Patterico's Pontifications

7/16/2008

The Skepticism About Obama is Beginning to Flow From Places He Can’t Afford It — The Press and the LeftWingNuts: Updated

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias,Politics,Terrorism,War — WLS @ 3:17 pm



[Posted by WLS]

Update:  I’m putting this update at the top because it would have led this piece had I seen it earlier.  But the WaPo editorial page flays Obama’s speech yesterday on foreign policy.  The editorial is so strong I’m beginning to think the Post might being laying the groundwork for an eventual endorsement of McCain on the basis that Obama is just too inexperienced and too much of a lightweight to risk at this particular point in time.  Some significant excerpts:

BARACK OBAMA yesterday accused President Bush and Sen. John McCain of rigidity on Iraq: “They said we couldn’t leave when violence was up, they say we can’t leave when violence is down.” Mr. Obama then confirmed his own foolish consistency. Early last year, when the war was at its peak, the Democratic candidate proposed a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. combat forces in slightly more than a year. Yesterday, with bloodshed at its lowest level since the war began, Mr. Obama endorsed the same plan.

At the time he first proposed his timetable, Mr. Obama argued — wrongly, as it turned out — that U.S. troops could not stop a sectarian civil war. He conceded that a withdrawal might be accompanied by a “spike” in violence. Now, he describes as “an achievable goal” that “we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future — a government that prevents sectarian conflict and ensures that the al-Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge.” How will that “true success” be achieved? By the same pullout that Mr. Obama proposed when chaos in Iraq appeared to him inevitable.

The message that the Democrat sends is that he is ultimately indifferent to the war’s outcome — that Iraq “distracts us from every threat we face” and thus must be speedily evacuated regardless of the consequences.

 

I’ve been pondering a post that tries to tie together some of the emerging themes that Obama’s campaign is beginning to fracture as the attention paid to him transitions from the cocoon of the Dem primary season with a fawning press corps, incremental policy differences, and enraptured supporters, to an arena of campaign combat where his positions will be exposed to serious scrutiny and the press is compelled to report stories that are too good to ignore, even when they hurt him. I’ve always considered it significant that Obama has NEVER before run a seriously contested campaign against an opposition that would challenge the fundamental premises of his views, and that his campaign is being mostly by Chicago pols with little or no experience in running national presidential campaigns.

But then I came across blog post by Byron York at the NRO Corner yesterday about concerns in establishment Dem circles that Obama’s campaign tactics are beginning to undermine the premise of his candidacy, and it explained pretty well the premise I had been cogitating over.

I just got off the phone with a well-connected Democrat, trying to get a better read on this Democrats-miffed-with-Obama stuff. It’s real, he said, and more serious than the mostly process concerns outlined in the Politico story. Yes, party leaders are irritated at the Obama campaign’s go-it-alone style. “Another Democrat said that they want to do this without help from anyone inside the Beltway,” my source says, “because they want to arrive in town and not owe anyone anything. Which is a big gamble, because if it doesn’t work, everyone is going to blame the hell out of them.” But the bigger problem is the after-effect of Obama’s extensive “refinements” in policy. “What they thought they would do is improve their position on issues by moving Obama to the center,” the source says. “And what they failed to account for is that in improving their position politically, they underestimated the damage to the brand that was going to be inflicted by this.”

As evidence, the Democrat cites the recent Newsweek poll, which asked, “Some people say that since Barack Obama became the presumed Democratic nominee for president, he has changed his position on key policy issues to try to gain political advantage. Do you agree or disagree?” Fifty-three percent of the registered voters polled agreed, while 32 percent disagreed and 15 percent didn’t know. “If McCain can turn him into a politician, Obama has lost his advantage,” the Democrat says.

