On Behalf of Barack Obama the Hopemonger

OK, here’s the deal on Obama. He is not only consistently right on the issues, he’s also inspiring and uplifting. The significance of Iowa is that the reality of his candidacy is even more exciting than the potential of it. Yes, Democrats generally also won and that’s an entirely appropriate conversation already begun elsewhere here. This is the kind of candidate comes along only once in a generation. Even Andrew Sullivan likes him! There is hope, after all.

Sullivan said this last month:

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

After Iowa, David Brooks had this to say:

Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this. An African-American man wins a closely fought campaign in a pivotal state. He beats two strong opponents, including the mighty Clinton machine. He does it in a system that favors rural voters. He does it by getting young voters to come out to the caucuses.

This is a huge moment. It’s one of those times when a movement that seemed ethereal and idealistic became a reality and took on political substance.

And this:

And Americans are not going to want to see this stopped. When an African-American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House, do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?

Neither of these guys make a habit of paying compliments to Democrats or liberals, for that matter.

Thursday night in Iowa, Obama outranked the competition among almost every category of voter. Women were 57% of caucus attendees. He got 35% of them, besting HRC’s 30% and Edwards with 23%. Democrats (78% of attendees) he scored 32%. Republicans (3%), 44%. Independents (20%), 41%. He scored at the top with people of all income levels, first-time attendees, and those who self-identify as moderate, somewhat liberal or very liberal. People whose main concern was Economy, War in Iraq, Health Care – all went to Obama.

Friday on different broadcasts Tony Blankley (Washington Times, Heritage Foundation and former Gingrich staffer) and Dan Balz (Washington Post) both said New Hampshire bodes well for Obama.
So, now, what’s causing all the stir? It can’t be merely his radiant good looks. There are others in the race who also fit that. Is it his youth? Thursday night both parties pushed their youngest candidates to the top. But somehow that doesn’t quite ring true, either.

A large part of it has to do with how he thinks. I will stipulate that there are many people, myself included, who think “The Audacity of Hope” is worth reading but also that there are those who consider it a screed. This is a paragraph from page 116:

I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the term “special interests,” which lumps together Exxon Mobil and bricklayers, the pharmaceutical lobby and parents of special-ed kids. Most political scientists would probably disagree with me, but to my mind, there’s a difference between a corporate lobby whose clout is based on money alone, and a group of like-minded individuals – whether they be textile workers , gun aficionados, veterans, or family farmers – coming together to promote their interests, between those who use their economic power to magnify their political influence far beyond what their numbers might justify, and those who are simply seeking to pool their votes to sway their representatives. The former subvert the very idea of democracy. The latter are its essence.

Frankly, I think this is the most articulate description of special interests I’ve seen anywhere. And it does give some insight into how he thinks.

Remember a few years ago there was a spate of Death Row inmates being exonerated in Illinois due to faulty trials, confessions, or evidence? State Senator Obama thought it valuable to video tape the interrogations and confessions of suspects in all capital cases. He was told introducing legislation to accomplish this would be dead on arrival. So he gathered together everyone with skin in the game and sat them down to work it out. Took a few months for them to craft a compromise that satisfied his original intent and allowed everyone to sign on. The bill that evolved from those discussions was signed into law – first in the nation. True, this process won’t work every time in every situation but it is a good place to start. On an issue so divisive as the death penalty, it did work. It’s worth using again.

This way of thinking isn’t altogether new, but it appears from past performance that it is new to the politicians we’re familiar with. There’s that one candidate who says, “I’ve been fighting the right-wing attack machine so long, I know how to beat them.” I’d rather have someone like Obama who would work to win them over. And that’s not such a pipe dream. Obama has managed to earn some measure of respect from Sullivan, Brooks, and Blankley. And they’re just the ones on the right.This is absolutely unheard of.

