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Monday, February 11, 2008

Sense & Sensibilities

Hope for What? Change to do What?
“Talk Is Cheap. Mistakes Are Expensive”


People who are being “swept along by the eloquence of Barack Obama's speeches“ forget that at one time, George W. Bush was seen as “charming“ and “inspirational“ ...


The beneficiary of this she’s-a-victim-so-we-must-expel-her logic is Barack Obama who doesn’t have to work hard at all. The media are doing it for him


E.J. Dionne asks: Who can beat John McCain? Polls today are a snapshot. Polls change, people change their minds. What the polls say today cannot be counted on tomorrow, or next month, or next fall. The polls had written off John McCain just a few weeks ago.


A Party Divided by Sensibility

By E. J. Dionne Jr.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008; Page A19

It's come down to this: Who can beat John McCain?


Winning that argument could allow Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton to reach beyond their respective demographic comfort zones. Only if one of them can build a clear majority will the party be saved from a descent into the mire of rules fights and backroom dealing. It will also take leadership to protect the Democratic village from chaos and recriminations.

For the moment, the world is moving Obama's way: He swept four states last weekend and is favored in today's primaries in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Polling suggests that Obama can draw independents whom Clinton can't reach and can mobilize new and younger voters in a way Clinton never will.

Obama drove that perception by offering a brief against the politics of Clintonism: She “starts off with 47 percent of the country against her,“ he said in Alexandria on Sunday.


Meanwhile, as Professor Stanley Fish points out in his NYTimes column entitled "A Calumny* a Day To Keep Hillary Away", “Electability (a concept invoked often) is a code word that masks the fact that the result of such reasoning is to cede the political power to the ranters.“ One respondent to his earlier column on Hillary Hate wrote: “When Obama calls Hillary divisive he, of course, is pandering to these crazies...” Fish writes that “The beneficiary of this she’s-a-victim-so-we-must-expel-her logic is Barack Obama, and some respondents suspected him of fostering the divisiveness he rails against. Actually, Obama doesn’t have to work hard at all. The media ... are doing it for him. ... With unpaid employees on both sides of the media aisle, Obama doesn’t have to do anything but be his usual inspirational self. Unencumbered by the record of achievements and missteps that comes along with political longevity, he can present a clean slate to the electorate. Nothing hazarded equals nothing to be criticized for.”


“...There is another world in Democratic politics, a practical, mostly middle-aged and middle-class world that is immune to fervor and electricity. It is made up of people with long memories who are skeptical of fads and like their candidates tough, detail-oriented and -- to use a word Obama regularly mocks -- seasoned.”


...It's hard to imagine that she can “break out of the politics of the past 15 years.” The alternative: the antidepressant right there on the shelf in front of them. Its brand is Obama.

Yet there is another world in Democratic politics, a practical, mostly middle-aged and middle-class world that is immune to fervor and electricity. It is made up of people with long memories who are skeptical of fads and like their candidates tough, detail-oriented and -- to use a word Obama regularly mocks -- seasoned.


If Obama is passion, Clinton is bread and butter. If she needs more flourishes, he could afford to traffic a bit more in the staples.


These are the Hillary people, and they gathered in Manassas last weekend in significant numbers at the Grace E. Metz Middle School, cozy schools being a preferred venue for a Clinton campaign aware that mammoth rallies are normally beyond its reach.

She does not lack for loyalists. Paulie Abeles of Derwood, Md., held aloft a hand-printed sign that did not mince words: “Talk Is Cheap. Mistakes Are Expensive.”


Abeles explained that people who are being “swept along by the eloquence of Barack Obama's speeches” forget that at one time, George W. Bush was seen as “charming” and “inspirational.” And electability was on her mind. If President Bush raised the terror alert level four days before the election (“I happen to be very cynical,” she averred), the Democrats would want their most experienced candidate confronting McCain.


Clinton spoke directly to her audience's skepticism of good talkers -- ironic in light of her husband's oratorical gifts. “You're so specific,” she quoted people as telling her. “Why don't you just come and . . . give us one of those great rhetorical flourishes and get everybody all whooped up?” The crowd actually whooped at that. But eloquence, she said, is not the point, since the election “is not about me, it's about us.”

If Obama is passion, Clinton is bread and butter. If she needs more flourishes, he could afford to traffic a bit more in the staples.


Her speech is a well-crafted recitation of how government could ease the lives of those without health insurance, students burdened by college loans, homeowners facing foreclosure, veterans who have been abandoned, the working poor who deserve a hand up.

As she speaks, Doug Hattaway, one of her aides, notes that her practical litany is precisely what appeals to working-class and middle-class voters who respond to “tangible issues.” They also rebel against the idea that they are not part of the cool, privileged masses for Obama. One of the signs at the Manassas rally defiantly touted “Well Educated High Earners for Hillary.” This is a party divided not by ideology but by sensibility.



Meanwhile that old CIA-Agent-outing traitor, Bob Novak worries for the dems about racism and "The Bradley Effect" when he's never shown that concern regarding his own Greedy Old Party of Rich Racist White Men. He also conveniently fails to mention the overwhelming numbers and percentages of white voters Obama has decisively won in those (mostly white) states in which he was the primary or caucus winner. As Dionne gets right, it's much more about sensibility, history, and the life experiences of voters, not racism. If anything is hard at work overtly and covertly, it's sexism and misogyny**.



* calumny | cal•um•ny |ˈkaləmnē

noun ( pl. -nies)

the making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone's reputation; slander.

• a false and slanderous statement.


**misogyny | mi•sog•y•ny | məˈsäjənē|

noun

the hatred of women


Dionne's complete column here; Fish's is here.


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