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Obama, Why he isn't Blowing McCain Away

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by pgabriel, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    This actually came out last week but it was just in the Chronicle Saturady Morning

    obama's problem connecting

    Where’s the Landslide?


    By DAVID BROOKS
    Published: August 5, 2008
    Why isn’t Barack Obama doing better? Why, after all that has happened, does he have only a slim two- or three-point lead over John McCain, according to an average of the recent polls? Why is he basically tied with his opponent when his party is so far ahead?


    The Conversation

    All Conversations » His age probably has something to do with it. So does his race. But the polls and focus groups suggest that people aren’t dismissive of Obama or hostile to him. Instead, they’re wary and uncertain.

    And the root of it is probably this: Obama has been a sojourner. He opened his book “Dreams From My Father” with a quotation from Chronicles: “For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers.”

    There is a sense that because of his unique background and temperament, Obama lives apart. He put one foot in the institutions he rose through on his journey but never fully engaged. As a result, voters have trouble placing him in his context, understanding the roots and values in which he is ineluctably embedded.

    Last week Jodi Kantor of The Times described Obama’s 12 years at the University of Chicago Law School. “The young law professor stood apart in too many ways to count,” Kantor wrote.

    He was a popular and charismatic professor, but he rarely took part in faculty conversations or discussions about the future of the institution. He had a supple grasp of legal ideas, but he never committed those ideas to paper by publishing a piece of scholarship.

    He was in the law school, but not of it.

    This has been a consistent pattern throughout his odyssey. His childhood was a peripatetic journey through Kansas, Indonesia, Hawaii and beyond. He absorbed things from those diverse places but was not fully of them.

    His college years were spent on both coasts. He was a community organizer for three years but left before he could be truly effective. He became a state legislator, but he was in the Legislature, not of it. He had some accomplishments, but as Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker wrote, he was famously bored by the institution and used it as a stepping stone to higher things.

    He was in Trinity United Church of Christ, but not of it, not sharing the liberation theology that energized Jeremiah Wright Jr. He is in the United States Senate, but not of it. He has not had the time nor the inclination to throw himself into Senate mores, or really get to know more than a handful of his colleagues. His Democratic supporters there speak of him fondly, but vaguely.

    And so it goes. He is a liberal, but not fully liberal. He has sometimes opposed the Chicago political establishment, but is also part of it. He spoke at a rally against the Iraq war, while distancing himself from many antiwar activists.

    This ability to stand apart accounts for his fantastic powers of observation, and his skills as a writer and thinker. It means that people on almost all sides of any issue can see parts of themselves reflected in Obama’s eyes. But it does make him hard to place.

    When we’re judging candidates (or friends), we don’t just judge the individuals but the milieus that produced them. We judge them by the connections that exist beyond choice and the ground where they will go home to be laid to rest. Andrew Jackson was a backwoodsman. John Kennedy had his clan. Ronald Reagan was forever associated with the small-town virtues of Dixon and Jimmy Carter with Plains.

    It is hard to plant Obama. Both he and his opponent have written coming-of-age tales about their fathers, but they are different in important ways. McCain’s “Faith of My Fathers” is a story of a prodigal son. It is about an immature boy who suffers and discovers his place in the long line of warriors that produced him. Obama’s “Dreams From My Father” is a journey forward, about a man who took the disparate parts of his past and constructed an identity of his own.

    If you grew up in the 1950s, you were inclined to regard your identity as something you were born with. If you grew up in the 1970s, you were more likely to regard your identity as something you created.

    If Obama is fully a member of any club — and perhaps he isn’t — it is the club of smart post-boomer meritocrats. We now have a cohort of rising leaders, Obama’s age and younger, who climbed quickly through elite schools and now ascend from job to job. They are conscientious and idealistic while also being coldly clever and self-aware. It’s not clear what the rest of America makes of them.

    So, cautiously, the country watches. This should be a Democratic wipeout. But voters seem to be slow to trust a sojourner they cannot place.
     
  2. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    I agree with this and will repeat: This election will be close unless McCain collapses late.
     
  3. Achilleus

    Achilleus Member

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    Another difference is that Mark Salter wrote McCain's book "with" him.

    ...
     
  4. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    I don't buy that argument at all.

    In today's political climate, though, I would not expect one candidate to be head and shoulders in front of the other, regardless of who the candidates are. We're always roughly 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans and will be in this election too.
     
