4:10 PM, Jul 28, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
The always cogent Cost does a magnificent job laying out Barack Obama's meta-narrative:
You'll have to read the whole thing, but I especially want to salute Cost for making the perspicacious comparison between Clinton and Obama. Like Obama, Clinton in '92 hit the change thing hard. But Barbara Jordan was able to ask repeatedly at the Democratic National Convention that year in regards to all the change talk, "From what to what?" because Clinton, bless his heart, never skimped on the specifics. In 1992, Clinton had so many multi-point plans that many of us played a parlor game at home called "Guess the Acronym" that tried to figure out what acronym he used to remember all of his boring talking points. Later, as president, Clinton became the master of the two hour State of the Union address. The SOTUs had to be so long because Clinton larded them with minutiae ranging from how long he would require a woman to stay in the hospital after giving birth to the particulars of his midnight basketball program.
The Obama campaign rolls differently, obviously figuring specifics are boring and so last millennium. On the rare occasions when Obama tries to put some flesh on his Hope/Change skeleton, the specifics are so vague as to be essentially meaningless. For instance, Obama assures us that in an Obama administration, all seniors will henceforth retire with dignity. I guess from a policy perspective this has something to do with social security, but specifically what it has to do with social security is unknowable. All of Obama's big promises - from "provid(ing)care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless" to "slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet" - are maddeningly devoid of specific policy implications. Indeed, Obama's entire agenda is more a wish list than a plan for action.
I know I may be coming across as a frustrated conservative in talking this way, angry that Obama has so far managed to pull one over on the electorate. But those aren't my feelings at all. Barack Obama is the most ideologically agnostic candidate for president we've had since George H. W. Bush. Bush 41 thought he should be at the center of things because of his personal skill set. Obama feels the same way. Many people consider Obama a far left liberal. While he may tend to the liberal side of things just as Bush 41 tended to the conservative side of things, he subscribes to no consistent political orthodoxy.
So what kind of policies will we get in an Obama administrations? As we've seen with his serial vacillations on Iraq, even he doesn't know. And he won't be hemmed in by a series of onerous campaign promises. Campaign promises like pledging to "heal the sick" leave a lot of wiggle room.
The Boss has discovered a issue for McCain to exploit, namely the hideous disaster that unchecked Democratic power would be:
Just because Obama is successfully running a campaign with minimal not to mention ever-evolving specifics, that doesn't mean his fellow Democrats are doing the same. When I was guest-hosting the Hugh Hewitt radio show last week, we had Republican Senators Richard Burr and Mitch McConnell drop by to talk about drilling and other means we can use to expand our energy production. The congressional Republicans spy an issue here, especially since the Democratic plan is to wait until Al Gore's moon shot energy "plan" delivers on its promise some time in 2068.
Obama is part of the Democratic party, and has shown no eagerness to differentiate himself from his party's mainstream on any issue. In other words, no maverick he. Therein lies a significant Republican opportunity.
Much to Mickey Kaus's delight, the dam is beginning to break on the John Edwards love-child rumors. While the mainstream media has considered the story not newsworthy, the far more reputable Huffington Post has weighed in:
The story about Edwards could of course be bunk. The National Enquirer who broke the story gets some things right, but it is hardly an authoritative outfit. But the fact the mainstream media has declared the well-sourced rumors and the even better-sourced actual events in the Beverly Hills Hilton off-limits is quite literally laughable. If a differently oriented former candidate, say Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney or Fred Thomspon, was caught visiting the woman rumored to be the mother of his love-child at a hotel at 3 in the morning and hid out in a restroom until hotel security could spirit him to safety, I doubt the New York Times would have shown such restraint. And I'm sure the lefty blogosphere wouldn't have shown such restraint. Somehow I doubt the Republican's "former-candidate" status would have insulted him from the media's curiosity.
As far as what implications this story may have, there are two tracks. One concerns John Edwards and his political future. Quite frankly, the only thing that interests me less than John Edwards' present is his future. I respectfully decline to speculate on what moves Edwards will have to make in order to silence these rumors and finagle his way into the Obama cabinet. Obviously any chances he had of being Obama's running mate are as dead as disco.
The more relevant side of the story concerns the media. The kids at the Daily Kos don't deny that their purpose in life is to get Democrats elected to office. Thus, propaganda will be more in their bailiwick than journalism (although they seldom embrace the label "propagandists"). The people at our leading dailies like to think of themselves differently. They can think of themselves however they like. The rest of us will form our own conclusions.
The former treasury secretary and erstwhile president of the World's Greatest University takes dead aim at the rescue plan that has "saved" Fannie and Freddie, at least for the moment:
Some people think Fannie and Freddie are an election issue. Those people couldn't be more wrong. Fannie and Freddie are a bipartisan disgrace, and even for the handful of Republicans like Richard Shelby and Jim DeMint who find themselves on the side of the angels here, the issue is too complex to make any real political hay. All in all, the Fannie and Freddie debacle is a dispiriting case study in how our present leadership class isn't up its responsibilities.
For eight years, weary Red Sox fans have put up with Manny Ramirez's shtick. The guy can hit, but he's arguably the most frustrating player in the history of the Red Sox franchise. Now that Manny is getting older and his production is slipping, his antics are becoming increasingly untenable. At the end of last week, Ramirez sidelined himself with a fantasy knee injury. The injury just happened to coincide with Manny publicly expressing his frustration over his contract status. Writes Shaughnessy:
Manny is an enormous irritant - no question. But one of the reasons the Red Sox have been so successful in recent years is they've looked to maximize a player's strengths while overlooking or at least managing his weaknesses. Manny's style is an affront to every Red Sox fan who thinks a guy who gets paid $20 million a year should care about his job. Not everyone can hustle like Pete Rose did, but for that kind of money the Red Sox should at least get a modicum of professionalism in return.
But don't look for the Sox to cut off their nose to spite their face. They need Manny's production if they're going to win their third title in five years. This will be Manny's final year in Boston. The Sox won't spend $20 million next year on an aging slugger/clubhouse headache. But someday from a distance, the Manny Ramirez era will look like a beautiful thing. He may be the biggest pain the neck ever, but he's also one of the best hitters ever. Sadly, there's no substitute for talent. Happily, the preceding won't come as news to the Red sox savvy management team.