psyched on various bikes

2/20/08

Except for the scandal nicely brewing around the execrable McCain, the other meme going through the internets this week is a combination of “Obama supporters are freakish weirdos” and “Obama holds no viewpoints on substantive issues.” Chris Matthews ambushed a hapless Texan moron the other night by asking him for one piece of legislation that Obama had championed, a question which was no doubt supposed to be a transitive reflection of the senator himself. Of course, the Texan shat his pants, reminiscent of the time Stephen Colbert asked that God-fearing Georgia congressman to name the Ten Commandments.

As for the Obama crazies, I see articles like “I Refuse to Buy Into the Obama Hype” as well as Hillary’s favorite “I’ve got sound solutions instead of sound bites” attack. More? How about:

Kathleen Geier: “I’m getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama’s supporters… people who should know better – hard-bitten, not-so-young cynics, even – are gushing about Barack, raving about his ‘game-changing’ politics, about his ‘power to inspire,’ about how they wept while viewing the now-famous Dipdive video, and on and on.”

Joe Klein: “…there was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism…”

Even Jake Tapper, an awesome reporter whom I usually like, says “Let me be clear: I’m not saying there shouldn’t be enthusiasm in politics. I’m merely touching on the fact that some Obama supporters’ exuberance seems to be getting a little out of hand.”

I’d like to formally invite everyone complaining about the passion of Barack Obama’s supporters to kindly suck my balls.

ARE YOU PEOPLE KIDDING?!?!? Here we are, in the seventh dolorous, soporific, horrifyingly numb year of an administration run by an ass monkey, caught in blood-soaked war on the other side of the globe, paying $101/barrel for oil, tumbling into a recession, feeling utterly hopeless. The president has used the Constitution as toilet paper and blocked every single measure to move us forward socially, environmentally and ethically, and has an approval rating of 19%, right around Josef Stalin and “the stomach flu”. He’s the worst president at the worst time in history, period.

Then along comes someone who lifts Americans out of their paralyzing sadness, offers hope for the first time in a decade, does it without blaming other races; in fact, preaches unity, acceptance and responsibility, giving them a glimpse of what America could be again… AND YOU THINK THEIR EXUBERANCE IS OUT OF HAND? Seriously, when did that part of you die? Just because your snark robs you of the ability to get excited doesn’t mean millions of other voters share your torpid indifference.

These Obama supporters that creep you out – they’re the kids in their 20s who have only known the fearmongering cruelty of the Bush years, and understand the early promise of Bill Clinton’s term only by story. They’re waking up to a world that seems to give a shit about them, feeling empowered in a way we certainly didn’t when Reagan and Bush shuffled geriatrically through our adolescence.

They’re also the middle-aged moms and dads who cannot express their delight at the prospect of an African-American President, remembering (as my mom does) the different drinking fountains and white lines on the floor of the bus. They remembered the death of their idealism through Vietnam and Watergate, only to encounter something they thought was impossible: a president worse than Nixon.

And your charges that Obama has no substance? That’s your oversight, not theirs. Most of them know where he stands on all the issues, and if they don’t, they know how to use the Internet Tubes:

1. Click here.

2. Read.

Obama’s stump speeches are stump speeches, for chrissake. As my 23-year-old nephew says, “stump speeches aren’t directed towards the staff at the fucking Brookings Institute, they are directed towards voters.” I agree with Robert Creamer – if you’re vilifying Obama for being inspiring, you’ve learned nothing from thirty years of progressives losing elections. The way conservatives have won is by yanking at our emotions – usually the basest, worst emotions (hate, racism, greed, blame) – but emotions nonetheless. Obama is doing the same thing, only with visions of hope and empowerment.

As for me, my heart was broken in 2000 with the fraudulent election, and in November 2004, my spirit followed suit. I was done, and if we hadn’t been pregnant, we were close to moving out of the country. Two things have changed that, and brought us back into the fold. First was Kirsten Gillibrand, who ran an amazing campaign for the House of Congress in our district (NY-20).

Tessa and I, against all wisdom, decided to throw our weight in the ring because we liked Kirsten so much, but didn’t have much hope; NY-20 had been hard-core Republican since the 15th century. She was an unknown and was told it was impossible. She won by six points.

TessaKirstenLAParty(bl).jpg

Tessa and (pregnant!) Rep. Gillibrand (D) last night in LA – read about Kirsten and donate to her tough re-election campaign!

The other inspiration? Obama. It has been a long, long time since we felt this kind of excitement, and yes, we are “not-so-young cynics” who “ought to know better”. And even if we’re dabbling in “creepy messianism,” allow me to re-phrase an early translation of 1 Corinthians 13:13… there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these, at least right now, might be hope.

