Krugman Speaks Volumes of Truths

Wake up and smell the coffee Democrats. I just finished reading Paul Krugman’s Friday column and he speaks volumes of truths. Volumes.

Unless we can get past our own “self-inflicted state of confusion,” caused in part by the mixed messages sent by our purported “front-runner” Barack Obama, “there’s a very good chance” that we’ll “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this fall.”

We’ve got a real mess on our hands here, folks. That’s right, a real mess, thanks in part to the candidate who “claims to be bringing a “new politics”” and his “rhetoric that places blame for our current state equally on both parties.” It’s a mixed message and a bad one at that.

How did we end up here in this state of confusion? “This wasn’t the way things were supposed to play out.” Indeed, it wasn’t…

Mr. Obama was supposed to be a transformational figure, with an almost magical ability to transcend partisan differences and unify the nation. Once voters got to know him — and once he had eliminated Hillary Clinton’s initial financial and organizational advantage — he was supposed to sweep easily to the nomination, then march on to a huge victory in November.

Well, now he has an overwhelming money advantage and the support of much of the Democratic establishment — yet he still can’t seem to win over large blocs of Democratic voters, especially among the white working class.

As a result, he keeps losing big states. And general election polls suggest that he might well lose to John McCain.

What’s gone wrong?

We all know the routine… Per the Obamabots and Obamacans:

According to many Obama supporters, it’s all Hillary’s fault. If she hadn’t launched all those vile, negative attacks on their hero — if she had just gone away — his aura would be intact, and his mission of unifying America still on track.

But… Just “how negative has the Clinton campaign been, really?”

Yes, it ran an ad that included Osama bin Laden in a montage of crisis images that also included the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina. To listen to some pundits, you’d think that ad was practically the same as the famous G.O.P. ad accusing Max Cleland of being weak on national security.

It wasn’t. The attacks from the Clinton campaign have been badminton compared with the hardball Republicans will play this fall. If the relatively mild rough and tumble of the Democratic fight has been enough to knock Mr. Obama off his pedestal, what hope did he ever have of staying on it through the general election?

Let me offer an alternative suggestion: maybe his transformational campaign isn’t winning over working-class voters because transformation isn’t what they’re looking for.

Krugman nails it. Rhetoric and haughty declarations won’t fix the mess that many Americans are in:

From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not.

Yes, I know that there are lots of policy proposals on the Obama campaign’s Web site. But addressing the real concerns of working Americans isn’t the campaign’s central theme.

Tellingly, the Obama campaign has put far more energy into attacking Mrs. Clinton’s health care proposals than it has into promoting the idea of universal coverage.

During the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary fight, the Obama campaign ran a TV ad repeating the dishonest charge that the Clinton plan would force people to buy health insurance they can’t afford. It was as negative as any ad that Mrs. Clinton has run — but perhaps more important, it was fear-mongering aimed at people who don’t think they need insurance, rather than reassurance for families who are trying to get coverage or are afraid of losing it.

No wonder, then, that older Democrats continue to favor Mrs. Clinton.

Now that the magic is over and voters are waking up and seeing the light what are we in for now?

The question Democrats, both inside and outside the Obama campaign, should be asking themselves is this: now that the magic has dissipated, what is the campaign about? More generally, what are the Democrats for in this election?

That should be an easy question to answer. Democrats can justly portray themselves as the party of economic security, the party that created Social Security and Medicare and defended those programs against Republican attacks — and the party that can bring assured health coverage to all Americans.

They can also portray themselves as the party of prosperity: the contrast between the Clinton economy and the Bush economy is the best free advertisement that Democrats have had since Herbert Hoover.

But, Barack Obama has spent months taking pot shots at the Clinton administration, as though he’s running against Bill, not Hillary. So now what? Because:

[…] the message that Democrats are ready to continue and build on a grand tradition doesn’t mesh well with claims to be bringing a “new politics” and rhetoric that places blame for our current state equally on both parties.

