Last night’s Dem debate was between two capable people who are serious about good government. This is a stark contrast to Republican debates. I don’t have much to add to Steve Benen‘s and Noam Scheiber‘s assessment of the debate. I will say only that I think it might have helped Obama more than Clinton. Voters got to see Obama’s policy wonk side, which revealed that he is more than a motivational speaker.

And if you watched the post-debate show on MSNBC, you were treated to John Amato of Crooks and Liars, who rocked.

After polling its members, Moveon has endorsed Sen. Obama for the Dem nomination.

I won’t predict how the votes will go Super Tuesday. Truly, this election cycle nobody knows anything. Before the primaries began, conventional wisdom was that the Dem nomination would be sewn up early (by Hillary Clinton) and the GOP nomination might be decided at the convention. Now it seems McCain is going to be the GOP nominee, but the Dem nomination will be up for grabs a little longer.

However, I do want to call your attention to some articles suggesting why the Big Mo’ is with Obama.

Laura Flanders at The Guardian find Obamania in Butte, Montana:

So can Obama’s magic move Butte? Before the morning was over, I was able to ask the question to a group of local activists. The Montana Human Rights Network was holding its annual Progressive Leadership Institute in the Finlen over the weekend, and two dozen local organisers gathered around to hear the speech in between workshops on running effective campaigns and running for local office.

“It’s not that he would change anything in Butte,” said Alan Peura, a city commissioner in Helena. “But he’s building momentum that we can use to make that change ourselves.”

Although John Edwards was by my survey probably the group’s favourite candidate, Obama roused them, not by his policy promises, but by the opening he presents for their work.

“At the very least, we’ll have four years of movement-building from the presidential bully pulpit, which is the polar opposite from what we’ve had,” chimed in Jason Wiener, a Missoula city councilman. …

… Ken Toole, one of the founders of the Network and a student of the conservative movement remembers how the right came to power. Gaining the White House wasn’t the last but rather the first stage of that process. “The best thing Obama could be is our Reagan,” said Toole. “Reagan didn’t deliver a whole lot in terms of policies, but he shifted the country’s direction.”

Even from Butte, it’s clear to organisers: Obama’s not the saviour: we are. He opens a door. We push.

Rosa Brooks, Los Angeles Times:

His endorsers are right to see Obama as their party’s best hope for 2008. Though skeptics contend that Obama lacks “experience,” this concern makes sense only if you think you have to be a Washington insider to be qualified to run for president. Obama began his career as a community organizer and civil rights attorney in Chicago — relevant background for someone who will have to deal with tough economic and social justice issues as president. He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 and the U.S. Senate in 2004; in all, he’s spent 11 years being directly accountable to voters (that’s four more than Clinton).

Is that “enough” experience? Remember that if you never develop good judgment, racking up “experience” just tends to make you older, not necessarily smarter. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were “experienced,” and they brought us the Iraq war. Clinton, who’s billing herself as the “experienced” candidate, voted for that war.

Tom Hayden, The Nation:

One must choose a candidate based on the issues for which they stand, the spirit they invoke and the people they are able to mobilize. …

…I have been devastated by too many tragedies and betrayals over the past forty years to ever again deposit so much hope in any single individual, no matter how charismatic or brilliant. But today I see across the generational divide the spirit, excitement, energy and creativity of a new generation bidding to displace the old ways. Obama’s moment is their moment, and I pray that they succeed without the sufferings and betrayals my generation went through. There really is no comparison between the Obama generation and those who would come to power with Hillary Clinton, and I suspect she knows it. The people she would take into her administration may have been reformers and idealists in their youth, but they seem to seek now a return to their establishment positions of power. They are the sorts of people young Hillary Clinton herself would have scorned at Wellesley. If history is any guide, the new “best and brightest” of the Obama generation will unleash a new cycle of activism, reform and fresh thinking before they follow pragmatism to its dead end.

Many ordinary Americans will take a transformative step down the long road to the Rainbow Covenant if Obama wins. For at least a brief moment, people around the world–from the shantytowns to the sweatshops, even to the restless rich of the sixties generation–will look up from the treadmills of their shrunken lives to the possibilities of what life still might be. Environmental justice and global economic hope would dawn as possibilities.

Is Barack the one we have been waiting for? Or is it the other way around? Are we the people we have been waiting for? Barack Obama is giving voice and space to an awakening beyond his wildest expectations, a social force that may lead him far beyond his modest policy agenda. Such movements in the past led the Kennedys and Franklin Roosevelt to achievements they never contemplated. (As Gandhi once said of India’s liberation movement, “There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”)

We are in a precious moment where caution must yield to courage. It is better to fail at the quest for greatness than to accept our planet’s future as only a reliving of the past.

On the other hand, Gail Collins writes,

Some of the Democratic resistance to Obama’s magic comes from people who are wary of politicians who want to win their hearts. Every great candidate has golden moments when the campaign merges perfectly into the zeitgeist of the people. But sooner or later it passes, and you’re left with a tired, flawed human being making a pitch to crowds of slightly deflated citizens. One of Hillary’s selling points is that we’re pre-deflated. We’ve known her so well for so long.

See also: Richard Adams, “King or Queen?“; Thomas F. Schaller, “And Then There Were Two“; Jonathan Alter, “Why Caroline Backed Obama.”

6 thoughts on “Serious

  1. Gail Collins writes, […] “One of Hillary’s selling points is that we’re pre-deflated.”

    Speak for yourself, Gail Collins. Nothing “pre-deflated” about my Hillary support. She is inspiring enough.

  2. That’s a very interesting picture at the top of Schreiber’s TNR post. Wonder why they chose that particular shot.

  3. I refuse to choose sides now that Edwards is out. For me, the goal is clear and simple: Keep the Republicans out of the White House and Congress. The bitterness of the past couple weeks may have subsided, but the partisans (and I respect both Clinton and Obama supporters for their choices) need to ensure that it doesn’t start up again.

    Let the various factions of the Republican party tear each other’s throats out. From now through the convention, and all the way to November 4th, the Dems need to shape up and show the other side how to win back the nation from darkness.

  4. agree with everything you just said, except, “john amato rocked”

    Ummm…I respectfully couldn’t disagree more.

  5. That awakening of possibilities and renewal of a return to civility and civics has certainly sparked my life, and I am 64.
    I just got home two days ago after I traveled 2,500 plus miles doing my ‘johnny apple seeding’ in some Super Tuesday and other states, IN, OH, NY, MA, CT, PA, WV, and KY. Who knows, maybe my grandchildren will grow up in a less dangerous society and world.

    I love Hayden’s quote of Gandhi, (As Gandhi once said of India’s liberation movement, “There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”) That certainly is how I see Obama.

  6. One difference that needs to be touted is the ‘higher authority’ that the president can invoke. Bush thinks he has a personal compact with God; I fear the smae is true of Mitt and Mike. But Obama (and this is my opinion) feels he is capable of invoking the authority higher than the president – and I am not speaking of the Divine. For those of you familiar with the first 3 words of the Preamble – “We the People”.

    Well, every president has had those words, so what makes it special for Obama. Simple. He BELIEVES in the magic in the words. No other candiate does. When he talks about transparency – and putting hearings on C-span, and (by implication) using the bully pulpit of the presidency to create or prevent something, it’s a HUGE leap of faith. That’s faith in the American people.

    It’s just my opinion, but Hillory beleives in her political ability, and I believe she can transcend Obama there, but I don’t think that virtue of political doubletalk will get us out of the mess America is in. Can Obama? I truly don’t know, but I am starting to hope.

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