Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

July 28, 2004

by V

Republicans' response to Obama

They can't come up with anything very bad to say, so they say: he's actually just like us -- he's conservative!

I see. So, you'll be happy to have him win that Illinois Senate seat, then. Okay: don't put forth a Republican challenger. Yeah, I thought so.

Valuable roundup at Kos: Attempting the Obama co-op
Take Andrew Sullivan, for example.
Obama struck many conservative notes: of self-reliance, of opportunity, of hard work, of an immigrant's dream, of the same standards for all of us.
Funny. I didn't realize liberals wanted government to serve their every needs. I didn't realize liberals were anti immigrants. I didn't realize that liberals didn't want the equality of opportunity. I know Sullivan is trying to square away his conservatism with the GOP's gay-hating ways, but the way to do it is not to redefine conservatism. Equality is a very LIBERAL value.

Sullivan quotes the following Obama passage as further proof of "conservative values":
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.
How the hell is that "conservative"? What liberal has ever said that government should solve every person's problems? Build that straw man and tear it down. It's fun. It's easy. It's bullshit.

...The reason Obama has put the Right into a quandry is that he exposed, in one masterful performance, every caricature the Right has of liberalism. He affirmed our belief in government's ability to make life better without conjuring up images of "welfare queens". He affirmed the right every American has to believe in the god of his or her choice, or no god for that matter, without making it a public matter. He affirmed the beauty of multiculturalism, that we are more than white, black, Asian, Latino, or anything else, without feeding the fiction that we all want a balkanized country. He affirmed that unity is an American value, while dividing Americans based on sexual orientation or race is not.

In short, he lay the Right's arguments against liberalism to waste in one relatively short speech.
Some choice comments from the thread:
[AdmiralNaismith] When we knock down their stupid straw men, they claim that we're hiding our true selves, because if we were honest we'd be acting like their straw men. Because they said so.

Remember when Kerry first started winning primaries, and they were like, "Oh, Suddenly the Democrats like heroic combat veterans? Well THAT'S a switch!" Do they think that just saying something makes it true?

[Grand Moff Texan] I have also noticed that the right gets confused when we don't live down to their stereotypes of us. They can't deal with things that don't fit the myths they've been fed.

One of the disadvantages of running the Mighty Wurlitzer is that, while your propaganda might be very useful, you may in time come to believe it yourself.

Conservatives need their tired myths of the left to conceal from themselves the sad fact that their own leaders are radicals, not conservatives. As I keep saying, Bush is so far out that it's easy to be to the left of him and still steer straight down the middle of America.

They have met their enemy, and we are America.

[Grand Moff Texan] ...[the values Sullivan lists] do not, in fact, bear any resemblance to the life and career of George W. Bush, nor any of the other Welfare Queens in Thousand Dollar Suits surrounding him.

The last five Republican presidents and the last ten years of a Republican controlled Congress have demonstrated ad nauseum that none of these are conservative values.

[kaleidescope] If [they] spin Obama as a conservative, fine. That will set the tone for spin in the future, which Obama very obviously has. "He's really a conservative" will protect him from a lot of the caricature Repugs will want to draw him as in future races. They are desperate enough to beat Kerry that they are, in effect eating their rhetorical seed corn. That is a good sign, both short and long-term.

[Pellice] One IMMEDIATE way to effortlessly dispatch any Pundits/Republicans who are pushing this meme ["right speech, wrong convention"] is just that: Well, invite him then, guys. Invite Barack Obama to speak in New York in August. I'm sure he'd come ... he's got lots to say to you.

[SusanG] Obama appeared conservative because he actually took the time and eloquently spoke of the basis of true progressivism.

Too many liberals think it's obvious that Democrats don't really believe that government will solve all problems, so they never address it. Obama realized that conservatives, after years of listening to spin, honestly think progressives want government to solve each and every problem in their lives.

What Obama did was take a minute or so to very articulately explain that that is NOT what progressivism is about. He directly addressed the stereotypes, which too many liberals refuse to do because they consider it "straw man" arguments.

When it's laid out as Obama laid it out -- a question of subtle shifts of national priorities -- of course it looks rational, reasonable, even (gasp!) conservative.

Kudos for his ability to "lower himself" to explain progressivism in its most basic values to conservatives who have been drinking Kool-Aid too long.
David Brock has written about how he viewed liberals and Democrats as horrible, scheming people until he actually met some and listened to them.

Fox News, predictably, is burying Obama's speech today, focusing on Kennedy's words from last night. Because if enough people see Obama, well: game over.

I'll say it again: panic is creeping up on the Republicans. They got nothin', and they know it. They had both houses of Congress and the White House, but couldn't figure out how to actually govern wisely.
Posted by V at July 28, 2004 10:35 AM

They have neither strength nor wisdom.

They need the country divided; we don't.

They will lose, and I hope they and their ideological cohorts wander in the wilderness for the next 10 Presidential election cycles.

Posted by: J at July 28, 2004 11:56 AM

Oh, not only are they trying to say that Obama's really a "conservative", but Little Lord Saletan is claiming he's not really black.

I've had it, I've so had it with these losers. I sense my potty mouth reasserting itself... All together now... CHENEYTARDS!

Posted by: J at July 28, 2004 12:18 PM

If the Republicans like what they hear from Obama that much, why don't they choose him as their Senate candidate?

Posted by: Dori at July 28, 2004 05:47 PM

Was browsing Google and found your site, enjoyed the reading, thanks

Posted by: yaoi at September 25, 2004 03:18 AM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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