Bill and Barack

h/t Balloon-juice (nice new site design).

In this video, Bill campaigns for Obama.  As usual, Bill shows that no one is able to explain complicated events in a simple, clear manner as Clinton.  I’ve never seen a politician do that as well as Bill.  [Obama is light years away from having that skill].

The reason I posted this was to comment on the “What Does This Say About How Bill feels Obama” front.  Also some of my favorite commenters and I (e.g. davidmarshall and joeperez), with whom I agree on most things, have had a friendly debate on this point.  They think I’ve been a little too hard on the Clintons.  So I’d like to defend some of my thinking on this point for a sec.

On the one hand I would say are those who think a speech like this disqualifies any of the opinion that the Clintons, but Bill particularly, are not full on board with Obama.  On the other side are Andrew Sullivan rantings about how the Clintons will do anything than can (still in the face of this evidence) to blow up Obama.

Since I’ve set it up that way, you can tell I’m going to argue for a mediate position. As an obvious caveat, but worth saying, there is no way to know the inner mind of someone, so this is a hypothetical guess based on his public statements in the political arena.  So that is all it should be taken for.

Regardless, here’s my argument. Listen to Bill.  He says the reasons you should vote for Obama are:  1)he’s got a better political philosophy  2)he’s got better policy proposals (esp. on economy) 3)he has better advisors.

What you don’t hear in that is that he has the mettle.  He knows your pain (a la Bill ’92).  He’s one of you, will fight for you, that he has the experience to master the Executive-Legislative interplay (his argument for Hillary).

Here is what I wrote about Hillary’s convention speech back in August:

Per Crowley’s comment that Clinton did not specifically point to any aspects of Obama’s character/readiness for the office, I think the reason for that is simple: she doesn’t believe he is ready. Never has, never will I assume.  She believes in the Democratic Party and its ideals as she said last night and she is voting for Obama based his adherence to those same values (not his personal attributes) and given what occurred in the primaries, that is all (and more) that could have reasonably been asked for from her.

Same with the speech from Bill.  I think the reasons Bill cited are legitimate ones to vote for someone for President.  Moreover, as I said with Hillary and also think with Bill, it’s good for them to make this case for Obama.  Because It both is A)a strong case and B)sincerely how I think they feel.

It’s telling truth without as it were telling all the truths.  In other words, I’m glad he didn’t try to make an argument beyond those points because it would have come across as lying, which would do more harm than good.  [And then would definitely fairly or unfairly leave Bill open to sabotage charges].  Less on this one, is definitely much more.

One of those other truths being…I think it is fair to say that given McCain is from the same boomer political generation, comes from the same Washington circles, the Clintons know him personally (and like him), they do feel more comfortable on that kind of level with McCain than Obama.

So on the level of policy/governance they are not secretly for McCain (contra Sullivanian conspiracy thinking).  But on this other harder to define, more subjective level, they are more comfortable I think with McCain.  Which doesn’t mean they are awful human beings or bad Democrats.  I think that is letting their personal friendship override their political judgment on occasion but that’s not a big deal really (if that’s the case).  And even if it is, given how Barack has basically taken away Hillary’s chance of being president, had to run against (in part) the Clinton years, and took over the entire appartus of the Democratic Party from them in a couple of months, I can appreciate how they might have some sore feelings.

It’s just that sometimes those two sides, in certain situations, seep out in public/come into conflict and someone calls Bill out on it.  Like say Chris Rock here.  That’s all.  It probably goads President Clinton to be a better surrogate when he the chance, so it’s all to the good in my estimation.

Published in: on October 2, 2008 at 12:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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Review Dem Speeches Last Night

Last night a bunch of big guns took the stage: President Clinton, John Kerry, and the VP Nominee Joe Biden. Also the convention finally got its legs and momentum. Tonight will be at the very least interesting.

1)You can (and should) watch Bill Clinton here. While he looked flummoxed and past his prime on occasion during the primaries, this was the Big Dawg in true form. It reminded me of the lovable Bubba side with the tongue (repeatedly and literally) in the cheek. And he unlike any politician I’ve ever seen could deal with vastly complex issues in a clear way to the average listener. Clinton has always been able to make people feel intelligent and part of a bigger solution–amazing gift. Obama doesn’t really have that particular skill.

As even Andrew Sullivan admits, Clinton looked great in the role of party patriarch. It’s the role he should have been playing since the primaries began. He should have stayed out of the race and let Hillary run on her own terms. B. Clinton would have refrained from saying things that hurt his image–which it was nice to see restored last night.  As I’ve said before, I think it was Bill that disqualified Hillary from being VP.  Had he gone the stay out of it/patriarch role instead of so clearly wanting to be back in the White House, I think she would have very likely got the nod. Hopefully his speech and Obama’s shout out to him in his surprise appearance will help heal some of the anger.