0 thoughts on “psyched on various bikes

  1. Jason Savage

    and let me rephrase Will Ferrell when I say “I freaking LOVE this post”.
    Couldn’t agree more.
    Getting people (of any age, really) to actually care again is a wonderful thing. More power to this campaign!

    Reply
  2. Matt

    Sorry if I mean-mouthed your snakeoil. By all means, drink up.
    But McCain scandal? You’re kidding, right? An 8 yro rumor resurrected in an unsourced “news” article, obviously a hit job, intended not to shed light on wrong doing, but lead its gullible, starved for hope readership, into making false assumptions against the only roadblock to Obamamania. Lord knows I have differences with McCain, but I’ll vote for him happily because if nothing else, he’s an honest man.

    Reply
  3. Claverack Weekender

    I too feel the siren’s call. I have to say, though, that his centrism seems to end at rhetoric. I’ve read the website, book, and policy speeches. Beyond merit pay for teachers, every policy is right out of the “post-war liberal” playbook. Saying you are for universal health care is not confronting the difficult issues — we will need to make hard choices on end of life care, quality of service, etc. We can’t spend unlimited money trying to extend the life of every American. Pay for it by “removing the cap” on social security taxes? Wow that is a serious tax increase on American employers, and that money will need to come from somewhere, right? Higher prices? Fewer employees? (Aren’t writers self-employed? Get ready to say goodbye to an extra 14% of income over $102k in ss tax plus a 4% increase in the top marginal rate.)
    After Barack gets the nomination he is going to be hit hard on his policy proposals by that crazy little monkey McCain. I think Barack will have some serious trouble once independents stop projecting their own dreams onto his blank canvas and instead see the reality they signed up for. Yes we can, but didn’t we try this once before from 76-80?

    Reply
  4. Anne

    I’m still on the fence, but I do resist the idea that in this age of cynicism it is somehow suspect to jump on a (sound and appealing) election bandwagon. Those of us old and creaky enough to remember the genuine charisma of JFK and the excitement and controversy surrounding his presidential run know that it’s OK to be an American and be gung-ho about a dynamic, capable, sane candidate. (PS I was only 9 in 1960, but I do remember the election very well, especially residing then in Republican stronghold Greenwich CT, where JFK was the Catholic bogeyman.)
    QUESTION for Obama supporters: My best gay friend (a man) says he can’t go with Obama over Hilary because he fears Obama’s avowed Christian affiliations may trump his support for social hot-button issues like gay marriage. Any thoughts, rebuttals, insights?

    Reply
  5. Father Tim

    Barrister Matt:
    From the Straight Talk Express:
    “It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.”
    That’s what we call a non-denial denial, kiddo. As for “an honest man”, should we go to Charles Keating for comment on that?
    You and your crew need to face the fact that you’re going to get rolled in November. Finally.

    Reply
  6. kent

    Matt, we agree on something! I was watching MSNBC last night when the NYTimes story ‘broke.’ Thanks to the Internets I could go read the article.
    The Times article is a really weird piece of work. I love the Times but it’s not always right and it’s not monolithic.
    My takeaway from the Times piece was that McCain was sometimes a bit too close to lobbyists. The whole business with him befriending a blonde lobbyist? Is having any relationship with a member of the opposite sex a priori suspicious. What is this, Afghanistan? I’m glad my wife doesn’t hold me to that standard, or I’d have to drop half my friends!
    But the real shit storm comes from the echo chamber, not the times. The NY Post Headline, MSNBC going nuts for hours, etc etc. Honestly, this is why one needs to be a skeptical consumer of media.

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  7. Matt

    Father Tim, the Keating 5? From 20 years ago? Uh, that was a Democratic scandal. McCain was investigated for years by Democratic lawyers/investigators and was determined to be uninvolved in the wrongdoing. So much so that the recommendation was made to the committee to cut McCain out from those who were actually guilty. But since he was the only Republican in the mix, the partisan committee couldn’t very well do that. No doubt that if all 5 had been Democrats instead of only 4, we never would’ve heard about the scandal again. This one may have worked to bump Michelle Obama out of the news cycle, but the NYT is going to have to do much better than this to “roll” the election in favor of the Cult of Personality.* You’d better hope they’re keeping their powder dry for later in the race. (BTW, the McCain camp has flat out denied the allegations. This is nothing new.)
    Also, what’s with all the JFK comparisons to Obama? Is there any doubt that if JFK were alive today he’d be a Republican? Do today’s liberals really like his foreign policy? Or is it the cult of personality they find so irresistable?
    * When even Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman begin to notice the creepiness of the snakeoil salesman, it may be time to check the ingredients.

