Let’s take a moment to deal with teh stupid, shall we? In particular, I’m interested in dealing with the inane and self-serving assumption that Obama’s support is purely irrational. This is a tempest in a tea-pot between factions that will come together for the general election. It isn’t important. The FISA vote today is important. But here goes:

Belittling the support for Obama as a mere cult of personality ignores one obvious thing: Hillary’s negatives were already sky-high among Democrats. If you don’t know why people might run from Hillary, then you don’t have anything useful to say about why people would be flocking to Obama. Krugman’s observation that most of the venom is coming from Obama supporters is laughable. Of course it looks that way to Krugman, he’s a Clinton supporter. Why would Clinton supporters be directing an equal stream of venom at him? Furthermore, Krugman is just plain wrong on the facts when he says that Obama’s voters wouldn’t support Clinton if she were to be the nominee. The last poll I saw, over the weekend, showed that both Democratic candidates’ voters had already said they’d vote for the other in the general election by the same percentage (i.e., the difference was well within the MoE, close to 85% each).

To me, the hard numbers mean a lot more than whatever has accumulated in Krugman’s in-box. If he doesn’t get that, that’s a shame. But ignorance is not an argument, even if your name is Paul Krugman.

Krugman’s failure to appreciate even the most basic and obvious dynamics of the present polemical struggle is sad. Then again, he’s not equipped to deal with this issue, in the same way that I wouldn’t ask a geologist to explain religious intolerance. I realized this years ago when I watched that moron Bill O’Reilly absolutely humiliate Krugman on national TV. Krugman doesn’t understand how arguments work and, when he attempts them himself, his writing is good enough for some of the top college newspapers in the country. On this issue, he’s just another low-information voter.

Mostly, the Krugman issue is a firestorm only in the sense that we’re not used to contested primaries like this one, with both parties facing brokered conventions until very recently. By now in the political cycle, Democrats are used to having a candidate established enough to be trashed by the Heathers and other hateful holes in the corporate media. Since we don’t, we’re turning our usual rhetorical weapons on each other.

How naive, also, must the political blogsphere be if we’re measuring the candidates by marginal differences in campaign-promise policy.* Hah! Stop it. You’re embarrassing me. No such proposal survives first contact with a legislature. You either understand that or you’re a liability. If I were only counting campaign promises, I would have signed on with John Edwards long ago.

No, I came to support Obama for two reasons: (1) he has more people in more states, both paid and volunteers, and he has the younger support. That’s called ‘building a party.’ The Clintons, as Stirling notes, didn’t do that. I don’t trust them to do that now. Obama’s campaign looks like Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy. Clinton’s campaign hired Terry McCauliffe. Hello? This is the difference I would expect between a Bilderberger and a neighborhood organizer.

(2) I was willing to overlook Clinton’s hiring of Mark Penn until I saw the kind of media pushback coming from the Clinton campaign at the beginning of the year. But there it was: the same kind of low-information voter exploitation I would expect from a man who’d love to pour 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T on the grassroots. Bill Clinton himself was on national TV clipping an Obama quote, treating Obama the way Larry Kudlow treated John Kerry in 2004.


Have the sense to look at the organizations the two candidates are building and then tell me who’s more compatible with the netroots. Right now, process is more important than policy because we’re only just beginning the process that makes policy. Obama has essentially told the netroots to shut up about a couple of things I can think of (both having to do with religion). Excuse me, why is this a problem? We in the netroots tell each other to shut up all the time.

No, I came to Obama, if I must to use that phrase, for rational reasons.

If you’re content to remain a political consumer, fine. Rant on the internet. If you understand the value of organizations, then get on the fucking train, boys and girls. This isn’t JFK all over again, it’s more like RFK with better security. We never got to see how that played out, so we get to determine how this one plays out. No fantasy required.

The netroots won’t get everything it wants, but hell: we’re only 20% of the party last time I checked. I know it’s like steering a battleship, trying to get what you want out of politics.

Deal with it.


* So Clinton is promising single-payer come hell or high water. So what? That’s a set-up for failure, and she’s failed before (something the Obama campaign reminded her of quite pointedly). Her husband staked out lefty positions and then tacked back to the Republicans and I expect her to do so as well. Krugman thinks that Obama is hedging about mandates and that this will make it impossible to move on this later. In reality, the healthcare corruption industry doesn’t need Obama’s ideas, and Obama is right about the problem of changing the culture and overlapping legacy systems. If Obama erred on this issue it was in breaking from his usual, messianic generalities and talking about the political and institutional realities that will confront our inevitable move to single-payer. Then again, if you think of his campaign as a cult, that point was likely to go right over your head.