The Arrogance of Hope

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CONCORD, NH—I just watched Barack Obama give his stump speech for the first time in a couple months, and for only the second time since winning the Iowa caucuses. Hillary Clinton gets knocked for obsessing over herself in speeches—reporters count up how many times she and her husband say "I" or "my" instead of "we." Victory has given Obama the same rhetorical tic.

High up there in his message: The amazing power of Barack Obama. He referred to himself in the third person: "They say Obama, he's a hopemonger." Early in the speech he brought some volunteers onstage and told the crowd that their job was to drive them to the polls and his job was creating voters for them to transport. So: "I am going to try to be so persuasive that a light bulb goes off in your head, you're driving back from this, and you think 'I must vote for Obama.'" He hyped the Iowa victory repeatedly as proof that the people who said "I was being naive" or "I couldn't win" just eat heaping bowls of shit. (Some attendees I talked to after the speech said Iowa's results wouldn't influence their vote; they were deciding between Clinton and Obama.)

The crowd seemed attentive but not thrilled. Lines that had drawn manic applause last night sort of rolled out there, except for a riff about "closing down Gitmo and restoring habeas corpus" and one about saving the polar ice caps: Those were the only bits that got the whole crowd of a few thousand people cheering. Also, I don't know how much I'd prioritize this skill, but Obama's attacks on his rivals were perfectly composed: Subtle enough to nod some heads in the stands, but not cutting enough to alienate the independents. Voting for Clinton would be a "gamble" because "the same old crowd" would make the same mistakes. We need to protect our kids from poisoned Chinese toys but we should have done it "four, or eight, or 12 years ago." Message: Clinton's husband poisoned your children.

Obama bothered less with Edwards, though it's news he gave him any attention at all. He smacked the candidate stuck solidly in third place for making such angry appeals and then tried to steal Edwards' "ahhh fought when my daddy worked in the mills" rhetoric: "I fought on the streets, I fought as a civil rights lawyer."

There were whopping big media folks in the crowd–E.J. Dionne, Maureen Dowd, CBS's Bob Schieffer–but my favorite fellow travellers were a couple cameramen from a local news station. They sneered up at the risers where other cameramen had already gotten the good spots, including two tykes in red shirts reporting for Scholastic News. "This is the thing that kills me," one said, "wasting space on these cameras for that Nickelodian shit."

NEXT: Lenin on Ice

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  1. Can’t wait to pick up Obama’s next autobiography, The Audacity of Audaciously Hoping for Change.

  2. Nickelodeon.

  3. I just watched Barack Obama give his stump speech for the first time in a couple months, and for only the second time since winning the Iowa caucuses.

    I don’t get this sentence. First time in a few months and second time since last night.

  4. Obama doesn’t like Hilary. Obama and Hilary kinda clash.

  5. How about Ron Paul’s autobiography: The Gall of Donktor Paul: Send Cash.

  6. Liberals complain about republicans funded by “the corporations.” Now it’s about candidates funded by “the people”?

  7. “Nickelodian shit” Haha.

  8. dstijl

    shhh!

    Dave’s time machine is a secret.

  9. How about Edward’s autobiography:

    The Cuntsore Who Learned To Type

  10. Nickelodeon refuses to ask the tough questions.

  11. Perhaps I am too optimistic, but I really believe that people are going to wake up at somepoint and realize that there is nothing to Obama but a nice persona and a some warmed over liberal conventional wisdom. Change? What you are kidding me? Yeah, raise taxes, break the bank on every feel good social program you can think of and shut down GUITMO. Gee no one has ever thought of that before.

  12. John-

    At least Edwards didn’t when Iowa. Can you imagine a Huckabee vs. Edwards general election? It makes me want to leave the country for real.

  13. Don’t forget, he’s going to go into the Pakistani hornets nest looking for Osama whether the Pakistanis like it or not.

  14. But John,
    He keeps his hair short enough that he doesn’t have to pay for $400 hair cuts. That counts for something, no?

