, his frank liberalism in a time when the party needs centrist voters and the wealth of targets that are provided by the personal recollections in his first book, from past drug use to conversations that cannot be documented.
The "experience" thing is a known-known - it's already being debated ad nauseum and can hardly be seen as some surprising new "gotcha." Likewise the so-called "thinness of his policy record." The book stuff and the name stuff I hadn't heard before, and I suppose the right-wing outrage machine is capable of gearing up dudgeon about pretty much anything, so it's worth watching if those attacks are taken up by people besides some of our dim-witted Democratic consultants.

The "liberalism" thing I find both deeply irritating and weirdly tone-deaf. This had better not come out of the mouths of any Democrats, because it's straight-up Joe Lieberman, and any Democratic candidate whose operatives are caught mouthing this crap can kiss his or her grassroots/netroots support goodbye. The idea that any Democrat would be apologizing for or even bad-mouthing values that once again have been proven right, that should be defended now more than ever, that offer the only real values-based alternative to the vapididy and corruption of the right, is frankly too enraging to even contemplate on a Saturday morning.

But let's look at what Allen cites as examples of this supposedly crippling liberalism:
“Audacity of Hope” advocates civil unions for gay people (a position held by most national democratics), declaring tartly that Obama is not “willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.” He says he doesn’t “believe we strengthen the family by bullying or coercing people into the relationships we think are best for them – or by punishing those who fail to meet our standards of sexual propriety.”

He writes that Bill Clinton and conservatives turned out to be “right about welfare as it was previously structured.” He adds, “But we also need to admit that work alone does not ensure that people can rise out of poverty.”
Gee. So we've got:
  1. Support for civil unions, and

  2. A retrospective endorsement of the Clinton/conservative position on welfare reform - albeit with the caveat that "work alone does not ensure that people rise out of poverty."

Allen and the knuckle-dragging "strategists" may be unaware that support for civil unions is now the majority position in America, and it's the "moderate" position, since momentum is rapidly shifting towards the understanding that all people deserve fully equal marriage rights. Liberals support full marriage equality. Obama's not taking the liberal position, but the majoritarian compromise position.

And if Democratic candidates are no longer allowed to observe that "work alone does not ensure that people rise out of poverty," then frankly I'm not sure why we even have a Democratic party anymore.

All this crap is just so 1994. I'm dead tired of it, and any Democratic candidate worthy of even an ounce of respect is not going to stand for this kind of weak-kneed, unprincipled caving to a right wing that has never been so discredited as it is today. Don't fall for it when it comes from the right, and blow it out of the damn water when it comes from the right's stooges in the Democratic party.

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I just came across your blog on Daily Kos, and its been great reading it the last couple of day!
Thanks tennille... hope you stick around!
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