Campaigns/Elections

The Secret of Obama's Success

It's the message, stupid

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INDIANAPOLIS—Barack Obama's success so far in this campaign is a puzzle. How is it that a youngish first-term senator with so many disadvantages—a slight resume, a foreign-sounding name, an exotic background, a professorial manner, a thoroughly liberal voting record, and a skin color unlike any previous president—has come so far, and even leads in national polls with less than two weeks to go?

He does have some things going for him, of course: his rhetorical skill, his unflappability, and not least of all a financial crisis that reflects badly on the party occupying the White House. But none of those explains how he managed to defeat a daunting Democratic rival and outshine an inspiring war hero with demonstrated crossover appeal. If you had written the story as fiction a few years ago, publishers would have rejected it as grossly outlandish.

But the implausibility of the occasion is no deterrent to the 35,000 people who have turned out this weekday morning to see one of the few Democratic presidential candidates to imagine he might carry the staunchly Republican state of Indiana.

It is a racially mixed audience, and I meet a variety of participants, including a white factory worker, a black pharmacy technician, a group of white teens from Illinois in blue Future Farmers of America jackets, and a black ex-Marine who teaches middle school. There is also a quartet of lively middle-aged women—two white, two black—who, after dancing happily to the warmup music, christen themselves the Michellettes.

And what did they hear from the man they came to see? Much of Obama's address consisted of standard campaign riffs, most of which could be delivered just as well by his opponent, on timeworn topics: the plight of the middle class, the need for tax relief, the unfairness of our health care system, and the failure of economic policies that—can you guess?—"put Wall Street before Main Street."

But wait long enough, and you hear the indispensable passage, the one that transcends everything else he says. "There are no real and fake parts of this country," Obama declares. "We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation—we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from." America's veterans, he says, "have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America—they have served the United States of America."

From the moment he vaulted into national consciousness with his inspiring speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, this theme has lain at the heart of his approach and his appeal. "We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States," he reminded us then. "We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States."

It is a message of fundamental unity and good will, at a time when politics often resembles Henry Adams' mordant description: "the systematic organization of hatreds." And it has worked especially well for Obama for several reasons. One is that, as the son of an African father and a white, Kansas-born mother, he embodies the diversity of America.

Another is that it contrasts so starkly with the message of the opposing camp. You have Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) saying "liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God." You have Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) suspecting the Democratic nominee is "anti-American." You have Sarah Palin saying she loves "what I call the real America … [the] very pro-America areas of this great nation."

It's a strategy of fear and division, and it seems to be failing because Obama is not very scary and because the things that bind us together really are more powerful than the ones that push us apart.

Which brings us to the most important reason for the success of his message: It touches a chord that resonates not just across races and regions, but across more than two centuries of the republic's history. Whatever his errors, Obama's campaign and the followers it has inspired remind us of the essential meaning of America, captured in the motto adopted by the Founders: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Not: Out of many, two.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. Stop. For the love of Ayn Rand please stop. No more of Chapman’s inch deep analysis.

    Obama’s message of unity isn’t new and it’s at odds with his policy prescriptions. No I’m afraid his success it attributable to nothing more than; his rhetorical skill, his unflappability, and not least of all Oprah Winfrey told America to vote for him.

  2. There’s no secret. The Democrats could put a team of seagulls on the ballot, and they would still win the election. Hell they would probably have my vote too.

  3. His message…really? If Reason has conceded that America is a populist nation, where can we turn?

  4. What?

    Warren has it right with ‘inch deep analysis’…

    Obama may strike an emotional chord but his policies do not support any manner of unity while reeking of ‘The Government knows what is best for you’.

  5. The ‘one nation’ rhetoric was certainly part of Obama’s early appeal, and maybe it still is. But if so, it’s a good trick, because there’s not much centrism in the details.

    But, yes, the rural vs urban, us vs them rhetoric of the Republicans is obnoxious. On that topic, Palin definitely earned the ‘Fuuuuck You’ she got from John Stewart.

  6. Chapman thinks that Obama is winning this election based on his “new” message of a call for unity?! God damn it, I want my 4 minutes back that it took to read that steaming load.

  7. Barry O’Bama would have been destroyed in the primaries. A large reason for Obamas success isn’t terribly difficult to see.

  8. No more of Chapman’s inch deep analysis

    But it’s perfectly suited to America’s inch-deep philosophy.

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck

    The Sludge report just posted this audio of Obama’s message from 2001. It hasn’t changed much.