One night in Iowa does not constitute a trend. So we’ll all be watching the Granite State on Tuesday – each of us with our fingers crossed. We’ll have lots to talk about at Drinking Liberally on Thursday. The elements that put Obama in front in Iowa also apply in New Hampshire but four days is a near-eternity in politics especially if there’s a debate in the middle. I must add that I will support the eventual Democratic nominee; I just want it to be Obama.

In case you missed it, here are Obama’s remarks from Iowa


In the end, it’s more than his successful legislative history. It’s more than his ability to bring people together for the common good. It’s more than honesty. It’s more than openness. It’s more than being right on the issues. It’s more than the kind of change he represents. It’s also how he makes us feel – about ourselves and each other:

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

  12 comments for “On Behalf of Barack Obama the Hopemonger

  1. Andrew Davey
    January 5, 2008 at 9:29 am


    Welcome to The Liberal OC! We’re more than happy to have you on board… And Chris, Dan, Gila, Heather, Sean, and I are really looking forward to debating you A LOT in the coming weeks! 😉

    No really, welcome. And nice story. It’s good to see positive stories on all our great candidates here instead of the usual mudwrestling contests I find at quite a few other places online.

    Just remember that Iowa is but one state, and that New Hampshire can still change things. Your guy did get a “bounce” from Thursday’s win…


    But it seems like there’s still someone else on top, and she has her asbestos pantsuit and 35 year record of working hard for real change all prepared for tonight’s debate! 😉

  2. Urizen
    January 5, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Besides his horrifyingly centrist positions on everything from corporate welfare to gay bashing, Obama cannot possibly win a national election. This is not debatable. How many Repubs caucused to make sure he won the Iowa primary?

  3. January 5, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Welcome Bill, now two members or former members of “the Cabal” blog at Liberal OC?

    A Rasmussen poll with a larger sample than the Suffolk Poll (slightly) gives Obama a 10 point lead over Clinton. More importantly, the Suffolk Poll began on the third, as the news cycle about Iowa’s returns began. The Rasmussen poll was done on the fourth alone. I think Clinton is almost certainly done with Democrats and Independents in New Hampshire. She needs a big boost to get over this in a couple days time: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/nh/new_hampshire_democratic_primary-194.html

  4. Andrew Davey
    January 5, 2008 at 11:10 am


    So you caught Taylor’s new post at the same time I did?


    While I’m not as pessimistic as you or Taylor Marsh, I do have some concerns. What happens if John McCain wins on the CReep side and starts the GE season appealing to the same Independents who are supposed to be “in love” with Obama? What happens if more unrest were to ensue in Pakistan, more chaos to unfold in Iraq, and McCain starts using the “the fear card” on “swing voters”? While I certainly do think the GOPers are so screwed up that either Clinton, Obama, or Edwards has a good chance of easily winning the GE, I also NEVER underestimate the ability of the GOP to use scare tactics like “TERRORISTS!” or “GAAAAAAYS!” or “HIGH TAXES!” against us. We need to be prepared to fight back, fight hard, and beat them to the ground if that happens yet again… Can Obama do that?


    Yes, Obama’s clearly getting a “bounce” after Iowa. However, we just don’t know yet how much of one he’ll ultimately get. While Rasmussen’s known for their usually good polling, Suffolk is considered to be “the gold standard” in New Hampshire… Kinda like DMR polling in Iowa. And check that RCP average again… Hillary still has a 1.2% edge going into tonight’s debate. Let’s just wait and see who rises and who falls on the debate stage tonight, and then we’ll get a better idea as to who may end up the “Comeback Kid” and who may be shocked into defeat. 😉

  5. January 5, 2008 at 11:22 am

    The RCP average is no good here, this time. The early polls in the average were taken before Iowa. Certainly we wait–there’s really no choice–but it looks very bad for Clinton. The debate is her one chance. There’s simply not enough time for a comback in NH. She’d better win second place at least. South Carolina is going to be very tough for her now, even to get second. But who knows, maybe she wins NH… her problem is the evidence that she will is slipping away.

