The Revolution Returns: Obama and the Cult of Personality

Power is its own policy.

Recently a fire fight has broken out in the Democratic Party and the Progressive movement over Paul Krugman’s comment that Barak Obama’s support is beginning to look like a personality cult. It has always been a personality cult. I wrote that back in 2006 – that Obama’s support was a budding personality cult. That’s what was always ticket to the race, that he not only had unlimited self-love, but he allowed other people to bask in it.

We are now on the other side of that arc. Obama has successfully established a personality cult, and he is poised to take the democratic nomination, precisely because the ground has shifted under Hillary. The movement to let the “voters” decide the nomination is a chimera. The voters didn’t decide the structure of selecting delegates in the first place. Caucuses are undemocratic. Deals were cut.

At various times, if there had been a mythical national primary, Hillary would have won. But there was no such primary, and now, after the undemocratic process, she would probably lose such a primary. What’s created this firestorm however is something very simple: Hillary Clinton loathing. And people will hear nothing that is not aimed at toppling her. I am not shedding any tears for Her Royal Clintoness, because she lived by the Revolution, and she is dying by it.

Let me start from the background.

Power is the ability to multiply statements and actions by having others amplify the results. The first priority of power is dynamics of power. Not to maintain power, but the dynamics of power. Like chess, ever power dynamic has its rules, and those rules come before everything, even winning the game. That means that power is its own policy: there is a cone of acceptable actions that build a system of power, that protect the cascade downwards.

In 1991-1994 a Revolution occurred in American politics. That revolution was the final establishment of a representative plutocracy, where each party apparatus was controlled by an individual who controlled the flow of fundraising. The ultimate winners were Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. This system was the logical result of a media age. Cults of personality in Democratic nations are not new. Hoover had one, FDR had one. Charles de Gaulle had one.

However it was Reagan who governed by cult of personality in America, and since then to be President was to have a cult of personality to stand by a leader regardless of failings and foibles. In the end impeachment of Bill Clinton was about destroying his cult of personality, more than even his Presidency. Gore grew a cult of personality. Kerry never could generate one. Edwards failed to generate one. Clark grew one and lost it. Dean grew one, but not far enough.

To be in media politics is to be a cult figure.

The Cult of Obama and the Cult of Clinton

Barak Obama entered the race betting everything on his cult of personality. I didn’t believe it would carry him to the nomination at the time, but clearly it has gotten him close. Obama’s entry into the race obliterated the chances of third tier candidates to break through. Obama feeds his cult of personality relentlessly and with every speech. Everything is about how wonderful we will be when “I am President.” Go back to his victory speech. Count the number of times he utters the phrase.

Clinton’s cult of personality is both on the wane, and never touched the internet in any meaningful way. Her Royal Clintoness was the creature of old politics. She never bothered to create an online presence, even though she hired some of the best internet minds out there.

This clash then looks as it does for a simple reason: Obama’s cult of personality is entrenched among the people who write, and it is waxing in strength. People support it, not because of Obama himself, because of what they hope to get if he prevails. Now, their wrong. Obama is as much a creature of the representative plutocracy, if not more so, as Hillary Clinton. They will find in the morning that the same back room machinations that Hillary used to try and pull Michigan and Florida’s delegates into her column, will be Barak Obamas. Counting only Primaries, and not Caucuses, and Obama looks much worse relative to Hillary. In a mythical national primary, he might still lose.

But in a larger and more important sense, he is winning, and may well have already won. This is because he represents in the minds of many some mythically more democratic mode. It is a lie. Obama is an old politics creature: he creates public approval, and sells this to those who need public approval to get what they want. One of those groups is the state level arm of the Democratic Party. You see, in over four years of being the front runner for 2008, Hillary was the front runner for 2008 in 2003, Hillary has not convinced anyone to vote for her that was not going to vote for her before. She started at 40%, she has stayed there basically. Candidates have dropped out, and some of their support has gone to her. But Obama started at 20%, and of the 30% of support that has ebbed from Gore, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd and others… Hillary has gotten about a quarter.