  10. It isn’t that Obama is succeeding so much as it is that Republicans are failing so epically. Lets face it, they have destroyed there own brand, discredited conservatism and free markets approaches to the economy. All this from the supposed standard bearers of small government and fee markets.

    Republicans have made the party into the small tent of politics by siding with the lunatic fringe of the party to maintain support levels. This deal with the devil made them exchange the conservative for the theological and now that’s now what the word conservative really means.

    How any republican can trot out the specter of tax and spend democrats now that they have bankrupted the government for us and our children and grand children is beyond me.

    Now its not just the republicans that are out in the dessert its all of us. We have all been tossed under the bus because we are associated with supposed Republicans “values” of smaller government and free markets.

    Thanks a lot you bastards.

  11. Republicans have made the party into the small tent of politics by siding with the lunatic fringe of the party to maintain support levels. This deal with the devil made them exchange the conservative for the theological and now that’s now what the word conservative really means.

    This!

  12. Finally, a presidential candidate who will be a uniter, not a divider.

    Why did it take so long for a presidential candidate to tap into that winning message?

  13. “It’s the message”?

    WTF are you talking about? This man has no message, he just has a line of feel-good blather about how inspirational he feels.

    -jcr

  14. A large reason for Obamas success isn’t terribly difficult to see.

    There are two main reasons why Obama got the nomination: Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    There was only one candidate in the race with any substance, and that’s the last real democrat in the congress, Dennis Kuchinich.

    Kuchinich, being the conscience of the Democratic party, naturally gets the same treatment from his party bosses that Ron Paul gets on the Republican side.

    -jcr

  15. Clearly, Chapman has gone off his meds. Obama’s appeal is that he’s not John McCain, the most thoroughly unappealing Republican candidate in memory, a candidate so inept and weak that he cannot even place the blame for the current economic disaster at the feet of those responsible. He instead rails on about “greed” on Wall street instead of the political corruption of the Democrat Party in poisoning the entire world financial system with the virulent toxin of sub-prime mortgages, all in the interest of buying minority votes. It was the Democrats who initiated this madness and then fought off every Republican attempt at oversight.

    It’s not a hard story to tell. McCain won’t even try to get it across. The only reason anybody could have for voting for him is the hope that he’d expire the day after being sworn in and make Palin the president.

  16. Republicans are failing so epically.

    I think that the Republicans knew they didn’t have a chance this time, so they picked the candidate they considered expendable.

    -jcr

  17. Obama’s unity message is playing so well this year because the Republicans have spent the last seven years pursuing a strategy of ripping the country in half, in order to get to 50% +1, while presiding over disaster after disaster. Think of Bush turning the fight over whether DHS employees should lose their union status into an accusation that Tom Daschle “isn’t concerned with the security of the American people,” or Karl Rove talking about “after 9/11, liberals wanted to give the terrorists hugs and understanding.”

    The old “real Americans vs. coastal elites” shtick that played so well in 2002 is inextricably linked to the gobsmacking run of incompetence and calamity that have defined George Bush’s presidency, so a unity message looks even better by comparison.

  18. Most people are a-political and don’t pay much attention to the news. If you just watched the debates and the convention speeches and the evening news, which is the extent most people pay attention, you would think that Obama is just a reasonable guy. Who knows maybe he is. He is such a liar and a con it is hard to tell who he is lying to and coning the country or his wingnut supporters.

    If you look at the video on the drudge report today, it appears that he is conning the country not his supporters. Between that and the now, infamous spread the wealth around statement, I think you can take him at his word that he is going to tax the hell out of anyone that is overly productive and redistribute it. Think labor Britian only with a cult of personality instead of dry leftists bureaucrats.

  19. Caption Contest!

    “Excuse me while I whip this out!”

  20. It’s the “message” of soaring but substance-less political rhetoric!

    Thanks, Mr. Chapman, for that.

  21. “Obama’s unity message is playing so well this year because the Republicans have spent the last seven years pursuing a strategy of ripping the country in half, in order to get to 50% +1, while presiding over disaster after disaster.”

    I think that is true to some degree Joe. The problem is that he doesn’t have one policy that is not totally out of the left. “Unity” means take a few Republicans in the cabinet and tell the rest of the country to shove it up their ass and get out their checkbooks. He either goes to the center and betrays people like you or he shoves a leftist agenda down the country’s throat, which doesn’t exactly play to unity.

