Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fretting About Obama

There was a lot of fretting about Obama over at liberal news blog Talking Points Memo (TPM) today. Editor Josh Marshall thinks that Obama's basic message of "change" and "hope" has been diluted or is otherwise not having the impact it used to have. He wants Obama to have a simple message that can be boiled down to one sentence. Of course, Obama had already boiled everything down to two words once--hope and change. However, Marshall thinks that Obama needs another memorable and simplistic formula.

Others worry that Obama has not done anything to define McCain and would like to see Obama portray McCain as an "out of touch plutocrat," a "dangerous warmonger," or the kind of person who would "say anything to be president."

The fact that McCain is all three of these things should help.

I'm fretting about Obama as well, but the bottom line is that Obama is being himself. Obama has always talked about the need for an uplifting "new politics" that gets away from the intense partisanship of the left and right. And like or not, Obama is getting away from many of the basic modes of partisan politics. Obama is not making a determined effort to define McCain with negative ads and he's discouraging third-party ads attacking McCain. Likewise, Obama's not employing aggressive surrogates to either attack McCain or defend himself. He's not really associating himself very closely with Democratic constituencies like African-Americans, Hispanics, white progressives, unions, or gay rights activists.

Instead of promoting divisions, Obama's promoting a "One America" politics of unity and he's doing so primarily through grass-roots organizing for his campaign. I was very sceptical of this kind of "post-partisan" politics during the primaries and that's why I supported Hillary Clinton.

But it's a little late to be sceptical now.

Obama is the Democratic Party's nominee and he is the only hope to keep John McCain and the Republican Party out of the presidency for the next four years.

Instead of fretting, people on the left should be pitching in to participate in Obama's grassroots campaigning and promote the virtues of Obama's approach to politics.

And hope to hell it works.

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