There’s a way out. HILLARY.

I’m with Maya Angelou… I am With Hillary for the Long Run.”

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19 Responses to Krugman Speaks Volumes of Truths

  1. Jessica says:

    I’ve thought for a long time that the policy differences between the candidates are slight but their approaches are quite different.

    Hillary wants to do everything for us.  She wants to fix things.  She wants us to trust to her to operate the machine of government.  I have no doubt that she has good intentions and will work hard so we don’t have to.

    Obama is asking that we trust his leadership and judgment and speaks about how we can fix problems together.  He asks us to get involved and learn how to operate the government machine.  In effect, he is asking us to trust ourselves to run our own government. 

    These are broad characterizations, I know, and reasonable people can disagree on which general approach they prefer or which is more effective.  Some people are at a point where they just want someone else to take care of it.  Others are at a point where they eagerly want to participate and shape what comes next.   I don’t think either position is fundamentally flawed and there’s room for both in this party.  It’s not confusion.  It’s a choice.

  2. Jessica says:

    One more thing … who (or what) is an Obamabot?

  3. I have to agree with Krugman. The campaign has been everything that wasn’t needed.

    I started sounding the alarm that the election was by no means in the bag. I believe that electibility is a very, very important issue. As I mentioned yesterday a couple of times: The Prime Directive of politics: First, Get Elected.

    I firmly believe that the R and their surrounding supporters have thrown every conceivable accusation at HRC and she has withstood them all. She flourishes in fact. She won two terms as a Senator and was complimented on both sides of the aisle for the style and humility she showed as she began to understand that very complicated institution.

    The most telling incidents in the Obama campaign has been Senator Obama almost whiny tone about being ‘viciously’ attacked by HRC.

    If he thinks he’s been attacked yet simply wait for the blood to get knee deep in the General Election. I simply believe that he thinks he and his message is above it all. I don’t believe he’s a Warrior.

    As I said in an earlier post, We Need A Warrior.

  4. Janis says:

    To me, he doesn’t empower people to fix things themselves, though. He gets people fired up … and they don’t seem to do anything but get fired up. And donate money to him. I’ve seen nothing concrete come out of this sudden supposed inspiration. People are inspired. Okay, to do what?

    Hillary Clinton gives specifics. That’s what I need. It’s nice to think that we can transform politics (whatever that means) but first off, politics has been the same as it is now since the days of the Romans. It’s naive and egotistical to imagine not only that it will change, but that it will chance just in time for us to pretend we did it.

    Second, what are we transforming it into? It sounds like the old fantasy that when the “revolution” is complete that the state will simply wither away and disappear. No chance of it. Okay, there will be transofrmation. What comes nexT? And not in flowery purple prose of us all holding hands and gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes and hoping together, but what precisely comes next? Eventually, you have to wake up and live. The laundry still needs to get done after the “revolution.” Traffic jams will still make you late for work. YOu’ll still have to pay bills and hope the mail gets there on time.

    Hillary is specifying with great precision how all of these things will get done … while will then leave my oen personal transformation and my own spiritual health wher eit belongs. In MY HANDS. Not in the government’s. It’s not the government’s business to provide me with transformative passion. That’s my job. It’s the government’s job to make sure we can all read, are vaccinated, and have some safety nets for when things go badly wrong in our lives.

    There’s also the greater fact that, if that sotr of thing — improving people’s lives in a concrete way — doesn’t release rhetorical-your passion in your heart, that’s not a flaw in the government. That’s a flaw in your heart. There’s plenty of inspiration in this world, and plenty of wonderful things to do for others to find it. You don’t need a man in a shiny suit who gives good speech to give you permission to go find it.

  5. Janis says:

    Basically, what it all comes down to is that I’ve seen these “revolution” movements before, where relatively young and youth-identified people tell themselves they have the power to change the world.

