Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Idea of Obama

In The Satanic Verses, Rushdie asks a question of the leaders of Iran's Islamic revolution - what kind of idea are you when you win? It was a way to ask how a winning faction establishes and maintains legitimacy in an environment where they are not numerically dominant and may not even be a majority. The same question needs to be asked of the Obama campaign.

What kind of an idea, at this point, is Barack Obama?

All around Left Blogistan, Obamacans are reveling in the seeming victory of the RBC ruling and are disdainfully telling Hillary and her supporters that they need to fall in line, get with the program, and otherwise show that we're worthy of being part of Whole Foods Nation. Ezra Klein pompously warns Hillary: "[There is an] authentic, deep anger among Clinton supporters. And that's not a problem the Rules Committee can resolve. This one is up to Clinton herself."

Erm, no.

The way in which a candidate or faction handles a victory tells us important things about how they will govern. At present, the parallels between Obama's claim of a nomination victory and George W. Bush's claim of victory in Florida are shocking. The onus for unifying the country was placed on Gore and specifically for Gore to capitulate before a full and final vote count was performed. Gore's behavior was held up to ridicule and criticism for having the audacity to defend his win against a background of corruption and intimidation. No one so much as hinted that the legitimacy of Bush's win was contingent upon his behavior in victory. He acted as though he had won by a landslide with an enourmous popular mandate, instead of by suppressing votes in Florida.

Obama's popular vote count is less than Hillary's (no, Michigan doesn't count for him - he didn't ask for their votes and he rejected attempts to rectify the situation) and his delegate count is contingent on illegal allocations from Michigan, discounted votes in Florida and overrepresentation of anti-democratic caucuses. He does not command some 2-1 support margin, but a few equivocal percentage points that are still not certain given that the super delegate allocation can change between now and August.

We do not live in a rotton borough where the votes are his to harvest. He is not entitled to the support of those who did not vote for him. He has to ask for those votes and he has to earn them. His job is to make himself an appealing candidate to the people he has spent months dismissing and insulting.

The deep problem of Obama's campaign is that he and his supporters do not want to face the political reality of their own conflicting desires. They both want to sweep to victory in November and they want to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons, which includes all of the voting contituencies represented by that amazing and talented duo. The failure of the Unity Pony stems directly from that fantasy of majority status without majority support and the political work and compromises that go with cultivating that support. Thus, their model for unity is unanimity through elimination, purging the ranks of the unclean and unbelievers.

They will not acknowledge that Hilalry is a legitimate political actor and reduce her to an inhuman monster and enemy. They will not acknowledge that her supporters have sound, rational reasons for our support, and reduce us to mindless fools and spoils of war. They shift blame for their own choices and actions onto us and expect that we will cater to their whims.

With every arrogant demand that we capitulate to Obama's desires, the idea of an Obama presidency becomes just that much less legitimate.


Previous posts on Obama's political legitimacy:


mystic4hill said...

His job is to make himself an appealing candidate to the people he has spent months dismissing and insulting.

There’s nothing he can do to make himself appealing to this person he has dismissed. He cannot change his lack of experience, lack of qualifications, lack of judgment, lack of ethics, lack of cojones, lack of commitment to anything other than himself. He cannot become someone I want to see in the White House. All of that alone is enough reason for me not to vote for him.

For me, it goes even deeper than that, though. It also goes to his legitimacy as the nominee. I should probably say lack of legitimacy. Between the undemocratic caucuses, the fiasco of Florida, and the theft of delegates in Michigan, as well as the intimidation of superdelegates and the disgraceful approval by the former Democratic Party of the vile, sexist, misogynistic attitude of the media and the Democratic Party “leaders”, he-who-shall-not-be-named (sorry, couldn’t help it!) has no legitimacy at all.

The Democratic Party fucked up. It has morphed into the epitome of a thug. The candidate it chose and has shoved down our throats reflects what it has become. There’s nothing legitimate about the party. There’s nothing legitimate about him.

I’m tired of all the calls for Unity. I’m tired of hearing how much work he has ahead of him to win us over. I’m tired of reading how women follow the rules and in November will rally behind him.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Many of us will NOT follow the rules this time. Think Rosa Parks. Think Jane Addams, Mary McLeod Bethune, Carrie Chapman Catt, Betty Friedan, Dolores Huerta, Helen Keller, Alice Paul, Margaret Sanger, Muriel Siebert, Gloria Steinem. Think Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yeah, I’m angry as hell. I have no intention of getting over it.

