The River

Friday, June 06, 2008

Obama to cancel "As the Wingnut Turns" this fall

I watched Obama’s speech at the Xcel Center in Minneapolis following his clinching of the Democratic nomination. On Fox. It was stirring. He basically said if America is to be great, then Americans have to be great. So when I’m president, let’s be great.

Yes, let’s. Of course, he knows better than to get pinned down on any of this. So it’s all inspirational sermonizing about the qualities of a “new” America rather than the actions that would put meaning behind the ideals.

Obama's speech made it abundantly clear that he cannot be torpedoed by the media. And that is remarkable. He merely has to do what he has been doing for months – play the consummate politician and brilliant speaker.

After the speech, the Fox News talking heads tried to pretend it was just another liberal delivering pie-in-the-sky liberal promises. Doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, too inexperienced to do it anyway, etc. But when you consider the source, it just falls flat. Even, I suspect, to a significant portion of their traditional audience. After two terms of a republican presidency, any republican nominee must answer for the record of the last eight years. And it is blindingly obvious that McCain, or surrogates such as Britt Hume, can’t. Those Fox News pundits had to pretend that it is foolish to change course from what the Bush administration has done. And what was so funny to me as I watched following the speech, was the looks on their faces. They knew their material was crap. They knew they had to really sell it, after watching Obama, and they just couldn’t do it. They were flopping, and it was like they could see already that it was gone – their brand, their memes they had been using for so many years, their labels. All of it was losing power right before their eyes.

Obama has declared that he is not going to play that game.

The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

Barack Obama at the Xcel Center June 3, 2008

And without an opponent in "liberals suck" arena, the jabs become self-important posturing, rather than strongman slams. (Republicans must look back at the John Kerry punching bag with particular fondness.)

So, it will continue to be interesting as power shifts to the other wing of the corpocracy. We’ll have smart people in charge. Our government will become a bit less vicious at home. Abroad? I haven’t seen anything that tells me Obama has a problem with America as a thug on the world stage who will slaughter you and your family in order to take the home entertainment system, while hanging a sign on the mailbox that says the property is now “free.” It’s all part of our “interests,” and so in the end that makes it okay. Sort of. Somehow. To some. But we could possibly start to change, and at least a demented freak such as McCain won’t be in charge of the most potent nuclear arsenal on the planet.

At least there's that. That’s because right now, republicans are choking on their kool-aid, gasping for air in front of the cameras. Call me shallow, but I'm enjoying the show.

yep. just yep. i keep looking and listening for some substantive statement regarding that whole america as the world's bully bit, and i do not see it. i tell myself it's because politically obama cannot afford to go there. the fear card is still in play and the republicans are holding nothing else so they will play it if he gives them any way to do so. i can only hope that's the story. otherwise, as you said, at least we'll have a smart person in the white house and mccain won't be.
barbara (& bruce)--

so, is it better for leaders to politically "go there" and get killed for it, or not go there and kiss enough ass to get in? Is the formula set on both sides of the equation, rather than just one? Honest question.
I met Joe Bageant this afternoon. Joe said that the W. Virginia Obama loss may have been less about race (which all the mainstream media harped on) and more about the fact that Obama has ties to the biggest coal barons in the state, and the rednecks (Joe's affectionate term for all the working class whites) are in a fight to preserve their mountain tops from the ravages of extractive industry.

So Obama is hawkish on Afghanistan, in bed with the Israel lobby and tied to mining interests. I think we're talking about pragmatism and honest policy choices here, and I think that for all his mainstream two party faults he still offers a window in American politics that will let some light shine in.
I agree that Obama is the best choice right now. I'm going to vote for him, and I encourage others in their choice for Obama. Just not here, where we can talk about the distance between the show and reality.

(waitaminute...Frank, you met Bageant!? You must blog about that, if you haven't already. I will be checking.)

In Obama, I see a great speaker and politician who's just getting started. He hasn't done anything yet, as Mr. Floyd points out below. When he does something noteworthy, I'll be the first to support it.

Marc, you pointed to the fact that Obama "directed the DNC to no longer accept lobbyist or political action committee (PAC) contributions." Thanks for keeping me informed. That's a good sign.

doing nothing is a great start. (chuckle.)

Sad, but if Obama had done any of the things Chris Floyd (and I) would've like to see out of him while in Congress, he wouldn't have made it this far. As Frank says, it's pragmatism to position in a certain way. Doesn't make it moral or right, for the moment that's beside the point.

A future, differently controlled Congress could be one in which it's NOT ok to talk about whether there should be trials and impeachments of BushCo, of course there must be trials and impeachments; it might become an environment in which it's only permissible to plead for a certain degree of leniency. Sounds like I'm on crack right now, but it's very possible. Lotsa backlash is a'waitin'.
Yeah, I fully realize he wouldn't be where he is were he the progressive we'd like to see. Wellstone hasn't become a verb for nothing. That's why I say he's just getting started. If he's been pointing himself to this moment for years, it would certainly explain playing it safe.

I hope you're right about the future and I will believe it when I see it. Until then I will point out that rhetoric is great for elections -- particularly sharp rebuttals of Republican attacks -- but actions are what carries real meaning. If he's waiting to make his move, he needs to know that there is a space there for him to step into.
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