Jul 26 , 2:17 PM
Not Sold on Obama
by Matt Stoller

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Barack Obama came in and gave a little speech to the bloggers at the Blogger breakfast. To be honest, I don't get the big deal. I've seen him speak a few times. He seems very charismatic, but I have yet to cross that bridge with him where I feel like he's saying anything really interesting or useful. He's a lot like Edwards - charismatic and demographically useful for the Democrats. But is there there there?

Probably. I just haven't seen it yet, though I'll see a lot more of this guy over the next twenty years, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Sheesh, this story's getting some attention. My comments on this issue are here.


Permalink
by Matt Stoller
Jul 26 , 2:17 PM  Comments (30) , Trackback (32)

Comments

His antiwar speech was something else. He's playing it safe right now, but still running a very classy campaign.

I hope he doesn't play it safe forever.

Posted by: Katherine at July 26, 2004 02:29 PM

From what I've seen and read about Obama, it's not that he's politically that different from a lot of the mainstream dems, but rather than he's young, multiculural, a lock for gaining a democratic seat, and seems to be able to charm a lot of middle-of-the -road people. Dems are giving him a lot of publicity as the "future" of the democratic party - They'd like a lot of candidates in the Obama mold.

Then again, I live in NYC, where even our republicans are really just democrats in wolves clothing.

Plus, his name is an instant conversation starter.

Posted by: sam at July 26, 2004 04:44 PM

I can't help but feel that people in Illinois are gaga over him just because he's the first obvious non-hack black politician on the local scene since Harold Washington-- it's been a depressing time full of empty-suit disappointments like C.M. Braun, con men like Jesse Jackson, pathetic personal life flameouts like Mel Reynolds, and a procession of sacrificial lambs recruited to lose 80-20 to Daley the Second. So yeah, Obama gets credit just for not drinking ketchup straight from the bottle at fundraisers. Since he has no opponent, we probably won't know if he amounts to anything until after he gets into office and either builds a solid record... or is Braun Redux.

Posted by: Mike G at July 26, 2004 07:11 PM


I took a class from Obama in law school, and he is the real deal. Perhaps he's in a situation in which he has every reason to say nothing interesting, but rest assured that he's not Braun II.

Posted by: Robert Mahnke at July 26, 2004 08:52 PM

I will describe my feelings about barack in once sentance:

If he runs for president I'm quitting my job and hopping on the next flight to new hampshire.

Posted by: Glenn Brown at July 27, 2004 12:58 PM

Glenn-

I'll join you in New Hampshire...

2012? 2020? (Barack will only be 58)

And I'll be so glad to say I worked the polls for Obama in his primary run in 2004.

Looking forward to tonight!

Posted by: David at July 27, 2004 06:04 PM

Obama is just another example of the lefts obsession with form over substance. How better to illustrate this then to cite Chris Matthews verbal orgasm proclaiming, after Obama's speech, "I have just heard the first black president of the United States"

Posted by: Joseph at July 29, 2004 12:01 PM

Joseph,

As much as you can criticize others for getting themselves in a lather over Obama, one can criticize you for an unsupported comment. Do you know anything about the man? The guy has the credentials to be president, unlike our current "war president." He has the ability to communicate well. And, he speaks to the entire population as opposed to simply his "constituency." One is rarely able to vote in a way that makes them feel like the person deserved the vote, and Obama deserves mine in November. Perhaps you could do a little research and try and find a reason for his trouncing of all comers in Illinois in spite of the fact that his support was minimal.

Posted by: Nicholas Paredes at July 29, 2004 12:13 PM

I have to agree...form over substance. He sounds good, but spouts the same tired rhetoric we have heard from other candidates. Illinois is pretty much a 50/50 state dems/republicans...if the republicans put up a credible candidate, Obama will have a tough time.

Posted by: jimf at July 29, 2004 12:35 PM

what ever happened to Harold Ford Jr... he was the last 'first black president' right before my party jettisoned him in favor of the shrill Pelosi for minority leader... We made a mistake in selecting Pelosi, but we'll have to see what the future holds for both Ford & Obama...


my money is on Ford...

Posted by: great satan at July 29, 2004 12:43 PM

Osama Yomama sho is a good speaka! Sho nuff!

Posted by: Hubert at July 29, 2004 01:02 PM

Obama does not speak to me - he speaks at me and I am not buying his baloney. One America - after the last 6 months a statement like that is plain stupid and phony - if he really believes it he ain't too swift, but I suspect he doesn't so what does that make him? A tool.

