Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama: If He Wins, He Loses?

By Joe Sims

Something is happening. Over the last few days, there’s been a shift in policy on the part of the ruling class regarding the Obama campaign. At first it was subtle, but in the last day or so, it’s become full blown. The first sign was the attempt to cast Obama as “the Black candidate” as against, “a candidate who happens to be Black.” This may have been an offshoot of Hillary Clinton’s now infamous comments in New Hampshire, comparing him to King and implying he's no President Johnson.

Ruling-class pundits and ideologues are using it to pick apart the universal “all-people’s appeal” Obama's campaign acquired in the lead up to Iowa. Certainly the reaction to the pitting of race against gender, along with the broad criticism of the Clinton’s when the race card was played contributed significantly to the problem which continued to work itself out in Nevada and in the lead up to today’s primary in South Carolina.

Bill Clinton has been an instigating factor, injecting himself bodily into the contest using the bully pulpit as an ex-president to influence the national campaign.

I kept thinking, what was Mr. Clinton up to? Why were he and Senator Clinton making such a big issue of the Reagan thing? (Particularly when both have said similar things about Mr. Reagan). Scratch Obama and you’ll find a Clarence Thomas? Please! African Americans in South Carolina would hardly go for that. And then it dawned on me. African Americans were not the target. In fact, it wasn’t even the good citizens of South Carolina. The aim, rather, was the rest of the country: and more precisely it was the February 5th primaries. The goal: undermine trust and credibility; Obama is dishonest; you can't trust him!

Coupled with this tactical assault is the newly emerging line that even if Obama wins in South Carolina, it’s only because he’s “the Black candidate.” Even if he wins, he loses. As the “Black candidate” he’s lost his “universal” appeal. In other words, the coalition’s contracted and with it his “electability."

Isn’t it ironic that prior to New Hampshire, Obama wasn’t “Black enough" and couldn’t marshal the votes in the African American community, who were said to be favoring Clinton. Now after the Iowa win and the scoring of impressive votes in largely white states like New Hampshire and Nevada, he’s too Black, i.e., he’s got too much support among South Carolina’s African American citizens who encouraged by the white vote in other states, see him as electable.

But most insidious is the new “spinning” of the race in yesterday’s and today’s papers like the Wall Street Journal who now project that Obama’s South Carolina win will be a loss.

It’s hard out here for the would be president from Illinois!


Andrew said...

I disagree -- more has been spoken about the Clinton's and race, than he said. They're a tight family, I see nothing unexpected. They're an unequivocally work-the-system pair and B.O. is for true reform -- the huge, huge difference means that I think there will always be "Obama" voters and the Clinton's voters. I reject the idea race matters, more than our essential needs to right-living.

Anonymous said...


Carl Davidson said...

Dick Morris laid it all out this AM:
"How Clinton Will Win The Nomination by Losing South Carolina" at

The Clintons are playing a deep and risky games of chess here. Call it the 'White Knight Gambit.'

Now if Obama would only stop 'triangulating' on the war, we could get some real enthusiasm. Meanwhile, many of us will simply taken a nonpartisan approach of registering and mobilizing large numbers of new voters who oppose the war.

--Carl Davidson, Aliquippa, Beaver County, PA

Joel said...

I think Obama will end he war as president. But sees it as a process. As dissatisfactory as this may be, Kucinich, who drew much more support from the antiwar movement, though not enough to keep him in the race, also saw bringing the troops home as a lengthy process. Regretfully, I didn't blog on this specific topics during his visit to Detroit, which I covered for PA (here and here). None of his supporters at the even I went to, many of whom I recognized from the antiwar movement, seemed disturbed by the process he described that he saw as needed to get the troops home.

Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, many of us will simply taken a nonpartisan approach of registering and mobilizing large numbers of new voters who oppose the war."

That's why the peace movement is going to miss the largest groundswell of voter participation in the last 30 years. And they are 90 percent against the war. Obama's campaign is mobilizing communities that haven't been part of the political process - the same communities the peace movement says it wants to mobilize. Especially the youth...

Carl Davidson said...

Why will we miss it? Some will, no matter what, but my corner of the peace movement isn't going to miss a thing. We can work these very same communities, and not in opposition to Obama. You don't have to be "in" a campaign to work "with" a campaign as an ally in doing voter reg, voter ID, voter Ed, and get out the antiwar vote, etc. Why is this independence important? That way, we don't have to split our peace and justice groups along the lines of Obama, Edwards, Green and even Hillary supporters (Yes, there are a few). Plus we build our independent base organization. All the data we gather and resources and friends we make then belong to us, not the Democrats, even Obama's section of it. Briefly, you can be an antiwar ally rather than a socialist tail. Especially if a President Obama starts dragging his feet on ending the war, which, if you read his positions carefully, he may very well do. This way, we have something to keep the heat on WITH. Finally, in my opinion, the day you join his campaign is the day they don't have to worry about listening to you anymore. I know Obama fairly well, and believe me, his campaign doesn't solely belong to just him any more. There's plenty of big money in there, with Zbig and others, which is fine, but we need not have any illusions about it, despite the wonderful surge in mass action around their campaign. --CarlD
- Show quoted text -

Terrie said...

Big money in there? Under capitalism? Oh my! Never would have believed it. Shocking.

Do you really think joining a campaign or relating to a campaign is about getting the candidate to listen to you? In my humble opinion it's about meeting the people who have been inspired by a progressive message to get involved - be in motion - and ORGANIZED to do something. And relating to those people and making connections to the peace groups, issues, etc. That's why if the peace groups go off on their own to register "large numbers of voters" it would be like standing on the banks or a river and watching large numbers of people rafting with the waves and yelling to them as they pass you by.

Carl Davidson said...

Obama listen to us? No, not mainly. And your reasons for wanting to work in his campaign are the right ones. And I'm with you on being 'shocked' about money.

But I'm not suggesting P&J groups act 'on their own' in isolation, either. One can work jointly with both Obama and Edwards people doing voter ID, voter reg, GOTV, and so on, but with our own nonpartisan groups as our base. We worked quite well with Kerry people in 2004, though we never endorsed Kerry.

Otherwise, you pose unnecessarily splitting P&J groups along the line of for and against Obama--when they also include Edwards people, Greens, and supporters of 'none of the above.'

Alternatively, you face the choice of putting your P&J group in a dry dock for the duration of the campaign season, and everyone goes their own way, which is not desirable either.

Finally, it might be even better to form a neighborhood 'Peace Voters for Obama,' if you like. You can work closely with the campaign--we did this with Peace Voters for Harold and Peace Voters for Jesse--so the fruits of your work at the end of the campaign belong to you, not the Dems.

The question is how does YOUR base group and community end up better organized and stronger after the campaign?

As we say it my neck of the woods, there's more than one way to skin a rabbit.