Sunday, December 09, 2007

DailKos Writer Attacks Netroots For Positions On Obama

This is an interesting presentation of how some "netroots" don't support Barack Obama, but also a window into why some have changed to now back Barack Obama. I do agree with Senator Obama that it's easy to predict what the Daily Kos writers are goiing to bring to a discussion; all too predictable.

The blogosphere's problem with Barack Obama
by PsiFighter37 [Subscribe]

Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 11:06:28 AM PST

In the past couple of days, there have been some particularly incendiary pieces written about Barack Obama by prominent bloggers within the netroots community. First, Jerome Armstrong over at MyDD decided to post two entries that attacked Obama - one for what his spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said about Paul Krugman; the other was about how Oprah Winfrey allegedly helped George W. Bush in 2000. Both were off-base, and they're fairly indicative of the decline in quality at MyDD that's occurred since Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller left the site to start Open Left. The other piece, penned by Taylor Marsh, speaks of Obama's 'progressive cannibalism' - which becomes a completely digressive attack on just about any straw she can reach for.

One thing to highlight, though, is that it's Obama - and only Obama - that has been the target of these kinds of irrational attacks. Neither Hillary Clinton or John Edwards have been targeted in the same manner. Why?

PsiFighter37's diary :: ::
I don't think that the vast majority of the netroots has a vested dislike of Obama. As I wrote in a diary a few months back about my disappointment with Obama:

Obama was a cipher - in all manners, including ones that the magazine skipped over. His rhetoric can be seen in many different ways, and what he believes can also be subject to interpretation. And the problem is that after his speech in 2004, he became everything to everyone. It was inevitable as the primary campaign aged, Obama would become something less of a cipher to some of us. Unfortunately, what I've seen is a letdown. Some might call it pragmatism, but he's been very cautious with his rhetoric. His calls for 'change' ring fairly hollow, as it's become quite clear that Obama has been the consummate politician since he entered the Illinois State Senate. He has an amazing base of support, but the campaign is afraid to let anyone else have control.

That being said, times have changed since September, when his campaign was in a malaise and he could get no traction. His rhetoric has become better, highlighted by his speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Iowa. One part of his platform - about modernizing our technology infrastructure - was well-received, even swaying Stoller (who had previously written off Obama) to say that such proposals were pushing him to lean towards supporting Obama. And there is no doubting that of the serious candidates, Obama is the most liberal of them all - and he has the ability to convey progressive themes that will attract people of all political stripes to his candidacy. No one else has demonstrated they can do or will do that. With an election coming up that could arguably swing the direction of this country for a generation, it's important to have someone who can effect real reforms in Washington.

There are a couple of reasons that Obama is taking a couple of hits. First, the blogosphere is once again stepping into the trap of becoming little more than a group of purity trolls. None of our candidates are perfect, but we're letting that be the enemy of pretty damn good. Some of our candidates are better than others; there's no doubt about that. But I feel that people have such astronomical expectations of what Obama - a person who has lived and breathed the American dream his entire life, a politician who was the most liberal state senator in Illinois, and was probably one of the only Democratic senators to get something useful passed when Congress was controlled by the GOP (the Coburn-Obama bill that increased government transparency) - can do. But they're inevitably let down because he doesn't meet those standards. It's clear that he's his own person and always has been, though. Whether you've read his books or listened to him speak, it's clear that he has his own way of going about politics. His stump speeches can at times resemble that of a fiery pastor or a college professor. But he's not going to be the firebrand (in the verbal sense) that Howard Dean was in 2003. I get the feeling that many in the netroots are very easily swayed by people who talk the talk, but walking the walk doesn't get much credit.

For those of you who weren't around back then, Obama actually came to Daily Kos and made two posts more than two years ago (seen here and here). There was obviously a lot of passion within these entries, but I think there was a great deal of disillusionment from Obama after the experience. As he later said about Daily Kos:

Obama’s first year in office, he voted for cloture on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court (though not for the nomination itself), earning dozens of angry posts on Daily Kos, a hugely well-trafficked liberal blog. Obama responded with a polite but stern four-page note.