  22. caption contest:

    “He conquered fear, and he conquered hate, / He turned dark night into day, / He made his blazing saddle / A torch to light the way…”

  23. But the implausibility of the occasion…

    Just about every new President gets to that position despite implausible circumstances. Consider the following: how in the heck did Nixon win the White House following his defeats in 1960 and 1962? How did a little known (at the time) Governor of Georgia become President in 1976? Consider Reagan’s victory in light of his loss in 1976, etc.

    It is a message of fundamental unity and good will, at a time when politics often resembles Henry Adams’ mordant description: “the systematic organization of hatreds.”

    Which a siginificant minority of Americans aren’t buying into. I’m not suggesting that they should or shouldn’t, but “unity” in this country appears to be something like 55%-57% of the votes cast this election.

  24. John, after two weeks of the “Joe the Plumber,” “Spread the Wealth,” “Socialist” line of attack on Barack Obama’s economic policies, he went from even with John McCain on taxation to a 14 point lead.

    I don’t think the left and center are quite where you perceive them to be.

  25. Anyway, if the economy tanks and remains in recession in 2010, then I suspect that fewer people will be singing Obama’s praises.

  26. joe,

    During poor economic times the population of the U.S. does turn somewhat leftish (or at least some portion thereof). Of course the reverse is also true during good economic times. That does say something about the vox populi.

  27. John,

    First of all, Drudge has posted audio, not video. Did you actually take the time to listen to it, or are you just posting based on the headline?

    According to Volokh, it doesn’t say what you think it says. I can’t listen to it until later, but if I have to choose between believing Volokh and believing Drudge, that’s not a tough choice.

  28. The supporters of unity are going to triumph gloriously over their foes, the forces of divisiveness.

  29. caption contest:

    Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!

  30. caption contest:

    This is a black man wearing a hat.

  31. Apparently we have reached that point where a majority of voters sees that there is really nothing standing between their “needs” and the wallets of the most productive. Maybe “libertarians” and other defenders of liberty should begin to focus our efforts on devising and implementing Constitutional limits on the ability of the majority to loot producers. The Framers did not, and could not have foreseen the Age of Obama.

  32. caption contest:

    Hey everyone, look at me, I’m a cowboy! HOWDY HOWDY HOWDY!

  33. Take away Iraq and the economic downturn and Obama wouldn’t have a chance. The unity message is as hollow as hope and change. I don’t think voters are voting out Republicans because they scold the America hating left. They are voting them out because they happen to occupy the White House during bad times.

  34. Maybe “libertarians” and other defenders of liberty should begin to focus our efforts on devising and implementing Constitutional limits on the ability of the majority to loot producers.

    Strangely, it did not occur to you to do this while Bush was President.

    Tell me, did you wail and gnash your teeth and rend your garments and call out “Looters! Looters!” when every Bush budget passed? Or when Bush signed the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit into law?

  35. Take away Iraq and the economic downturn and Obama wouldn’t have a chance.

    This is true. Chapman’s spin here is silly, and Ard gets to the heart of the matter:

    W was an abysmal fuckup, and virtually the entire GOP enabled and supported him in his fuckuppery, and the voters don’t have the opportunity to punish Bush, so McCain must be punished in his place.

  36. funny that James Ard talked about Iraq, because I haven’t heard a lot about it since the primary.

  37. Apparently the primary was the election, and Iraq won it for Obama.

  38. who wants to take bets on how fast an Obama administration changes its position on Iraq?

  39. Obama will be elected because (in addition to the monumental mess the Republicans have made) he is black. The left was gonna vote for a woman/black to stick it in conseravatives eyes, and Hillary’s personality swung the balance to Obama.


  40. Kuchinich, being the conscience of the Democratic party, naturally gets the same treatment from his party bosses that Ron Paul gets on the Republican side.

    Got that right.
    Even with his ACLUesque take on teh Bill o Rights (1,3,4,5…) that pocket copy got my attention.
    “No” on Iraq, Patriot Act, WoD and of course the Bailout.

    Kucinich in Action on bailout.
    Then some Brad Sherman guy.
    Not bad … for ‘spread the wealth’ progressives.

  41. Caption Contest:

    Im n yr base, killin yr d00dz.

  42. Obama won the Dem Primary because he was black, but white enough to woo the coffee house slacker and limousine liberal types as well (unlike Jackson or Sharpton). He’ll win the General Election because he’s not a Republican. I don’t see how you can argue his message is all that appealing. Any other Democratic Candidate would be up 20 points by now. Obama’s message is actually turning people off, not on.