Shainzona said...

mystic4hill: Amen, Sister!

Anonymous said...

You ask "What kind of an idea, at this point, is Barack Obama?" And immediately you provide the answer. I totally agree we you, in Obama we have Dubya II.

But then you say that he is worse than that. You say "he and his supporters do not want to face the political reality of their own conflicting desires. They both want to sweep to victory in November and they want to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons, which includes all of the voting constituencies represented by that amazing and talented duo."

Bush just ignored others, when campaigning he pretended to be a "compassionate conservative." Obama openly developed a new type of racism: the hate of blue collar workers. He is actively against way too many group. And as you quoted from one of Obama goons and it turns out that Hillary has to shovel the crap behind Obama's band wagon.

The Obama movement reminds me of the Bolsheviks. Ruthless, narrow minded, zealots and it all ended in the Gulag. Never think that such things will not happen here. We better stay home in November, and I mean all the non-Obama people. Don't play with fire.

orionATL said...

anglachel -

when you say this:

"They both want to sweep to victory in November and they want to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons, which includes all of the voting constituencies represented by that amazing and talented duo."

i think you are focusing on but one instance,

namely, "to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons"

of a general phenomenon.

increasingly, i sense the obama candidacy,

i will say now the obama machine,

is revealing itself as

highly authoritarian.

i am beginning to suspect that obliterating ALL challenges to their power may be their goal.

if so, an obama presidency will indeed resemble the bush presidency - campaign on governing from the center, then govern from the extreme that is your personal ideology, using political rhetoric to obliterate the opposition.

in their political conduct, newt gingrich and tom delay, and then the bush administration,

have given us fair warning.

we are in a radical period in the political history of our american democracy.

the constitution and established traditions hold less and less sway have fewer advocates among the powerful.

given the technically advanced spying available to government these days,

that raises a very, very ominous possibility.

Andre said...

It would be simple if I could say that it's his to convince me to vote for him. And I would normally say that I could be convinced, but like mystic4hill, there are a lot of things I've seen from him and his supporters that cause me to wonder what would these things be if he is president. For instance, if he would destroy the Clintons now, who would he feel he has to destroy as president. Unlike you Anglachel, I do not worry about the party, because he will tansform it to his image and likeness . In this case the country is far more important than the party, and I've been a Dem for forty + years, and voted for Teddy in every one of his elections except the first one (I wasn't old enough). I remember all the talk about W's lack of experience in 2000, and how he has all these experienced people around him. And he was coming off of the governship of TX. What is Obama coming off of? I'm spending a lot of time thinking and absorbing the negatices of McCain at present.

Unknown said...

Yet again, you've batted one out of the park!!!!

Teresa said...

I have 4 letters for you:

(P) arty
(U) nity
(M) y
(A) ss

H/T Riverdaughter

Pat Johnson said...

The last line in the movie "The Candidate" via Robert Redford: "What do we do now?" Perfect summation of the Obama "victory".

Sometimes that old adage: "be careful what you wish for" finds its niche.
I will not ever forgive his campaign for labeling the Clintons as racists just to win votes. Nor will I reward him with my vote for the treatment allocated to Hillary Clinton by the MSM and his surrogates while he stood idly by.

He has too many other minuses to enumerate but those two will forever remain in my decision to walk away from him and the DNC. This man does not deserve to assume the role of Commander in Chief.

I am a P.U.M.A. now and forever!

Unknown said...

With thanks to Jane at FDL this is why Obama will not be President:

What you see there is the effects of Senator Thug and his descent into the slime pit of religious sectarianism on one of the 'youth' the idiots of the 'Democrat' Party want on board.

Can you imagine this 'Democrat' at a state committee meeting?

Do you think parts of this might show up in a ReThug 527?

I would really like to see Ted Kennedy or John Kerry's face when they get a look at this.

Reality an be a real bitch sometimes.

For my money this should be Obama's 'Macaca Moment'.

Anonymous said...


I agree that the video is vile (indeed, I wish you had posted a warning; I wouldn't have watched it), but I am confused about how you think this is Obama's "macaca" moment, as if his own error in judgment, sexism, or violent instincts were behind this video. Obama is no more accountable for this than Clinton is for some of her deranged racist supporters (and yes, some of these exist). I really think going down this ugly path is about the worst thing we can do. It's surely no way to build a movement.