  5. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    I was thinking the same thing, going back to 04, i think in retrospect its kind of amazing that John Kerry stayed as close as he did to bush, as much as he was perceived as a "northeast liberal".

    but at the same time, I think the premise is bush has been so bad since 04, and mccain has done such a terrible job of campaigning so far that anyone would be far ahead, based on his comment about the party being so far ahead as a whole.
     
  6. lalala902102001

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    This is the U.S.A., not Europe where liberals run amok. This is why Obama is not going to have a walk in the park in this election.
     
  7. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    Yeah, Bush looked like he was sabotaging the party with his administration and McCain's taken missteps, but I think that only underscores the depth of partisanship. There's some cognitive dissonance to work out, but humans are very good at doing that. So, Bush was terrible, but it's not too hard to tell yourself McCain is a different sort of Republican (in fact, even though I'm not voting for him, I do think he's a different sort of Republican, positions on war, torture, etc notwithstanding). And, you know every criticism of a candidate is only an opportunity for his supporters to accuse the opposition of mischaracterizing, misunderstanding, and slandering him. Or, if all else fails, to give an understanding chuckle and say, "its tiring on the campaign trail; he must have mispoke." And, in the end, every little event is just another opportunity for a partisan to cement and reinforce his partisanship.

    And, with only two parties, how else could it be done? If one party were to get an actual sizable majority, the parties would have to change their platforms to re-establish the balance. The losing party would have to adopt more popular positions to win votes. The winning party would have to split within their camp to get more of what the core wants.
     
  8. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    It is probably because he is black, and there are still a lot of people in this country who won't vote for a black man.
     
  9. thumbs

    thumbs Contributing Member

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    Since Obama is half black, wouldn't your statement be only half true? :cool:

    Seriously, I believe the American public will decide based on issues. Yes, there will be some who vote against him because he is black, and there will be some who vote for him because he is black. Kind of a wash, don't you think?
     
  10. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

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    That is certainly one of the factors.
     
  11. Mr.Scarface

    Mr.Scarface Member

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    This article is more accurate on Why the polls are close:

    http://nymag.com/news/features/49138/

     
  12. Major

    Major Member

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    Given that black voters already vote 9-1 for the Democrat anyway, how is it a wash?
     
  13. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    plus white voters are still the majority last time i checked
     
  14. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    I would just like to remind you all that it was barely over a year ago that people in this forum weighed in on this and agreed by a small majority that America was not ready for a black president and that Obama would lose badly if he ran.

    I certainly think race is still a factor but I think it's amazing how far we've come wrt attitudes on this subject in the last year.
     
  15. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    With the republican ruining the economy and fighting an unpopular war, and a candidate with zero charisma whose ads talk more about Obama then himself, how is this race close?
     
  16. thumbs

    thumbs Contributing Member

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    As you said, black voters vote 9-1 Democratic, or black in this case (though I would hope not all black voters are voting for him because he is black but rather because he is the Dem candidate), while vlaurelio points out there are a greater number of white voters, so that minority of white voters who vote their prejudices and the number of black voters voting Democratic cancel each other out, kinda sorta. Hey, it's not exact, but I'd rather think that whoever wins will have won because he deserved to win. It's the idealist in me creeping out.
     
    #16 thumbs, Aug 11, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  17. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    From the people I talk to, the voters who are voting for Obama because of white guilt or "giving a black man a chance" outnumber those who are voting for McCain because of racism about 3-to-1. To be fair, I do think that the majority of both groups traditionally vote Democrat.
     
  18. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    well it must be true, then!

    not to be rude or to say your crowd is wrong, but it's hard to imagine, even as far as we've come from a human rights perspective, that Obama's ethnicity is more of a "positive" for him than a "negative". The US population is still +/- 70% white. It still has a decent percentage of people that live in rural or small metro (200,000 and fewer people) areas (30%-40%), etc.
     
  19. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    It's an admittedly small sample, and not scientific at all, but I live in a smallish metro (400,000 people) and because of my political involvement, I spend a lot of time talking to voters.
     
  20. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    That's odd. I'm an Obama supporter, and I have yet to ever hear of anyone claiming to vote for him because of white guilt, or giving a black man a chance.

    I have heard some people say that it will be good to have a black President, but not that that is the reason they would vote for him.
     

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