Election Narrative?

After reading this Newsweek opinion piece on Obama, which is similar to this Slate piece and another post I wrote, I have to wonder if the Democratic election narrative won’t go something like this:

1. Obama wins nomination, which is attributed to his feel-good rhetoric
2. Media logically begins inspection into his positions
3. Said positions aren’t that different than anything already out there
4. Media / McCain emphasizes this point, deflating “message of change”

If excitement about change really is Obama’s biggest strength, then that’s potential trouble.

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7 Responses to “Election Narrative?”

  1. at some point he needs to define “change” better. He might be waiting until after the nomination is guaranteed to allow himself more room to the right.

    Here’s a fun trick. Copy a some of Obama’s platform off his website. Do a find and replace for “diplomacy”. Everytime you see “diplomacy” replace it with “magic”.

    Like this:

    “Obama will launch the most aggressive magic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors – including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction.”

    or this:

    “Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential magic with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.”

    I especially like that one since the stick seems to be something that Iran has been ignoring since 1980.

  2. It is not policy change it is political change. Can’t you feel the difference (/sarcasm)

    Posted by Craig Press | February 20th, 2008 at 2:06 pm
  3. Here in Illinois we have been living with Obama for a bit longer than people nationally have been. I think that narrative works for Political Science types. However, I think it breaks down with more “normal” voters. People “feel” that Obama is different, and that is enough for them.

  4. Rich and Craig,
    This is exactly what I am talking about. Regular voters, for whom national politics is mostly in the background unless there is a war or a recession, don’t like Bush and they don’t like Hillary.

    People for whom national politics is a full-time sport will find this “feeling” absurd, but frankly the other 200 million people in the US seem to go their own way on these issues.

  5. The other thing I would like to say about platforms and policy outlines is that they are bullshit. I mean it is the equivalent of the high school presidential campaign when they promised to get a new soda machine and an official “hat day”. Everyone knew two things 1) These don’t really matter that much 2) Ain’t no way it is going to happen. The point is that they put out some ideas, they let you know where they are coming from and you hope they can follow up on it by surrounding themselves with competent people. I mean for fuck’s sake GWB said he didn’t believe in nation building when he was campaigning. So if he can change his mind and rhetoric so can anyone. You just hope that they have the ability to make good decisions and help motivate the country to support them. I think we have seen how far McCain’s “maverick” experience has gotten him. How did that torture amendment, social security privatization, tax cuts, and campaign finance reform go for him? Experience my ass. While Obama’s current lack of changy policy might be a problem he can add new things to make them that way. McCain can’t change his past as a flip flopper, Bush supporter, war monger and tax-cut and spend conservative. His experience is his weakness. Sorry for the anger seething in this comment

    Posted by Craig Press | February 20th, 2008 at 2:18 pm
  6. I think David is on to something. Pundits talk about America being a center-right country — which is pretty true — but even Bush, whose election agenda mirrored that perspective, is often liked for being “a regular guy” by his supporters. “Being a regular guy” is certainly not a policy position.

    I still think my post is accurate: if people vote for Obama because “they have a feeling” about him, then news coverage criticizing that feeling is bound to seep in somehow and potentially harm it.

  7. I would love to be able to call certain congressfolk and senators “assholes” and tell them to go fuck themselves but that doesn’t translate to my being ethical or qualified. Yet, despite the fact that McCain is an admitted adulterer (he gets a pass since his wife was a fat cripple and Cindy is hot?), loves flying on private jets (heck, who doesn’t?) and using his clout to have his wife cleared of stealing drugs from a charity (hey, they weren’t illegal drugs and she was sad and depressed because um, it’s hard to be the wife of an old man?) the press loves him cuz he’s all manly with them. He hangs out with them and doesn’t even spit on them so that must mean he’s a straight talker …. wow.

    The press has a “feeling” about McCain but since they’re so impartial and in on the inner workings that feeling is valid. The average voter, who spends fifteen hours a day working their day job and then working their family, has a “feeling” about Obama, but since they’re not privy to rides on the Straight Talk Bus (oh, to ride along with a lobbyist on a presidential campaign bus with pit stops for the Early Bird Buffet) their “feelings” are not valid. If they only knew just how refreshing it is to hear a Senator say “fuck him” they would truly grasp the issues and how ethical this man really is.

    Please. Like it or not, folks do vote their “beliefs” and their “feelings” and people who sneer at that are doomed to being dragged along in the slipstream. If in fact, Obama really can appeal to better feelings than whether or not the Homosexuals get to marry or Mexicans get to be citizens in the war against the Terrorists, then at least I’ve got something better to suffer through than hearing my neighbors complain about The Spanish, as they say around here in bucolic Pensylvania.

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