Geraldine Ferraro wasn't quite right: It's not just Obama's race that has made him the frontrunner on the Left. It's his chic-ness. It helps that Senator Obama is "international" and half black, but don't ignore his youth, his sonorous voice and skinniness: He's the fashion icon of the age. Shortly after Obama announced, he captured the gay vote with one photo op in a bathing suit. If Senator Obama looked and talked like Charlie Rangel he would not be adored by millions of lovelorn liberals.
Have our greatest presidents have been chic just like Obama? There is George Washington with his wooden teeth, Abe Lincoln with his ole' prairie lawyer drawl, and Ronald Reagan with this 1950s haircut. Still, there is someth8ing about Obama that casts a magic spell over those of a certain mindset. At Salon magazine, Walter Shapiro gushed,
"Unlike most presidential Dems in recent memory, the Illinois senator is at ease with himself -- even while bowling gutter balls in Pennsylvania."
Even flubbing a couple of bowling ball tries reflects on the man's cool. This man can do no wrong.
I have a friend who ran into Bill Clinton in the 90s one day, shook hands with the great man for a few seconds, and came away transformed. I asked him what came over him. "You don't understand!" he said. "He loved me!" So my friend voted for the Slick One, and wouldn't listen to a critical word in spite of all the scandals. True story. That's what a celebrity handshake and five seconds of sincere vibes can do to certain folks when dealing with a charismatic pol.
I thought it was degrading to be so easily suckered by an flaming con artist. But maybe that's the secret of the Democrats: they know their followers are looking for love. Like any good sales outfit they play to whatever their customers dream about: I care for you, yes you, personally, it's love, baby, sitting in front of your TV with 200 million other viewers. It's like the old radio preacher asking all the listeners to place both hands on their RCA Victor, bow their heads, and pray with him in person, one to one. Bill Clinton made "I care for you" work at the polls. Obama is doing it right in front of our eyes. Hillary doesn't have the mojo, no matter how hard she tries.
You have to admit that black Democrats have a point. If you are looking for a crowd charmer to mesmerize millions of gullible folks, why not choose a black guy? After all, could Obama be worse than Bill?
With the New Media finding out more about the real Obama, we are learning a lot that doesn't quite fit the manufactured image. Such as Senator Obama's notion of compassion toward white small-town Pennsylvanians and their well-known racial rage and hatred.
"... So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations..."
Oops. When Hillary and McCain promptly jumped on that remark as showing contempt for and ignorance about the voters, Obama dug himself a deeper hole:
"No, I'm in touch. I know exactly what's going on. I know what's going on in Pennsylvania, I know what's going on in Indiana, I know what's going on in Illinois," Mr. Obama said, his voice rising. "People are fed up, they're angry, they're frustrated, they're bitter and they want to see a change in Washington. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America."
It's funny, those are feelings a lot of average Americans may have never noticed themselves --- it's unconscious racism, you you --- but the libs are sure that everybody is a racist out there. It's a miracle how Obama can read all those typical white minds with absolute, metaphysical certainty.
"I know exactly what's going on. I know what's going on in Pennsylvania, I know what's going on in Indiana, I know what's going on in Illinois."
Call it omniscient mind-reading. It's a liberal faith that surpasseth human understanding. They and only they can see right through false consciousness of the masses.
If the media have their way, Obama chic will put all those oddities to rest. The elites yearn for an avatar of human perfection, and Hillary is just so Nineties, and simply not slender. Recognizing a great opportunity, they have switched from Slick Willie to Slick Barry, and are hammering poor Mrs. Clinton for just a few of the old lies -- while letting Obama get away with a bumper harvest of whoppers. Senator Clinton is correct. It's not fair!
Given that the Dems are now wedded to Obama, the new line is that "experience" doesn't matter to for a president. With Obama's brilliance, three years in the Senate is plenty of time to learn how to govern America in a time of war and economic fever. If you were hiring a Starbucks manager you'd look for experience. But President of the United States? Commander in Chief? Captain of the Ship of State? Leader of the Free World? Who cares about experience? (Am I the only one who thinks that's certifiably insane?)
