Monday, June 30, 2008

Paul Krugman, Swift Boating?

Is Paul Krugman one of (shudder) them?

David Seaton's News Links

The Obama campaign is alert to the spreading of smears and rumors against their candidate. Apparently they have their work cut out for them. This from the Washington Post.
The new advertisement running in Findlay, in which Obama is pictured with his white mother and white grandparents as he talks about developing a "deep and abiding faith in the country I love" while growing up in the Kansas heartland, is dismissed by residents of College Street as the desperate lies of another dishonest Washington politician. And they say that Obama's moves to put distance between himself and the Muslim community, with his campaign declining invitations to visit mosques and Obama volunteers removing two women in head scarves from the camera range at a rally in Detroit earlier this month are just a too-late effort to disguise his true beliefs.

For the past month, two students from the University of Findlay have spent their Tuesday nights walking from door to door in the city to tell voters about Obama. Erik Cramer and Sarah Everly target Democrats and swing voters exclusively, but they've still experienced mixed results. Sometimes, at a front door, they mention their purpose only to have a dozen rumors thrown back at them and the door slammed. "People tell us that we're in the wrong town," Everly said.
The McCain campaign seems to smell blood in the water. This, again, from the Washington Post.
Sen. John McCain's allies have seized on a new and aggressive line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama, casting the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as an opportunistic and self-obsessed politician who will do and say anything to get elected.(...) "In his time on the national stage, he has consistently put his party and his self-interest first," McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said in the memo. "We have seen Barack Obama forced to choose between principle and the interests of himself and his party. He has always chosen the latter."

Schmidt said in an interview that the campaign intends to point out "every day" that Obama broke his promise to accept public financing for his campaign, and that he has not made good on his pledge to debate his Republican opponent anytime and anywhere.

"It's a statement of fact that he discards people, and he discards positions when they become inconvenient for him," Schmidt said Friday. "When politicians say one thing and then do another, like Senator Obama has done, voters wonder about the steadfastness of the character of the person sitting in the Oval Office."(...) The aggressive rhetoric aimed at Obama began to emerge June 22, when Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, a national co-chairman of the McCain campaign, appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press." The normally collegial senator from South Carolina took direct aim at Obama's integrity.

"He's a calculating politician," Graham said. "The bottom line about Barack Obama, whatever the position -- whether it be Iraq, campaign finance reform, public financing -- he's going to take a tack that allows him to win. He wants to win beyond anything else, even more than keeping his word."

That theme was repeated Thursday in a conference call with reporters about the Supreme Court's decision to affirm the Second Amendment right to own a gun. McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann complained about what he called Obama's constantly changing positions.

"What's becoming clear in this campaign," he said, is that Obama "has demonstrated that there is no position he holds that isn't negotiable. He will say or do anything if it furthers his political purposes."
But, now Paul Krugman weighs in from the New York Times
"Progressive activists, in particular, overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama during the Democratic primary even though his policy positions, particularly on health care, were often to the right of his rivals’. In effect, they convinced themselves that he was a transformational figure behind a centrist facade.

They may have had it backward.

Mr. Obama looks even more centrist now than he did before wrapping up the nomination. Most notably, he has outraged many progressives by supporting a wiretapping bill that, among other things, grants immunity to telecom companies for any illegal acts they may have undertaken at the Bush administration’s behest.

The candidate’s defenders argue that he’s just being pragmatic — that he needs to do whatever it takes to win, and win big, so that he has the power to effect major change. But critics argue that by engaging in the same “triangulation and poll-driven politics” he denounced during the primary, Mr. Obama actually hurts his election prospects, because voters prefer candidates who take firm stands.

In any case, what about after the election? The Reagan-Clinton comparison suggests that a candidate who runs on a clear agenda is more likely to achieve fundamental change than a candidate who runs on the promise of change but isn’t too clear about what that change would involve.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Mr. Obama really is a centrist, after all." - Paul Krugman, NYT
It seems to me that there are two clear alternatives here:

Either Paul Krugman has joined the Republican attack machine or the Republican attack machine has hit on a very productive, fact based line of attack, one which depends for its effectiveness, not on smears and innuendo but on Barack Obama's observable actions.

Since I find it difficult to believe that Paul Krugman is part of some vast right-wing conspiracy, I imagine that the second line of reasoning is the correct one.

What I think is happening is, that under the pressure of reality a certain syndrome of Obamamania that
Virginia Postrel identified in The Atlantic, is beginning to unravel:
"Plenty of candidates attract supporters who disagree with them on some issues. Obama is unusual, however. He attracts supporters who not only disagree with his stated positions but assume he does too. They project their own views onto him and figure he is just saying what other, less discerning voters want to hear."
Barack Obama has a very thin CV, but a fascinating story and many people have bought into the story. He should stick to the story, it is all he has got.

Changing it now on a daily basis is a fatal mistake. DS

PS: I've just heard the most
amazing and absurd anti-Obama rumor!

Apparently his middle name is not, repeat NOT "Hussein"!

It's HERMAN!!!

Barry thought is was soooo lame that when he was fifteen he asked his mother, Stanley Ann, if he could change it legally, as she had suffered so much ribbing because of her name she gave him permission.

He thought Hussein sounded really cool and the rest is history.

Neat, huh?

Pass it on to see how they squash it.


Mike Doyle said...

And yesterday Obama threw Wes Clark under the bus. Seems to be his style.

Stephanie said...

Dumping on Clark was truly craven, especially when Clark was clearly carrying Obama's water.

So far the tabula rasa quality of Obama's career and person have worked for his benefit. The question is now whether these same qualities will start to work against him.

Not to mention that Obama has executed these deft 'moves to the center' with the grace of a dancing ostrich.....

Forensic economist said...

Thought this might entertain you:

From my local paper --
Jon Carrol's column

"Clinton as candidate would have done exactly what Obama is doing - move toward the center... Everyone compromises and cuts deals, and that's hardly a placard anyone wants to wave: "Vote for Hillary! She'll compromise!"

People on the left are going through this with Obama right now. Obama really will compromise, because he is a politician... He did say in a press release that his position was consistent with his political beliefs. Feel better? ...I don't feel better... now I have to come to grips with the shortcomings of my guy... So the fun is over, people. Time for reality... "

Mike Doyle said...

Charles Pierce has a v good piece in Esquire on the Obama problem.

June 4, 2008, 8:56 AM
The Cynic and Senator Obama

The cynic wants to believe. But far too much has happened, and inspiration is no longer enough.

By Charles P. Pierce