Matters vs. Anti-matters

A ways back, on one of Steve Gillmor’s podcasts, I said that the Democratic nomination was Obama’s unless he “stepped in it” before the convention.

“Gotcha” politics being what it is, Obama’s recent remarks — a few dumb words among amongst zillions of smart and/or safe utterances he’s made in the course of a campaign — qualify.

Naturally, they’re being spun (in some ways correctly) as “damaging”. But there is a difference between real damage (of the kind that would reveal that Obama — or anyone — is too flawed in a critical way to trust as president), and the kind of superficial embarrasment that gets buzzed far out of proportion to its actual importance. Andrew Sullivan, a conservative who favors Obama for reasons I find heartening, sees the difference, and puts it this way:

  Is this election about how to salvage the least worst option in the Iraq disaster? Is it about restoring some kind of fiscal sanity? Is it about doing all we can to unite Americans in a war against Islamic terrorism? Is it about restoring America’s compliance with the Geneva Conventions? Or is it again about red-blue culture wars? We know what the professional political class is comfortable with. We know what Rove and Bush and Penn and Clinton believe. What we will find out soon is if Americans want more of the same. It’s a free country – and people can vote. Goodbye to all that? Or hello again – for yet another cycle?

Later he adds,

  Americans have had the presidency they deserved these past four years; the war they voted to continue; the debt they voted to increase; the incompetence they decided to reward. They also get to pick who comes next. If they want more of the same, they know who to vote for.

Here’s how The Onion put it. And they’re right.

11 comments

  1. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I had a small amount of hope that my candidate would have a chance… (Ron Paul)… but the media campaign to ignore him worked. So now I’m left with the only apparently Honest choice left to oppose the McCain-Clinton ticket this year… and I’m pleasantly surprised at my option.
    Obama tackled the race issue head on, which really put him on my good side. He’s now doing the same thing with the bitterness that does exist out here in blue-collar America.
    We’re being lied to by the politicians, the media, and the government. We’re told that $45 to fill up a car when it was $20 or a few years ago isn’t inflation, because it’s not part of “core inflation”… and food doesn’t count either.
    We’re told that ignoring the $140,000,000,000 that banks have had to borrow so they can meet their reserve requirements is just a procedural issue, and won’t cause inflation.
    We’re told that we’re supposed to keep on motoring, driving SUVs and buying McMansions, and that “The American Way of Life ™” is non-negotiable.
    We’re pissed outside the beltway, and it’s increasingly clear that the words of John F Kennedy are going to come into play soon:

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. – JFK – 1962″
    Let us pray it that peaceful change does happen.
    –Mike–

  2. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Oops… misquote… here’s a longer cut… from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Address_on_the_First_Anniversary_of_the_Alliance_for_Progress

    For too long my country, the wealthiest nation in a continent which is not wealthy, failed to carry out its full responsibilities to its sister Republics. We have now accepted that responsibility. In the same way those who possess wealth and power in poor nations must accept their own responsibilities. They must lead the fight for those basic reforms which alone can preserve the fabric of their societies. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
    Seems like we’ve become a 3rd world nation in the 46 years since that speech.
    –Mike–

  3. James Robertson’s avatar

    This isn’t Obama’s first slip, and it indicates some interesting things. Notice how in his comments he claims that anti-trade sentiment is a “small town” thing, for people who are bitter over things not working out.

    Well. What does that make Obama, who has been crusading against NAFTA (when he hasn’t been sending aides to tell the Canadians “never mind”)?

    He claims to be post partisan, and we now see he’s just another pol, willing to say anything an audience wants to hear. He claims to be post-racial, but he stayed in the racist, anti-semitic, hate mongering church of Wright for 20 years – and took his kids there to “learn”.

    His problem isn’t this particular misstep – it’s that he has been playing at being pure as the driven snow. The crap he’s getting is due to the dawning realization that – like most pols – he’s been playing us.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    James,

    You’re right.

    I still harbor some hope that Obama is, and will remain, less like most pols than the others. There is substance to much of his aspirational rhetoric — human and typically political though he may be.

    Not that any of it will matter. The country will still prefer the weathered old shoe to the new one. (And by November, count on Obama, or Hillary, to be tarnished beyond repair — by each other, by McCain, by the media, by themselves, by their wacky self-defeating party.)

    I only hope that McCain has good answers to Andrew’s first four questions. And doesn’t turn into Bush III.

    I’m betting he won’t. But I’m not counting on it.

  5. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I started out to write a blog post about the reasons for being bitter… but decided that I’m not bitter, it’s too important not to be.

    http://mikewarot.blogspot.com/2008/04/but-im-not-bitter.html

    –Mike–

  6. sheilagrady’s avatar

    Hey David,
    As promised, I have been monitoring your health on your blog…pls continue to take it easy. Wife, kid, family, and cyberfans need you! Stay home for awhile…skip the planes… you’d be amazed what you’ll learn on a school field trip! Your SoCal Family!

  7. PC  Acosta’s avatar

    I think the valuable thing about Obama’s talk in San Francisco is that he was in a “safe” forum–a closed door event probably full of supporters and donors. He was relaxed enough to say what he thought without the filters of his speechwriters or handlers. This type of openness coming from him has been rare and gives some insight into his thoughts. For better or for worse, the American public needs to see more of that to get a true sense of the man. (But no doubt, his handlers won’t make that mistake again.) Both McCain and Clinton have been under the public microscope for so long, not much is a mystery about them. Obama, in many ways, is still an unknown.

  8. Jonas’s avatar

    It’s blogger appreciation day so I’m doing the rounds on the blogs I read. Thanks for a great blog. I find your writing inspiring, even if I don’t agree, I always like your style.

  9. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Jonas. Also Sheila and everybody.

    Can’t wait until my days are filled with work and play again, rather than shuttles to medical facilities.

    That said, I could hardly be more pleased and impressed with HUHS, the Harvard University Health Services, which started being helpful last June when I had my eye incident, long before I got on the university’s health plan.

  10. John Quimby’s avatar

    We just had a mild temblor moments ago here in SB…

    An earth shaker always reminds me to keep my humanity in perspective.

    Doc – one never knows – does one?

    I’m an Obama fan so take my thoughts for whatever you think they’re worth.

    The bitterness is Bill Clinton being eclipsed by the hot new thing – as Maureen Dowd puts it in her April 13 Column in the NYT.

    Goodbye to all that. This tiny temblor may shake us but it will pass and leave us with the IMF warning which was largely obscured by our media focus on the choice of one adjective last Friday.

    In truth, the world is shaking. IMF says revolution is coming from places where the wells are drying up and people can no longer afford to eat food produced on the rising price of oil.

    I spoke to Brian Fagen about climate change last week. Large numbers of the human population live on the next crop and the next drink of clean water. When that fails – famine, exodus, death and revolution follow. That is already part of the historical record.

    Which of our candidates is ready to face reality?

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