7 comments January 4th, 2008at 07:32am Posted by Eli
Okay, so Obama and Huckabee won, Edwards came in second, and Dodd showed so poorly that he dropped out. My thoughts:
o Not sure how significant this is, but the most charismatic candidates on each side won. This could be partially a function of the whole “retail politics” thing, where Huck & Obama had the opportunity to personally charm lots of voters on an individual basis.
o I’ll be curious to see whether the media ever suggests that Huckabee’s economic populism played into his victory at all, or if it’s all faith ‘n’ folksiness. My guess is that the establishment narrative will be reluctant to acknowledge that there’s a deep hunger for economic fairness. I was hoping that Edwards would win to really drive this point home (not that anyone would notice), but he did place a solid second despite being massively outspent.
o I was really hoping Dodd would do better. I thought he was the only presidential candidate to demonstrate Actual Leadership by taking a stand against telecom immunity when no-one else could be bothered. It’s shameful and depressing that his courage translated into zero support.
o I have mixed feelings about Obama, to say the least. On the one hand, Chris Bowers points out a huge positive:
…Obama won because he did something many campaigns have claimed they would do in the past, but never until now had never actually accomplished: he turned out young voters and new voters in record-smashing numbers. This has long been the holy grail of progressive politics, and until now no one had been able to pull it off. Well, Obama pulled it off. That is a remarkable an historic accomplishment. That is why he won.
If he could deliver that same kind of energized youth and new voter turnout in November, then not only would he be almost certain to win the election, but he would also give a huge assist to other Democratic candidates on the state and local ballots.
On the other hand, BooMan (who also believes that Obama could win big in the general) provides an excellent summation of why the liberal blogosphere prefers Edwards:
…Obama hasn’t really embraced us. He’s gone his own way. And that explains why, in the end, the blogosphere broke heavily for John Edwards.
No, I don’t mean people turned their back on Obama because he didn’t pay the proper respect to the blogosphere. That isn’t what happened. Obama didn’t embrace our way of doing things. Worse, he began to use rhetoric we had spent energy to debunk. He went even further. He tossed aside one of our central insights…an insight won through hard experience: we cannot compromise with the Republican Party…we must smash them.
Perhaps because his wife is such an avid reader of blogs, Edwards’ campaign tapped right into our zeitgeist. He came out with our insight front and center. You want Edwards’ message? Here it is: ‘Fuck David Broder, fuck Joe Klein, fuck Chris Matthews, fuck FOX News, fuck Tim Russert, fuck Mitch McConnell, fuck Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Defense. We don’t need them. They won’t negotiate in good faith. They’re stacking the deck against us. And we can beat them by telling the truth and getting organized.’ That’s Edwards’ message, and that is the message we have internalized both through our successes and our failures.
What’s funny is that Obama is saying many of the same things, in his own way. The policy differences between Edwards and Obama are minimal. But Obama’s tone deaf to the blogosphere. And, as a result, the blogosphere didn’t trust him. Take Armando:
…we do not criticize Obama’s political style on aesthetic grounds; we criticize his style because we think it will not work to actually EFFECT CHANGE. We believe that despite his being touted as the change candidate, his political style is the one LEAST likely to achieve progressive policy change.
His ‘style’ will be ineffective. Why did so many of us conclude this? It’s because we have watched Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi try to negotiate with the Republicans (in the minority, the majority, no matter) and it does not work. We have watched the Dems talk tough and then back down time and time again. We’re done with conciliation and we don’t believe bipartisanship is possible without first crushing the Republican Party down to a stump.
…More than anything, I want Edwards’ style to be vindicated. I want partisanship and combativeness to be rewarded. And I want Clinton/Lieberman/Ford/Carper/Carville/Begala/Penn to lose.
What’s the value of a candidate who wins election handily, and then proceeds to be conciliatory and ineffectual as a president, even with a favorable Congress behind him? And what will that do to the Democratic “brand,” which is already pretty well tarred with the collaborator brush?
Also, bear in mind that a presidential campaign is just about the only time when the media will reliably report on what a Democrat is saying. I would much rather that that Democrat were the one making a powerful case against the status quo of economic equality and Republican corruption.
For what it’s worth, now that Dodd’s gone, I’m switching my endorsement to Edwards.
(h/t Three Rivers Online Guy for the BooMan post)