    Generally, they don’t. They enjoy the potential to change it, and then they go home, get on with their lives, and do nothing. In five years, when Obama loses, if all of those new young generals in the revolution have really made a significant dent, rolled up their sleeves and gotten some dirt under their nails, I’ll have more respect for them. Until then, I’ve just seen it too many times.

    I’ve heard too many aging hippies talk with such reverence and glee about how wonderful the sixties were, when they all thought they could change the world!!!!!!!

    Yes, but did you? And why not? Because it was revealed to be a longer, harder slog than you thought, so you gave up?

    Inspiration isn’t worth shit unless it translates to an actual concrete difference in the lives of people other than yourself and your friends. If the Obama fans end up in large numbers in public service, I’ll be duly impressed. If they end up bitching and ranting when they lose, and never do anything else with their lives again, completely dropping all of this inspiration and passion like a hot rock, I won’t be surprised. It’s the way it’s always happened.

  6. coldH2Owi says:

    & what exactly did the Clintons transform, except for moving people from the welfare rolls into invisibility?  The Clintons & the DLC have their ideal candidate, & he’s Sen. Obama.  Only he wasn’t supposed to appear for another election cycle or two.  & while it is true that Sen. Clinton has been reelected to a second senate term, the real number is seven (7) years as a senator, four (4) four more years than Sen. Obama.  Other than that, she’s been a wife, a political wife & a mother.  Oh, I forgot about her time on the WalMart board.  Now, if the Clintons have their way, we will see more BushDog Democrats, thanks for nothing Rahm, more failed Senate candidates like Harold Ford, Jr. (more of a ReThug than a Dem).  This is the actual history, Janis, is this what you desire?

  7. Jessica says:

    I think it’s hard to know exactly how either candidate has inspired people because inspiration is a deeply personal thing.  It doesn’t always show up in tangible metrics but that doesn’t mean people have not applied it in their own lives.  And donating money must be an expression of something–inspiration or whatever you want to call it–otherwise Hillary’s post-Pennsylvania fundraising numbers wouldn’t have been news.

    The description of the Obama campaign and its supporters as starry eyed, naive children who think that holding hands and hoping is going to solve problems is misleading and wrong.  Hope and holding hands did not win delegates.  It was careful planning and hard work.  People are right to question the usefulness of inspiration without work.  And if an Obama administration matches the inspiration and work I’ve seen so far, then I am hopeful.  

     

  8. coldH2Owi

    What exactly is your issue with the welfare to work program? For all intents and purposes it’s gotten a lot of single mothers mothers OFF welfare and out in the work place. That I would consider to be a good thing. You seem to be stuck with the old complaint that people first had when they started the program that people would be left high and dry. But the program actually has been pretty successful I believe and helped many single mothers.

    As I said here in reply to one of your earlier whines about welfare, I have first hand experience of being on welfare.

    So what’s your beef on this? Because the old complaints aren’t exactly valid anymore – near as I can tell.

  9. coldH2Owi says:

    They are only “old complaints” if you no longer have eyes that see or a heart that bleeds. I live in a state where your vaulted “welfare to work” program was put into effect by Tommy Thompson. If you read the data closely, you will see that white women did in fact make some gains, but that women of color, including Native Americans did not fare so well. You have done better than most, yet you complain all the time about being broke. So, the question is, how well have you really done? If you’re broke, then the right will say you just didn’t try hard enough, didn’t pull hard enough on your bootstraps. Remember, just because Bill & Hillary Clinton claimed to have changed welfare as we knew it doesn’t make it so. Children in this country are crying & dying from hunger & you want to say things are “old complaints”? Sounds like Rumsfeld’s ‘old Europe” to me. I want the Democratic Party to be what is was, instead of putting out candidates that remind me of Everett Dirkson. We need young Tom Harkins, Eugene McCarthys, not the crap we have been fed lately.

