Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is a narrative starting to form?

Could it be that Barack Obama's craven flip-flops are starting to create a what will be a lasting and harmful narrative that will define his candidacy throughout the fall?

I have been watching Obama's campaign - and the media's coverage of it - very closely since he became the frontrunner after Super Tuesday. What he did was remarkable. Beating the Clinton machine is a magnificent accomplishment.

But from the get-go, I was amused by this charismatic fellow. Actually, more amused by the totally credulous response he got from his supporters and the media. The guy is really just another bullshit artist - his words don't come close to matching the reality of his background and his political resume.

But so many people just lapped it up, so EXCITED about this fresh new figure who was a so very different kind of politician.

Wrong.

He's proving it now, with his sudden, shameless about faces on his Iraq timetable, FISA, guns, public financing and everything else. Just another triangulating, poll testing politician. The only sad part is he had so many people fooled in the first place.

It is the hardly uncommon for a presidential nominee to run to the center after wrapping up the nomination. For the usual candidate, it is hardly fatal. But Obama didn't sell himself as the usual candidate - he sold himself as different. The people he got excited - the new voters, the college kids - all the folks who drove the huge turnout for Democrats - they will disappear into the ether as soon as they realize this guy is just another smooth talking politician who will say whatever he needs to say to win.

And that is the narrative that seems to be taking shape in a manner that will stick. He sold himself so effectively as a different kind of candidate that when his actions and words prove he isn't, it becomes a defining issue.

Remember the Republican National Convention in 2004? I forget whose speech it was, but he was blasting Kerry for being a flip-flopper, and the crowd was ready for it, waving their actual flip-flops, chanting "FLIP-FLOPPER!"

That was a narrative that stuck to Kerry like glue. I think there may now be the same kind of narrative forming about Obama that he won't be able to shake, and that defines this yet-to-be-defined candidate in a way that really disappoints all those young, eager and idealistic voters who flocked to Obama as their political messiah.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's a good article linked from the Drudge Report today about how Obama makes lots of decisions and statements that he later "regrets" - later, that is, after he gets called out on them. He certainly does not have the courage of his convictions, whatever they might be.

ZZMike said...

Someone said the other day that Obama isn't really flipping, he's merely changing his outlook based on changes in the world situation.

But it does seem like almost every time he speaks, his campaign has to spend the next few days telling us what he really meant, or how he's "sorry if anyone was offended".

I heard a new story on Pacifica Radio (where I don't usually go, and then only with hip boots) on Obama's stand on merit pay for teachers. He's for it (today), probably because it's a darn good idea.

But the teachers unions are livid. They're denouncing this scurrilous notion as an affront to teachers.

We can expect his new opinion, revised to reflect Reality, to emerge in a few days.

But hold on to the links where he's in favor of it.

Ted said...

I'm still trying to figure out what is more bizarre, Obama's sudden discovery of centrism or his absolute insistence that this was really how he felt the whole time.