Live-Blogging The Second Inauguration Of Barack Obama

12 pm. Well either Kelly Clarkson was way off or her mike was. But the speech instantly removed any awkwardness that lingered. If you have long believed, as I have, that this man could easily become the liberal Reagan by the end of his second term (even Ross now agrees), then this speech will not … Continue reading Live-Blogging The Second Inauguration Of Barack Obama

The Conservative Case For Obama – Again

Michael Brendan Dougherty recently checked in on the Obamacons and found them a little chastened, but still adamant about the degeneration of the GOP and salvaging the term "conservative" from religious fanatics, supply-side fantasists and foreign policy utopians. The eyes roll, I know, when I cling to the word "conservative" like others cling to their, … Continue reading The Conservative Case For Obama – Again

Why Obama Still Matters


The one thing I noticed in my continental run-around this past week is just how mad liberals are at Obama. I remain as baffled by this anger as I am by Republican contempt for the guy. New York magazine has two superb essays that sum up my own feelings on both sides pretty perfectly – by Jon Chait and David Frum. Chait notes how systemic and eternal liberal disenchantment is, and how congenitally useless Democrats are in rallying round a leader, even one who has achieved so much in such a short time. Many Dems even now think Clinton was more successful in fighting the GOP in his first term than Obama has been. (Memo to the left: universal healthcare was achieved under Obama). But much of this is the usual Democratic limpness and whininess. If George Bush had taken out Osama bin Laden, wiped out al Qaeda's leadership and gathered a treasure trove of real intelligence by a daring raid, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now. If he'd done the equivalent on the right of universal healthcare, he'd be the second coming of Reagan. But Obama and liberals? If I hear one more gripe about single payer from someone in their fifties with a ponytail, I'll scream.

But the right is more unhinged and more dangerously full of denial. Since I was never structurally or financially or socially linked to the Washington right, I was immune to the withdrawal of jobs, money and access doled out to any dissenter in the Bush years. But every now and again, I get some kind of amazed look – "You're not going to back Obama again, are you?" – from someone in the conservative cocoon, and when I respond, "So far, you bet!", there is often a long pause and a genuine sadness on their faces. "What the hell happened to him?" you can hear them asking themselves.

Some of this is as head-scratching for me as it is for David:

Some of the smartest and most sophisticated people I know—canny investors, erudite authors—sincerely and passionately believe that President Barack Obama has gone far beyond conventional American liberalism and is willfully and relentlessly driving the United States down the road to socialism. No counterevidence will dissuade them from this belief: not record-high corporate profits, not almost 500,000 job losses in the public sector, not the lowest tax rates since the Truman administration. It is not easy to fit this belief alongside the equally strongly held belief that the president is a pitiful, bumbling amateur, dazed and overwhelmed by a job too big for him—and yet that is done too.

Did you get the impression from the GOP debates that Obama had lowered taxes? That he had not nationalized but saved the banks? That he had dispatched Osama and Qaddafi? That he had 60 percent support for a sane and succcessful foreign policy? That he was an exemplar of all those social values conservatives say they support: a model husband and father, a black man who has eschewed identity politics almost entirely, a president whose speeches are among the most intellectually Christian of any in modern times? This strange, bizarre hostility to him I put down to displaced anger at Bush, to cultural panic among the old, but also to a wider propaganda support system that is truly a sight to behold:

Artur Davis And The Unraveling Of Identity Politics, Ctd

TNC looks at the lessons drawn from Davis losing the black vote to a white opponent: The point isn't that black voters are never tribal, it's that they are no more tribal than any other group of voters. Indeed, by necessity, they are often less tribal. Everyone remembers Barack Obama sweeping up the black vote against … Continue reading Artur Davis And The Unraveling Of Identity Politics, Ctd

Artur Davis And The Unraveling Of Identity Politics


Steve Kornacki eulogizes the gubernatorial bid of the man who some thought might become the country's first black president (before Obama came on the scene):

In the House, Davis was given a frosty reception by members of the Congressional Black Caucus who had been close to [the unseated] Hilliard and who resented the post-Civil Rights brand of politics favored by Davis (and celebrated by his many white supporters). It didn't help that Davis worked hard to create a moderate image, distancing himself from the liberal CBC in an effort to make himself appealing to the conservative white voters he'd someday need in a statewide race. He also maintained the alliance with the pro-Israel community that had been so helpful to him in '02, providing public support to their cause when they most needed it.

All of this helped Davis enhance his national profile last decade. But it came back to haunt him in this campaign.

The End Of Identity Politics?

Ruchira Paul takes me to task: Repentant Bush supporter Andrew Sullivan is deliriously happy at the prospect of a possible Obama presidency which he believes will end identity politics in America. I think his optimism is premature in this regard. People are good at compartmentalizing opposing public and personal views and not recognizing their own … Continue reading The End Of Identity Politics?

The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

[Re-posted] My take:

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black America. 9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won’t touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain’s plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama’s. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice. 8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain’s knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran’s nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush’s first term and George W.’s. 7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them. 6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

Identity Politics Amuck

by Chris Bodenner One of the most dramatic congressional races this year is the battle for Tennessee’s 9th.  Wrapped around Memphis, this overwhelmingly-black district is represented by Steve Cohen (D) — just one of two white congressmen with majority-black constituencies.  In his inaugural ’06 bid, Cohen had faced a dozen candidates trying to maintain the … Continue reading Identity Politics Amuck