  10. Just want to make a few observations on this mess:
    One blogger makes the comment that inspiration in the long run is “really worth shit”. Well, perhaps our Founding Fathers should not have acted out the INSPIRATION that an America free from the control of the English crown was possible. Maybe Winston Curchill should have been more of a realalist. After all how could just words inspire his countymen to ward off the Nazi’s, who had a military clearly superior to theirs. Perhaps Martin Luther King should not have had the inspiration to think that non-violence was the way to gain equality for blacks. In short INSPIRATION IS EVERYTHING! Without it most all goals become unattainable. How can we be downing Obama for inspiring a sense of inspiration within our souls, when we have had a totally incompetent president (King) for eight years who has inspired nothing but fear?
    Secondly, a contributing factor in this political impass is the extent of the ego and naracism of Hillary (and Bill). In my humble opinion, Senator Clinton exudes the feeling that her assension to the presidency is her “birthright”. It’s well documented that the Clintons during Bills two terms constantly referred to “The Plan”. “The Plan” was simply code language used to discuss Hillary’s “Turn”. Since when has it become fashionable for anyone to have the AUDACITY to think that they have a turn? Prince Charles will have “his turn” as monarch when his mother, Queen Elizabeth’s, reign ends. In a democracy I was always under the impression, I guess mistakenly, that we elected a president instead of crowning one. I constantly hear political pundits say that Obama should not be running because it’s “Not his turn” The ego of Hillary has no bounds. I wonder if both she and Bill will ever come to the realization that the candidacy of Obama is not a “fairytail”. Rightly or wrongly, the rhetoric of Barack, like the rhetoric of JFK, has moved our dissillusioned young people to become inspired and to join in the political process. How can this be labeled wrong. If Hillary ends up being selected by Super Delegates in”smoke filled rooms, it will effectively destroy the political optimism of an entire generation. If Hillary becomes President and serves for a full two terms, we will have had our two royal families (Bush/Clinton) being a part of the executive branch for a full 36 years. (including the 8 year vice-presidency of PaPa Bush) Please explain to me how having two political families controling the executive branch for almost four decades can represent a catalyist for CHANGE? Contrary to both Hillary’s campaign spokes-people and the best of the GOP media (FOX), Barack is not a whimp. Wasn’t eight years of “The Decider” playing the fear card enough? Must Hillary backers use it in their continued character assassination of Barack. Oh, but I forgot, the mission statement of the Clinton’s has always been, “the end justifies the means”. Buzz

  11. Buzz

    Knock off the royal family crap here. I mean really. Enough is enough. Barack Obama and his campaign have had plenty to say about Hillary Clinton. You ignore all that and continue to post this same crap here. Again enough is enough. If you don’t like Hillary Clinton – go tell it to bloggers who agree, but don’t do it here.

  12. coldH2Owi

    What I told Buzz goes for you too. I’ll be more than happy to shut down the comments here rather respond to the whining any further. I took your comments out of moderation for the last time. Everything else gets deleted. I have better things to do with my time.

  13. Pamela, I would respectfully submit that that I did not consider what I posted as constituting, “crap”. I would also politely remind you that I am not the only blogger to The Democratic Daily who has had some positives about Obama and some negatives about Hillary. Therefore, you may also wish to inform these folks to discontinue their postings.
    Perhaps, “enough is enough”. You continue to insult and demean any of your bloggers who may hold a diferent opinion. I always thought the purpose of a democracy, as in DEMOCRATIC” Daily, was to illicit a variety of opinions. I also mistakenly thought that our US Constitution guaranteed us a degree of free speech.
    How very disappointing that I misjudged the philosophy of this particular blog. So therefore, I will take you up on your suggestion that, ” I go tell it to bloggers who agree.” However, in closing I want to stress that what I am looking for is not bloggers that must always agree with me. Instead, I am looking for the type of blog that welcomes a variety of viewpoints. Obiously Democratic Daily does not welcome a variety of viewpoints, so as you suggest, “I will not do it here.” You can rest assured that you will never be hearing from be again. Buzz

  14. coldH2Owi

    You have done better than most, yet you complain all the time about being broke. So, the question is, how well have you really done? If you’re broke, then the right will say you just didn’t try hard enough, didn’t pull hard enough on your bootstraps.