The great potential for damage is on Iraq, of course; if Obama’s supporters believed he has changed his position on Iraq, that would be devastating. With today’s speech and his recent clarifications of policy, the Democrat believes that Obama has probably stopped the damage on that score, although his base is skeptical in a way it wasn’t before. “I think this notion that the goal hasn’t changed, but of course we are going to listen to the generals on the ground — that’s a pretty safe position for him,” the Democrat says. But other flip-flops, like FISA, this Democrat says, could hurt him.

But isn’t concern about FISA pretty much inside baseball, limited to the hard-core base, people who might complain about Obama but always support him? Yes, the Democrat says, but, “His base cares about it a lot, and he made a big deal in the primaries about how he would filibuster. It was a matter of moral principle.” And it’s not just principle involved. It’s money. What was the source of Obama’s miraculous fundraising prowess? It was people who cared a lot about things like FISA. “Where FISA and Iraq hurt him is with small donors on the Internet,” the source says. “If the brand is really damaged, then the decision to opt out [of the campaign finance system] becomes a lot riskier, because the $100 donor is the donor who pays a lot of attention to that stuff. It’s the FISA-head who gave him 100 bucks.”

That, of course, connects to the uneasiness among Democrats with Obama’s fundraising in June. It’s July 15, and he still hasn’t announced how much he raised last month. Maybe it will turn out to be huge, and he’s been coy about it. But if it is underwhelming, and perhaps even continues Obama’s recent downward trend, there will be a lot of questions among Democrats who wonder whether Obama’s financial advantage is as much of a sure-thing as they thought.

More after the jump.

This came in response to this story in Politico yesterday, which I read at first to be pretty ordinary inside-the-beltway grumbling by the DC establishment types that the Chicago pols running Obama’s campaign weren’t being sufficiently deferential to the sage wisdom of the Schrums, Begalas and Carvilles of the Dem party, as well as complaints from Dem legislators that Obama didn’t seem to understand he was running at the top of a long ticket which he needed to support. The story is a compilation of complaints like “Obama didn’t give me a chance to have my picture taken with him at the airport when he gave a speech in my district”, blah, blah, blah.

But, Obama’s inattentiveness to assisting down-ballot candidates in their fundraising, and his half-hearted effort to help Clinton raise money to pay off her campaign debts, might truly reflect uneasiness in the Obama camp over the vitality of his fundraising after opting out of the public financing on the bet that he could raise $300 million.

But, real signs of growing discomfort from the left wing are beginning to pop up with regularity. Yesterday we have Juan Cole, longtime Obama supporter and strident anti-Iraq war academic, openly questioning whether Obama is really interested in aggressively pursuing a wider conflict in Afghanistan — and whether that is wise — or, as Cole stated:

[I]t may be that this announced strategy is political and for the purposes of having something to say when McCain accuses him of surrendering in Iraq.

Cole strongly advises against advocating in the campaign the policy course in Afghanistan that Obama has laid out because:

Presidents can become captive of their own record and end up having to commit to things because they made strong representations about them to the public.

He offers as a prime example the “trap” that Lyndon Johnson fell into which led him to send 500,000 troops to Vietnam, and he still lost the war.

Juan Cole to Barack Obama — “Don’t Lie.” With friends like these…

Then today I see this this article from that famous Bush Administration sympathizer Marc Ash, Executive Director of that right-wing noise machine Truthout.Org. Mr. Ash has some interesting observations and advice on the recent arc of the Obama campaign, including this little missive across the bow:

Let’s assume the time has come to limit the scope of your campaign signs to the word “Change.” The tag line “. . . we can believe in” has outlived its credibility. You may indeed change some things, but there won’t be much to believe in. It will pretty much be on a case-by-case basis from this point forward. The difference is trust. Before you had it, now you don’t.