  15. “John-

    At least Edwards didn’t when Iowa. Can you imagine a Huckabee vs. Edwards general election? It makes me want to leave the country for real.”

    As a lifelong patriot, if it is Edwards v. Huckabe, I might have to leave the country. What a monument to economic illiteracy and populist ignorance that election would be. Obama is a fraud but generally harmless. I would vote for him 100 times before I voted for Edwards or Huckabee.

  16. Barack’s under the boards. Barack’s in the open. Barack makes the shot.

  17. “Don’t forget, he’s going to go into the Pakistani hornets nest looking for Osama whether the Pakistanis like it or not.”

    It seems to me that’s what Bush should have done instead of losing so many soldiers’lives in Iraq, killing tens or hundreds of thousands innocent civilians, wasting billions of dollars, and stirring up more hatred for America.

  18. “It seems to me that’s what Bush should have done instead of losing so many soldiers’lives in Iraq, killing tens or hundreds of thousands innocent civilians, wasting billions of dollars, and stirring up more hatred for America.”

    Yeah because invading Pakistan would have engendered so much love in the Middle-East. Pakistan is a soveriegn country. It is not like we could send the 82nd Airborne in without their permission.


  19. What a monument to economic illiteracy and populist ignorance that election would be. Obama is a fraud but generally harmless. I would vote for him 100 times before I voted for Edwards or Huckabee.

    I blame it all on Lou Dobbs.

  20. Economics needs to be mandatory every year of high school just so we don’t have people buying anymore populist bullshit out of pure ignorance.

  21. Yeah because invading Pakistan would have engendered so much love in the Middle-East. Pakistan is a soveriegn country. It is not like we could send the 82nd Airborne in without their permission.

    Letters of Marque and Reprisal, baby.

  22. Actually, I think both the Iraq War and Obama’s proposed Pakistan raids were/are terrible ideas.

    Of course, Dems will agree with me when a Republican decides to go into Pakistan. Think: Clinton I and the terrible threat of wmd.

  23. Why is it that when Mattel screws up and makes poisonous toys it gets the blame, unless the factory is in China, in which case China gets the blame?

    Yeah, I know why. It’s just a rhetorical question.

  24. “Yeah because invading Pakistan would have engendered so much love in the Middle-East. Pakistan is a soveriegn country. It is not like we could send the 82nd Airborne in without their permission.”

    As Egosumabbas said, “Letters of Marque and Reprisal”. Sending special forces in to capture or kill those responsible for 9/11 would involve a minimum of civilian deaths and not stir up the hatred for us that our invasion of Iraq has.

  25. “Actually, I think both the Iraq War and Obama’s proposed Pakistan raids were/are terrible ideas.”

    How else can we capture or kill those responsible for 9/11? Pakistan apparently isn’t doing anything to capture or kill Osama bin Laden because they don’t want to bring the wrath of the Arab world down on them.

  26. Nothing ticks of Iraq War supporters like people who want to finish the job in central Asia.

    Picking at sore right there.

  27. Obama is well on his way to beatification.

    While Weigel’s “report” is entertaining, isn’t he supposed to be a reporter of some kind? If so, shouldn’t he try to ask questions?

    No other MSM “reporters” are willing to ask real questions, so Weigel could set Reason – and himself – apart from the rest. What’s he afraid of? That he won’t get the same lunch treats as the other kids?

  28. Nothing ticks of Iraq War supporters like people who want to finish the job in central Asia.

    Picking at sore right there.

    Because once we get OBL, people like DONDEROOOOOOO won’t have a reason to bomb brown people living shantytowns anymore, duh! Gotta keep that islamofascism alive, ya know. Support the troops.

  29. Support the cleaning ladies! Dump the contents of your fridge onto the rug!

    And, hey, you don’t want to make them feel bad by saying they can stop before they make the rug pristine, do you?

  30. de stijl | January 4, 2008, 3:17pm | #
    “I just watched Barack Obama give his stump speech for the first time in a couple months, and for only the second time since winning the Iowa caucuses.”