If you are a Democratic politician outside the Democratic core, this is disaster. Obama, by trying to appeal to moderates and centrists, stands a better chance of not upsetting your election or reëlection chances. This is why the tilt is going farther and farther against Hillary. Let me underline this point as it shows up in the drive to not have the “super-delegates” decide the nominee. Super delegate represent entrenched and elected party interests, not party interests in states that are right now in Republican hands.

This means that Obama’s cult is not only more verbal and growing, it is better placed.

The Pwning of the Progressive Movement

The outrage over Obama then isn’t over cults of personality. Bill Clinton had one, Gore had one. Bush has held on by his. He may well be the first President to have his entire second term below 50% support. And most of it under 40%.

The outrage is that Obama’s cult represents to people the end of the Clintonian era in the party, when it seemed over and over again that initiatives were stopped because the Clintons decided how they would be triangulated into place to support Bill Clinton. This is not an empty view: Clinton made little effort to win back Congress. He made little effort to win over state houses and governorships. Under his Presidency, the rest of the Democratic Party was under pressure from one side of the country to the other. Reliably Democratic states, such as Massachusetts and New York, stayed under Republican Governors.

No system of governance with an executive will avoid having a cult of personality around the leader of some kind. That cult is what creates a corps who will enact power for the executive, and will protect the system by which the executive acts. The cult of personality grew around Lincoln in his time in the Presidency, it catapaulted Grant to high office. And this was when mass communications was the telegraph and the railroad carrying mail and newspapers.

In our present I find it impossible, in the end, to support HRC for the nomination. Her blunders in judgement are too many and too frequent to be an accident. When the large issues come up, she jumps the wrong way. HillaryCare was an accident. But in being a backer Iraq, she was her own boss. And Iraq is clearly the largest post-cold war strategic blunder. In this sense I back Obama by default, simply because I know that Hillary will blunder the next big decision. Something we cannot afford.

However, in that context there is now a struggle for what kind of Obama nomination and presidency there will be. The explosion over Krugman’s comments indicate that struggle is lost. We are going to be treated to a nice huge vat of “shut the fuck up” Obamism.

I just hope that the people now outraged over Krugman telling the truth, will remember this moment the next time that Obama tells the blogosphere to shut the fuck up, which he has done several times. He must, because as a representative plutocrat, he not only must create a loud noisy ball of people, he must have control over them, and will crush anyone who attempts to swim in that environment and direct it. He has promised his backers control over that ball, and anyone who moves it in another direction will be seen as a threat. He’s already done this, and therefore, I am sure he will do it again.

In 1994 I wrote in The Revolution Itself that we could expect the owners of streams of money to overshadow events. We have seen in the elapsed almost 15 years how, repeatedly, arguments over the cults of personality have overshadowed the issues. Bush occupies more ink than any of the much larger problems of our time. Now the fight over Clinton and Obama occupies more ink and more anger than the real problems the progressive movement has. Power is still its own policy, and we have cults of personality, precisely because people want a politics of personality, and not a politics of substance.

It is disappointing, but not unexpected.

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Stirling Newberry

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  • i like this analysis. the politics of personality (as versus a politics of substance) is the inevitable cause and result of a disempowering system of government based on elections. to have a politics of substance, we would have to have an engaged, informed, and empowered populace. the politics of personality melds seemlessly with the cults of popular culture celebrity – to most people, even (especially?) people who pay some attention to the news, there becomes little difference between britney and bush, or clooney and obama. most policy decisions happen a step or two removed from people’s everyday existence anyway, so it’s much easier to follow the person than the substance.

  • of personality have always run the world and I suspect they always will.

    “I beseech you in the bowels of christ think it possible you may be mistaken.”

  • …depends on your definition of democratic. It’s been part of our version of democracy since the beginning, and many say it’s from the Algonquin word for counsel and comes from the Iriquois government.

