January 8, 2008

THERE IS NO U IN OBAMA:

McCain and Obama (DAVID BROOKS, 1/08/08, NY Times)

Obama emphasizes the connections between people, the networks and the webs of influence. These sorts of links are invisible to some of his rivals, but Obama is a communitarian. He believes you can only make profound political changes if you first change the spirit of the community. In his speeches, he says that if one person stands up, then another will stand up and another and another and you’ll get a nation standing up.

The key word in any Obama speech is “you.” Other politicians talk about what they will do if elected. Obama talks about what you can do if you join together. Like a community organizer on a national scale, he is trying to move people beyond their cynicism, make them believe in themselves, mobilize their common energies.

His weakness is that he never breaks from his own group. In policy terms, he is an orthodox liberal. He never tells audiences anything that might make them uncomfortable. In the Senate, he didn’t join the Gang of 14, which created a bipartisan consensus on judges, because it would have meant deviating from liberal orthodoxy and coming to the center.

How do you build a trans-partisan coalition when every single policy you propose is reliably on the left?


Of course, Mr. Obama isn't trying to build a governing coalition, just an electoral one, so he never mentions what it is he'd seek to do as president. As soon as he gets down to specifics--or the Republicans start outlining those specifics for him--the coalition collapses. Also, his failure to ever pass a significant piece of legislation--which stands in stark contrast to Senator McCain--would seem to be devastating to the theory of his candidacy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2008 2:33 PM
Comments

I haven't posted it on my website yet, but I think I'll get to it today.

Here is what we need to start throwing in the "meme pool."

"This election is a contest between the young, seemingly dymnamic Obama selling old, shopworn ideas of the 30s and 60s, and McCain, the old war horse, selling new, dynamic ideas."

Even if McCain doesn't use this rhetoric, we should. Last year, he wholeheartedly endorsed the "ownership society" when I asked him to specifically if he agreed with it. Obama is still about empowering government, and my bet is McCain will empower people.

How about "Old whine in a new bottle."

Work with it. Just another thought from your number one idea boy.

Posted by: Bruno at January 8, 2008 6:10 PM
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