    I don’t get this sentence. First time in a few months and second time since last night.

    De Stijl/AKA “the style”/Dr Neoplasticism =

    dont feel bad. It’s not you. Anyone covering politics so closely for so long starts to develop mild forms of mental retardation.

    e.g. the prog-rock fetish? its another sign

  31. TLB | January 4, 2008, 4:33pm | #
    Obama is well on his way to beatification.

    LoneWacko = please shut the fuck up and go back to your rhetorical ghost-pinata party (aka your sad blog)

    You are a patent schmoo and you have never influenced anyones thinking here. You have driven 100% of readers into any direction they can find opposite your own. If you care about “ending illegal immigration”… then shut up. You give the whole thing a bad name with everything from your nounFunging to your “WHY DOES NO ONE ASK *REAL* QUESTIONS (i.e. “my silly ones”)…

    Serious. The expression “get a life” is hardly more apt for any person alive.

  32. “Nothing ticks of Iraq War supporters like people who want to finish the job in central Asia.”

    So I take that Joe to mean that you support a “surge” in Afghanistan? Further, you also support the invasion of the territory of a sovereighn country that at least claims to be our ally? You talk a great game about finishing the job in Afghanistan and I say more power to you. My guess is however your eyes are bigger than your stomach and even if you really are sincere, the vast majority of people who try that little bait and switch are not. It is easy to advocate an action that isn’t happening.

  33. I already pointed out that I’m not an Iraq war supporter. I’m just saying that Obama’s promise to invade Pakistan chasing bin Laden is an idea cut from the same interventionist cloth as all of our ill-fated ventures into the region.

  34. John-

    I would have rather seen a surge in Central Asia in 2003 rather than invading Iraq. I think if Bush had taken that course, we’d all be better off.

    I’d like one now, too, but since we are stuck in Iraq there are really no troops available.

  35. So I take that Joe to mean that you support a “surge” in Afghanistan? Further, you also support the invasion of the territory of a sovereighn country that at least claims to be our ally? You talk a great game about finishing the job in Afghanistan and I say more power to you. My guess is however your eyes are bigger than your stomach and even if you really are sincere, the vast majority of people who try that little bait and switch are not. It is easy to advocate an action that isn’t happening.

    *blank stare* Are you suggesting, sir, that Pakistan is an ally in the War on Terror? ‘Cause the last time I checked, Pakistan wasn’t doing jack shit.

    I’d rather take the billions we’re giving to prop up that dictator and giving it to… I don’t know… Chuck Norris to find OBL instead. I also like the way this guy handled a similar situation.

  36. As Ron Paul has pointed out, we shouldn’t do anything that the radical Islamists disapprove of. If it weren’t for us and our annoying policies, the Twin Towers would be still be standing, and Benizir Bhutto would still be alive. If Ron Paul is elected President, he will check with Al Qaeda before taking any action. Alas, his chances don’t seem great, but send him money anyway. He’ll find a use for it that won’t piss anybody off, at least not anybody with a bomb. Allahu akbar!

  37. “*blank stare* Are you suggesting, sir, that Pakistan is an ally in the War on Terror? ‘Cause the last time I checked, Pakistan wasn’t doing jack shit.

    I’d rather take the billions we’re giving to prop up that dictator and giving it to… I don’t know… Chuck Norris to find OBL instead. I also like the way this guy handled a similar situation.”

    No I am suggesting that Pakistan is doing much, but frankly I don’t know what they are really doing or not doing. I think you would have to have a pretty security clearance to know that. What I am saying is that it is a bit much to argue that we need to invade them and the people who claim to be so gung ho about going into northwest Pakistan are only doing so because they know it is not going to happen. If George Bush sent troops into those areas tomorrow to get Osama without consulting with Pakistan, I doubt he would find to many friends in the “finish things in Central Asia” crowd.

  38. “This is the thing that kills me,” one said, “wasting space on these cameras for that Nickelodian shit.”

