Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not 2004 Anymore.

Some people seem to be hand-wringing about-- whether his point was correct or not-- how people will take what Obama said... because that is the big deal here, because voters vote based on perceptions and feelings. All true.

But is this story really even a big deal? I'm not convinced. Even the Drudge Report-- long the pulse on what BS story the right is focusing on at any given time-- was focusing more on Hillary than Barack. My cyber-journeys at places like the National Review and other conservative websites found some jokes, but no real hyping. This is one of those things that someone like Sean Hannity will run into the ground (when he's not insisting that Obama is a terrorist-sympathizer black nationalist), but that no actual person will care about. Will we really still be talking about this in October?

Still, that didn't stop Sen. Clinton from playing the ultimate concern troll. Echoing every GOP stereotype and talking point, she lamented that Obama is an elitist who is out of touch with regular Americans. Regular Americans like her. She said these perceptions are why Gore and Kerry lost their respective elections... and that is why she is in full pander mode, acting like vintage Bush, circa 2000. The word is that she was even handing out "I'm not bitter" buttons at rallies-- like the GOP handing out purple heart band-aids at their 2004 convention-- which apparently didn't go over well with crowds, many of whom are quite bitter. The fact that it is not still 2004 has eluded this campaign.

Moreover, her pandering has given Sen. Obama just the opening he needed to hit back (and this is getting more play on Drudge-ish sites now than the original flap). Notice also that he uses the opportunity to speak out against John McCain... aka the GOP candidate that the Clintons are ignoring in lieu of regurgitating conservative talking points.

One reason that John Kerry lost in 2004 was that every time the GOP threw some BS issue at him-- like the easily debunked Swift Boat vet story-- he decided it was best to ignore it (hey, voters know better, right?). He took the punches, and didn't hit back. Made him look not only weak, but also made some voters think the criticisms must be legitimate. Sen. Obama is no John Kerry. He is not taking these punches, he's hitting back. And while victory in November is hardly assured by any means (people loves ol' Maverick John!), it's that which gives me hope, and it's why I know that it's not 2004 anymore.

[UPDATE: Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic has what is the best take on all this I've found.]


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