  43. who wants to take bets on how fast an Obama administration changes its position on Iraq?

    Why would he do that, after everyone else changed their position to his?

    Or are you going too pretend in six months that a gradual, negotiated withdrawal of combat troops over a year or two, with a handful of advisors and trainers left behind, represents a change from what Obama has been saying for the two previous years?

  44. do you see how flexible that language is, joe? what’s a “handful”? I’ve seen numbers from a true “few” to 30,000+ Soldiers.

    I’m sorry, but if you think we’re building that massive embassy just to abandon the country, you’re very sorely mistaken. The US will have a significant presence in Iraq for a very long time.

  45. How sad it must be to look at Barack Obama and be unable to see anything but his skin color – and to have that blankness be so complete that you can’t even imagine that anyone else could see something else.

  46. A brilliant article!


  47. sage wrote:
    Caption Contest!
    “Excuse me while I whip this out!”

    Can’t see how this won’t win..

  48. I see that the language is exactly as flexible as it was when Obama was articulating it a year and a half ago.

    I most certainly have not seen Barack Obama talk about there being 30,000 troops in Iraq after the combat mission ends.

    Tell you what: if he starts talking about leaving 30,000 troops in Iraq, that would be a change in his position.

    Do you want to make a bet that he will do that? Because I’d take that bet.

  49. joe,

    …with a handful of advisors and trainers left behind…

    I suspect that tens of thousands of U.S. personnel (not to mention private contractors) will remain in Iraq. I have no idea whether that represents a change in position.

  50. Take away Iraq and the economic downturn and Obama wouldn’t have a chance.

    !!!!!

    Yes, of course; that never occurred to me…

  51. He is such a liar and a con it is hard to tell who he is lying to and coning the country or his wingnut supporters.

    If you look at the video on the drudge report today…

    WIN!

  52. Tell you what: if he starts talking about leaving 30,000 troops in Iraq, that would be a change in his position.

    Alright, we have an upper limit here. Now what’s the lower limit and what’s the timeframe?

    That is, it’s obvious that 30K troops still in Iraq three years from now would represent a change in position; would 10,000 TWO years from now be the same thing?

  53. Caption Contest:

    “Candygram for Mongo!”

    -jcr

  54. -Camera pans to Tom Smothers-

    He sings:

    I see, by your outfit

    that you are a cowboy

  55. Take away Iraq and the economic downturn and Obama wouldn’t have a chance.

    Translation: entirely change the context and the issues and a different result ensues.

    Talk about your inch deep analysis.

  56. “christening themselves ‘the Michellettes'”
    Am I the only one who thinks that this is hella creepy?

  57. Neu Mejican,
    I think the point is that Obama isn’t really bringing anything new, he’s just looking good in comparison to the alternative.

  58. I can’t really complain, since I only passed a few of my classes in college because the professor curved the grade scale.

  59. Neu Mejican,

    Translation: entirely change the context and the issues and a different result ensues.

    Talk about your inch deep analysis.

    Actually, it is a fairly deep analysis if one doesn’t accept the “Great Man” theory of history and historical change.

  60. We really have come a long way.

    Today it’s Obama who is supported by simple farmers, people of the land, the common clay of the new West.
    You know…
    Morons.

    (And am I the only one who is glad Richard Pryor didn’t get that role and who thinks Cleavon Little owned it?)

  61. It’s probably a good thing Obama will be winning. Now that the Titanic has hit the iceberg, the Republicans are jumping into the lifeboats while Obama and the Democrats are assuming command.

    Consider what kind of position they’re in. Not only are we heading into a particularly ugly recession, we’re broke and in debt, and boomer entitlements are coming due. We won’t even talk about our two wars.

    I don’t see that the next president has much of a chance to come out looking good, unless he’s a Roosevelt-class con-artist. And I don’t think Obama quite makes the cut.

    Given that the state of the nation is a ticking time bomb, letting Obama and the Dems sit on it is prolly the best option the Republicans have.

  62. Horselips,
    I disagree with your analysis. Barack Obama and the Democrats are taking command when things already seem to suck. As long as they don’t screw anything up too badly, conditions improving on their own will be seen as points in their favor. Hell, FDR’s policies probably extended the depression, and some were nonsensical even on their face (destroying crops, creating massive cartels,etc.) yet he’s the most popular of American presidents from the 20th century.