Horselover Fat said...

Like all bullies, the present leadership of the Democratic party enjoy abusing power, as they can do in a nominating process they control. But the GE in November will not be under such control, and they will sadly discover what the voters really make of all this. They will not be pleased.

TLE said...

The one drop rule... 3/5 (or worse, 1/2) of a person...race baiting. These used to be evil things. Apparently, they are all good and acceptable now.

If HRC herself knocked on my door and personally asked me to vote for Obama, I would have to respectfully decline. The attacks by Obama and his supporters have felt personal to me, in a way that no other political campaign has managed. Look at this fellow who has come in to this comment thread a few posts above; I suspect he is actually a Thug operative (the nickname for the Clintons is a dead giveaway), but the tone is in keeping with the bilge that has been spewed by Obama supporters. If I can't tell the difference between a Thug and a "fellow Democrat," I am left with no alternative but to vote third party in the event that the Chicago political machine and the northeastern elites manage to pull this thing off and force Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.

Esmense said...

It has taken me awhile to realize that Obama is the first political candidate to run purely as a celebrity.

He is not running as a Democrat -- that is, he is not relying to any extent on the party's reputation, history, most recent successes, ideology, etc. (if he was, he would not have trashed the Clinton Administration and the party's most recent history so thoroughly).

He is not running as an expert or committed advocate in any sense; foreign policy, domestic, executive experience, etc. He is not running on any particularly strong or committed set of policies or principles.

He IS running purely on his personality and his fabulous memoirs.

The most honest headline for his win of the nomination would be; "Best Selling Author Wins Presidential Nomination."

It is as a writer of popular work in a popular genre that he can point to the most success. He is certainly a more successful writer than legislator.

Obama’s supporters, who buy into the idea of the celebrity/symbolic/iconic presidency, don't understand where Clinton supporters are coming from with their insistence on the value of the party’s recent successes while in power or the candidate’s personal experience, competency, policy preferences. For them, Obama winning the nomination proves he is the bigger and better celebrity – the most “popular” -- and that is all that is needed to prove he is the better candidate (a fact everyone should simply accept).
For the same reason, they don't understand calls for Obama to do anything, or believe he should do anything, to appeal to Clinton supporters. As in the world of celebrity, you are either one of the special, clued-in fans, able to discern and appreciate the adored ones fabulousness, or you are not.

JohnnyBuck said...

The task of unifying this party is going to be monumental, and at this point, I can't see exactly how we get there.

If Obama were truly a "unifying" force that he and his supporters claim he is, this should have been over in March.

I think its dangerous to assume that it is only a matter of Clinton conceding. There is a lot of anger out there that simply won't be assuaged either by some lofty rhetoric by Obama, or Clinton for that matter. I know that she will wish her supporters would rally around Obama, but to many of us, this as much about the future of our party as it is about the Presidential election. That is an important distinction that Obama followers don't seem to get. You can't simply pull the rug out from under 17 million Democratic voters and expect them to just fall in line. You can't rig an election like the rules committee did Saturday, and believe that we will all come home in November. You can't ask us to support a weak nominee that essentially has failed to coalesce the party around him and expect us just to ignore the fact that he is limping across the finish line with the help of Super delegates, who misguidedly seek to truncate a process that hasn't even been allowed to play out.

It is galling, to say the least that after 26 years of voting for, campaigning for, and contributing to both candidates, the DNC, and congressional committees, you are asking me to again support a candidate that I do not believe in, and that I believe will lose in November. No more. No more Dukakis, no more Kerry, and no more Obama.

We must destroy this village in order to rebuild it. It is a sad state of affairs, but unfortunately it must be done. I am not particularly interested in "Lamont" type victories that equal symbolism. There are enormous challenges facing this nation, we need a clear-eyed realist to deal with them. Sadly, we get more of the same

YAB said...

mystic4hill and esmense pretty much cover the ground.

I did not start out as a Hillary supporter or an anti-Obama. Indeed, I was wishing my state's primary were later because I had no idea in Jan. who I wanted.

Hillary won my support, and admiration, with her energy, knowledge, courage and class in face of the most hateful, wholesale media attacks I have ever seen. (I can think of no outlet - TV, "A-List" bloggers, or news magazines that have not engaged in HDS.)