Even Camille Paglia has fallen for Obama chic. Normally one of the most level-headed people on the Left, she now thinks Obama's magic outweighs any doubts about his substance, character, or racially charged Leftism. Paglia is making the case for Obama's purity of heart is what really matters.
"... I plan to vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary because he is a rational, centered personality who speaks the language of idealism and national unity. Obama has served longer as an elected official than Hillary. He has had experience as a grass-roots activist, and he is also a highly educated lawyer who will be a quick learner in office. His international parentage and childhood, as well as his knowledge of both Christianity and Islam, would make him the right leader at the right time. And his wife Michelle is a powerhouse. "The Obamas represent the future, not the past."
Senator Obama is very slick indeed, a Bill Clinton for the 21st Century. Like Bill, he is good at prettifying his dubious personal associations, politicians and influence peddlers who helped him get where he is today. He is also dexterous in skating through tricky questions.
But Obama has stumbled repeatedly on basic foreign policy knowledge, where he is absolutely Carteresque. Not exactly a man for the times, as Carter's most famous foreign affairs blunder, letting Ayatollah Khomeini overthrow the Shah of Iran in 1979, is now leading to nuclear panic all over the Middle East. Carter himself is adding a new catastrophe to all the old ones by promising to shake hands with Hamas. Is this a foretaste of Barack Obama's compassionate foreign policy? He has certainly not criticized Jimmy Carter's newest desperate grab for the spotlight.
Still, we're not supposed to be looking for flaws. Let's all pretend we didn't hear Senator Obama's off-the-cuff idea of invading nuclear Pakistan, or his notion of trying to charm A'jad out of his race for nukes by being really, really nice to him. We know how susceptible the Mullahs are to sweet reason. Carter showed us how that works in 1979.
Freud said that love is a kind of madness -- you're totally convinced that your adored one makes the world go 'round. Well, liberals have done it again. They fell in love with Adlai Stevenson; they tumbled head over heels for JFK, and then Bill Clinton. Now it's Obama's turn. The only question is, how many voters will surrender to the celebrity parade? That may decide the presidential election. It all goes to show that Finley Peter Dunne's Mister Dooley had it right: "God protects orphans, drunkards, and the United States". At least, we better hope so.
What Hillary wishes she could say about Obama
Why, ask many Democrats and media commentators, won't Hillary Rodham Clinton see the long odds against her, put her own ambitions aside, and gracefully embrace Barack Obama as the inevitable Democratic nominee? Here is why: She and Bill Clinton both devoutly believe that Obama's likely victory is a disaster-in-waiting. Naive Democrats just don't see it. And a timid, pro-Obama press corps, in their view, won't tell the story. But Hillary Clinton won't tell it, either.
A lot of coverage of the Clinton campaign supposes them to be in kitchen-sink mode - hurling every pot and pan, no matter the damage this might do to Obama as the likely Democratic nominee in the fall.
In fact, the Democratic race has not been especially rough by historical standards. What's more, our conversations with Democrats who speak to the Clintons make plain that their public comments are only the palest version of what they really believe: that if Obama is the nominee, a likely Democratic victory would turn to a near-certain defeat. Far from a no-holds-barred affair, the Democratic contest has been an exercise in self-censorship.
Rip off the duct tape and here is what they would say: Obama has serious problems with Jewish voters (goodbye Florida), working-class whites (goodbye Ohio) and Hispanics (goodbye, New Mexico).
Republicans will also ruthlessly exploit openings that Clinton - in the genteel confines of an intraparty contest - never could. Top targets: Obama's radioactive personal associations, his liberal ideology, his exotic life story, his coolly academic and elitist style.
This view has been an article of faith among Clinton advisers for months, but it got powerful new affirmation last week with Obama's clumsy ruminations about why "bitter" small-town voters turn to guns and God. There's nothing to say that the Clintonites are right about Obama's presumed vulnerabilities. But one argument seems indisputably true: Obama is on the brink of the Democratic nomination without having had to confront head-on the evidence about his general election challenges. That is why some friends describe Clinton as seeing herself on a mission to save Democrats from themselves. Her candidacy may be a long shot, but no one should expect she will end it unless or until every last door has been shut.