Finally, those still under the influence of the Kool-Aid have now resorted to selling the Obamamessiah to the unwashed masses in the flyover country by claiming that an Obama Administration will not reflect a continuation of Carteresque foreign policy ideals, but rather it will be the intellectual offspring of the realpolitik of the Reagan Administration. Why? Well, as Eli Lake explains in his over-the-top stupid piece yesterday in The New Republic Online, because Rand Beers and Richard Clarke are involved in helping to craft Obama’s counter-terrorism policy — and because they came of age in foreign policy circles during the Reagan Administration — rather than shun foreign proxies who might have human rights issues in their past (as Carter did), Beers and Clarke both believe in fighting enemies abroad with proxies even where the past of the proxies is troublesome (like the Contras), so long as promise to be good boys in the future.

Of all things, Lake gives credit to Beers for Columbia having prevailed over FARC during the course of the last 8 years, a policy pursued while George Bush was President and Rand Beers was outside the Administration — having left in 2003 to support John Kerry’s bid for the Presidency. Lake posits that on his first day in Office he’ll sit down in the Situation Room for a video conference with General Petreaus, and with Obama’s big-picture brilliance, and Petraeus’s tactical mastery, they’ll together vanquish all US foes by closely following the blueprint laid out by those Reaganites Beers and Clarke.

I’m sure MoveOn.org is quite comfortable with Lake’s expressions of confidence in the pursuit of a Reagan inspired foreign policy by the Obamessiah and General Betrayus.

So, insiders in the party establishment are beginning to question not just the mechanics of the Obama campaign, but also whether or not they appreciate the impact their political positioning is having on his brand. And you have left-wing supporters cautioning him to not lie about things he doesn’t really mean because he might get trapped into doing what he promised in order to be President. Others are saying “We don’t trust you anymore” (i.e., you better win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes if you think you’ll need more than $835 to run your 50 state campaign).

And finally, those supporters still clinging to the vision see that you can’t really sell the Obamessiah as he really is, so you simply lie about him by placing him upon the mantle of Reagan and tell the voters “Doesn’t he look good up there?”

Yep, its all Unity under the DNC’s tent.

— WLS

43 Responses to “The Skepticism About Obama is Beginning to Flow From Places He Can’t Afford It — The Press and the LeftWingNuts: Updated”

  1. The convention in Denver could well be very interesting. Is Urkel ready for prime time?
    Might the Hildebeast be warming up in the bullpen?

    madmax333 (ab6903)

  2. I don’t want Obama to lie, though with some of the things he’s promising to do I really hope he is. Eg: this quote:

    “As long as nuclear weapons exist, we’ll retain a strong deterrent. But we will make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy,” Obama said.

    He added, “The danger … is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century.”

    Breitbart News Link.I would love to live in a world that’s truly nuke-free. I would also love to have both serious Presidential candidates know that it’s never going to happen! Is this a real goal he’s going to spend time and money and blood and treasure to reach? What concessions is he willing to make that will only be a 1/99 measure at best?

    bonhomme (d737be)

  3. The second Carter convention was pure madness, with every special – interest group clamoring for attention and exclusvie deals; this sounds like a warm – up for another reprise. Buyer’s remorse is a terrible thing for moonbats to experience, but there you are.

    Dmac (416471)

  4. Last time I checked, Sen. Obama was a politician. This is what they do to get elected. Americans will understand this in the months to come. Americans who don’t want the Obama to get elected are going to make sure they point out Obama’s current polling.

    Oiram (983921)

  5. Even Maureen Dowd is trashing him for humorlessness. The guy is believing his own BS and that’s dangerous.

    Mike K (6d4fc3)

  6. Last time I checked, Sen. Obama was a politician.

    If nothing politicians say is worth discussing, why don’t we just give up our rights to vote now? Nothing they say or do is an indicator of future action Oiram seems to be saying. Are you one of those people who talks of the “illusory” nature of everything? Capitalism’s successes are illusory…American freedom is illusory…All politicians lie and therefore choice is illusory. etc.

    bonhomme (d737be)

  7. Bonhomme, what politicians say is deffinetely worth discussing, sorry you got that from comment. I don’t want it to be “illusory”. What I’m simply saying is that Obama’s current tactic of moving to the center of the spectrum is not new. You know that, I know you do. Even the writer of the original post here. Illusory? I hope not. Lieing politicians? Hopefully not.