    84% of Obama supporters say that Clinton is a strong candidate (and the exact same number vice versa). So it’s not about Hillary loathing (or Barack hatred), except among the vocal 16%. Who are very, very vocal.

    Certainly personality occupies more ink and anger than real problems, and it’s always been so. But, particularly at pivotal moments, personality is as important factor in history as trends and events.

    Krugman’s column is an attack on Obama supporters and the media. One parenthetical comment about policies and positions. A few short paragraphs generally favorable to both. And then he unloads on Obama supporters and the media; by blaming the Obama movement without exempting Obama, he is less than one step from blaming Obama. It’s a piece of shit.

    No, Obama has not treated the blogosphere well. Neither has Clinton, though perhaps to a lesser degree (she lets Bill charm them sometimes). Most progressive blogs say only Edwards was open to them (and even he had some problems), but he’s out.

    But talking about streams of money, tracking fundraising sources and amounts from those sources, it’s not even close.

  • Sometimes through personality, of course. But every once in awhile personality allows someone to turn the tables. A bit. For awhile.

    We’re human beings. We do (slowly) learn things, though it usually takes many, many generations.

  • I prefer Obama to Clinton based on substance, i.e. IRAQ. I don’t think I’m alone.

    On the other hand, that fact was established well before Obama’s support began to swell in the last month.

  • You keep using that word. I am not sure it means what you think it means.


    “I despise ideologues masquerading as objective journalists.” – Bill O’Reilly, March 30, 2007

  • doesn’t sound far off for SOME supporters. Otherwise all and all the history of the phrase is very unflattering to Obama supporters. I am happy no one has made a sun following gold statue of Obama…yet(run)

    A cult of personality or personality cult arises when a country’s leader uses mass media to create a heroic public image through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are often found in dictatorships but can be found in some democracies as well.

    A cult of personality is similar to general hero worship except that it is created specifically for political leaders.

  • …gets worse all the time. TPM is all over it. Not the same as a “macaca moment” for McCain though, all he’s said is “get over it”.

    Superdelegates came about because McGovern embarrassed the Dem leadership. But Hart got photographed with Donna Rice on his lap, and Jesse Jackson is, well, the same Jesse Jackson who got involved in the Terri Schiavo case. Obama does not seem to have those kinds of liabilities. So this time the superdelegates are operating from different criteria.

  • you’ll find an agonist (and not a chestnut haired Canadian) accusing Edwards supporters of the same kind of blind adoration.

    In fact, if you examine US political history, you will find that there are rarely movements based on an idea. Maybe every fifty years or so. And even then, it usually takes personality to make the movement cohere.

    Conversely, the opposition is usually simply “anti”. Which usually falls apart unless there is personality to make it cohere.

    Sometimes the personality candidates turn out to suck. But nearly all of the non-personality candidates turn out to suck.

  • folks aren’t willing to hear. One amongst many. Krugman was there for progressives when Obama was kissing Lieberman’s ass and he’ll be there for Progressives when Obama is selling you down the river. Which he will do.

    Bet on it.

    There ain’t no progressive in this race, and the swelling of Obama love is as pathetic as the Clinton love that preceeded it, or the belief that the Congress of 2007 had any of the same priorities as the people who elected them.

    But in 2009, as he sells progressives down the river, we’ll spend plenty of time fighting his cult, who will refuse to hear anything bad said about Saint Obama.

    Get ready for a big cup of STFU, because Stirling’s right, that’s what you’re going to be served.

  • as Stirling says, cults of personality are necessary. Krugman said an obvious truth and didn’t also note that Clinton has a cult too, it’s just a cult on the decline.

    It’s still a truth, through.

    What Krugman said was one of those truths you aren’t supposed to say. I believe it’s called a gaffe.

    Poeple hate gaffe’s even more than lies, because the truth is much harder to shrug off.

    Finally–speaking of cults of personality, if someone makes me choose between cults, I’m chosing Krugman’s every day.

    Because I dance with the one that brought me and not the one that kissed Lieberman’s ass and through MoveOn under the bus.