Skepticism about Obama's general election prospects extends beyond Clinton backers. We spoke to unaffiliated Democratic lawmakers, veteran lobbyists, and campaign operatives who believe the rush of enthusiasm for Obama's charisma and fresh face has inhibited sober appraisals of his potential weaknesses. The concerns revolve around two themes.
The first is based on the campaign so far. Assuming voting patterns evident in the nominating contest continue into the fall, Obama would be vulnerable if McCain can approximate the traditional GOP performance in key states.
The second is based on fear about the campaign ahead. Stories about Obama's Chicago associations with 1960s radicals Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers landed with barely a ripple. So, too, did questions about whether he once backed a total ban on handguns (he says no but in a 1996 state legislative race his campaign filled out a questionnaire saying yes). Obama's graceful handling of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy may have turned that into a net positive against Clinton.
But all this was in a Democratic contest. What about about when Obama's running against a Republican? Let's take the first point: Obama's electoral coalition. His impressive success to date comes predominately from strong support among upscale, college-educated whites and overwhelming support from African-Americans. Assuming he is the Democratic nominee, it seems virtually certain he would bring turnout of these groups to historic levels.
But there is reason to question whether he would be able to perform at average levels with other main pillars of the traditional Democratic coalition: blue-collar whites, Jews and Hispanics. He has run decently among these groups in some places, but in general he's run well behind her.
Obama lost the Jewish vote by double-digits in Florida, New York and Maryland - and that was before controversy over anti-Israel remarks of Wright. An undecided Democratic superdelegate told us many Jewish voters are itching for a reason to break with the party and side with Republicans, who have embraced the Israeli cause with passion. A small shift could swing swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania, which have significant Jewish populations.
Obama won only about one-third of Hispanic votes on Super Tuesday - and did even worse a month later in Texas. A Democratic nominee needs big margins with Hispanics to win states like New Mexico, California, Colorado and Arizona. In the fall, Obama would be running against a Republican with a record on immigration that will resonate with Hispanics.
Then there's the lower-income white vote. Does it seem odd that a woman with a polarizing reputation would be rolling up enormous margins among some of the country's most traditional voters? Three out of every four blue-collar whites in small towns and rural areas of Ohio voted for Clinton over Obama on March 4. The reality is, this is already an electorate with deep cultural divisions - and that's in the Democratic Party.
Cornell Belcher, Obama's pollster, says most of these voting blocs will unite when the Democratic fighting is done. "You get a snapshot at the height of a battle within the family but after the family squabbles history shows that the family does come back together," he said. Fair enough. But McCain would be challenging Obama on a range of issues that would complicate this coming together - issues that Clinton did not use or used minimally because they were not particularly effective in a Democratic campaign.
McCain, by contrast, would have a free hand to exploit a paper trail showing Obama's evolution - opponents would say reversals - over the past decade from liberal positions on gun control, the death penalty and Middle East politics. He would exploit Obama's current position in favor of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and beginning diplomatic talks with U.S. adversaries like the dictators of Iran and Venezuela.
Post below recycled from Blue Crab. See the original for links
Joe Klein at Time will doubtless raise even more fury than he usually does over on the hard left with his latest post. He makes a number of points contradicting the analysis today by The Politico which pretty well savaged Obama as unelectable, but Klein's final point shows the real problem here.
A few weeks ago, I surmised that if the two Democratic candidates continued on their downward trajectories, the party could turn to Al Gore. Obama proceeded to have a pretty strong couple of weeks while Clinton had to duck some fairly intense sniper fire. Now, Obama is on his (Achilles) heels.and Democrats can envision his candidacy as the latest installment of the Adlai Stevenson-George McGovern-John Kerry trajectory of high-minded candidates who can't scare up the votes necessary to win. As I said, there are some strong counter-arguments to the Obama Disaster scenario. But is there anyone out there who can argue that these Democratic candidates are getting stronger as this thing proceeds?