    Who edits the editors?

  39. And, as Ron Paul has also pointed out, our real problem isn’t the Islamists, who just want to dictate our foreign policy; it’s those illegal Mexicans who want their children to get their greasy little hands on American citizenship. Birthright bullshit! First get rid of all forms of welfare, and then let the swarthy bastards come and suffer like everybody else!

  40. Edward-

    Go fuck yourself.

    Signed,

    Everyone

  41. What is Paul’s plan for how one gets citizenship, by the way? Since there’s no American ethnicity, I would assume its something else?

  42. Cesar

    How can your mind be free if you keep it closed? “Free minds for free markets” isn’t just an empty slogan. Get with the program.

  43. “Free minds for free markets” isn’t just an empty slogan. Get with the program.

    Thats an easy one, Edward. You have no mind in the first place.

  44. Regarding “economist’s” comments above re war:

    Wars are like fruits on trees, waiting to be picked when ripe. Sometimes a Dem will pick up too much (think Bill) and won’t be allowed to pick any more by the Repugs lest the Dems be labeled the War Party. Some other times, the Repugs are in a position to pick the ripe fruits of war (think W), but then they can’t go far enough lest they be labeled the War Party by the Dems. But is all is the same. All fruits of war are ripe (or could be hastily ripened) just waiting to be picked.

    Can someone tell that I am a bit depressed?

  45. What do you mean by “no American ethnicity”? Of course there’s an American ethnicity. We’re a Christian nation, although not as robustly Christian as we should be. We’re a fat nation. We have our own music. Are you saying Lawrence Welk wasn’t American? How about the hamburger? Muslims have felalafel, and we have hamburger. We should just stop pissing Muslims off and enjoy our hamburger.

  46. Cesar, Cesar (is your name Mexican?), just because we disagree doesn’t mean I don’t have a mind. I don’t mind that you mind, but you really shouldn’t mind that I’m of a different mind. Are your kids citizens by chance?

  47. Ali,

    You’re depressed because you been persuaded to put all your eggs in the Ron Paul basket. Being a libertarian is all about backing losers. Embrace it.

  48. Muslims have felalafel, and we have hamburger. We should just stop pissing Muslims off and enjoy our hamburger.

    OK I am no longer depressed. That’s actually funny Edward.

    Lets call this the Culinary Clash of Civilizations (CCC). I can now imagine G’s rhetoric in the next debates: “We’ve got to eat their falafels there, lest they eat our hamburgers here!” Oh, and “9/11”.

  49. Cesar,

    If the shoe fits…

    Birthright citizenship similarly rewards lawbreaking, and must be stopped. As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be citizens, the perverse incentive to sneak into this country remains strong. Citizenship involves more than the mere location of one’s birth. True citizenship requires cultural connections and an allegiance to the United States. Americans are happy to welcome those who wish to come here and build a better life for themselves, but we rightfully expect immigrants to show loyalty and attempt to assimilate themselves culturally. Birthright citizenship sometimes confers the benefits of being American on people who do not truly embrace America.–Ron Paul “The Immigration Question”

  50. What do you mean by “no American ethnicity”? Of course there’s an American ethnicity. We’re a Christian nation, although not as robustly Christian as we should be. We’re a fat nation. We have our own music. Are you saying Lawrence Welk wasn’t American? How about the hamburger? Muslims have felalafel, and we have hamburger. We should just stop pissing Muslims off and enjoy our hamburger.

    Its entirely possible that my understanding of the definition of the term is incorrect — but I believe you are describing things related to “culture” and “nationality” which is distinct from an ethnic group, which a genetic thing.

    Now — will people be able to move here (or be born here by no choice of their own), or are only people that like hamburgers allowed?

  51. I don’t give a shit Edward. You know why? Because Presidents can’t repeal Constitutional amendments.

    Agreeing with someone 80% of the time is good enough for me. Then again, I’m not a complete dipshit like you.