Last I checked, he is a state-elected official running for a federal level position that he got a lot of help from the Chicago papers who destroyed Ryan's reputation. That ain't stompin' anybody.

And finally, being a state official, how could he possibly be speaking to the nation as his constituency? As far as I know from high school civics, the only guy who can do that is George W. Bush.

Posted by: Scaramonga at July 29, 2004 01:55 PM

I agree with Sam up above. Obama is a white-friendly, DLC-type black Democrat.

As for Harold Ford, Jr., he's only in his early thirties, so he's got a long career still. Ford's seat is securely Democratic, so he's not going anywhere. Talk in Tennessee is he'll try for Senator Bill Frist's seat in 2006, whether or not Frist tries for the President in 2008.

His run against Pelosi was only to get his name out there, to plant his flag so to speak. Also, he was trying to keep some of the DLC influence going. He didn't expect to win, just to run respectably. The tensions in the party at the time were between DLC centrist types and the Deaniac, anti-war, anti-Bush, farther to the left-ho!, crowd. You can see who won....

Posted by: mike hollihan at July 29, 2004 02:06 PM

Chicago's newspapers are not to blame. Ryan destroyed his own reputation by lying to reporters. He got burned for it, for sure, but that doesn't erase the fact that he lied and got caught.

Posted by: Anodyne at July 29, 2004 02:12 PM

"Last I checked, he is a state-elected official running for a federal level position that he got a lot of help from the Chicago papers who destroyed Ryan's reputation. That ain't stompin' anybody."

Um... Obama was *way* ahead of Ryan before the sex scandal made the papers. Obviously you don't really know much about the campaign...

Posted by: MD at July 29, 2004 02:40 PM

Nicholas said:

"The guy has the credentials to be president, unlike our current "war president." "

LOL!

President Bush is a great President! I'm voting for him.

After watching Edwards give his President Bush impression of fighting terrorism last night. I can see the Democrats aren't that much different from the Republicans who know how to fight war right. The Dems do know how to hypnotize the attendees with otherwise boring speeches.

I'm thinking many swing state voters just made up their minds to support the Republicans.

Don

Posted by: Donald Larson at July 29, 2004 03:17 PM

WOW! These are good comments. Noce to hear people actually think.

Posted by: Joe Ventura at July 29, 2004 03:20 PM

WOW! These are good comments. Nice to hear people actually think.

Posted by: Joe Ventura at July 29, 2004 03:21 PM

I don't know what Baraka Obama said t Matt Stoller at the Blogger's Breakfast, but I know I heard him speak at the DNC and he's got my vote.

Why Obama did not wet Stoller's whistle is anybody's guess, but because he wasn't "on" at the Blogger's breakfast is no indication of his suitability for presidential politics.

I guess if Stoller had given me more reason for his disdain I might have considered his opinion. Instead, he was merely dismissive which is what white people do to blacks who they don't like but can't come with any credible reason.

But this is why we are second-class citizens: we are so easily targeted. Money or talent or background does not count. If you are black, you can be dismissed.

I think Matt Stoller has every right to like whom ever he does and for whatever reasons. But by his dismissive tone and unreasoned disdain, I choose not to like him. "Have Blog, will Travel" I guess, but to me Matt Stoller is merely "a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing".

Gilton

Posted by: Gilton Cross at July 29, 2004 04:33 PM

Illinois dems & repubs are doing a great job spouting the party lines on this thread, but you're conveniently ignoring truths. Obama was getting stomped by Blair Hull, until his divorce records became public (released at dems insistence). Then before Obama and JACK! (Ryan) had any kind of mano a mano match up Jack's divorce records became an issue. It's popular to blame the media for making those records public but the truth is they were released by repubs (Gen. Borling) 3 days before the primary. Both parties are pathetic and fraught with in-fighting so I chose to stay above the fray and vote for Libertarian Jerry Kohn.

Posted by: Gary Feezel at July 29, 2004 11:25 PM

Okay,
here is why Illinois residents are excited about Obama--- he is not attached to either the downstate republican machine or the Daley Mayor for Life Machine.

It is as simple as that.

Posted by: Athena's Mom at July 30, 2004 10:56 AM

Rich and pretty Jack Ryan's campaign was already taking on water before the Trib put another torpedo into it. My complaint about the Trib is that it doesn't give the same tough treatment to Dick Mell's son-in-law or to Lisa Madigan's Daddy. Nor did it to George Ryan. Are we to believe the Tribs reporters are ignorant about what goes on until the indictments come down, or just that the Trib thinks we only need the half of the truth [if that] it feels like tellin us?

