Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is Barack being too cool?

I have to agree with a lot of what Bob Herbert says in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times entitled "Heading Toward the Danger Zone" when he says of Barack that "there is such a thing as being too cool." He refers to:

... Senator Obama's strange reluctance to fight harder in public for the nomination. He may feel he doesn't need to, that he has the nomination wrapped up. But there is such a thing as being too cool.

Hillary Clinton may be behind, and she may lose. But she is now widely seen as the tougher of the two candidates, the one who is more resolute, who will fight harder and longer (and, yes, more unscrupulously) to achieve her desired ends.

An edge in toughness is hardly a good quality to cede to your opponent.

The big issue in this campaign is the economy and jobs. But if you were to ask most voters how Senator Obama plans to fight for them on this crucial matter, you're likely to get a blank stare.

He should be pounding that message home with a jackhammer. Give the voters an economic program to wrap their arms around. Let them know: "I'm for you! And this is what we're going to do!"

Some Democratic officials who were worried about having Senator Clinton at the top of the ticket in November are now expressing concern about Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton's bar-brawl tactics have raised her negatives sharply, but they've also raised doubts about Mr. Obama. Is he a fighter? Is he tough enough to take on the G.O.P.?

One of Senator Obama's favorite phrases is "the fierce urgency of now." There is nothing more fiercely urgent for him right now than to reassure voters and superdelegates that an Obama candidacy will not lead to a Democratic debacle in November.

Yeah, I agree with all of that, but the real bottom line is that Barack and his campaign and his "progressive" supporters really do not see things this way. They see all of this as an "old politics" that does not interest them other than that they seek to replace it with some sort of new and unspecified "new politics" that is somehow above it all.

It is still not too late for the Democratic party and the good people of Indiana, North Carolina, and Oregon, to wake up and recognize that they need to decide what the party stands for in the here and now rather than the idealistic "vision" of an activist wing of the party or the agenda of one man.

The line that really stands out for me is:

The big issue in this campaign is the economy and jobs. But if you were to ask most voters how Senator Obama plans to fight for them on this crucial matter, you're likely to get a blank stare.

It is not that Barack has not offered an economic "plan", of sorts, but that this level of "wonk" policy is simply not a significant component of the platform of The Progressives. They are still hung up on Iraq and see the non-progressives and centrists of the Democratic Party as being as much the enemy as President Bush and Vice President Cheney and al Qaeda and Iran all put together.

The simple fact is that The Progressives have their own agenda and their focus is on them winning the Democratic nomination so that they can celebrate the victory of seizing control of the party. To them, winning in November is actually secondary to winning control of the party. After all, if they lose in November all they will have to do is wait another four years, but meanwhile they can focus on solidifying their power grab.

I do not think Barack considers himself a true Progressive. In fact, he is probably closer to Hillary than he is to the Progressives, but he has decided that for the purposes of his own winning of the nomination he is willing to align with The Progressives. There is the usual caveat about making a pact with the devil.

The Progressives are in fact seething over the fact that Barack has a "strange reluctance to fight harder in public for the nomination." This betrays the fact that the true agenda of The Progressives is not that they are really committed to a new politics that really is better, but that they want to see themselves positioned to influence the levers of power in Washington.

The scary thing here is that I am not sure if Bob Herbert is evolving to my position or if I am evolving to his.

-- Jack Krupansky


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