"One good test as to whether folks are doing interesting work is, Can they surprise me?" he tells me. "And increasingly, when I read Daily Kos, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s all just exactly what I would expect."

While the netroots have traditionally played the role of attack dogs, they have demonstrated little, if any, willingness to play a serious role in partnering with the Democratic Party when it comes to governing. Sure, we'll raise money for candidates who talk a good game but are by no means progressive, but we rarely take action unless someone panders to our sense of self-importance (see Chris Dodd in the past couple of months). Obama doesn't do that; it's fairly clear that he walks to the beat of his own drummer and won't become someone he's not just to win a few nice words.

The netroots needs to understand this about Obama: he's not going to ever be the person who comes out and says he's sick of listening to religious fundamentalists running the country. That's not his style. But that doesn't mean he's not the most progressive candidate with a serious chance of winning the presidency in a generation. Netroots activists need to stop fooling themselves into believing in a definition of 'progressivism' that is false. Howard Dean would not have governed as a liberal if he were elected, and he certainly didn't govern as one when he was Vermont's governor. Hillary Clinton is no liberal, either in rhetoric or in governance. But I have trouble with folks like Jerome Armstrong, a self-described libertarian, telling us that Obama isn't progressive enough. I have trouble with people like Taylor Marsh, as transparent a shill for Hillary Clinton as there is without stating so, telling me that Obama isn't progressive enough. Why? Because in the end, they're about tooting their own horn. Armstrong is hardly involved in the netroots anymore and has effectively abandoned the movement he helped to create. He was working for Mark Warner, who is nothing if not the personification of the DLC. Marsh abused MyDD's 'Breaking Blue' feature for months on end to simply post links to her own blog. Certain bloggers are simply nothing more than self-promoters - not people truly interested in pushing for a new brand of transformative progressive politics. I don't like impugning people's motives, but especially with these two, it is extremely difficult to accept their words at face value.

In the end, the blogosphere needs to accept Barack Obama for who he is. He is not going to pander to you, nor is he going to work within the frameworks that are already set up by the netroots for how outreach on the Internet is supposed to be done. But he's doing a pretty damn good job of setting up a movement of hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country that want something different. Just because he may not be doing it our way doesn't mean he's not a progressive. It just means that his belief about what progressivism is - in the political sense and in the activist sense - are different.

And maybe, just maybe, he's right.

John McCain - In TV Ad Claims A Backbone Of Steel - But Do Voters Care?

U.S. Senator John McCain, a person I admire very much even though I don't back him for president, has come out with a new campaign ad with Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling stating that McCain has "a backbone of steel" -- but will the 30 second spot translate to votes?

I think the basic error is really in that not a lot of people who vote know who Curt Shilling is without a proper annoucement; that wasn't in the video.

Stay tuned.

Oprah's Backing Of Barack Obama Timely; So What If He's Black? If it Were White On White, Would You Question It? Isn't That Racist?

Yesterday, Oprah Winfrey came out of her entertainment world to back Senator Barack Obama for President. It's a development that sent shockwaves through the country, and also tilted the election more in Obama's favor.

But it's also brought out an element of racism that must be adressed and slapped down. Those people would would see two African Americans of prominent nature together and think that in this case, Oprah's backing Barack just because he's Black.

Well, if that's the case, Oprah should have backed another illinois politician when she ran for President: Carol Mosley Braun. But she didn't. Oprah could have supported Al Sharpton when he ran for the highest office in the land -- but she didn't.

She came out for Barack because she knows and man, and while being African American's a plus, it's not the only reason.

But what bothers me is those Americans who would fear seeing Black success supporting, well, Black success. Hey, we're seen White success backing White success for decades. It's an obvious hallmark of a country headed in the right direction that we can have a person who's both female and a billionaire back a person's who's the most popular politician in America, and who happens to be Black.

As to why Oprah didn't back Hillary. I think she said the reason in her speech: "The Amount Of Time You Spent In Washington Means Nothing Unless You Are Accountable For The Judgments You Made"