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Ezra Klein on the "seismic shift" toward Obama, it's the "politics of hope" stupid

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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:35 PM
Original message
Ezra Klein on the "seismic shift" toward Obama, it's the "politics of hope" stupid
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 10:40 PM by jefferson_dem


The Counterpunch Campaign

How have the dynamics of the Democratic race changed so quickly? Over the past month, the "politics of hope" have stopped working against Obama, and started working for him because he's figured out the best way to fight back.

Ezra Klein | December 14, 2007 | web only

Offense is defense, and defense is offense. Unattributed judo quote

* * *

Two months ago, I didn't know anyone who thought Hillary Clinton would lose. Today, I don't know anyone who thinks that she'll win. Such is the seismic shift the past few weeks have seen in the conventional wisdom of DC's chattering class. Barack Obama's quiet creep to the top of the polls in Iowa had already set people talking.

But then came Hillary Clinton's ham-handed attacks on his kindergarten essays about the presidency. And then came Oprah, and her thousands of potential new Obama caucus-goers. And then came the repugnant comments of Bill Shaheen, who stepped down yesterday from his post as co-chair of Clinton's New Hampshire campaign; he suggested that Obama's youthful drug experimentation might lead wise voters to think twice about the untested Senator from Illinois. And suddenly it looked like the Clinton campaign was flailing -- buffeted by bad press and bad decisions at precisely the instant that the Obama campaign could do no wrong.

Indeed, Shaheen's smears are being touted as the game-changer -- the potential Dean Scream for the Clinton campaign. But they're only the most media friendly example of what's changed in the race: What separates this month from last month is that the "politics of hope" have stopped working against Obama, and started working for him.

Back in October, the New Republic's Michael Crowley sought to assess why the Obama campaign seemed so sluggish. He quoted a rival campaign aide saying, "Clinton's baiting Obama into a unilateral nonaggression pact was maybe the single most race-changing event we've seen." The aide was right. Until that point, Obama had seemed almost allergic to aggressive campaigning. Every time he even dipped a toe into choppier waters, the Clinton campaign taunted Obama with his own rhetoric, asking him, "what happened to the politics of hope?" It was devastating. Obama had let them define his campaign's central theme: The politics of hope, it turned out, meant that you couldn't attack Hillary Clinton. For Clinton, that was a very hopeful development.

Obama wasn't the only candidate in the race, though. November might have seemed like a sleepy interregnum, but Edwards spent most of it assaulting Clinton in Iowa, attacking everything from her corporate ties to her husband's record to her "doublespeak." The press also turned on the frontrunner, assailing her over the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, then helping to mutate it into a question of forthrightness, and then turning that into endless speculation over whether she was playing the gender card.

And so Clinton's numbers slowly slipped. By the November's end, Obama was routinely leading in the polls. The Clinton campaign, noticing this, did exactly what you're supposed to do when you're a couple points behind: They tried to knock the other guy down. And ended up on the floor themselves. Obama, it turned out, had spent so much time inveighing against political attacks, and the Clinton campaign had invested so much energy in popularizing that sentiment, that their every assault now began to backfire.

<SNIP>

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_counter...
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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. HRC 2008: Inspiration not included
Run with it, people.
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Bullet1987 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Great assessment of what has been happening over the past month...
Only question now is...can Obama keep it up for the next couple of weeks before the caucus? This is not the time for him to be suckered into this pissing match with Clinton that'll just allow Edwards to run away with Iowa.
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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:45 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. There's no way he will let that happen
The campaign is touting a former Clinton precinct captain who came over to the Obama side just because of the attacks. Iowa is notoriously averse to her "now the fun begins" tactics, and no one gives a crap that Obama got high when he was a kid. They'll let her keep twisting in the wind. It's easy and it's working.
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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. That won't happen this time.
The hit by Hillary's camp was so low-life and so roundly criticized, this is not one of those "pocks on both their houses" incidents. That being said, Hillary reaps was she sowes and...word is...minority voters are especially put off by this line of attack. She should be held accountable.
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ariesgem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 12:21 AM
Response to Reply #5
16. I just came from an African Amercan blog...
This is the question of the day - "Is Hillary Clinton trying to 'Willie Horton' Barack Obama?

These attacks on Obama are going to backfire BIG TIME with black folks.
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CTLawGuy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #16
20. I'd expect attacks from the Clintons that were
a little less crude and a bit more thought out.

1. "Obama wrote an essay in Kingergarten where he said he wanted to be president." 3 things wrong with that:

A. attacking someone for what he did as a kid is pretty offensive.
B. Kindergarteners can't write essays so it sounds unbelievable - worse it sounds like an obvious lie.
C. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was in kindergarten and now I'm in law school - i.e. what does what Obama wanted to do in Kindergarten have to do with anything?