But it is Obama and his supporters who have made it impossible for me to vote for him - for the reasons given by mystic4hill and esmense.

I have come to realize that Obama is a mix of Nixon with charm (a truly horrifying thought) and the Shrub. Every time Obama is in an unscripted situation, he sounds and looks as mystified as the Shrub. He clearly has no interest in the details of governing. He wants power just for power.

After 8 years of mind-numbing incompetence and criminal activities, we cannot afford to have another detached, uninterested President.

I know that McCain will be bad for liberals like me. But I think he will be better for the country (or at least more predictably bad) than Obama.

And 4 years of McCain may be better for the Democrats than 4 years of an Obama Presidency which I suspect would be doomed to failure.

Just John said...

Words cannot express my disgust for the Democratic Party at the moment, but most particularly those mindless drones that support someone like Obama because of non-issue related reasons like because Oprah pimps Obama, or Sherri Sheppard of "The View" wanting him to be President because he "looks like her", or because the singer from the Black Eyed Peas did a stupid video about "Yes we can". BO is a fashion statement and a often plagarism of Hillary's stance on the issues. I sometimes had to rewind the debates and watch his responses twice because he would usually repeat what Hillary said.

MOST OF ALL, I resent the overwhelming denial of black racism in this primary. With an often 90% supporting vote from black Americans who many say in exit polls that a primary reason why they voted for Obama is because he is black, is NOT a valid reason to elect someone President. Now, if anyone mentions that or says anything about white demographics, we are labeled racists. People have got to stop being afraid of racist fear mongers like Rolland Martin. And shame on Donna Brazile for acting like she has been non-biased through this primary. She had the nerve to say something like "My momma taught me that if you change the rules mid-game, that's cheatin". Well Donna, the rules used to state that blacks couldn't vote, but we all agree that rule needed to be changed. Right?

This election has been held hostage by black voters who have stabbed the Clintons in the back, by white guilt, by white "black wannabe's" like Rev. Pflaeger and yet Obama thinks he is above it all.

I WILL vote McCain if I can't vote for Hillary.

Heed our warning DNC, we are pissed off and leaving your party in mass numbers.

orionATL said...

for me

it is important to keep in mind

there is little of this nomination effort that is fundamentally about senator obama, the person, other than his intellectual and political relationships.

there is much of this effort that is about the designs of the obama campaign,

the strategies of david axelrod, david plouffe, tom daschle,

and about the money that is shadowing obama, the silicon valley tribe of money raisers, wall street and goldman-sachs, the energy firm excelon, et al.

Anglachel said...

Just John,

I'm sorry, but you are wrong.

As I have repeatedly said on this blog, the AA vote for Obama is *not* racist. Yes, there are racists in every ethnic group in America, but to make a blanket accusation against Obama's black supporters like that turns my stomach just as much as blanket accusations of racism agaisnt Hillary's white supporters.

FACT: the part of Obama's coatilition MOST in favor of a untity ticklet and MOST likely to vote for Hillary should she get the nomination are the AA voters. They are the LEAST anti-Clinton part of his voting group. Why is this? Because, unlike the spiteful elite who scorn the Clintons as "hicks" and "trash", and who are voting to do them harm, AA voters are supporting Obama mostly because they want to see him succeed, not to do harm to Hillary.

Sure, you can find jerks who are voting racial resentment. I suspect you'll find more misogynistic voting than racist voting - and that prejudice doesn't care about color.

Mostly, quit playing the stooge in Obama's race-baiting game. I will not forgive this smug bastard forcing racial division front and center in this campaign, sticking fingers in people's eye and clawing open old scars to gain a few hundred votes here and there. He is trying to poison the well - if I can't win then I will do my best to tear down bridges and deepen divides so nobody can have it.

It is not "black voters" who have stabbed the Clintons in the back. It is the party bosses and power brokers who decided that they had to destroy her no matter what, just like they tried to do to Bill. The voters have cast their ballots in good faith. It is the party officials and the Obama campaign who have spread lies, spoken calumny, pushed bullshit to the media, refused to defend her against *any* attack, phoned in death threats to black delegates, and reinforced bullshit like "Oh, the blacks *hate* the Clintons now..." when that is simply not true.

The truth is every ordinary Democrat is being held hostage to Obama's threats of violence if The Precious doesn't get what The Precious wants.

Put the blame where it belongs.