The Missed Opportunity

Some may not believe this, but I have been bending over backwards trying to become a solid supporter of Barack Obama. I really do believe he has a bundle of political talent and generally holds sound views on most issues. But as I have written since 2006, he has simply failed to be the type of Democratic politician we need in this political climate (See my many posts on Obama for more detail.)

Recognizing this problem, Matt Yglesias defends Obama:

I also think I should take my hat off to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — I think this has been less a failure on Obama’s part, then cleverness on Clinton’s. She’s managed to position herself on foreign policy issues in a way that signals her differences with Obama very clearly to the tiny community of specialists while completely blurring them to the broader audience of voters. I’m not sure how this can be overcome . .

I am sure how it can be done and should have been done for the past year at least – by leading on the issues NOW. As Markos writes:

I don’t know how many times I’ve written this, and maybe I’m just wasting my time, but rather than talk about leadership, Obama and Clinton could actually shows us what that leadership looks like by fighting to prevent the Senate from capitulating on Iraq.

Honestly, Yglesias, like too many Left wonks, has been oblivious to what Congress can do on Iraq. It is a terrible blind spot. For them, if it is not in a position paper, Foreign Affairs article or “big speech,” it as if it does not exist. Look at his lament:

I’m not sure how this can be overcome, but I’m sure it can’t be overcome by having writers further obscure the differences by focusing primarily on what a good job Clinton’s done of obscuring them.

The basic reality is that each and every time the candidates stake out a position on something, Clinton takes a less-liberal line. Then each and every time Obama starts getting traction with the argument that Clinton is too hawkish, she backtracks and makes the argument that there’s no real difference here. And it’s true that if you look at any one thing with a microscope, the “no difference” argument can be made to stick. But it’s the pattern that matters . . .

This is, in a word, absurd. There are no substantive differences on what to do NOW, despite attempts by Yglesias and others to pretend there are, among the Big 3. The only candidate who has made real differences on these big issues has been Chris Dodd – by leading NOW.

Unfortunately, Dodd just seems unable to get any traction. Partly because writers like Matt Yglesias pay no attention to what the Congress can do on Iraq. Maybe they would if OBAMA leads in the Senate NOW.

75 comments

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    • Turkana on November 19, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    hillary: no.

    obama: no.

    end of story.

  1. how Obama and Clinton have uncoupled their actions from constituents’ wishes? (as senators, not necessarily as presidential hopefuls, but your take either way would be interesting).  And in that light, where do you view Dodd as being faithful to constituents or independent of them?

    • BobbyK on November 19, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    but whatever happened to Running Right on security?  Wasn’t Obama trying to do that with Pakistan saying he’d not wait for permission to strike terrorist targets there?  What ever happened to that?

  2. both leading by example in their respective houses.

    Oh, he’s short, has a hot wife, and is honest to a fault…never mind.

  3. when you revisited Obama’s Daily Kos diary that he just isn’t the kind of politician who will do what you want him to do?

    • oculus on November 19, 2007 at 11:57 pm
  4. Would you favor us at some point with a cross post of your piece responding to Devilstower’s critique of Dodd from Talk Left?

  5. he’s so bad at the sleazy politics I am starting to believe he’s sincere. As for the candidates in the Senate don’t they on a political level alone know it doesn’t play well with the voters at 11% and the cheers from the crowd Kucinich gets when he brings up the dismal debacle you’d think they would do better then skipping votes or waiting them out. He’s not as bad as the Hillary however. They are campaigning solely on Bush hatred.

    • BobbyK on November 20, 2007 at 12:15 am

    approach of Kucinich, the Republicons would be in deep trouble if they were truly challenged from the right on security.  

    Imagine a candidate saying

    “Lets talk about the WAR ON TERROR.  

    I’ll get us out of Iraq and I will stop at nothing to get OBL.  

    I’ll institute a war tax to pay for it.  

    I’ll institute a draft.  

    I’ll invade Pakistan where OBL is hiding.  

    You really want a war on terror, I’ll show you how to fight a real war.”

    If a Reblicon said that I’d run for the hills.  If a Dem said that I’d pray they were just saber rattling.  The problem with that approach would be that the Cons would up the anti.

    They’d say “Let’s nuke everybody and trust God to sort it out.”  I can’t imagine that opinion winning a majority though.

     Only I’m afraid it might.

    • snud on November 20, 2007 at 12:41 am

    “Maybe they would if OBAMA leads in the Senate NOW”, that is. I think it’s a great idea and I wish he would but I’ll be shocked if he does it. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Clinton wouldn’t “risk” that likely firestorm either.

    It is a shame about Kucinich’s physical stature. FDR wouldn’t stand a chance today in a wheelchair, on tee-vee.

  6. … how difficult what you’re doing is.  Well I guess it don’t matter at all, that was just a stray thought.

    Yglesias is a very seductive writer, intellectually speaking.  The problem lies in his minute descriptions of political details which he puts center stage instead of on the sidelines where they belong.

    We are citizen journalists now.

    Just great refocusing, Armando.  You are at the top of your game.  And I’m grateful for that, you are saving me an enormous amount of time.

    This is entirely in keeping with your exhortation to remember the role of the netroots, which I think is becoming more and more apparent.

    • timber on November 20, 2007 at 6:16 am

    What happened?

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