Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Obama Ascension

Decency and a Generation - Andrew Sullivan
'My Commentators Is Smarter Than I': Go for the Jugular Edition - Ezra Klein
Depends On What You Mean By Surprise, I Guess... - Alex Masse
Known Quantity - Matt Yglesias

I have a couple more links to add when those site are back up again. I wanted to gather some of the latest posts about the whole issue of Sen. Obama's past drug use and the Clinton campaign's efforts to use that as a smear on Sen. Obama's character. A lot of the issue concerns the differences between Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton, both in leadership style and campaign style. I have no qualms about Sen. Obama's past drug use, both due to my own past usage and the completely forward nature in which Sen. Obama has conducted himself with the matter.
A lot of digital ink has been spilled about the growing fight between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp, with most of the more critical posts pointing to the faults of the Clinton campaign. In particular, the last couple of weeks have shown a Hilary Clinton people remember from the smears she suffered from during her time as the First Lady. She has gone on a serious offensive against Sen. Obama in attacking his experience, his 'known quantities', his drug usage and even some underhanded smear emails sent out by her own campaign staff (of which two have already resigned over, and another over the cocaine issue). Her husband has joined the chorus as well, arguing that much like his wife, he was for the war before he was against it, which considered how laughable it was when Sen. Kerry made that claim I don't know why President Clinton would attempt to do the same now.
Suffice to say, one would have expected Sen. Obama's polling numbers to have dropped in the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Yet the opposite has happened as Sen. Obama has overtaken Sen. Clinton in Iowa and has closed in to a statistical tie with her in New Hampshire. The negativity with which Sen. Clinton has assaulted Sen. Obama has reflected in the polls as Obama has remained cool and collected, i.e. he has remained on message as a candidate of hope and change.
What several people have noticed is that Sen. Obama is seemingly not afraid of the Republican party while Sen. Clinton still is. Her campaign style reflects an attitude of negativity and offense that is better suited for use against Republican candidates. In other words, Clinton doesn't know how to campaign against her own and that has led to the perception that Clinton is too cut-throat for the tastes of many liberals. Meanwhile, Obama continues to push his message forward with strength and conviction, and with seeming disregard for whether his position appeases everyone.
Another element, of which I can't link to at the moment, of Obama's current success comes from his ability to talk to conservatives on their own terms, acknowledging their positions and then rebutting them in such a way that most conservative listeners come to agree with. He growing stronger in his speeches and in the debates themselves while Hilary has begun to look more like the Mitt Romney of the liberal side.
All of this is to say that Sen. Obama has has some great fortune in the last couple of weeks, both due to his own abilities (see, The Moment) and Sen. Clinton's mistakes. As the primary dates come closer (Iowa is on January 3rd) Sen. Obama has a good chance of upsetting the presumptive frontrunner and turn that momentum into an even greater upset in New Hampshire.

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