  • No they aren’t as democratic. Not even close. Superdelegate include *many* non-elected delegates–the party leaders.
    “Superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as “all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.”[4] There is an exception, however, for otherwise qualified individuals who endorse another party’s candidate for President; they lose their superdelegate status. In 2008, Senator Joe Lieberman was disqualified as a superdelegate because he endorsed Republican John McCain.[5] A list of superdelegates can be found here.

    from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superdelegate

    Caucuses are not undemocratic. Senators picked by state legislatures is undemocratic. Voters do not pick state officials with an eye towards who the state senators will be. Caucuses, for all intents and purposes, *is* a primary that is paid for by the party, with the filtering mechanism of being actively interested in the process and the willingness to spend time doing it. It also is not australian ballot, and elective results are proportional that flows towards pledged delegates with no freedom to vote other than the wishes of a locality.

    ————————
    An aside on Paul Krugman, I agree with the other commentator in that Krugman is…wierd when it comes to Obama in the pattern described by him. As far as being the establishment party canidate, well, time will tell. I do not think he is the establishment canidate, I think he is the establishment scapegoat. Like I’ve said in many forums previously, the shit is about to hit the fan, and the president is going to be in a weak position to deal with problems (vested interests) until the entire untenancy of the situation reveals itself.

  • Do you honestly think there is a “cult” that will answer to shrill crys of “kill them all!”?

    Ask Deval Patrick how that cult thing is going these days. He got in that Mass statehouse by a campaign with many of the attributes of Obama.

  • are clearly less democratic than primaries since fewer people participate in them. The fact that Obama’s wins mostly caucus states shows that

    a) he organized better for them
    b) his supporters are more motivated
    c) that when more people participate as they do in primaries, he tends to lose.

    It boggles the mind that anyone would argue that an election involving less people without a secret ballot is more democratic than an election involving more people with a secret ballot. I can see very good arguments for the caucus system, but they do not include it being more democratic than primaries.

  • about eating my words on this. If I’m wrong I’ll be delighted. And you’re putting up a straw man, who said anything about “kill them all”? Obama will not be particularly progressive, he will make Clintonian style triangulations, and people will defend him on them, at least at first.

    If I’m wrong about either of those things, I’ll be thrilled, as noted and I’ll eat my humble pie gladly. But I rarely judge someone incorrectly except in cases where I gave them the benefit of the doubt (Pelosi). Politicians almost always underperform expectations. Can’t think of a single case otherwise.

    Obama’s always been a compromising post-partisan centrist who talks a good game but doesn’t live up to it. Being President won’t change his character.

  • the actions of “some” Obama supporters multiple times, based apparently on a few anecdotes (e.g. I talked to this woman who doesn’t know what Obama stands for but likes him anyway and thinks Clinton is somehow too feminist), and extrapolating this out heavily to account for the beliefs of Obama supporters in general. This approach is rarely useful or informative except to reveal your own frame of reference.

    I could say that Clinton has her own irrational supporters who are supporting her just because “it’s time for a woman president” and so on. I’m surprised Taylor Marsh hasn’t sculpted a golden shrine to Clinton herself! But I assume nearly all Clinton supporters -are- behaving rationally because to accuse them of hero worship en masse is unfalsifiable. When you seek to define Obama supporters en masse, you are defining yourself at the same time.

    As for my anecdotal evidence–based on a tiny, completely unrepresentative sample that is the average blog comment–it seems the substance of “some” Clinton backers’ support is she is “ready to lead on Day One” and has “35 years of experience”. That’s a talking point; it’s a slogan. In and of itself, it means nothing. Find me a Clinton supporter that can argue on the issues, and I’ll find you an Obama supporter that can do the same.

  • And if Obama wants to be the big shot, he has to take the big shots. This pulling of hair and bloodcurdling cries from Obama supporters is getting very old, very quickly. I for one am becoming irritated with the very haughty, imperative “we” command. “We” must do this, “we” must vote for Obama if “we” want to save the country. Instead of telling me what to do, how about persuading me with specifics? I’m not a long time Hillary supporter, but that’s where she–and previously, John Edwards–are and were really quite good. Conversely, Obama is short on specifics and long on inspiration. Well, governance is not an Amway convention, folks.