    Oiram (983921)

  8. WLS, this is starting to again sound like another Democrat “sure thing” presidential election that they throw from their own incompetence, like 2000, and 2004.

    Oiram, you’ve just contradicted the entire Obama campaign themes.

    That’s pretty hilarious.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. madmax33 — I left out this little beauty that I stumbled across last night — 8 Obama delegates ready to switch to Clinton at convention if there is a roll-call vote.

    http://alegrescorner.soapblox.net/showDiary.do;jsessionid=120752BE862DE4FAB90ECE2DDF0460BB?diaryId=259

    I don’t know what the heck Alegre’s Corner is, and its clearly symptathetic to Clinton, but if this claim is true, it might just be the trickle before the flood. The Clintons always claimed the party would come to have buyer’s remorse after Obama was forced into the light of day, and she hung around as long as she did for that reason. If that is beginning to be the case, she still has 18 million foot soldiers who voted for her and remain pretty pissed off that she lost to the Obamesiah.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  10. Her own vote on FISA was definitely no accident.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  11. Mitt Romney said Obama has no experience as a leader at anything. I differ. I believe Obama’s position as editor at the Harvard Law Review qualifies as a leadship position. Community Organizer is not a leadership position. He was elected, unopposed to the Illinois State Senate. No leadership there. No leadership in his very brief stint as a U.S. Senator. His first leader job is President of the United States?

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (e18128)

  12. Thread hijack deleted — WLS.

    ExGOPerWhoSawTheLight (ac8aad)

  13. Oiram – What you describe is exactly what Baracky based his entire brand on – the idea that he is something new, different, full of hopiness and changiness. Turns out, he is just like all the rest.

    JD (5f0e11)

  14. ExGOPerWhoSawtheLight, I mean ProudLiberal, I mean BigIslandDave:

    I asked you to maintain a consistent identity. Instead, you chose yet another.

    BUH-bye . . .

    Patterico (236631)

  15. That was a super-Moby.

    JD (5f0e11)

  16. The Moby has LEFT the studio …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  17. What if Obama returns from his Middle East trip and as a result of his experience there returns with a view of the Iraq situation that differs little if at all from that put forth by the McCain campaign? How much of a veneer of “change” could he maintain and still have his water carried by his enablers?

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  18. In response to my statement that I asked BigIslandDave and his various sock puppets to maintain a consistent identity, BigIslandDave impotently whines from moderation: “You never asked such a thing.”

    Maybe he means he didn’t see it. Confidently stating as fact that it didn’t happen is pretty foolish, since I can prove it. Here’s a direct quote from what I said:

    BigIslandDave/ProudLiberal:

    Please maintain a consistent identity.

    Now, if this fool wants to apologize for trying to trick people into thinking he was three different people, and promise not to do it again, I’ll un-ban him.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  19. #9 the comments at that Hillary site certainly are not kind to the Obots or O!bama himself. Wouldn’t it be lovely for the country is Hillary pulls it out? Would she even think of his messiahness as veep?

    madmax333 (0c1adb)

  20. Big Island Doofus will never apologize for anything, but his father was of a higher rank in the armed services than anyone else here, so there! (WTF?)

    Dmac (416471)

  21. I’m beginning to think that I should be sorry for having missed the original comment by whoever he was pretending to be…

    BTW, we’re back! Djamissme?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  22. LAT columnist Steve Lopez is speaking tonight at a Society of Professional Journalists meeting in San Diego, where I am right now. Anyone have any questions for him?

    If he says anything interesting, I’ll let you know . . .