  63. cRAZY cAPTION cONTEST:

    “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.”

    Taggart: God darnit, Mr. Obama, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore!

    Or alternately:

    As chairman of the welcoming committee, it’s a pleasure to present a laurel and hearty handshake to our new….n***er.

  64. Hate to say it, but we’re probably in for eight, rather than four, years of “hopey changey” politics.

  65. economist | October 27, 2008, 10:19am | #
    Neu Mejican,
    I think the point is that Obama isn’t really bringing anything new, he’s just looking good in comparison to the alternative.

    Given that it is an inch deep analysis, I got the point. But it is not much of a point.

    Seward | October 27, 2008, 10:22am | #
    Neu Mejican,

    Translation: entirely change the context and the issues and a different result ensues.

    Talk about your inch deep analysis.

    Actually, it is a fairly deep analysis if one doesn’t accept the “Great Man” theory of history and historical change.

    Actually, it is still a really shallow analysis whether you accept the great man theory or not.

  66. Plus, even when state intervention fails, or makes things worse, the proponents can use the effects as a reason for more state intervention.

  67. Hint: a deep analysis would explain why the existence of the economic situation and Iraq result in greater support for Obama. What is it about Obama that makes people think he can deal with these issues better than his opponent?

  68. Neu Mejican,
    It’s a Steve Chapman article, not Moby Dick. There’s only so deep you can go.

  69. Neu Mejican,
    Answer:He’s not a member of the same party that’s been linked to these two. That doesn’t mean that his messsage is unique.

  70. In fact, there’s really nothing to suggest that he knows much about the economy. That the two candidates are deficient in economics has been noted numerous times.

  71. Presidents need to have “style.” It’s part of the job description. Two presidents with identical policies, one who is likable and has good style and gives good speeches, and the other who is a smug little shit, will not achieve identical results.

    A large portion of Bush’s problems can be laid at the feet of his annoying personal style and his inarticulateness. A more charismatic President could have sweet-talked his way into more international support for the Iraq war.

  72. TAO,

    Obama’s stated position is that he will have all combat troops out of Iraq on a 16-month timeline (starting when he takes office), but that he will be flexible in the implementation of that timeline.

    So, if there are still more than 5000 combat troops in Iraq in January 2011, who aren’t scheduled to come home, I’d say he’d changed his position.

    Now, I’m not counting Marine guards at the embassy, or advisors/trainers working with the Iraqi government. I imagine we’ll have a couple thousand of non-combat troops indefinitely.

    As for private contractors, I imagine the Iraqi government and various politicians will be hiring American security guards for quite some time. They’re pretty good at what they do.

    Take away Iraq and the economic downturn and Obama… runs a completely different campaign?

    And am I the only one who is glad Richard Pryor didn’t get that role and who thinks Cleavon Little owned it? Little turned the role into a straight man, which allowed the clowns around him to reach greater heights. Pryor would have just been another clown. Comedy needs a good straight man.

  73. All of the “dings” against that scary socialist Obama could be made against McCain. McCain’s policies are just as redistributionist as Obama’s in many ways. I was unaware that libertarians were so opposed to policies that undo years of rent-seeking behavior that resulted in government-created skewed concentrations of capital. Under the argument in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, only unequal distributions of wealth *that result from free and fair exchanges* can be considered just. You decide whether society is just by seeing how it got that way. You don’t simply defend the status quo.

    Oh, and remember the negative income tax? Pushed by Milton Freedman? Ooo, scary scary socialism!

  74. No more of Chapman’s inch deep analysis.

    It’s hard to do a deep article on a shallow subject.

    Chapman thinks that Obama is winning this election based on his “new” message of a call for unity?!

    Nowhere did Chapman say Obama’s message is either “new” or “agrees with his actual politics.” He said it’s a lot more effective this year against McCain’s divisiveness. You can take that to the bank, and Obama is.

    WTF are you talking about? This man has no message, he just has a line of feel-good blather about how inspirational he feels.

    And that message is working.

    I don’t think the left and center are quite where you perceive them to be.

    I think Obama is far left, pretending to be center. I think McCain is near left pretending Obama is near left of center. What do you see?

    Caption?

    Fifty dollar cowboy hat, no guns allowed.

  75. economist | October 27, 2008, 10:48am | #
    Neu Mejican,
    It’s a Steve Chapman article, not Moby Dick. There’s only so deep you can go.