    Obama’s going to take some very big hits very soon, especially if he gets the nomination. How he handles them determines whether he will become, and deserves to become, the next president. Though she is not my first pick, I for one think Hillary would be a better administrator and better advocate for rank-and-file Americans.

  • are not formed just by anedotal accounts. I agree that Hillary has fervent supporters and as you point out Taylor Marsh would be topping the list.

  • It doesn’t particularly count, but I’ve certainly got myself elected to student and young democratic party positions, in white and black schools. The established machinery did as it wished and cut me out. This was especially true of the time at the white school. Obama is going to have too much trouble getting things responsive to his whims to ever be telling us to stfu–at least not as much as that posting he did on DKos.

    Oh My God…I really already knew it, but this thread really reminds me just how little white people actually think about the practical effect of having a black president! I mean, I see no comparisons with what happened when Chavez took over Venezuela (in US race parlance, he’s black), or when Morales took over Bolivia, or even when Mandela took over South Africa. We certainly can use Benjamin Disraeli as a comparison!

    He’s not going to have a honeymoon, and with plenty of republican attack monkeys diveboming his ass, he’s going to have deal with a damned near certain massive fiscal crisis in the second half of his term. That’s assuming he makes it without getting shot by some redneck (or cabal of business interests).

    I figger you guys will get back to normal once you have some perspective. Shit I wanted Edwards too, and I was never enthusiastic about Obama for various reasons, but the fact of the matter is, I can live with the aspects I don’t like–and the parts I do like about him, like his seeming commitment to civil rights and lowering the regressiveness of American live, I do like very much.

    It will be the vice presidental pick that will truly tell us what we are in for. If he picks some superconservative redstater like Webb, that’s gonna be the STFU tell.

  • eom


    1.”George Washington did not cross the Delaware for Capitalism,” -Shmuley Boteach.
    2.The Dems haven’t punished the GOP enough, so you’re going to reward the Republicans?

  • …and landmines?

    A gaffe? Might it be that the “truth” so revealed is only the truth you want to hear? Isn’t a gaffe sometimes like a “macaca moment”?

    Does Rupurt Murdoch’s ass have any lipstick on it?

    If you don’t have anything real, let’s have it. All I see are a bunch of very petty (and easily countered) grievances and a great deal of limbic system crap.

    Oh, and Krugman’s not running. So his cult matters for shit.

  • KILL THEM ALL…I was going off a Girl Genius bent…

    But seriously, I have not seen *any* serious astro-turfing attempts by Obama’s team. I have not seen a huge attempt at silencing dissenters or chilling any discussions.

    As far as triangulations, but considering all of these things, like the Reagan thing, and the mandates, and other topics, I’ll grant that you might be concerned. However, I just don’t see the whole people being vicious in defense of Obama. Obama fans do not agressively go out and trash people who talk about McClurskey and gay cures. The most I ever saw was defense, and maybe some irritation topics brought up.

    In fact, one of Obama’s singular strengths have been keeping incidents singular. Jesse Jackson Jr makes a sexist remarks, dude gets gagged and dragged back behind curtains. McClurskey? That was the one time. He also avoided being baited into making comments about other canidates. Disputes have been kept in-group, and few unauthorized leaks happen. This is going to be a primary run that will be studied by political historians for awhile…

  • We both agree that any candidate will have his or her number of irrational and vocal supporters. Yet smart people, people whose thinking I respect and whose writings I admire, are lining up on -both- sides. From this perspective, calling one side’s supporters a “cult” is just a way to shut down the argument. Their opinions are automatically invalid because they are “enthralled” with the “messiah”. These are very dangerous, unfair words.

    As I posted in another thread, it’s like the right wing saying if you disagree with George Bush, you have BDS. You can’t disprove that accusation, and it’s even probably true for a very small minority of people, so it’s easy to tar everyone with that brush. This accusation says more about the accuser than it does the accused.