  52. economist | January 4, 2008, 4:59pm | #
    I already pointed out that I’m not an Iraq war supporter. I’m just saying that Obama’s promise to invade Pakistan chasing bin Laden is an idea cut from the same interventionist cloth as all of our ill-fated ventures into the region.

    Not exactly.

    It was a good idea from the start, initially executed very well, and we didnt follow through.

    By contrast, Iraq was a stupid idea, executed poorly.

    Osamas head on a stick would be worthwhile; Turning Iraq into a trillon dollar non-event has not been

  53. Cesar,

    Why the name calling? Do you agree with Ron Paul on abortion, gay rights, evolution, and American responsibility for Benizir Bhutto’s assasination? That 20% can be pretty onerous shit.

  54. Ok, here its, my Edweirdo Meta Post. After this, I’m not responding to you anymore.

    “Gay Rights”-Don’t really disagree with him because we do both agree its best left to the states. On the state level, I’d support it “gay rights” if by that you mean taking government out of marriage period and letting people come up with whatever domestic arrangements they want.

    Abortion-Abortion is the most over-rated issue to ever gain such prominence on the national stage. I’m mildly pro-choice, but even overturning Roe v. Wade would accomplish nothing for the pro-life people. States, even if they outlawed abortion, don’t have the resources to enforce the law anyway. Most likely scenario: doctors continue to preform abortions and call it something else.

    Evolution: Since Paul doesn’t believe (as I do) that education should be a federal concern, it doesn’t really matter whether we agree or not. Its a personal belief, not a policy position.

    American responsibility for 80% of the shit in the Middle East: Agreed

    I agree with Ron Paul on foreign policy. I agree with Ron Paul on the Second Amendment. I agree with Ron Paul on taxes. I agree with Ron Paul on the need for a drastically reduced federal government. I agree with Ron Paul on civil liberties. I agree with Ron Paul on a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Thats what matters to me.

    The things you listed in your previous post are red herrings. They are either personal beliefs which Ron Paul doesn’t believe the government should force on anybody, or things best left to the states. End of story.

  55. @ Edward:
    Ron Paul on …American responsibility for Benizir Bhutto’s assasination?

    Why are Ron Paul’s views on this so controversial? We mucked up the middle east and destabilized it. There are arguably more terrorists now then there were ever before. Could it be just possible that Musharraf’s security let a crazy islamist through? Also, it could be argued that Bhutto had it coming to her. She was corrupt and is part of a family dynasty controlling a political party. She had many enemies, and justifiably so. She’s not the “secular democrat” saint that the media paints her to be.

  56. We’re a fat nation.

    i’m not fat!

    i’m pleasingly plump.

  57. James Ostrowski on LewRockwell.com pegged him correctly. He said that Obama really wants change — starting with all the change in your pockets.

  58. Oh boy. Just saw the speech.

    2:1 turnout in Iowa. Barack Obama.

    There’s a new Man from Hope. I think we’re done here.

  59. John,

    So I take that Joe to mean that you support a “surge” in Afghanistan? If it comes to that, but hopefully it will be an air power or special forces action.

    Further, you also support the invasion of the territory of a sovereighn country that at least claims to be our ally? If it comes to that. If Barack Obama can talk the Chicago Police Department into supporting his bill to require the videotaping of all confessions, who knows? It’s called diplomacy.

    Anyway, we’re not going to be doing squat as long as Iraq keeps sucking all the air out of the room. Our foreign policy and the war against al Qaeda have been stagnant for years.

  60. The most popular political leader in Pakistan was running around telling huge crowds that she’d let our troops close the deal with bin Laden, before she was assassinated by Pakistani Taliban and/or al Qaeda. A president who’s not a strutting meathead can do all sorts of good in the fight against terror.

  61. BTW, all of these phrases “promised to invade Pakistan,” “surge into Pakistan,” and “invasion of Pakistan” are made up out of whole clothe by John and economist.

