See, for example, the S-CHIP battle. As far as the R's are concerned, the name of the game is . . . it's a game, and winning isn't the most important thing, it's the only thing. The concept that we elect people to office to get things done, useful things that affect our lives, seems beyond their conception. War? It has the same reality as a football game. Yay! We're winning! Boo. You're not cheering loud enough. (Traitors.)
Would Obama be tough enough? Would he fight them hard enough? Would he be able to kick their asses into total irrelevance?
But I've come around for a variety of reasons, and now that I'm looking at him more closely, I think I might be seeing something that will actually work. Maybe. Maybe not. But attempting to "pacify" the Right-Wing is clearly futile and self-destructive. Attacking them seems to not work either - they just double and redouble their counter attacks, which even when totally dishonest and irrational, finally wears everyone down.
I liked the way Obama countered Hillary's inane "plagiarism" attack during the Austin debates by pointing out that that whole line of discussion was purely silly and immediately changing the subject to "we have real problems in this country that need solutions."
And XStryker had a comment that showed something else I hadn't seen before:
Obama's [strategy] is hugely effective. Instead of using the Clinton strategy of offering red meat to Republicans (like Hillary's anti-flag-burning bill or her Iraq War vote), Obama remains progressive and then finds Republicans who agree with him. For example, he takes a conservative guy, Dick Lugar, with a sensible stance on foreign policy and he passes legislation to secure loose nukes, a bill previously rejected by the Republican congress during the Clinton administration. Even president Bush, who nominally opposed it, concedes and signs it. That's how things get done. He finds a conservative who is willing to speak out against his party's earmarking, Tom Coburn, and passes the Coburn-Obama bill to force congress to disclose their spending and earmarks on the internet.
Instead of moving to the center, he approaches people issue-by-issue. The Republican party includes social progressives, economic populists, and foreign policy realists. Obama's strategy is to appeal to everyone's most liberal tendency individually. Clinton, however, has a tendency to unite people against her, and her only strategy in response is to triangulate to the right. The truth is that her campaign is not very effective and lousy on strategy, which is how she managed to go from front-runner to down nearly 100 delegates.
And if she's run a mistake-ridden losing campaign for the Democratic nomination, how can she possibly beat the Republican machine in any state less Democratic than New York? Obama leads McCain in the polls because his strategy works. He appeals to both progressives and independents. All this nonsense of Obama as "center right" is willfully ignorant spin . . .
(I would add further, if she can't manage a campaign effectively, how can she manage a country? There's a reason the President is called the "Chief Executive." Because the main part of the job is to be a manager of the biggest damn bureaucracy in the world.)
. . . and . . .
The Obama campaign made a brilliant move by making Obama's website the top search response for "Obama + Muslim". They've effectively marginalized, isolated, and forced retractions out of Fox News. They had Jesse Jackson on Olbermann yesterday keeping the heat on Bill O'Reilly. Unfortunately, when you're being attacked by the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign at the same time, you can't always draw attention to every GOP criticism by addressing directly. Once Clinton is done attacking Obama, Obama will be ready to silence McCain's attacks as effectively as he's answered Hillary's.
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Maybe we need someone who can fight smarter, instead of harder. Maybe that's the right kind of "tough."
[posted on 2/24/08]