Not just empty words, not just false hope

Not all Obama supporters are being driven solely by emotion and recent articles about the “cult-like” aura surrounding his campaign seem to suggest there’s a not-unexpected backlash brewing in the media. The most overt instance of this was probably the FOX News stunt with one of Frank Luntz’ post-debate “focus groups” where several Obama supporters were asked to name a single accomplishment of his and none of them could. Of course, the combination of FOX News and Luntz has about as much credibility as Jay Leno’s “stupid people” quiz show skit, but they’re not the only ones guilty of such disingenous “gotcha” tactics.

There’s a great video clip on YouTube that’s getting a lot of attention right now of an interview with an Obama supporter outside of the Kodak Theater before the debate a couple of weeks ago, and what starts out looking like a weak attempt at a “gotcha” sound bite turns into the kind of moment that rarely gets any play on the evening news:


This kid is much more representative of the majority of people I know who are supporting Obama, and anyone who has primarily been swept up by the undeniable emotional appeal of his message owes it to themselves to learn about what he actually stands for, not just to counter inaccurate assertions about his campaign, but because it’s important to be an educated voter.

The Clinton’s latest attempt to revive and reposition their campaign’s slow-motion disintegration is to focus on Obama’s undeniable (and unmatchable) oratorical skills, reframing their previous tone-deaf criticism that he’s raising “false hopes” with their new slogan that she’s in the “21st Century solutions business“, while continuing to falsely claim that Obama offers no specifics on how he intends to bring about change. Interestingly, a number of pundits have bought into this line of thinking, not only suggesting that Obama doesn’t offer specific details about his policy proposals but, as I mentioned above, also suggesting many of his supporters are caught up in a wave of almost cult-like emotion and few of them actually know anything about where he stands on various issues.

Among the many things I don’t like about Clinton, it’s ironic that it’s her pugnacious approach to politics that is the most off-putting. There’s nothing wrong with being a fighter — I’ve been the attack dog in way too many situations to count — but if that’s your primary hook, that you’re effectively going to continue the fights of the past (and worse, use the same tactics that lost many of those fights) and not even consider that maybe it’s time to stop fighting and start talking, then I’m not interested, especially when your track record suggests you’ve got shaky footwork and a rather prominent glass jaw.

My entire lifetime as an eligible voter (I cast my first vote, absentee, in 1992 for Bill Clinton while I was serving in the Army in Ft. Campbell, KY) has been marked by increasingly bitter bi-partisanship and some mind-boggling compromises and capitulations by the party I’d always thought best represented my ideals. The past eight years, in particular, had led to such a level of disillusionment that I changed my party affiliation, divested myself of any emotional investment in this year’s election and, for the first time ever, was considering casting my vote for a Republican or not at all.

Obama has given me legitimate hope that this time actually can be different, and he was absoutely right when he said that “there’s never been anything false about hope.” For me, it’s a combination of his policies — not every single one of which I agree with, but taken as a whole, are the most appealing of any of this year’s candidates — and his pragmatic approach to getting them done that made me decide to support him.

His ability to give a good speech is simply delicious icing on top of an already good cake. 

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4 thoughts on “Not just empty words, not just false hope

  1. I caught some Hardball on my lunch break today, and Chris Matthews was interviewing the Gov of Wisconsin, and asked him what has Barack Obama done so far. . .and the Governor who supports Obama said something like “He’s run a great campaign for the past year.” So Matthews asked, Ok, more specifically what has Barack Obama done that will help the state of Wisconsin, and the Governor couldn’t name anything specifically besides some lobbyist bill that was ultimately silly.

    I couldn’t believe that he hadn’t at least done some research and had some talking points b4 going on a political show like that. I can take a year old list of things Barack Obama has worked on, that I posted to some list serves over a year ago, and do better than the Gov of a neighboring state to Illinois. And this is not the first person, or pundit that I’ve seen who is an Obama supporter, that hasn’t been able to name any of the legislation that Obama was a key player on. This is why I am so skeptical of the media. . .How could these pundits and Obama supporters not really know what Obama has done?

  2. Yeah, I saw that segment, too, and was a little surprised. It was the kind of “gotcha” question pundits love and Doyle was a little too focused on making the “great campaign organization = great executive leadership” talking point to see it coming or respond to it. That said, the Obama-Feingold bill (Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act) is something that ultimately affects every state as it limits the influence lobbyists have over legislators, but as with a lot of Obama’s efforts, it’s the kind of broader fundamental change that’s not as easily explained in a catchy sound bite as the narrower, more targeted accomplishments most politicians lay claim to.

  3. I guess by silly, I mean that it just isn’t tough enough, and still leaves many loop holes as to how people can still get away with shit. Like the whole sitting down vs standing up eating thing.

  4. Oh, totally. Sadly, that’s the kind of BS well-intentioned legislators end up dealing with and I’m convinced that it played into Obama’s decision to run for President now instead of “waiting his turn.”

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