Why Obama’s Win Matters

I’ve seen various people on various LJs and blogs talking about this, so I figured I’d add my two cents here.

Obama’s win in Iowa is huge, and not just for the obvious historical context (a black man winning in 92%-white Iowa). It matters for the following reasons:

1) Obama represents the nail in the coffin of the Boomer Culture War — we as a country can finally stop fighting the “Woodstock vs. Vietnam” battle. He doesn’t buy into the whole “red vs blue” thing. His legislative record (in the Illinois legislature especially, but also in the Senate) is one of reaching across the aisle and building concensus. Bush once famously lied that he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Obama actually walks that walk.

2) Perhaps best of all, Obama’s win (and also Huckabee’s, for that matter), is a shotgun blast to the face of the Professional Pundit Class. A clear demonstration that the gasbags who fill our national discourse 24/7 with their exalted opinions…are actually just pulling it out of their asses. They don’t know what they’re talking about, and now the country has proof. Remember — Hillary was inevitable, and Romney & Guiliani were in a two-man race.

3) Demonstrating that the enthusiasm of the people can counter the most organized political machine. Clinton had name recognition, a massive organization, 15 years of entrenched political allies occupying the top positions in the party, the buzz of history-making gender…..and in the end, people recognized that her only real accomplishments were being married to an ex-President and walking through a cake-walk election against a sacrificial lamb opponent (Rick Lazio) in a state where an unripe tomato could be elected if they were on the Democratic ticket.

4) Obama is the candidate the Republicans are afraid of — they *wanted* Clinton. She represented a fundraising and get-out-the-vote BOOM to them. They had already started using her as a boogeyman for that purpose. With Obama, they don’t get that. Plus, they run the risk of appearing racist if they overplay their hand against him, which they’re very aware of. Even better, a lot of moderate Republicans *like* Obama, and see him as a viable option against the growing Fundy arm of their own party.

5) He’s brilliant, and delivers exceptionally strong speeches. I’ve seen some comments writing him off for this very reason, oddly enough. What these critics don’t understand is that the biggest job facing our next President is repairing America’s image abroad and re-forging alliances. If that’s not a job for a grab-’em-by-the-throat emotionally moving speaker, I don’t know what is. After 8 years of cowboy swagger (and hell, to be honest, 16 years of “aw shucks, I’m jes’ a good ol’ boy” Southernisms), Obama is exactly what the doctor ordered.

6) Obama is also the best answer to the other critical question of the next term — the “unitary executive” and unreviewable executive authority. Obama has said that he’d roll back that power-grab, and abide by the laws of the land. Clinton hedged her bets, saying that “in rare instances”, she’d still use signing statements to bypass provisions. That’s not something which any of us should consider acceptable.

So, my prediction: Obama in NH, and then South Carolina, and then it’s all momentum from there. The problem ahead is that Clinton will probably get pretty nasty as she gets more desperate, which the media will of course eat up, and devote tons of attention to.

The other problem beyond that, of course, is unfortunately all-too-easily envisioned, when dealing with a candidate who reminds a lot of folks of JFK. Here’s hoping he avoids that particular fate.

32 Replies to “Why Obama’s Win Matters”

  1. I really, truly, hope you’re right. Because that would all be awesome, if it turns out he can handle it.

    (Hope…. get it?)

    I don’t, however, think that Iowa is proof of anything. It’s 200,000 mostly white Americans voting. Yes, the fact that those people nominated a fast-talking, young black man is pretty incredible. But it doesn’t necessarily say anything about the country. Remember, on the other side, a psycho evangelical with no foreign policy experience was nominated. This is gonna be a FIGHT.

  2. As a socially liberal/fiscally conservative Republican, Obama is really the only Dem I could get behind. If the Huckster ends up as our nominee, it’s an easy choice for Obama in November.

  3. I pretty much agree with everything you said and just wanted to add my $0.02.

    Huckabee’s victory is a real problem for the Republicans. He’s exposing the big fracture between the Evangelical Republicans and the economic Republicans.

  4. If I hadn’t burned myself out posting about the Seattle Housing Authority’s latest cock-up in my neighborhood, I would have written this post. Totally agree.

  5. Well, two things:

    1) I think “incredible” does say something about the country….and more importanly, says something TO the country. All over the nation, people have now been freed from saying “yeah, but is he electable?” I don’t think that is something which should be underestimated.

    2) A Psycho Evangelical was nominated — with less than half the turn-out of the Democratic race. The same dynamic will occur nationally. The hardcore 20-25% (the ones who still back Bush) will turn out, but the Democratic turn-out will bury them. If you can’t get enough Evangelicals in Iowa to show up and outnumber the “liberals”….that speaks pretty dire for the GOP.

  6. …and I’m hearing the same thing from other moderates (who, really, are the only Republicans I converse with :) ). The split between (as Rick notes below) the economic Republicans and the Evangelicals is going to be a huge factor if Huckabee gets the nom.

  7. Rove’s Policy is coming back to bite them on the ass. I suppose I could put something in here about chickens coming home to roost, or lying down with dogs and waking up with fleas, but it seems too easy. :)

  8. Also, thanks to Bush the Elder and his contacts, Shrub had an amazing political machine running his campaign. None of the Republicans seem to have anything close to Shrub’s organization.