I'd point out that the folks who will undoubtedly attack Klein probably believe just that. Personally, I think Obama has really - deeply - wounded himself with his latest gaffe. There are a lot of people who are not at all amused with Obama's condescending dismissal of small town America. Just as there were a lot of people seriously angered by Obama's pastor and his anti-America screeds. The latter was not quite as personal as Obama's disdain for average Americans. The personal slight are harder to get around. The media is generally not letting Obama off the hook on this one, either, despite a few efforts to do so, the actual quote from Obama's own mouth is still being reported.
Which is why Klein will again be treated harshly. He's right.
The Other Obama
This has been a long Presidential campaign, but often usefully so. The Democratic Party fight is helping us learn that there's more to Barack Obama than the eloquent, post-partisan, disciplined purveyor of "hope" that he typically projects. There's also the Barack Obama who attended Rev. Jeremiah Wright's ("God d--- America") church for 20 years, the one who emerged from the Chicago Democratic machine with friends like Tony Rezko, the one with the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate, and now we learn the one with a Harvard-eye view of American angst.
At an April 6 fund-raiser in San Francisco, this Obama explained to his non-blue-collar donors: "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive Administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
As political psychoanalysis, this is what they believe in Cambridge and Hyde Park. Guns and God are the opiate of the masses, who are being gulled by Karl Rove and rich Republicans. If only they embraced their true economic self-interest, these pure saps wouldn't need religion and they wouldn't dislike non-white immigrants.
Mr. Obama's unreflective condescension is reminiscent of the famous 1993 Washington Post article that described evangelical Christians as "poor, undereducated and easy to command." And the fact that he said it so naturally in front of a San Francisco crowd suggests that this is what he may truly believe. This is Mr. Obama's inner Mike Dukakis.
The Senator went into damage-control mode on the weekend, initially defending his comments as what "everybody knows is true," then later saying he "deeply" regretted if his words "offended" some. He also tried to suggest that he really meant to say that economic anxiety prods people to focus on cultural and social issues at the polls. "So I said, 'Well, you know, when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community," Mr. Obama told a crowd in Indiana. But that still diminishes the convictions of those voters who care more about the right to bear arms, or faith in God, than they do about the AFL-CIO's agenda.
Mr. Obama's comments are a gift to Hillary Clinton, who pounced on his "demeaning remarks," presenting herself as more in tune with Pennsylvania values - even reminiscing about how her father taught her to shoot a gun. Mrs. Clinton may have earned an "F" from the National Rifle Association for her Senate voting record, but she'll take any opening she can. Senator Obama has had a mostly charmed Presidential run, but the truth is there's much that Americans still don't know about him or what he believes.
“I Like Obama. So I Am A Good, Racism-Free Person”
Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links
According to Andrew Kohut, a recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that people who supported Obama did so in part because he made them feel good about themselves. His article was titled “That’s What I Like About Me,” and the findings he reports remind me of those bumper stickers proclaiming that “My Child Is An Honor Student At [Whatever] Middle School.” Those bumper stickers are implicitly, or perhaps explicitly, parents patting themselves on the back for a job well done.
At the start of his run for the presidency, Barack Obama would explain the positive reaction he was getting from admirers by saying “this is more about you than about me.” Now that Mr. Obama is the front-running Democratic candidate, an in-depth look at how voters are reacting to him — and the reasons for those reactions — lends considerable credence to his characterization of public opinion....
While Mr. Obama’s positive personal image plays an important role in his high favorable ratings, the polling found that his ratings are more influenced by how he makes voters feel than by specific characteristics they attributed to him. In particular, views that Mr. Obama inspires hope and pride are the strongest determinants of a person’s opinion of him. In other words, he is a charismatic candidate who has made large numbers of Democratic voters feel good, and this is even more important to them than specific perceptions of him.
As Jim Geraghty concludes:
I can't help but suspect that some people believe that their support of Obama is proof that they're a good person. (How many people believe their Obama bumper sticker irrefutably disproves any accusation of racism?)
(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)