Measured Against Reality

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Does the Magic Matter?

I generally like the NYTimes Op-Ed page. While I don't always agree with the editorials they print, they're generally high-quality, well-written, thought-provoking pieces. However, there's one today that is little but unadulterated garbage. I'm speaking about When the Magic Fades by David Brooks.

Let me start with the easiest point, and that is his attempt to show Obama as partisan:

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

First of all, calling the FISA bill bipartisan is a laughing stock. That was nothing but the Democrats in the Senate capitulating to Bush, and passing a god-awful piece of legislation. The House's actions the next day in allowing the bill to die were almost universally hailed as the right thing to do, and every sane person agrees. Voting against that insidious bill is a point for Obama, not against. If Brooks' point here is that Obama should back every measure that has bipartisan support just because he supports transcending party lines to get stuff done then Brooks is completely and utterly wrong. That line of thinking says that the Iraq War authorization was a good idea, and it's clearly bullshit. What Obama means by bringing people together is bringing them together to do good, not just bringing them together for its own sake. The fact is that sometimes playing the partisan game is correct, at least when one side is right and the other isn't.

And I'm honestly confused about the disdain some people are showing for Obama's supporters. Is it really a bad thing that people are inspired by him? Is it a bad thing that young people are voting in droves? Is it a bad thing that he attracts moderates and Republicans? Because to me these seem like great, even necessary attributes for the Democratic candidate. That is, unless you want to see a John McCain presidency.

I'm also tired of these low-blows about him being "messianic". For starters, don't we kind of need someone to take charge and save our sorry asses from the fuck-up of historical proportions that is the Bush administration? I'm not going to say we need a messiah, but I also think that knocking Obama for using grand rhetorical is just foolish. The best leaders of all time are almost universally great speakers, and it's because inspiring people with language indicates a great mind, which a good leader needs. The same people who mock Bush relentlessly for his "Bush-isms" don't see that it works the other way too: someone who knows how to use words to inspire is exactly the kind of intelligent, clear-thinking person we need.

And this is just insane:

Up until now The Chosen One’s speeches had seemed to them less like stretches of words and more like soul sensations that transcended time and space. But those in the grips of Obama Comedown Syndrome began to wonder if His stuff actually made sense. For example, His Hopeness tells rallies that we are the change we have been waiting for, but if we are the change we have been waiting for then why have we been waiting since we’ve been here all along?

Yes, and MLK's "I have a dream" speech was about an actual dream. Is Brooks serious? Does he really think that Obama means "we" as in the collection of individuals? It clearly means the movement, the people coalescing behind one person and demanding an end the insanity, demanding something better. Misinterpreting that means you're either an idiot or being disingenuous.

Then there this:

Obama says he is practicing a new kind of politics, but why has his PAC sloshed $698,000 to the campaigns of the superdelegates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics? Is giving Robert Byrd’s campaign $10,000 the kind of change we can believe in?

Nice job not noting that Hillary gave a bunch of money to those people too, that information is totally not pertinent. Regardless, I liked the Obama camp's response to this idiotic accusation, "They've discovered that we support the Democratic party," (paraphrased). I'll admit, this could look like he's trying to buy their vote, but I very much doubt it. First because no superdelegate is stupid enough to be bought, and second because who would be bought for $10,000? It seems to me far more likely that they're just supporting other Democratic candidates, and even if they're not, knocking Obama for doing this seems odd because the Clinton camp has done it too.

In the end, I'm as bemused by the Obama-knockers as the Hillary-haters. Personally, I'll vote for whichever candidate the Democrats put up, even though I prefer Obama. But it's starting to look pretty clear that the people prefer Obama, and he has a better chance of winning against McCain is every recent poll I've seen, I'm thinking it's time for others to support him too. But some don't, and I can respect that without needing to call them delusional or idiotically bash Clinton.

In any event, I hope this stupid "Obama's supporters are a cult!!!!111" thing ends soon, because it's moronic beyond words. Of course, that's the very reason it'll likely keep up until the fat lady sings.



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