2)Joe Biden. Biden’s speech here, here, and here.

Biden is Biden. He stumbles over words,he isn’t the polished Bill Clinton. But he can hold your attention and make his point. He’s got gravitas and it’s clear he’s no bullshitter. As someone raised middle class Catholic Biden is very recognizable to me as Midwestern Catholic working class guy. When he talks about how he is only around still for his kids and grandkids, he’s being sincere. He’s an excellent match for Obama.

3)But the speech that was probably (and unbelievably) the best of night belonged to John Forbes Kerry. Watch this speech–which unfortunately I’m told was cut off by Cable Analysis—where was this guy in 2004? If this dude had shown up against Bush he would be president accepting his nomination for his second term.

Biden and Clinton both made clear how stark the difference between Obama and McCain is. Bill focused more on McCain being the last in a long and exhausted line of Republican orthodoxy (supply side economics, fiscal mismanagement, politicization of science, etc.) while Biden focused more on a point by point foreign policy event by event take down of how Mccain was wrong on X (e.g. Iraq), Obama was right on X. McCain wrong on Y (Afghanistan), Obama right on Y.

But Kerry gave voice to the anger in the party and among independents. He gave voice to McCain’s flip-floppery (and coming from Kerry that’s pretty harsh). He gave voice to how really God awful McCain’s campaign is. Check it:

Published in: on August 28, 2008 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Response to Scott on Obama

Friend of Indistinct Union, Politics of Scrabble, has this to say after watching Obama’s victory speech last night:

Listening to Barack Obama with Russert on Meet the Press this past Sunday and tonight giving his victory speech in Raleigh, I have been struck but how much I agree with the criticism that Obama sounds like a conventional liberal. The number of uninspired lines that he mouthed tonight, straight out of the traditional Democratic play book, really and truly astounded me in a way that it hasn’t previously.

He offers two theories (as compared to Iowa winning Obama)

1. Because BO was having trouble beating Clinton among core Democratic constituencies he had to employ this type of language–leaving open whether he could turn back around now that he enters the general or once he would be elected and governed.

2. Early on he was simply abstract and non-specific. This latter talk is revealing more of who he really is, as it were.

Possibility #3 I would say is a combination of the two.

But that aside, here is the more important part and a very interesting question:

There is no doubt that Obama is a liberal, they key question here is whether that liberalism is conventional or not. Perhaps it was wishful thinking to entertain otherwise, but I must say, I really did see a glimmer of something different in that soaring rhetoric that, like many others, pulled me into an excitedly different degree of engagement…But if Obama’s impact on twenty-first century liberalism won’t even be as substantial as Bill Clinton’s in the late twentieth century, then I’m not entirely sure why he’s in the race.

Well it, uh, depends on the meaning of the word “conventional.” I see him more in the tradition of progressives, with his community organizer, “we are the change”, “it’s up to you”, grass roots style. Clinton represents conventional liberalism in the LBJ model of a patrician wheeler and dealer command and control structure. So he’s not conventional in the line of a LBJ-Carter-Mondale liberalism.

He is conventionally liberal I would say in terms of policy prescriptions particularly on health care and environment. I don’t think that’s all bad, though I wish he would take different angles on the issues. He has made gestures at different points to possible non-conventional liberal turns on affirmative action and education.

I think he (O-b) does actually represent new thinking in terms of foreign policy. There I think he is quite non-conventional in his anti-Iraq/pro-Afghanistan stance. I think Democrats have in the post 9/11 fallen into a conventional mindset of fearing being labeled appeasers/pansies and have either sought to minimize foreign policy to domestic or go hardline (Hillary’s move). (more…)

Matt Bai on HRC

Has some sensible advice for them at the bottom (i.e. make R. Johnson apologize, call off the hounds in the Nevada vote lawsuit for starters).  But this line I think has some zip:

What’s most confounding about this latest turn into ugliness, though, is the Clintons’ remarkable capacity to cast themselves as the victims in every fight. And so here is Hillary Rodham Clinton accusing Barack Obama of somehow injecting race into the campaign, because she found herself in a world of trouble for her own comments about Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson. Now, I really do think she was intending only to make a sensible point about the value of experience in the White House, but look, the Clintons embody the generation that invented identity politics and political correctness. If Mrs. Clinton couldn’t guess at how that comment was going to land in the black community, then she must have been suffering amnesia.

I think the Obama camp needs to focus on her criticisms (of him) on the war, which are more “fairy tale” in my book than Bill’s theory on the media.  And not be seen as in any manner stoking racial issues.  Still I think Bai is right, that she put her foot in her mouth and now wants to play the victim.

I agree with Bai that Hillary (on the MLK comment) was trying to make a legitimate point, that came out all wrong.  But her inability to ever admit she was wrong, she could have made a mistake (even unintended) makes sickens me.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 1:28 pm  Comments (5)  
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