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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Edwards supporter now looking for a candidate

Well, I was just over at the Obama campaign site and blog to register and actively engage in some discourse. I'm still reeling from Edwards dropping out of the campaign and in retrospect it might have been a little early for me to do that. What we are losing is in Edwards is a candidate who wasn't afraid to espouse liberal/progressive issues and attack from the left those issues that put the middle class and poor in economic strangleholds. More Hillary and Obama wishy washy dancing about being an actual Democrat is a prospect I'm not looking forward to. I was going to head over to the Hillary web site and do the same but I've changed my mind because there is simply no point. Here I am looking at the prospect of the first woman and African American candidate blazing the trail to make history and truly show we are all one people and instead I get a couple of bloviators that can't quite get the word "liberal" out of their mouths. Memo to both campaigns: John McCain will do that for you and once again frame "liberal" in the pejorative.

Just to give an idea of how "liberal" is framed from the Obama campaign just look at how on of his supporters do it in reply to my post where I commented on Obama's now infamous Reagan remarks:
"I agree with your comments about Reagan, but people have twisted Obama's comments. In an academic discussion - which is the context of his comments (speaking with an editorial board) - the word 'transformative' has no positive or negative meaning. It just means that Reagan significantly changed things. And that he did. Obama has spoken many times about how he disagreed with Reagan's policies, but it's hard to argue that Reagan didn't change things. I mean, he won 49 out of 50 states in 1984 and all the Republicans are fighting themselves silly trying to be Reagan 2.0. So he clearly had a lasting impact, one that we're still suffering from today.

Here's where we'll have to disagree. Obama never runs from progressive/liberal ideas. What he runs from is demonizing people, even when they disagree. Because at the end of the day, we all have a few friends/family/acquaintances who are conservative/Republican, and they're probably have very little in common with Dick Cheney. And those folks can be convinced to support a progressive agenda, and Obama knows that - it's just about not demonizing them while selling that progressive agenda."
What Obama did in that meeting with the editorial board was talk about Reagan being a tranformative figure who co-opted the disenchantment of the electorate and channeled it into successful conservative policy initiatives. The Senator went on to say Reagan tapped into that disenchantment that was caused by the excesses of the '60's and early '70's. Really? I taught reading my first year as a teacher and I think I have a pretty good handle on reading comprehension. There was no question what Obama was refering to here: the so-called 'liberal' excesses were the reason for that disenchantment. There is no question he meant policy failures not the fact that there was a failure on the part of the Democratic party to stop the GOP from framing it as such. That's not transformative. That's a complete collapse of the Democratic party community and their role in defining who they were and what they stood for.

I don't want to make this a whine about Edwards and the fact my candidate got beat. What I AM concerned about is both the Democratic candidates left vying for the top of the ticket will once again let the GOP define progressive liberalism once again in the pejoriative. Candidates not willing to say they are progressive and liberal is a first step in letting the GOP be successful in that framing. Chris Bowers over at Open Left makes it abundantly clear what the criticism of Obama has been about:
"The most consistent criticism of Obama online has focused upon his rhetorical posture in relation to Republicans and conservatives: conciliatory language of unity, the use of right wing talking points on health care and social security, positing left-wing DFH strawmen (70's style, anti-military love-in was my favorite), triangulation that blames ideologues and partisans on both sides for polarization, etc."
And one more memo to the Clinton campaign: surrounding yourself with the likes of Mark Penn and throwing kisses to Lieberman only sets you up to be defined by your opponents. I was over at MyDD earlier and saw where Todd Beeton reminded us what Hillary's campaign strategy in the general will be:
"We know that Hillary Clinton's strategy for running against John McCain is to play up what she has in common with him -- experience, especially on national security matters -- so, it makes sense that Barack Obama would take the opposite tack, playing up his differences from McCain, returning to the meme that judgment trumps experience."
As Mr. Beeton points out further in his observation Sen. Obama will agree, yes Hillary you are just like McCain. That right there is enough to make me move toward the Obama camp. We'll see. Its too early for me to make that determination. But right now it's not looking good for Hillary to get my nod.