Friday, March 28, 2008
Two Memes Running: I'll try to keep track of the two most underdeveloped negative memes on Obama:
1) He's a wuss! He hedges on welfare, he hedges on affirmative action. "[H]e has a major deficiency in the realm of moral courage." He won't speak up against his own church's victim mentality until he absolutely has to (because he himself gets in political trouble). In the campaign he's done a whole lot of pandering and not much Sister Souljahing--certainly nothing as bold as Bill Clinton saying welfare should be two-years-and-out. He listens to everyone and everyone loves him for it. But he's conflict-averse--it would be more reassuring if everyone didn't love him. ...
2) He's arrogant! His failure to even admit to the slightest mistake in the Wright affair plays into this meme, originally ratified by AP's Ron Fournier. My colleague Robert (no relation) Wright thinks he saw additional evidence recently. ...
Are these memes contradictory? Not really. Maybe they go together. Arrogance is likely to build up in the absence of conflict, no? You can't take it out on your enemies in public so you take it out in private. Are they disqualifying? No. I'm not sure Obama can't accomplish a lot by being conflict-averse and respectful. But I don't think there was a conflict-averse way to, say, reform welfare. The liberal interest groups who supported the system weren't about to be "illuminated" or "elevated" (or fooled). They had to be beaten. The same probably goes for some conservative interest groups in, say, the health care debate.
As for arrogance--well, he's likeable enough! ...
Update: Jonathan Rauch, the anti-Sullivan, accuses Obama of a different kind of pandering--pandering to fantasies of trans-partisanship:
[S]ometimes I wonder if that isn't many Obama supporters' real hope: Use post-partisan rhetoric to win a big partisan majority and then roll over the Republicans.
Rauch's underdeveloped argument is that with Democrats firmly in control of Congress, actual post-partisanship is unlikely. I'm not so sure.I'm with Rauch's fictitious interlocutor--he's too jaded. Clinton passed NAFTA (whatever you think of it) with Dems in control of Congress. But it takes some triangulatin'--another circumstance in which Obama's conflict-aversion could become a major handicap. ... [via Insta ] 6:32 P.M. link
McCain may or may not be blocking Heath Shuler's immigration-enforcement bill-- Shuler says yes, Brian Faughnan argues no, and McCain's camp denies it. But shouldn't McCain at least have to take a position on the bill, if he's such a secure-the-borders-first man? ... Of course, the same reasons why McCain hasn't taken a position (e.g., he's not a secure-the-borders-first man, and he covets Latino votes) are the reasons people would think he'd want to block the bill from coming to a vote, no? ... P.S.: The dirty secret, of course, is that the Dem leadership isn't blocking the bill because its unpopular with House Democrats. They're blocking it because it's popular with House Democrats, who'd love to have a tough-on-illegals bill to vote for before the 2008 election. ... 5:41 P.M.