  • can you fill me in on webb being a ‘superconservative redstater?’ i haven’t paid a lot of attention to him in the past several months. however, last time i paid attention, he was probably the best voice in the senate against the war, and a vocal opponent of ‘free trade.’ he, tester, and (somewhat more accurately) mccaskill were often referred to as conservative democrats when they ran for office in 06, but their platforms at the time were ~just as progressive as sherrod brown, which is to say better than at least 98% of the senate at that time.

    last time i saw webb’s name (that i can firmly remember), he was telling bush to fuck off when bush tried to sweet talk him about his son who’s in iraq. made me pretty happy to hear about. now i’m seeing webb’s name thrown around as a potential VP for clinton, which i don’t understand given his opposition and her support for the war, and visa versa on free trade. and you’re calling him a superconservative redstater.

    do i need to reevaluate my estimation of the guy in light of recent developments? what’s so superconservative about him?

  • I do not think all Obama supporters are cult members. I however can see similarity in behavior of some Obama supporters. I have no intention and nor have I tried shutting down Obama supporters.

  • I agree with your assessment on the potential problems Obama will likely face and the frustration the Obama-borg will experience. From my perspective, Obama’s biggest advantage lies in his potential to possibly deliver a crippling blow to the Republicans in the Congress. Obama’s candidacy is a two-edged sword, and at this moment no one knows just which edge will be doing the cutting. The Democratic Party could reap significant gains or be reaped in the process. The Obama-borg is totally focused on the potential gains, refusing to acknowledge Obama’s potential to deliver a disaster of 1972 proportions. We still have nine months to go before the election and that is several eons in election politics. Senator Clinton likely would prove to be a better and steadier administrator but she must first prove she can gain the crown against a reptile like McCain. She’s now making the sale right now.

  • Like one of those economic populist who has very little sensitivity to the wider scale of things.

    I also simply used Webb as an example of conservative democratic dudes. The Lieberman strategy was a definite bomb for Al Gore, and it would be so for either canidates as well. We simply do not need blue dogs. They don’t hunt. It matters alot more that one gets a person that s/he can work with…it matters on the campaign trail as well as in office.

    I hope whoever it is that the dem VP nom is, that it’s a person that “gells” rather than some popular dude that (hopefully can) coat-tail the Prez choice into office.

  • In fact the Supreme Court ruled that the various means by which people were blocked from voting in primaries rose to the level of being unconstitutional.

    If the standard of picking a nominee is how democratic the process is, the current process fails on any number of levels. As soon as one starts cherry picking how much of the present system to use, post-hoc, one is engaged in the same tactics that the Republicans used in 2000 of trying to cherry pick an electorate based on results. There is no way to avoid charges of favoritism, since any given “principle” when put forward will have relatively straight forward and calculable consequences.

    If it were a principle then it should have been promulgated behind a veil of ignorance as to what the outcome would have been.

  • “. Obama fans do not agressively go out and trash people”

    They do on other issues.

    “In fact, one of Obama’s singular strengths have been keeping incidents singular. ”

    No, Obama just doesn’t have a long enough tail yet. One reason why the Presidency is so often won by someone who is new to national politics (the so called “rule of 17″ goes that no figure has risen to national prominence more than 17 years before winning the Presidency since Thomas Jefferson. There are plenty of quibbles on this, but it’s an arguable assertion)

    I can understand the vociferousness in defense of Pepsi, I mean Obama, because without Obama Clinton will have no further need to listen to anyone. But then, once Obama is in the saddle he won’t either.

  • Actually the VP slot is not going to tell. If I were advising Obama, which I’m not and never will be, I’d have him pick a conservative or centrist Democrat from a swing state, or even a Republican. My short list would be Former Sen. Chafee, Gov. Sebelius, Sen Claire McGaskill, Former Treasury Secretery Bob Rubin. A too clever by half move would be Gov Spitzer of New York, in order to remove a potential rival for 2012.