    It wasn’t an analysis of the article, but the topic…why is Obama successful.

    economist | October 27, 2008, 10:50am | #
    Neu Mejican,
    Answer:He’s not a member of the same party that’s been linked to these two. That doesn’t mean that his messsage is unique.
    .

    Sorry. Epic fail.

    I realize that blog comments don’t have to be deep, but come on.

  76. “We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States,” he reminded us then. “We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.”

    Apparently Obama understands the limits of unity in America. Gays, yes. Atheists, no.

  77. Now, I’m not counting Marine guards at the embassy, or advisors/trainers working with the Iraqi government. I imagine we’ll have a couple thousand of non-combat troops indefinitely.

    Well, that’s the rub right there, isn’t it? Many of the trainers for the MTTs, SPTTs, NPTTs (that is, Military, Special Police and National Police Transition Teams) are from combat brigades (such as the 3D ID or 4TH ID)…so, given that they are simultaneously trainers AND “combat qualified” troops…what’s the standard?

    That is, is it that they have combat MOSs or is it that they are actively engaged in combat?

  78. economist,

    What makes you think things are going to improve? On top of everything else, there are those looming boomer entitlements. And what about Iraq? Obama can stay, and endure the wrath of his base, or he can leave – if he leaves, he risks Iraq descending into Saigon style chaos. Not that that’s a given, but it’s hardly out of the question.

    Lots of chuck-holes in the road ahead, and Obama will be hitting every one of them. If he’s going to negotiate them and come out looking good, he’s going to need a whole lot of luck, and a hell of a PR team.

  79. Horselips,
    The boomer entitlements aren’t coming due for a few more years yet. When they do, I’m sure we will be first in line to take the blame for the statists.
    What makes you think Iraq will descend into Saigon-style chaos? Or if it did that it would hurt Obama’s reputation? After all, he can point out (correctly) that he didn’t start the war in the first place.
    And I think that things will improve, even with Obama’s policies, because the U.S. economy is fairly resilient.

  80. No … all wrong.
    THIS is why Obama leads.
    VIKINGS!!

  81. Caption Contest:

    Trouble paying your mortgage? See the LOAN ARRANGER!

  82. “Little turned the role into a straight man, which allowed the clowns around him to reach greater heights.”

    Great point, joe. He was a rock of suaveness in a slapstick sea. A clownish Bart just wouldn’t have worked.

  83. “We worship an awesome God in the blue states”
    Great. I don’t really care.

  84. interweb > pp

    *tries again*
    VIKINGS!!

  85. The best parts about Chapman’s articles are Warren’s comments.

  86. Has anyone noticed that a lot of Steve Chapman’s columns aren’t even libertarian-ish? I’m not saying that’s an immediate killer, but it does make you wonder why they are posted here.

  87. Caption:

    “Howdy, ma’am. Why, yes, you are tall enough to ride this ride.”

  88. “the things that bind us together are more important than the things which push us apart.” Why are collectivists so fond of bondage?

  89. Piccassoll – there’s a lot of irony in the fact that the blog is called “Down with Tyranny!” and the post is bitching about how a federal program was blocked by Republicans.

    “OH NOES! THOSE TYRANNICAL REPUBLICANS REFUSED TO FUND MY PET CAUSE! THE TYRANTS!”

  90. Although I believe Obama’s message of change is hollow, it is still fifty times more responsible for his success than the unity message. Chapman dismissing the overwhelming yearning for change makes his analysis weak, at best.

  91. AO,
    Don’t you know that freedom means getting whatever you want from the government? And having warm feelings for everyone, know matter how willfully stupid they may be.

  92. With James Ard on this one.
    Most people could care less about “unity”. It’s an abstract concept that in any case is not inherently good. Hell, the fascists and the communists were the ultimate unity-fetishists (No, I’m not calling Obama a fascist, merely pointing out that “unity” isn’t a universally good thing).
    “Unity” translation: Stop thinking about it and do what most other people are doing.

  93. Neu Mejican,

    Actually, it is still a really shallow analysis whether you accept the great man theory or not.

    Alright then, why is it so shallow?

    Or let us put it this way: would Obama be in the position he is without the current economic troubles or without the Iraq war “pre-surge?” Was Obama martialing “fortune” (to us Machiavelli’s term) in his favor or has he been merely lucky?

  94. I propose replacing Steve Chapman’s columns with the latest episodes of “South Park”. They are similar to his columns except
    1. They usually aren’t lame. Unlike Chapman.
    2. They’re hella funny. Unlike Chapman.
    3. They can occasionally be libertarian-ish. Unlike Chapman.