2. The concern-trolling statement by Billy Shaheen about Barack's prior drug use. 3 things wrong with that too:

A. The drug use was as a teenager - see A. above.
B. It's old news, he talked about it in his book and admitted it several times. Thus it will have no legs.
C. The insinuation that he sold drugs has a hint of racism behind it that is blowing up in Clinton's face.
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Adelante Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:45 PM
Response to Original message
3. Obama's a great counterpuncher nt
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live love laugh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:02 PM
Response to Original message
6. All of this is contrived. The media decides who they want to talk about in step with the RW.
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 11:25 PM by live love laugh
A few weeks ago, "polls" showed a sudden shift favorable to Obama. Why? What caused this sudden shift? There is no rhyme or reason to it. Of course since they declared the shift, Oprah has come to his aide and there has been some public debate where he seems to have done a good job. But before this, they just said he was the front runner.

I have nothing against Obama or Hillary. I do, however, have a grudge against the liberal media.
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FrenchieCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #6
11. I agree.....
the story doesn't end here...although I wish it would. The media is not yet finished. They do their best work right at the very end. There are still 2 weeks or so. Watch how it happens.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Maybe it's that as the primaries approach, more people start to really watch
Unfortunately for HRC the time they started to watch coincided with her attacks. Obama's counterattacks were far more subtle, making Clinton look mean. This plays in with some of the negatives that were said of her - and even if they weren't true, things like the "fun" comment seemed to confirm them. It also doesn't help that BC has spent the last 3 years bragging that he can fight back unlike John Kerry. Yet after rather typical intraparty attacks on the frontrunner, BC whined about it in the terms of swiftboating! HRC had actually not handled the debate that badly - but BC and others threw away the idea that they were better a fighting back right there.

Her actions and comments are losing people who were with her but were soft and couldn't articulate why, the undecided aren't chosing her and she is losing those who simply want to pick the winner. The bad thing is that this is where she is going into the holidays. It's not clear how long people will listen before becoming absorbed in Christmas and New Years. The Iowa caucus follows almost immediately. (If sees lucky she will find something that can change that trend this week.)
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:04 PM
Response to Original message
7. That's a very cogent analysis
I'd been thinking also, during these last few weeks, that the expression "we have to change the way politics are done in Washington" suddenly was no longer just a vague, Pollyannaish slogan: it acquired specific meaning, by means of graphic example ... and it suddenly clicked for people. I know it did for me. This slogan was not merely rhetorical or theoretical anymore, but suddenly very clear, and kind of prescient.

I don't know that this quasi-front-runner status will be sustainable: but I do know one thing. Unless the kind of political games stop, the American people are going to walk away in disgust from the whole process, and that will be the worst thing for democracy ever. Politicians should take heed ... and thank Obama for making this the theme of his campaign. He was laughed at for it at the beginning, but now I think it is becoming clear that it is a major issue in this election ... and for the prospects of getting anything done in this country in the future.
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Pirate Smile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:04 PM
Response to Original message
8. "Obama had rendered himself rubber, and made Clinton into glue."
"In theory, any of these assaults could've been devastating to the Obama campaign. But for lack of a better metaphor, Obama had rendered himself rubber, and made Clinton into glue. The two of them had so strongly defined the "politics of hope" as an admonition against negative campaigning that any serious attacks against the other rebounded to the attacker's detriment. Obama, to his credit, rapidly grasped this new reality. Rather than strike back, he simply dramatized the fact that Clinton was striking at all. He created a Web site called "Hillary Attacks" which simply collects the examples of her campaign's charges. It doesn't seek to fact check them, or rebut them, it simply gathers them in one place, so voters and journalists can see how forcefully negative the Clinton campaign has become. "

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readmoreoften Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:06 PM
Response to Original message
9. Hope for WHAT? He doesn't STAND FOR ANYTHING!
Good God! I HOPE Obama gets a platform so I'll know something about him other than that he'll be MY HOPE.
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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:10 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. There's no excuse for statements like that
You are free to piss all over his positions and his plans, but don't pretend he doesn't have any.

http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/
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ellisonz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:26 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. The poster doesn't like to read.
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Bodhi BloodWave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #9
14. I'd advice you to do what your nick is
in regards to Obama and what he has done
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UrbScotty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 02:05 AM
Response to Reply #9
18. You're right, opposing the war in Iraq is not the same as standing for anything
:sarcasm:
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Redneck Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 12:16 AM
Response to Original message
15. Nah, it's the politics of "Oh god, not Clinton."
For the first time in my life I'm giving serious thought to voting strategically in the primary. I quite likely will vote for Obama, even though I far prefer Edwards or Richardson, simply because Obama is the only one with a shot to beat Clinton.

I hate having to think that way.
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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:08 AM
Response to Original message
17. the way I see this playing out is . . .
that Hillary gets beat by Obama in Iowa and then loses New Hampshire . . . then the race starts to narrow, between Obama and Edwards . . . with Edwards ultimately taking out Obama for the nomination . . .
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earthlover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 08:16 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. I agree it will likely evolve to obama vs edwards.
but i think obama has the advantage here. I would be happy with either!

I must admit, Hillary's campaign has surprised me in its free fall. We may be spared some major grief for november by her falling out now, if she can't react to adversity any better than what we have seen.
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