    Clinton almost must pick Obama for the VP slot should she win. Obama however has to pick someone other than Clinton.

  • shits tubes of lipstick on command in case the person forgot to bring his favorite shade of red.

    Real, sure. I’ve written harsh things about Clinton and Obama. I’ll leave you which one ends up with nasty grams in my e-mail box. About the only people more personally vicious than Obama people are randroids.

    Real, sure. Look at who his advisors are, then tell me that a single progressive idea is going to come out of his economic team. His tech people, maybe, but not his economic team.

    Real, sure. I’ve listened to his speeches. I’ve counted the utterances of egoism from his first to the present. No politician in America, other than George Bush, thinks more highly of himself than Barak Obama.

    The reason this is coming out right now is this: people are incredibly angry, incredibly frustrated, and they are investing all of their hope in Obama, because he’s an empty vessel.

    Part of the reason he’s drawing support from the inside at this point, is that many people in the Congressional wing of the party actually want a President with fewer ideas, because that will mean that they will have, proportionately, more power.

  • how to build the coalition that would prevent the Republicans continuing in the White House. Better, what coalition will not only elect a Democratic president, but bring in more Democratic senators and congressones with him or her? I think Obama will build that coalition better than Clinton, personality cult or not. That’s why I’m voting for him. Clinton won’t help toss out Gordon Smith in Oregon or elect Mark Udall and Tom Udall in the Rockies; Obama might very well. That could mean +3 new Democratic senators just from the West, and rather progressive ones at that.

    And, don’t dismiss the caucus states so easily, please. In all the rural Washington counties that Obama carried there are no African-Americans and latte-liberals. Which rural lumberjacks, ranchers, farmworkers, secretaries, and fishermen voted for Obama in a caucus? I have no idea, but they did. And it makes the Clintons nervous, like it should.

  • “how about persuading me with specifics?”

    Ok, have you gone to Barack Obama’s website, he has specifics about many policy positions.

    “I for one think Hillary would be a better administrator”

    She’s done a pretty mediocre job managing her election campaign. She mismanaged her funds so poorly she had to loan her campaign $5 million dollars. Her strategy was so poorly thought out that she now finds herself, after being the longtime front-runner, barely hanging on.

    By contrast, Obama has shown that he can plan and manage with intelligence, strategy and insight.

  • Is that Hillary’s agenda is more progressive than Obama’s. The specifics on his campaign is that he thinks he can persuade Republicans to enact his legislative agenda, and that they won’t fight him.

    Clinton’s people have resolved themselves to the possibility of an Obama nomination. It’s time for Obama’s people to resolve themselves to the possibility of a Clinton nomination, and vote for her in a general election if it comes to that.

    There’s currently a double standard about criticizing candidates–it’s okay to attack Clinton while Obama talks about “bringing people together,” but to criticize Obama? Look out! If Obama gets the nomination, he’ll be getting a thick, vicious stream of invective from people who aren’t part of the Democratic family, including the press, the GOP, the corporate-sponsored 527 groups. What the Obama people are doing now is seriously turning people off. Well, fine. It’s an election and this is politics. But they should keep the truly serious criticism for the GOP’s candidates, not Clinton.

  • Arianna Huffington: End of a Romance: Why the Media and Independent Voters Need to Break Up with John McCain

    I hate to be the one to break up a love affair, especially with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but I can no longer stand idly by and watch the media and independent voters continue to throw themselves at the feet of John McCain. The McCain they fell in love with in 2000 — the straight-shooting maverick — is no more. He’s been replaced by a born-again Bushite willing to say or do anything to win the affection of his newfound object of desire, the radical right. And we’ve got the money shot of his betrayal on tape: McCain singing the praises of Karl Rove, calling him “one of the smartest political minds in America,” and saying, “I’d be glad to get his advice.” Face it, this ain’t the same man you married.