    Reply
  8. Matt

    Some background on the “scandal” involving John McCain:
    “The Senate Ethics Committee probe of the Keating Five began in November 1990, and committee Special Counsel Robert Bennett recommended that McCain and [John] Glenn [(D-Ohio)] be dropped from the investigation. They were not. McCain believes Democrats on the committee blocked Bennett’s recommendation because he was the lone Keating Five Republican.
    “In February 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee found McCain and Glenn to be the least blameworthy of the five senators. (McCain and Glenn attended the meetings but did nothing else to influence the regulators.) McCain was guilty of nothing more than “poor judgment,” the committee said, and declared his actions were not “improper nor attended with gross negligence.” McCain considered the committee’s judgment to be “full exoneration,” and he contributed $112,000 (the amount raised for him by Keating) to the U.S. Treasury.”
    Now that’s a scandal worthy of bringing up 20 years later in the midst of a presidential campaign!

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  9. CM

    I don’t think you can blame anyone for wanting to make sure Obama has a bit of substance – Last night, a reporter told him that so many people are saying he’s all hype and no substance, and what was his response? It was something like, “We need to bring our party together to challenge the Republicans.” Well, yes, but that didn’t exactly refute the statement. I’d have felt more comfortable if he’d added some of the defenses added in the above post, rather than confirming what the journalist suspected. This man is going to be the leader of the free world, for God’s sake.
    NO part of us died. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago when we were in college and we felt this overwhelming relief and passion about the Clintons. Can anyone really forget that? It wasn’t so long ago.
    Obama is likely to win the nomination, and I am likely to vote for him when he does. That’s why I want to make sure he’s not all fluff. And he should be the one to tell us that he’s not!!! You can even fit some important issues into a stump speech.
    And I still want to see how making health care “affordable” is going to get the uninsured, working poor, etc. treated and not forced into emergency rooms.
    I don’t think anyone can blame me for that.

    Reply
  10. Neva

    I agree some substance is nice to have because you need to know their basic opinions on the issues, but I also wonder about the utility of getting too caught up in the details of one candidate’s plan vs. another’s. We all know that those plans will never be passed in that version anyway. Any health care plan (or other agenda item) will have to go through Congress and will have several permutations when (and IF) they pass at all. So, to me, what really matters is the fundamental beliefs and ideals of the candidates and whether you think they will work well with Congress and other leaders to help negotiate change. That’s really an abstract and unknown quality given we don’t even know who will be in Congress after the election. Sooo… although I think we need to understand where a candidate stands when we finally decide to vote I think we are really left to gut instincts and emotional feelings about people in the end. And… there is nothing wrong with feeling pumped about somebody just because you like them and you agree with their basic ideals. Isn’t that the idea?

    Reply
  11. kevin from NC

    I like that neva….. and I agree.
    I am most interested in Obama from a worldview perspective. He is anti war and anti invasion of other countries. We have got to stop this mentality in the USA that if we don’t like something we just go beat somebody up. There are other ways to make our way in life than being the bully from grade school as we have all learned in our individual lives.
    McCain is a bit bit hawkish in my mind. It is time for a change from invasion.

    Reply
  12. Matt

    “Anti-War Obama Pushes Pakistan Invasion”
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3434573&page=1
    “In a strikingly bold speech about terrorism Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama called not only for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but a redeployment of troops into Afghanistan and even Pakistan — with or without the permission of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
    “I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges,” Obama said, “but let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”
    This is comforting, as one worry I have with an Obama administration is whether he will get us all killed through inaction.

    Reply
  13. jason savage

    At least he’s talking about going after people who might be connected to 9/11, not invading a country that was in no way connected.
    He was against that invasion, and (as it turns out) very rightly so.

    Reply
  14. Piglet

    Gee, Ronald Reagan’s supporters were accused of cultlike behavior too, for being so enthusiastic. They said Reagan was popular because he spoke in platitudes, and that he really didn’t know much.
    He won 49 states.
    (thinks)
    (grabs tambourine)
    Hare Bama! Hare Bama! Bama-Bama! Hare-Hare!

