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Salon's Glenn Greenwald on Barack Obama's "lack of substance"...

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carpe diem Donating Member (769 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-01-07 02:28 AM
Original message
Salon's Glenn Greenwald on Barack Obama's "lack of substance"...
Greenwald expresses what I have been thinking but unable to coherently put into words about the "lack of substance" meme being tossed at Obama. Very few people are going to cast a vote based of the specifics of this candidate's vs. that candidate's plan for health care or anything else. They obviouslyy will prefer that you have one, but the vast majority won't know jack about it and that will not be what's going through their heads when they pull the lever in the voting booth.

That is precisely why I found the media-concocted uproar over Barack Obama's "lack of substance" -- all based on the fact that he has not yet formulated a detailed health care plan -- to be so misguided (just incidentally, here is an interesting Las Vegas Sun article detailing the blogger pushback against the predictable emergence of that media narrative). It is perfectly fine and reasonable to demand -- as liberal bloggers such as Taylor Marsh and Ezra Klein have done -- that Obama provide more details, more "meat," on his health care plan. The first vote is still almost a full year away, and he will undoubtedly have a big, heavy policy proposal for health care policy experts to pore over to their heart's content.
But issuing detailed legislative proposals on specific, isolated issues is by no means the only way -- or even the most important way -- to run a "substantive" presidential campaign. Our political system and ruling Beltway culture are broken so far beyond any specific issue, and can be addressed only by ideas and critiques that far transcend any specific policy proposal. A truly "substantive" campaign will stand in stark opposition to the whole tone and mindset of Beltway orthodoxies.
All of the candidates, including Obama, are going to issue a detailed health care plan soon enough. But the political system in which those health care plans -- and every other specific legislative proposal -- are going to be assessed, debated and processed is profoundly corrupt and broken.
Thus, any candidate who does not address those systemic political diseases is not actually being "substantive" at all, no matter how many thick white papers they issue chock full of think-tank-developed "plans." Between (a) a candidate who understands our fundamental political problems but who has yet to issue a detailed health care plan and (b) a candidate who has all sorts of detailed, wonky legislative policies developed by aides but who has no real critique of our political culture and will do nothing but feed off of it and perpetuate it, candidate (a) is clearly the more "substantive" candidate in the way that matters.

Greenwald's analysis is right on the money and the whole thing is worth the read, IMO.

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grannylib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-01-07 02:53 AM
Response to Original message
1. Greenwald puts it well...I just got done reading "The Audacity of Hope"
and it's just SO clear that this is an intelligent, thoughtful man who has a finger on the pulse of this nation, knows what the problems are, acknowledges he hasn't all the answers, is honest about his views where he does have definite leanings, recognizes other points of view, and is smart enough to listen, pay attention to, and surround himself with people who will point out those other opinions.

Golly, what a concept. I hope that the more people have a chance to listen to him, they'll start to realize just how enormous those attributes are.
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rebel with a cause Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-01-07 04:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I have not read his books but met him several times in 2004
and although you meant it another way, you are very right about him listening to others. When you talk to him, you can almost see the wheels going around in his head, and when he talks back to you, what he says relates to what you have said. He empathizes with those who have problems and talks about how the nation needs to change where people do not suffer the way they are. He gives ways that these changes need to come about, and sometimes he will call over an adviser to join in the conversation. And if you say something that he may not agree with, he does not argue with you or belittle you, rather he explains why he feels the way he does and gives you a chance to answer back. He actually has a conversation with you and makes you feel like you are as important as anyone else. I made him laugh, and he showed concern for me. He treated me with respect and I felt like he was like one of my kids: although he is quite a bit older than they are and he is only sixteen years younger than I am. Technically I am old enough to be his mother, so I guess it is okay for me to feel this way. ;-)

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Hamlette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-01-07 04:05 AM
Response to Original message
3. the article he cites is good too
I especially liked this:

This time around, online activists are determined to check those themes early, before they gel. Media Matters has been documenting "myths and falsehoods" in the mainstream media about all the 2008 presidential candidates. The group hopes its rapid-fire responses to what it sees as slanted media reports will force journalists to exercise more discipline, said Karl Frisch, a spokesman.

Much of this story was written decades ago, in the seminal account of "pack journalism" and its effect on the 1972 presidential campaign, Timothy Crouse's "Boys on the Bus."

"The press likes to demonstrate its power by destroying lightweights, and pack journalism is never more doughty and complacent than when the pack has tacitly agreed that the candidate is a joke," Crouse wrote.

"A lightweight, by definition, is a man who cannot assert his authority over the national press, cannot manipulate reporters, cannot finesse questions, prevent leaks or command a professional public relations operation."

Nice to see the MSM admit their pack mentality. With the blogs and Olbermann/Stewart/Colbert maybe we can break 'em up.
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grannylib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-01-07 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I hope there are those in the MSM who will give honest and factual info on
ALL the candidates, whatever party.
I am sick to death of Fox Fraudcasting's desperation to smear Sen. Obama with 'The Marlboro Man' and "oh golly he can't remember what magazine he saw an article in when he was NINE, he lacks credibility and his truthfulness is in question..." holy shit...

Brit Hume must be mainlining the Reich Wing kool-ade.
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never cry wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-01-07 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
5. Meanwhile this thread drops like a stone while an Obama bashing thread
has 3 times the response. Bashing Obama for stating the obvious, that if the bot king vetos the supplemental that congress will fund the troops.
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