Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The liberal revolt isn't happening

More evidence. What I've been noticing these days is just how out of sync everyone in politics seems to be with what's actually happening in the country. On the left, you see MoveOn, Kos and Hamsher spearheading an anti-Obama movement from the left whose existence seems confined to the people who read their sites. On the right, you see politicians and media tripping over themselves to embrace the Tea Partiers, which makes sense inasmuch as they need those people, but yoking themselves to the TPs seems to be setting them up for disaster once the economy improves and people stop identifying with the fear of change that seems to be the only real unifying principle amongst that movement. (And I don't buy that spending stuff for a second--I agree with Andrew Sullivan when he asks where they were in 2005).

But I'm more interested in what's going on among the left, and I think there is an angle here that isn't being explored. The one unexpected thing that Obama hasn't done, really, is to run a permanent campaign. This badly annoys and frustrates political junkies, and it gives the impression to activists on the left that he's not doing much of anything for them. But most people aren't political junkies. My guess is that the Obama team simply doesn't think that the permanent campaign--thought to be an inevitable feature of politics in the '90s and '00s--matters as much as people think it does, and that actually producing results matters more. In other words, his team actually focuses on substance over style, in an ironic upturning of one of the central criticisms against Candidate Obama during his campaign. And I think this has sunk in with people, even if on an unconscious level. It's been ages, for example, since I've read anything about how Obama just reads from a teleprompter. Criticism of Obama has subtly shifted to a great extent. Even Republicans have realized that this guy isn't just an empty shirt.

I guess we'll see if this approach remains tenable, as Republicans haven't stopped campaigning ever since the inauguration, but I do think that the man knows what he's doing. And if I'm right, I suspect we'll see a shift in style as the midterms approach. I wouldn't be surprised if Obama lobs some strong attacks at the Republicans during the State of the Union, which might make it the first SotU worth watching in decades. After all, this is the guy who defended war while receiving the Nobel Prize. Imagine what he could do with a speech that is supposed to represent bipartisanship to some extent. Should be fun to watch.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.