    Reply
  15. ChrisM

    What’s wrong with some enthusiasm and optimism? People in both parties are tired of Bush, terrorism, war, and they’re tired of the stupid fighting in Congress. Count me among them.
    Obama is one of the most impressive candidates you’ll ever see. He can actually articulate his positions in proper English without a teleprompter. Have you noticed that McCain now uses a teleprompter for his election night “stump” speeches because he looked so bad compared to Obama?
    Obama’s policy positions are no secret. Anyone who takes five minutes to check will see that he is consistently progressive/liberal. If you share his views, he’s your dream candidate times 100. While I don’t share his political philosophy, suffice to day that I would rather a human being like Obama occupy the White House than one like Hilary Clinton.
    You can say positive things about old gray McCain, but his reputation for Straight Talk is hooey and people don’t want to hear endless talk about enemies and war during this election. If the Republicans lose the election because they didn’t get a strong candidate to run, it’s tough cookies. The voters get to decide these things.

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  16. Chip

    For Anne,
    Check this out.
    http://scottstake.blogspot.com/2007/12/obama-vs-hillary-on-gay-marriage.html
    Also, Obama’s 2nd book is kind of lame, but I would think it would give your friend some comfort on this issue.
    Neither of the two candidates goes as far here as I would like. But I also note a couple of things:
    (1) If either candidate were asked explicitly about her or his stand, say, in a debate, you wouldn’t see much difference. But I did hear Sen. Obama, in his Houston speech, explicitly denounce the scapegoating of gay people. Sen. Clinton said nothing like that in her Youngstown speech. (It’s certainly possible she has in other speeches but I haven’t heard it.)
    (2) If you were trying to move the country toward a more inclusive view of marriage, would you prefer the candidate who argues that you should listen to sincerely felt views on the other side and try to persuade them to yours, or the one who believes you start by distrusting everyone who opposes you, and you must battle for every inch of ground? It could be that this is precisely the sort of issue for which Obama’s approach makes more sense for progressives.
    Look, overall, we still don’t have a majority on this issue. We will someday, but we don’t today. This is exactly the sort of thing where Hillary’s claim that for a president, speeches don’t matter as much as what happens when the camera and lights are gone is just wrong. What really matters in the presidency is the ability to persuade. And in 2008, persuasion happens with the cameras rolling.

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  17. CM

    Nothing’s wrong with enthusiasm and hope – it’s just that, uh, for president of the freakin’ U.S., you need other things too…
    “[Barack] is anti war and anti invasion of other countries.”
    Okay, so under what circumstances WOULD he go to war? If he believed another country had WMD’s, and there was flimsy evidence, maybe he wouldn’t vote yes then, but under what circumstances would he?
    What about genocides in other countries. What would be his stance about getting involved.
    These are all questions of substance, worth asking.

    Reply
  18. Ian

    While I believe Hillary’s viewpoints on the gay issue are probably very progressive, her actions in public have been pusillanimous and frankly embarrassing. We need a LEADER in this arena.
    And, as always, my vitriol about Republicans excludes my fine friends here on the blog.

    Reply
  19. Anne

    Chip, thanks for that link. Very interesting. Is Obama just covering his political ass in that book excerpt? He doesn’t say he’s changed his mind about gay marriage, only that he might be wrong.
    Anyway, I appreciate your comments.

    Reply
  20. DFB's&T's

    Warning to all my Democrat friends on here:
    Don’t believe the hype. We Republicans fell into this trap before. Any of this sound similar?
    2000: “I know he sounds as dumb as a flea-tick and he comes from a state with a Constitutionally weak governor. He’ll surround himself with great and wise people like Condie and Cheney and Powell. No problems.”
    2008: “I know he has no experience, but he sounds so nice and he make me feel so tingly. Yes, he can not recite 1 accomplishment, but he is so articulate”
    In 2000, I voted for the Republican most likely to beat a Democrat. I had serious Clinton Fatigue Syndrome and wanted those rascals to disappear. If you Democrats do the same thing now, you’ll eventually regret it just as I do. You goal should not be the beat the Republicans; your goal should be to vote for the best Democrat leader. My goal will be to do the same thing, I simply happen to fall on the opposite side of the aisle from you.

