RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, "Audacity of Hope," you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness." He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell." What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?
If Russert had broken it off quickly around where the boldface stops--e.g., "do you feel comfortable associating yourself with these sentiments"--he'd have had a pointed question that put Obama on the spot. By babbling on about Jews and Israel--as if only Jews could be offended by Farrakhan--he gave Obama an easy answer that let him ignore Wright and the avoid the tricky business of distancing himself from his pastor. ("Tim, I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago ..." etc.).
Like Andy McCarthy, I don't think Russert was consciously helping Obama escape. But there are any number of potential subconscious motives for Russert's choke, including fear that his image wouldn't benefit if he were the heavy who skewered the popular, charismatic black Dem frontrunner. ... 12:33 A.M. link
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Is Obama Deval Patrick II? Obama didn't steal the words of his buddy Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts. He borrowed them. OK. But what are the other similarities between Obama and Patrick? The two pols have a lot in common even aside from shared rhetoric. Has Patrick's term been a success, or has it been a cautionary example of a promising, race-transcendant Democrat squandering his mandate by governing as a hack interest-group liberal? Fred Siegel has an answer to this question. Excerpt:
Patrick's governorship is the closest thing we have to a preview of the "politics of hope"—and that governorship has been a failure to date. As Joan Vennochi observes in the Boston Globe, "Democrats who control the Legislature ignored virtually every major budget and policy initiative presented by a fellow Democrat." Patrick's record in office, Vennochi concludes, "shows that it can be hard to get beyond being the face of change, to actually changing politics." His stock has sunk so markedly that Hillary Clinton carried the state handily against Obama in the Democratic primary despite, or perhaps because of, Patrick's support for his political doppelgänger.
In one area, however, Patrick has achieved some of his goals. In thrall to the state's teachers' unions, he has partly rolled back the most successful educational reforms in the country. Most states gamed the federal testing requirements that were part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But Massachusetts, thanks to Republican governors William Weld and Mitt Romney, created the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability to ensure that the state's testing methods conformed closely to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—federal tests that are the gold standard for measuring educational outcomes. In 2007, Massachusetts became the first state to achieve top marks in all four categories of student achievement. One of Patrick's first efforts as governor was to eliminate the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability. [E.A.]
Isn't it incumbent on those prominent NEA-bashing neoliberal Obama supporters to explain just why his term as president won't quickly descend into a Patrick-like interest-group quagmire? Jon Alter, this means you! And Charles Peters as well. ... P.S.: Patrick could function as Obama's wrang-wrang, Vonnegut's term for a pioneer who by his bad example steers others away from a false course. Before neolibs go into a permanent campaign swoon, shouldn't Obama send them at least a subtle signal that he understands this?
Backfill: Here's Vennochi's column. She's a bit more charitable than Siegel. ... Update: Boston Globe on Patrick's strained relationship with the legislature. Hope= casino gambling? ... 4:19 P.M. link