  6. January 5, 2008 at 11:31 am

    The Cabal lives on in one form or another and OC benefits, we hope.

    Implicit in Obama’s victory in Iowa are two messages. One is that White America is indeed ready for vote for a person of color. Iowa is 92% White. The second flows from the first. African Americans, who remember what happened to RFK and MLK – as well as ropes hanging from trees – are in significant numbers reluctant to support an African American for fear of history repeating itself. Iowa dispelled that. Watch what happens in South Carolina.

    The demographics of New Hampshire and the compressed time frame between Iowa and New Hampshire will very likely sustain whatever bump comes from Iowa and prevent other candidates from redefining themselves, although *everyone* is now touting their ability to provide change. I suspect there will be lots of spare change by the time Tsunami Tuesday is done.

    With respect, I am not convinced that Obama’s positions are centrist or horrifying. That’s what makes horse races. But if, for the sake of discussion, what if they are? Which of his positions are flawed? What harm do his positions cause?

    And to what position on gay bashing do you refer? I am not aware that he condones it.

    If Obama faces McCain in the general, he choice Americans face is easy. Hope for tomorrow or fishwrap – McCain is yesterday’s news. He’s a genuine hero – one of the few we have nowadays. His moment was 2000. Hillary’s was 2004. She should have run then. Her kind of change and combativeness would have played better in 2004.

    And a 1.2% lead is marginal compared with what it was 7 or 30 days ago, especially when you consider that Obama’s momentum is building and has yet to peak. Our senator friend from NY is going to need more than an asbestos pants suit. 😛

  7. Andrew Davey
    January 5, 2008 at 11:34 am


    Well, if you don’t think the RCP average is worth something, then why link to it? RCP does that in order to give a fuller picture of what’s happening. Clearly, the polls are not in complete agreement. Rasmussen says Obama is “surging”, and Suffolk says Obama’s only up a little. One of them may be true, or perhaps the truth is somewhere inbetween. We just don’t know yet.

    And btw, don’t count out New Hampshire voters just yet. While they sometimes follow Iowa’s lead, they sometimes also make us rethink the whole picture. When Obama’s people up there do stuff like this…

    Or this…


    They’re not helping their guy.

    Let’s see what happens at the debate tonight.

  8. owl06
    January 5, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Obama is not spreading ‘hope,’ he’s spreading Chicago style politics into New Hampspire and beyond.

  9. January 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    It’s waaaay too early to determine the scope of any Iowa bounce.

    As to the picture, where does it indicate that Obama people tore down the signs. In fact, do you know for sure the picture isn’t staged? Or that the signs aren’t in fact caught up in drifted show?

    Also, I didn’t hear anything negative in the video beyond typical heckling that every politician in America – get ready Mr Mayor – should expect. What was the indication that the heckling came from Obama supporters and not Edwards, Gravel or Kucinich? I didn’t hear any identifying sounds – and neither did my friend who also listened twice.

    Hmm, Chicago style politics? Gee I remember Mayor Daley’s style of operating. That’s the classic definition of Chicago style politics. Has that changed? Did I miss something? Because Obama’s MO is nothing like that. So, then, what am I missing?

  10. Anonymous
    January 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Who the hell is Bill Spalding?

  11. Anonymous2
    January 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I heard he works for CIA , lives in area 57 and has two different colored eyes

  12. Andrew Davey
    January 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm


    Don’t believe me. Read the eyewitness account for yourself:


    My friend New Hampster is a Hillary supporter, but he’s also a year-round Democrat who does what he can to help his state party. When he was at the “100 Club” Dinner last night, he and the other party activists were appalled to see the place swamped with kids trying to upstage the special guests and create a fracas.

    Anon 4:22-

    Now that’s NOT a very warm welcome. Go over to the “About Us” page to find out more about us, then come back and say hi to Bill. I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to answer any other questions you have. 🙂

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