    They are misleading misrepresentations of what Obama, and I, have actually stated, made by people who know they don’t a snowball’s chance in hell of winning an argument against what Obama actually said.

  62. Obama, on Pakistan (the speech that Hillary Clinton and John thought they could make political hay about)

    Above all, I will send a clear message: we will not repeat the mistake of the past, when we turned our back on Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal. As 9/11 showed us, the security of Afghanistan and America is shared. And today, that security is most threatened by the al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary in the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

    Al Qaeda terrorists train, travel, and maintain global communications in this safe-haven. The Taliban pursues a hit and run strategy, striking in Afghanistan, then skulking across the border to safety.

    This is the wild frontier of our globalized world. There are wind-swept deserts and cave-dotted mountains. There are tribes that see borders as nothing more than lines on a map, and governments as forces that come and go. There are blood ties deeper than alliances of convenience, and pockets of extremism that follow religion to violence. It’s a tough place.

    But that is no excuse. There must be no safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. We cannot fail to act because action is hard.

    As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

    I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.

    And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America’s commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists’ program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair — our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally.

    I think the bolded part is supposed to be John’s ironclad pledge to invade Pakistan in the face of main-force opposition by the Pakistani military. I’m not exactly sure; it just looks like a common-sense statement to me.

  63. And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism

    John will be along shortly to explain that Barack Obama pledged to sell Pakistan nuclear submarines.

  64. You libertarians are, unfortunately, really really out of touch with where this country is at right now. Instead of fantasizing about Ron Paul, take a moment to think about why Huckabee and Obama won. The old bogeymen of fiscal conservatism is simply not that relevant to most Americans now.

  65. Thanks for confirming the Maureen Dowd sighting made by Joel Achenbach of WaPo earlier, but you need to learn how to spell the names of those shitty tweener networks. It’s “Nickelodeon”.

  66. Regarding the China toy ban issue, there is an underlying ignorance and slight bigotry involved here by Obama whose portfolio covers petty state politics. . I guess the perpetuation of negative yellow peril stereotypes never really gone away. The China whipping boy had been played out for the past 2 centuries never got old.

    Anyway, China was raped left and right by various forces for the past 150 years and just getting back on her feet practically pulling herself by her own bootstrap. Industrial and consumer standards are obviously lacking but will improve just like the US post depression era. Now we have greedy consumers blaming the whole race. Do you know that there are Chinese all over the globe and some are 10th to 15th generations outside China? The term Chinese is cultural and also ethnic related not nationality. There are 60+ million ethnic Chinese living outside China and with a combined economy that is the third largest after the US and Japan. These are not your uneducated peasant emigrants you see at your Chinese restaurants either but rather sophisticated technocrats, hardworking businessmen, creative visionaries and ethically sound professionals that defied the constant negative propaganda by the west the Chinese ethnicity had to endure.

    Now you got who could be the first “black” president blaming the whole ethnicity? My 1.5 decade as an Asian living in the US encountering blatant racism from blacks exclusively gave me some perspective that “whiteys” only whisper to each other about. If I were you I would into history and find out what happened before like Obama and people like him go on shooting their mouths based on some flawed perceptions? It is like the west blaming Japan for whaling on endangered species while not realizing that it was the west that decimated the whale population to fuel the needs of its consumers. Blaming native Americans for overfishing salmon when it was the west that decimated the salmon population. Blaming everyone for global warming went it was the west that raped the natural resources and caused countless of environmental disaster for the last 2 centuries.

    Obama will make a lot of rookie mistakes and his ignorance and naiveness just like those Greenpeace treehuggers with holier than thou entitlements will push the US back into pre 20th century economy and I can tell you that the once great country of USA will be given to the left wing dogs. Productivity and hard work will be replaced by superficiality, shallowness delusionary celebration of what had came to past. One term is enough to do that as MNCs will move elsewhere even though they are American companies.

    Anyway, many products from other nations were tested to be dangerous but China being the largest exporter bear the brunt and now the anti-Sino camp jumped on the bandwagon

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