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Maybe Obama can't close the deal because he's not asking for our votes?

Could it be? Why does Paul Krugman hate the Unity Pony?

Mr. Obama was supposed to be a transformational figure, with an almost magical ability to transcend partisan differences and unify the nation. Once voters got to know him — and once he had eliminated Hillary Clinton’s initial financial and organizational advantage — he was supposed to sweep easily to the nomination, then march on to a huge victory in November.

Well, now he has an overwhelming money advantage and the support of much of the Democratic establishment — yet he still can’t seem to win over large blocs of Democratic voters, especially among the white working class.

As a result, he keeps losing big states. And general election polls suggest that he might well lose to John McCain.

What’s gone wrong?

Well, except for WWTSBQ, of course.

From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not.

Yes, I know that there are lots of policy proposals on the Obama campaign’s Web site. But addressing the real concerns of working Americans isn’t the campaign’s central theme.

Tellingly, the Obama campaign has put far more energy into attacking Mrs. Clinton’s health care proposals than it has into promoting the idea of universal coverage.

During the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary fight, the Obama campaign ran a TV ad repeating the dishonest charge that the Clinton plan would force people to buy health insurance they can’t afford. It was as negative as any ad that Mrs. Clinton has run — but perhaps more important, it was fear-mongering aimed at people who don’t think they need insurance, rather than reassurance for families who are trying to get coverage or are afraid of losing it.

No wonder, then, that older Democrats continue to favor Mrs. Clinton.

The question Democrats, both inside and outside the Obama campaign, should be asking themselves is this: now that the magic has dissipated, what is the campaign about? More generally, what are the Democrats for in this election?

So Obama spent all those millions of teebee dollars blurring the Democratic message so badly that now nobody knows what we stand for?

And they say Hillary's running an awful campaign?

NOTE Turkana, channelling Digby, says it's time for Obama to "show his wonk." Too late for that. If Obama had wonk to show, he'd have shown it. Wonks aren't known for their ability to conceal their wonkiness.

No votes yet


amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

it's not that he needs to ask for our votes--he needs to offer specific things that fulfill our pressing needs and that solve our problems. It's more selfish than just a ego-boosting "please vote for me"--it's "This and this and this and this is what i swear to do for you because i know you really really are hurting and need these things. These things are my #! priority because of you, and i will fight to the death to make sure your life improves and the country improves."

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

who would boldly repudiate the conservative era and reaffirm the liberal ideals of FDR.

Instead we got a mainstream policy wonk and an inspiring (for some) flim-flam man.

Okay, I was asking a lot but a fella can dream, can't he?

Real Democrats aren't afraid of democracy

48 + 2 = legitimacy

koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

Krugman is the last progressive left with clarity of perception and sharp pen to simply describe the train wreck called Obama or the Democratic campaign in 2008.

I didn't think it is difficult to see through the charade and the hate. I was wrong (again).

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Okay, I was asking a lot but a fella can dream, can’t he?

This was almost reality in 2000, if not for Scalia. And, in some ways it seemed fitting that we would travel down that road again, by having a mainstream policy wonk fix the problems, then followed by the transformational figure.

Instead, Obama and his "creative class" cohort have decided to take the short cut*, with unforseen consequences.

*Short cut of another cliff, IMO, but I'm an Obama skeptic.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

scarshapedstar's picture
Submitted by scarshapedstar on

"Show your wonk! Show your wonk! Show your wonk! Whooooooo!"

But I still believe
And I will rise up with fists!!