  • The Obama-borg doesn’t want to hear that his policies aren’t the world’s greatest, so they just shout the person seeking further clarification down. I’ve found that Obama isn’t the worst part about the campaign – his most ardent supporters are. Worse, too many of them appear to be total naifs. Just look at that moron in Houston with the Che poster in Obama’s office. Attitudes like that can torpedo Obama’s candidacy so fast in the GE that one can feel the shockwave. But, of course, the Obama-borg doesn’t want to hear it.

  • is that progressive is a one trick pony here. By progressive, this site seems to always invoke this visceral anti-corporate skreed. So progressives here are the Naderites or the Deaniacs, and lately Edwards (who only played a progressive when the DNC shtick didn’t work), and I am not convinced that reflects anything beyond a sort of guixotic longing for some sort of blissful world where we can all go back to our parents basement, avoid any and all responsibility, get our free stuff, our laudry washed, raid the fridge for some free food and then go home to our free education.

    Obama is a progressive democrat, but he is not an anti corporate blowhard democrat so, no, this group will not really like him. Probably not ever, other than the joy that is brought here by complaining about these politicians bought and sold by the ‘Corporations.’ I like Hillary, I like Obama and I liked Edwards, and there is about 3% difference among them. They will all work toward a more progressive tax structure, all work toward some manner of universal health coverage, focus more resources to education, solve some of the debt problems we have, be better overseers of the national natural resources, sign kyoto, work toward alternative energy subsidies at the expense of oil company subsidies, support corporate america (as any sane politician would). What is not to like?

    In case anyone noticed we live in a world that requires electricity, natural gas, to run a complex system of organized individuals who share information and make stuff. Yeoman farmers living on the land we ain’t. I don’t know any organization other than a corporate one that puts this puzzle together right now. Problems, absolutely, but every one of these Democrats move things in the right direction.

    I like Obama and I do not like Chavez. I do NOT want an anti corporate crusader, I do not want a nut like Nader anywhere near the powers of government any more than I wanted Bush. But we got Bush cause you guys wanted nutcase nader.

    Call it what you want but Obama would make a great president who would accomplish great things. But if you want him to shut down Microsoft so you can have a free computer – well that ain’t going to happen.

  • Speak all you wish about specifics, but the issue is that Obama’s policies as laid out now suck.

    Clinton clearly opted for a Death Star strategy of putting everything up front, hoping to clear the terrain of all opponents with the surge of money she received last year. She and her advisers mis-estimated when only a single non-Clinton candidate would emerge. So, she’s not omniscient. I never said she was. None of that doesn’t mean that a more experienced hand at participating in running government wouldn’t be able to actually administer public programs and policy better. A quick look at the policies she and her team have put forward compared to Obama’s shows that she would be a better administrator.

    Frankly, the non-Clinton candidate always did have a better chance of garnering most of the party’s support if they could strip away the aura of inevitability. The campaign has lasted so long that that strategy got buffed into irrelevance.

    Further, your claim that Obama has planned and managed with intelligence, strategy and insight is total bushwa. He’s managed with a money, period. Lots and lots of lucre will do wonders to paper over mistakes, as we’ve seen with the Bush machine.

  • I caught some of Brian Williams talking to a nearly incoherent Bob Dole, going on and on about Obama’s personality cult.

    But they should keep the truly serious criticism for the GOP’s candidates, not Clinton.

    Just sayin’…

  • True Believers are a royal pain in the ass (even when I made my living writing Java, I loathed the Java-bots). That doesn’t by itself mean what they believe in is bad.

    Yes, Obama’s econ team stinks. His FP team is better, and I don’t identify anyone as being the world class stinker that Mark Penn is, who picks up spare change trying to game foreign elections.

    Takes a huge ego to run for President. I can’t see it as anything like Bush’s brand of egotism, wherein God laughs in his ear in appreciation of his every mendacious, vindictive cruelty.

    He probably is an empty vessel on econ issues, and I hope someone convinces him to dump his supply-side homies. But FP, Civil Rights?

    And “proportionately more power” could just be the cynical version of “easier to work with”.

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