    I complain mostly about the economy — which directly effects my business. I have said here many times thatmy business did very well under the Clinton administration and experienced growth during that time. Under the Bush administration my sales have continued to drop. Not just my sales, but my vendors and clients are also suffering.

    There’s a difference, between discussing the economy and my perspective as a small business owner and your dissing of the Clinton’s because of how much income they made. I don’t bemoan the fact that other people have or make more than I — save for complaining about BIG OIL companies and large corporations who have hurt small businesses like my own. While Bill Clinton may have made a huge chunk of money in recent years, you may not be aware that his foundation has done a lot to help small businesses. So too did his adminstration.

    I do also understand that in some areas, welfare to work has not been as successful. But is it the program itself, which has helped countless women get job training and jobs or is it the area itself – areas more rural where there are less jobs?

    As for the Native Americans that aren’t faring well — that in itself is an ongoing battle that reaches far beyond the welfare system. This country has committed grave sins against our first people. It’s a whole different discussion.

    I want the Democratic Party to be what is was, instead of putting out candidates that remind me of Everett Dirkson.

    Nothing ever stays the same. The Democratic Party will never be “what it was.” Much has changed since those days.

  15. Buzz

    Hillary Clinton is a highly qualified candidate who has long aspired to be president. When the Clinton speak in terms of her waiting her “turn” it in reference to her being wife and mother first and getting to that place where she could run for president (and go back to her own career) because her husband had served his terms and her daughter is a grown women. Women make sacrifices everyday in this country. They put their husbands careers and families first. Hillary Clinton did just that and now is the time when she can run for president without it interfering with her family or husband’s career. That what her “turn” is about. And in my opinion — she, has every right in the world to step up and run for president.

    It’s not about this being some dynasty as you say — it’s about a qualified woman running for president. The idea that you see this as an afront is in my opinion a bit sexist and very unfair. So in that resepct as women who has also put my family first, I find this repeated line of talking points from you to be offensive.

    As the owner if this blog, I reserve the right to say what works here in terms of discussion. All blog owners do.I rarely edit or moderate comments — in fact I don’t even have the comments set to registered members only as most blogs do.

    I’ve tried to make the Dem Daily, for the time being a place where Clinton supporters can comfortably discuss her candidacy with out being bashed which is the norm in most liberal blogs these days. So given that I ask that commenters respect that we’re supporting Hillary here and that those who don’t support her don’t overtly bash her.

  16. coldH2Owi says:

    Real sweet, Pamela. Since you were working for John Kerry, I’m sort of glad he didn’t win, since if you would have gotten a paying job with him, you may have turned out like that Regent U. woman lawyer who wouldn’t hire another woman because she “heard” the woman was gay. I hope you do well in your insulated little world of Sen. Clinton lovers, you know, those who actually believe that crap about dynasties & royal families no matter how much you all deny it. Hope you’re feeling better now that you’ve gotten rid of two strong Democrats. Good job, kiddo.

  17. coldH2Owi

    Good gracious – I have no idea what the heck your issues are but do not make them with me here. You have NO idea who I am, what my beliefs are and you make a whole lot of ugly assumptions here. I’m tired of all the bickering. I’m tired of the ugly punditry and everyone whining that they want their way or else. I’m sick of it all. 5 years in the blogopshere trying to make a difference in my own little way and I have to put with people like you passing judgment on me. I don’t think so.

  18. Darrell Prows says:

    I would like to get excited enough about either candidate to get all emotional. While I do think that either would be better in office than the quality of their campaigns indicate, it’s still clear to me that we’re seeing a fight to see who can occupy the left side of the center right portion of the political spectrum. And the neo cons have moved the dialogue in this country so far to the right that both Clinton and Obama are coming down only slightly to the left of Richard Nixon.

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