    Bradley J. Fikes (09d23c)

  23. Last time I checked, Sen. Obama was a politician.

    I agree, but I get the impression a fair amount of his supporters would be absolutely stunned by this assertion. In all honesty, I’m sometimes not entirely sure they realize he’s a mere mortal.

    Anon (a2601e)

  24. Sure.

    Ask him why the Los Angeles Times has lost more subscribers in the last four years than any other U.S. newspaper.

    Patterico (cfe6a4)

  25. For many of the unaffiliated, McCain’s selling point is the political risk he took on the troop surge.

    If Obama is presented with a lighting-in-a-bottle opportunity to stand on principle against the current of opinion, any whiff of expedient indecision would tilt this race.

    FISA wasn’t a character test. And Joe Biden’s saying Obama “has the steel in his spine” is just a sound bite.

    The moment undecideds pay attention is when candidates stop playing it safe.

    steve (23f9e9)

  26. Okay, Patterico. Will do.

    Bradley J. Fikes (09d23c)

  27. Lopez said he was not sure your premise was correct, and asked whether you were suggesting that if the paper were more conservative, it would have retained readers. He also said that the conservative LA Daily News has also seen its circulation slide.

    Bradley J. Fikes (09d23c)

  28. Bradley, not to put Steve Lopez on the spot but if you can catch him on the side, would you consider asking his opinion of the dust-up between Marc Cooper and Patterico???

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  29. Its not a question so much of being liberal v. conservative, but simply being slanted and wrong so much rather than being objective in its news and analysis.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  30. Hi Dana!
    I’ll ask that if I get a chance.

    Bradley J. Fikes (09d23c)

  31. WLS,
    I agree. It seemed that Lopez was presuming that Patterico simply wanted the LAT to be more conservative, when the more fundamental problem is its massive sloppiness, overlong tolerance of Chuck Philips and other signs its fact-gathering machine had busted a few gears.

    Bradley J. Fikes (09d23c)

  32. Bradley, #32, never mind my question. Obviously Lopez didn’t read the dust-up…had he, he would not have presumed that Patterico wanted the paper to lean right. Far from it. And this was made very clear in the dust-up. Too bad. But its easier to reach than acknowledge the unpleasant truth. And then do the hard work…

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  33. Bradley,

    My facts come from Kevin Roderick:

    The Los Angeles Times has lost more subscribers in the past four years than any U.S. newspaper and it isn’t even close. Editor & Publisher compared 2007 circulation to 2003 and found the LAT had shed 201,000 readers. Only one other paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, was in six figures with 147,000 lost buyers.

    Seems like Lopez should be aware of that.

    And no, I’ve repeatedly made clear that I don’t think a conservative slant would help the paper retain readers. I don’t even know if doing a better job on the facts would — but it certainly couldn’t hurt, and would help the paper’s credibility and reputatation.

    Sounds like he a) doesn’t know how bad the problem is and b) is eager to shrug off criticism as unfounded. Not too shocking; this is the same guy who wrote off all 10,000 people who canceled over Gropegate as shills for Arnold.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  34. Is Urkel ready for prime time?
    Might the Hildebeast be warming up in the bullpen?

    Max – I’m thinking the same thing. May be time to start taking bets on what lucky pantsuit she’ll wear to save the party. I’m guessing blue.

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  35. . . . a pantsuit as blue as the Bonnie Blue Flag.

    /s

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  36. Whether or not there is a dust-up at the convention be prepared to hear the biggest “I TOLD YOU SO” in history emanate from the HillShrillThatLittleBitchBetterHaveBeenOnThePillBill camp in November.

    Icy Truth (ca326e)

  37. I was once accused of Lieing.

    Got off on a technicality.

    Icy Truth (ca326e)

  38. Let me guess, you were actually lying.

    Labcatcher (afe438)

  39. Just a little dig at Oiram for #7

    Icy Truth (ca326e)

  40. Shorter WLS: Obama is competing against McCain with one arm tied behind his back.

    😉

    Bob Loblaw (6d485c)


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