  95. I think Iraq has turned into a non-issue in this campaign, because its going so well. I haven’t seen any polling on the degree to which Iraq will be a factor in people’s voting, but my guess is its way down there.

    What’s telling in Iraq, and where McCain has (again) completely dropped the ball, is that back when the issue was in doubt, Obama’s prescription was exactly the wrong one.

    Because we did what Obama opposed, and did the opposite of what Obama proposed, Iraq is rapidly getting to a point where a rapid drawdown makes sense. But, in a weird way, we can now do what Obama wants because we didn’t do what Obama wanted when it mattered.

  96. I especially doubt the unity crap helped get the press in the tank for him. The red state haters aren’t interested in unity, unless it is everyone joing the left. And unity isn’t really good for business, devisiveness is.

  97. The Angry Optimist,

    That is, is it that they have combat MOSs or is it that they are actively engaged in combat?

    Not “actively engaged in combat,” but performing front-line duties. For example, patrolling in Humvees or on foot, even if they don’t come under fire, but are still serving as a security force.

    If American fighter pilots are teaching flight school, or marine infantry running boot camps, I’d count that under “advise and train.” We’ve got military exchanges and training arrangements with all sorts of countries.

    If the American military presence in Iraq is like our presence in Portugal or Canada in 2 years, I’d be thrilled.

  98. He was a rock of suaveness in a slapstick sea. A clownish Bart just wouldn’t have worked.

    Remind you of anyone?

  99. joe – sorry, I was subsuming patrolling and general security operations as “combat” because it involves “going outside the wire”.

    Alright, I think we have a pretty decent standard here. I’m skeptical that Obama is going to live up to it.

  100. I think Iraq has turned into a non-issue in this campaign, because its going so well.

    Yeaahhhh.

    When I think “great success stories of the tenty-first century” Iraq is what comes to mind. Things are totally awesome over there. Thanks to us.

  101. “TAO wrote:
    OH NOES! THOSE TYRANNICAL REPUBLICANS REFUSED TO FUND MY PET CAUSE! THE TYRANTS!”

    I was going to just post the picture, but figured many here would miss the comedy (unintentional on the blogger’s part of course)
    “that separates plain old Republican conservatives and people who would be in the Nazi Party or the KKK if that was socially acceptable.”
    From the profile..
    “a passion for politics going back to the 9th grade at James Madison HS in Brooklyn. I’d describe myself as an unabashed liberal.”

    No … really?

    Interesting, there’s no mention of Obama’s vote for Paulson’s bottomless box o cash anywhere. It’s all a Bush thang..

    Back to Chapman … duh.
    Obama didn’t pick Palin, but it most certainly played in his favor. Tailspin in full effect.

  102. James

    That is the problem, unity to the left is people moving over to the left and devisiveness to the left is people not moving to the left.

  103. Caption Contest:

    The Obamessiah tries on Chris “Jesus” Ferguson’s hat. It fits! All in!

  104. The worst part of this whole election is, I’ve got $100 in bar bets on McCain, based on my prediction, the day before, that he’d pick Palin as V.P.
    My drinking buddies (none of whom had ever heard of Palin) though I was brilliant — for about 72 hours.

    Fortunately, a hundred bucks today isn’t worth as much as a hundred bucks way back then.

  105. Interesting, there’s no mention of Obama’s vote for Paulson’s bottomless box o cash anywhere.

    How did anti-tyranny-boy like Obama’s FISA vote?
    Did he happen to say?

  106. I should have denominated that bet in Citigroup stock. Live and learn.

  107. My drinking buddies (none of whom had ever heard of Palin) though I was brilliant — for about 72 hours.

    Geez, where do you drink? Hilltop? 😀

  108. I wish. My granddad’s bar was the Big Nickel on Sullivant Ave. In later years I heard some great stories about him there in from guys who still remembered his epic capicity.

    Now I drink with journalists (city desk guys, so who cares about Alaska?)

  109. I am not comparing Obama to Lincoln by any means, but Lincoln’s statement, “The Union is older than the Constitution” was similar, at the time, to Obama’s message.

    The Bush administration redistributed wealth too, to such companies as Bechtol (who was in the red prior to the Iraq debacle) and Blackwater Security.

    Obama will simply re-distribute it in different ways. I don’t support either, but then Obama doesn’t scare me much either.