    Reply
  21. jon

    DFB’s&T’s: You almost make an excellent point. Almost. But you reveal the flaw in your own argument when you write, circa 2000, that he is “dumb as a flea tick” and, circa 2008, “he is so articulate.” That is not a minor difference, it’s what good leadership is all about. While Bush 2000 may have made Republicans warm and tingly because he seemed to them that he might be a good ol’ regular guy who believed what they believed, Obama makes not just Democrats, but LOTS of people warm and tingly BECAUSE he is so articulate. Articulate leadership matters. It’s what people want and need. I’ve been reading readers’ comments here over the last few days, and do all you wonk types honestly think that ANY President gets down in the detail trenches on all of these different policies and plans? Of course not. A good President is a really smart and articulate person who hires the bestest, smartest people to handle the details and then he or she inspires them to accomplish great things by setting a smart agenda and staying out in front on important decisions. Maybe Hillary recites the details of her health plan better or more often than Obama recites his, but so what? Is she the one who’s going to be writing the 7,000 pages of legislation that it will require to make meaningful change?!? Of course not. At least, you better hope that the leader of the free world is not spending his/her time doing that, because that will mean A LOT of other important stuff gets ignored. Yes, details matter. But a good leader is someone who makes sure he or she is surrounded by brilliant people taking care of those details. In other words, a good leader leads. And the best way I know to accomplish that is through inspiration. Chip hit the nail on the head – the ability to persuade is paramount to actually accomplishing things. Hillary will not be a good persuader as Commander In Chief, plain and simple. Bush was kinda persuasive for a while, in his closed circle, until everybody figured out what a dunderhead he is. You can’t hide “stupid” forever. And Obama won’t have that problem.

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  22. Neva

    Love that Jon. I totally agree with you there. I would also add that if you look into Obama’s background and history as a student and leader his track record is so much better than W’s (the C student Yale-legacy cheerleader). Even the story of how Obama came to be who he is and his dedication to public service is impressive. This is not someone who stumbled from baseball team owner, oil company guy and rich kid to governor to president.
    I learn so much from this blog – not the least of which are better points for my political discussions. Thanks Jon!

    Reply
  23. DFB's&T's

    Jon, do you write for the NYT? I never said Bush was as dumb as a flea-tick. I said that many of us supporters knew he “sounded” as dumb as one.
    I also never meant to make a direct analogy between GWB and BHO directly. I simply meant to argue that there is a cult of personality among both of them. The Clinton Fatigue Syndrome was (is!) so strong that the Reps overlooked a lot of potential problems. Now, Republican Hate Syndrome (RHS) is so strong that many Dems are willing to be whipped into an amorous lather b/c the candidate is articulate. The Reps were willing to overlook some potential flaws with GWB in 1999 in order to gain the WH. BHO and GWB are very different people and politicians, but the cults or personality and what each party’s base is willing to ignore is similar.
    dh

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  24. wyatt

    What’s a flea-tick?
    I’m rooting or Sen. Obama because Sen. Biden said he was clean.
    But all of this is pageantry and drama and commerce, because in a few years, as president-king, Tyler Hansbrough will solve all the world’s problems before supper on his innauguration day.

    Reply
  25. CM

    DFB’s&T, Obama’s still got plenty of time to show what he’s made of – that’s why people like me are challening the things we don’t like about him, hoping we can hear more about him than platitudes. Throwing him softballs or being a blind follower won’t help him win the election (should he become the nominee) or lead the country.
    Ultimately, I will vote for whoever I think can lead this country, and will help po’ people rather than hurt ’em. (See, I’m naive too. ;)

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  26. Steph Mineart

    Anne, Chip, Ian,
    Overall, Clinton is slightly better on gay issues that Obama is. I’m sorry I don’t have links to show you off the top of my head, but I’ve been following both for months for specifically that issue, and that’s both my opinion and a generally held one within the gay community.
    That said, Obama is good on gay issues. His willingness to court the black community by sharing a stage with (and indirectly raising money for) an enormously homophobic ex-gay black religious figure while campaigning is a problem that has just NOT gone away for the gay community, despite his insistence that the issue is over and done with.
    Neither Clinton nor Obama supports gay marriage; both of them support the separate water fountain of civil unions (with the lesser rights supported therein) so neither is the perfect candidate for me.
    But anything is better that President Dumbass, so I’m willing to drink from a separate water fountain if the alternative is not drinking at all.

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  27. Neva

    Thanks Rebecca! Good to know I’m not alone.
    Love that link noj… very informative. She did some serious research for that one.

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  28. ken

    We have some sports fans here, right? Most sports seasons are pretty damn long, so what makes them more interesting? Speculation, conjecture, predictions, blatant lies, misinformation, all by the media covering them. If a team is doing well, what do the writers do? They create a story to write about or distort what a player said to a reporter at his locker. It riles people up and sells papers, gets people calling into the sports radio programs.
    Politics is no different, we’ve got a long way to go before election day and we seem to have decisive front-runners, why not throw out a bunch of misquotes and cast doubts to make it interesting? Nobody likes it when the Yankees (or nowadays the Red Sox) jump to the top of the AL East in May with a ten game lead then coast until October. We want drama. Now we have it.

    Reply

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