  9. Nailed it.

    I’ve been clenching my stomach at the prospect of having to hold my nose and vote for Clinton on the basis of being slightly less scary than whomever her Repugnican counterpart will be. Now it looks like I might not have to. Of course I still have to contend with the Waterboarding Party National Convention in my hometown this fall…

    The smartest thing for Obama to do if he cinches the nomination is ask Edwards to be his running mate. Obama+Edwards=ALL the populist angle in two very smart packages. I could understand the temptation to choose Clinton on the basis of name recognition and campaign power, but she’s a total party apparatchik who would be trying very hard to play Cheney-lite in his administration. I think Obama’s smart enough to get that; gods, I hope so…

  10. Actually, I think he’d be better served to pick a running mate who hasn’t been running for President (plus, I don’t think Edwards or Clinton will willingly accept a back seat).

    My personal choice: Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic Governor of traditionally-Republican Kansas.

    Although, an even “sexier” possibility? Actually reaching across the aisle, and picking a Republican as a running mate. It’s symbolic, it’s smart, and it would be a fucking LANDSLIDE. Try this on for size: Barack Obama / Ron Paul.

  11. My personal choice: Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic Governor of traditionally-Republican Kansas.

    Oooh! I hadn’t thought of that (possibly due to not being a denizen of Kansas).

    I think Edwards actually would take a VP slot from Obama. Edwards is genuine in his commitment to making a positive difference in America, and I think he’s big enough to swallow his pride for the Number 2 slot for the sake of someone with a similar commitment but a bigger support base. Though your point about someone “who hasn’t been running for President” is certainly relevant.

    Try this on for size: Barack Obama / Ron Paul.

    Ummm…

    The symbolism is clever; Paul’s an outsider and something of a populist in his own party. But I’ve been following Paul at the enthusiastic urging of some genuinely earnest Paul supporters and I’ve got to say that even though he’s dead right on some things (the war in Iraq, limits on Presidential power), he’s batshit insane with regard to everything else. He’s an evolution denier, he believes that the Founding Fathers intended us to be a “Christian nation” in the manner that modern right-wingers mean when they use that term, and he’s one the guys who started the bogus “Liberal War on Christmas” meme. He scares me.

    The candidate I really want is Thomas Jefferson. But I could settle for Obama if Jefferson’s unavailable ;-).

  12. And it’s a hella good angle. It’s a valid angle. Hmmm… I can’t think of anyone else off the top of my head who is both a populist and sane on the Republican side…

    Once upon a time I would have said Colin Powell. Now I would tell him to fucking fuck the fuck off.

    Jeez, I got nuthin’…

  13. I hadn’t heard the numbers on turnout! That’s fabulous.

    I was thinking over lunch about what you’re saying about Obama’s rhetoric being pretty much the best we can want in a candidate right now. I remember so clearly listening to him talk at the 2004 convention, and I remember most of what he said (partly because he’d still using the speech!) That’s why I think he’d make a great front man – but I can’t shake the feeling that he desperately needs his very own Cheney to actually get the back-stage politicking accomplished.

    Regardless, if he’s nominated, I’ll be there screaming and cheering.

  14. I would absolutely shit myself with joy if Sebelius ended up on that ticket.

    Is this something you’re just throwing in the air… or have you heard things?

  15. Sebelius would make a powerhouse vote. There’s nothing in her record that can really bite her in the ass with the exception of a few times she voted moderately against ultra-liberal proposals. While my Democratic choices were Richardson and Dodd, I can easily get behind an Obama/Sebelius ticket before the August nomination.

  16. There’s been some rumbling about it in the KS Dem party, and during the last election, she refused to rule out leaving office mid-term if chosen as a Veep….

  17. Edwards took a backseat before, why not again?

    That would be a true dream pairing, though. I’m hard pressed to pick between the two.

  18. Y’know, VP might be just the place for Kucinich. He’s super-smart, has the right stance on most issues, and knows how to actually work through problems – just the sorts of skills a working VP needs. That’d get my vote.

    What am I saying? Anyone not-a-Republican will get my vote.

  19. First- I LOVE your icon. LOVE IT! May I swipe it from you?

    While I am in the same camp with voting for anyone not a Republican, some of the Dem’s that are running are also pretty scary. I really hope it doesn’t come down to scary -vs- scary.

    You are totally right about Kucinich. He inspires me to move to Ohio.

  20. I’ve got a friend who knows people[1] …..

    There is significant discussion at the state & national level of what Kathleen could bring to the ticket, because she doesn’t bring electoral votes. She’s an incredible public speaker, she has family history of public service that reaches back nearly to the Civil War and she has unassailable credentials as a fiscal moderate. There has been never a whiff of scandal around her personally. Her immediate family is damn near picture-perfect telegenic/photogenic.

    What are her downsides? Kansas has very few electoral votes, so despite being the most popular politician in the state since Alf Landon, she’s not a heavyweight. She’s not well-known outside the state, so much of the first few months post-nomination would be about introducing her to the rest of the country. She’s never run for national office, so she’s never been in a real down & dirty campaign. And, she’s said that she wants to finish out her eight years as governor.

    [1]One of my best friends was one of her top campaign aids in her re-election campaign in 2006.

  21. He’s officially nothing at all, as far as I can tell. And I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him, because he was Rudy’s hand-picked successor.

  22. Um, not really. (I was living there at the time) Rudy wanted Herman Badillo. He didn’t endorse Bloomberg until the general election.

  23. Oh fuckin’ Gawd yesssssssss.

    That’s a pair I’d vote for hands down. I’ve been unable to chose between them up to this point and their the only two that don’t make me wanna hurl.

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