  110. 3 reasons IMHO:
    1. democrats have an irrational grudge against the Clintons
    2. GB has made voting republican like saying your in favor of stomping orphans and kittens…incompetently and very expensively.
    3. the republican nominee, although brave, seems not to actually know anything.

  111. Seward,

    Alright then, why is it so shallow?

    Because it ignores the deeper relationships between the context and what the candidate adds to that context.

    would Obama be in the position he is without the current economic troubles or without the Iraq war “pre-surge?” Was Obama martialing “fortune” (to us Machiavelli’s term) in his favor or has he been merely lucky?

    Give me the details of the new context and maybe I can give you an answer. This alternate Earth you are describing seems too thinly drawn to allow for a meaningful analysis.

  112. Steve is exactly right that “let’s all come together” feeling has fueled obama’s sucess. His mistake is in not making clear the distinction that this has nothing to do with obama’s positions. Aside from his early opposition to the iraq war helping in the primaries, not a single actual policy position obama has taken has had any influence on his popularity.As with all modern electoral politics, presentation is all that really matters.

  113. My ancestors took the good time and trouble to kill every last Indian in Indiana and fer what. To have a president darker than any Indian. I am depressed.

  114. Neu Mejican,

    Because it ignores the deeper relationships between the context and what the candidate adds to that context.

    That merely assumes that there is such addition. I don’t see you showing us what that addition is made up of. To be blunt, this was simply a Democratic year and any Democratic candidate for President would be doing well in this environment. That is the primary and most important explanation for Obama’s success in the general election.

    Give me the details of the new context and maybe I can give you an answer.

    If the war in Iraq had gone swimmingly say after 2004 and the economy was humming along at a breakneck pace I don’t think any Democratic candidate would be doing so well. Indeed, whoever the Republican candidate was would likely be the frontrunner.

  115. That’s right unity bad divisiveness good. Unity is for socialists! evil. Evil. EVIL. EVIL!

  116. concerned observer,

    If “true” unity existed then everyone would be voting for McCain or Obama. Of course human societies don’t work that way. They are made up of factions and interests, which is part of the reason why (counterintutively to many people) strong, centralized governments are problematic.

  117. Seward,

    So your deeper analysis is that people vote for party and not candidate?

    You add that people vote incumbent party in good times and opposition party in bad.

    [sarcasm]

    Deep.

    [/sarcasm]

  118. Seward,

    I don’t see you showing us what that addition is made up of.

    That is because I was making a comment about what was missing from the analysis, not offering one of my own.

    My shallow analysis: Obama is leading because he has charisma, a well organized campaign, and, more importantly, talks to voters like they are adults. In the context of GWB, those things play well.

  119. I think Iraq has turned into a non-issue in this campaign, because its going so well. I haven’t seen any polling on the degree to which Iraq will be a factor in people’s voting, but my guess is its way down there.

    I think you’re wrong, and my evidence is that W’s ratings never recovered. Even before the economic issues really started to broil on the front pages.

    Naturally, my theory is that the American people are reacting like me: they still consider the war a horrific fuckup, they still blame Bush and anyone who stands by Bush for that fuckup, and they don’t trust McCain not to fuck up in exactly that way again, in Iran or Syria or someplace else.

    What’s telling in Iraq, and where McCain has (again) completely dropped the ball, is that back when the issue was in doubt, Obama’s prescription was exactly the wrong one.

    But if my theory is correct, their positions on the surge are less important to the public than their positions on the war in general.

    Having been part of the group that brought the war about, McCain is given minimal credit for advocating a policy that managed to salvage it and turn it from “unbelievable disaster” to “great big fuckup that cost us a trillion bucks and 4000 men, but which is only a slow drain of a few score billion a month now”.

  120. P Brooks wrote:
    How did anti-tyranny-boy like Obama’s FISA vote?

    “The Democrat’s presidential candidate who supported Chris Dodd’s amendment stripping retroactive immunity for the telecoms out of the FISA bill but who then voted for the fatally flawed overall bill– unlike Dodd, Feingold, Tester… or even Hillary. Obama erred; he’s a politician and I hope that isn’t news to you.”
    Slack given.

    He also mistakes Ron Paul for a Bush rubber stamp?!?
    Must not have heard of Iraq, Patriot, FISA, bailout ? but we digress.
    ‘Interesting’ cartoon though, not something either Paul or Barr would be happy with I think.
    Not a rubber stamp .. yesterday.

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