Posted by: mercutio at July 30, 2004 11:08 PM

Rich and pretty Jack Ryan's campaign was already taking on water before the Trib put another torpedo into it. My complaint about the Trib is that it doesn't give the same tough treatment to Dick Mell's son-in-law or to Lisa Madigan's Daddy. Nor did it to George Ryan. Are we to believe the Tribs reporters are ignorant about what goes on until the indictments come down, or just that the Trib thinks we only need the half of the truth [if that] it feels like tellin us?

Posted by: mercutio at July 30, 2004 11:08 PM

Rich and pretty [his only obvious qualifications] Jack Ryan's campaign was already taking on water before the Trib put another torpedo into it. My complaint about the Trib is that it doesn't give the same tough treatment to Dick Mell's son-in-law or to Lisa Madigan's Daddy. Nor did it to George Ryan. Are we to believe the Tribs reporters are ignorant about what goes on until the indictments come down, or just that the Trib thinks we only need the half of the truth [if that] it feels like telling us?

Posted by: mercutio at July 30, 2004 11:11 PM

Rich and pretty [his only obvious qualifications] Jack Ryan's campaign was already taking on water before the Trib put another torpedo into it. My complaint about the Trib is that it doesn't give the same tough treatment to Dick Mell's son-in-law or to Lisa Madigan's Daddy. Nor did it to George Ryan. Are we to believe the Tribs reporters are ignorant about what goes on until the indictments come down, or just that the Trib thinks we only need the half of the truth [if that] it feels like telling us?

Posted by: mercutio at July 30, 2004 11:11 PM

One big reason Obama is getting such a favorable buzz in Illinois is because he essentially was anointed by the late Sen. Paul Simon before he passed. Simon's integrity and intelligence over his long career won him a lot of favor from both Democratic and Republican voters, so his endorsement of Obama carried a lot of weight.

Having read Obama's platform and read his speech at the DNC, I'd say Simon was a very good judge of character.

Posted by: Ron at July 30, 2004 11:37 PM

You're correct. I've watched Obama for a year now. Charismatic, good speaker. But something missing, and after a year I still haven't found the specific on what isn't there.

Posted by: kate at August 1, 2004 07:19 AM

hey... I don't know about any of you, but personally I can't see either of the candidates being a good president. Either of them will do a decent job, and we won't die with either of them leading us, but Kerry's a weak speaker and a fickle man, and Bush... yeah... Bush...

Basically, my vote's going to Bush in 04... here's the reason:

Let's assume kerry wins this election, then in 2008 he'll run for re-election. If he's half decent in his first term, odds are he'll win this election. After these 8 years, the American population will be tired of the Democrat way of gov't and they'll all vote for the Republican, whoever that happens to be at the time. then we have to wait another 4 to 8 years after that for Obama to get into the white house. That's like 2016-2020 before he's even got the opportunity!

However:
If bush wins, Obama's got to have a good chance of getting the presidential nomination in '08, based on his electricity as a speaker and his inevitable rise in popularity.

The sooner we can get this guy in there to fix whatever's going on, the better!

If anyone's got any info to share with me to make a better opinion of this situation, feel free to e-mail me!

Posted by: Max at August 3, 2004 02:41 AM

As a multi-racial (Asian, Latina and Euro), second generation American - my experience in this country was completely validated by Obama in his speech.

Obama is the first public figure that has stated in no uncertain terms that there is a place for us multi-hyphenate Americans.

Obama is HALF White and HALF Black and ALL AMERICAN.

He helped me (and hopefully other multiracial folks) realize that we don't have to choose a racial/cultural side - we're 100% Americans.

Posted by: Tanya at August 4, 2004 03:47 PM

When I heard Obama's outstanding speech at the DNC, I felt the same chills I felt a number of years ago when I heard Clinton address the convention. I didn't even know who he was, but I "knew" this guy would be president some day.
I told my co-workers that I had heard our first black president speak the night before, and contrary to some of your readers, Obana's speech embodied the very principles of democracy - unity despite diversity leading to the realization of the Great American Dream, and hopefully, a helping hand where opportunity does not exist due to physical, mental or emotional disabiltiy.
Compassion on a par with personal responsibility. I felt this man owned those qualities, and he will be president.

Posted by: Terra at August 10, 2004 10:37 AM
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