In case you haven't noticed, Riverdaughter at The Confluence has caught the writing bug again. I recommend her latest piece on Obamacare
, which she gets almost entirely right.
Unrelated to that, in the comments, I asked her to contribute an observation or two to something I intend to write concerning "2008 and all that." Boy, did she deliver. It's a great piece of writing, a model for bloggers everywhere -- chatty, opinionated, yet nuanced. In my response, I kind of gushed in my praise. But...what the hell. From time to time, one gushes.
At any rate, let me run some of her words by you folks. Let's see if your recollections/feelings match what you see here.
I’ll keep saying what I’ve said before. Nothing good comes from a bad seed. Obama’s future performance was evident from the beginning. If you were paying attention and voted for him anyway, thinking that he was going to be some liberal messiah, you should have your head examined.
I watched the beginning of the Obama phenomenon when I was still posting on DailyKos and went to YearlyKos in 2007. My best guess is that the original candidate of choice over there was John Edwards but shortly after YearlyKos, the cat was out of the bag about his personal life. That would explain why the conversion diaries and rec list hostage crisis pivoted from Edwards to Obama in a heartbeat over there. The manipulators looked like the same people to me but an edgier, meaner and more testosterone poisoned bunch seemed to infiltrate the blog at about the same time the switch from Edwards to Obama happened.
Was the Edwards thing apparent THAT early? Was I really that naive...?
I don’t believe that blogs were the true drivers but they were an essential component.
I may go with "true drivers." Remember how "Get this to Keith" became a catch phrase on Kos? The blogs created the memes which cable news ran with.
But the bigger behind the scenes actors must have been in the party itself. How else could they have planned to give so much clout to the sparsely populated mountain states? How did the caucus states get the delegate representation it did? How the hell did one candidate wind up winning CA, NY, NJ, FL, PA, OH, TX, MA, NV, NM, essentially ALL of the major, most populated, most Democratic states in the country and still lose to a candidate who wasn’t even on the ballot in some primaries? The evidence is staring us in the face that the primary was rigged to some extent. Clinton should have won early in the primary season.
Even Plouffe doesn't have a really good explanation for this in his book The Audacity to Win
And then there was the infiltration. There was a glut of campaign money to Obama in February 2008. The blogs got nastier and more misogynistic. I think this was the point when Wall Street picked its candidate. If you want a pithy quote, my best attempt is that Wall Street saw Obama as an enabler and Clinton as rehab and they said no, no, no. Obama was one of their own tribe.
That’s what is so funny about the blogosphere backing Obama. He was so obviously not what they said they wanted. He was a corporate schmoozer. He would have made a great CEO of some fortune 500 company. You know, the guy they bring in to engineer some merger or acquisition, hangs around to get a humongous bonus and then decides to “spend more time with his family” when the newly merged company starts hitting the skids. THAT’S Obama. He’s the guy who negotiates the deal on the golf course in an industry he knows very little about. He just has the right pedigree and chromosomes to get to the top. Getting to the top is the goal. He didn’t really have a plan after that.
After the money picked the candidate and the party was primed to rig the nomination, it was easy for the media to jump in and fan the flames. To the media, it was just like high school. They liked the BMOC and not the girl. I don’t think there’s much more to be said there. It really was that petty.
We can’t discount the effect of the civil rights movement on the early baby boomers. It was the defining issue of their lives, aside from Vietnam. To late baby boomers like myself, well, I was in Obama’s cohort in school. Schools were largely integrated by the time I was a kid, or at least the ones I went to near military installations were. The civil rights movement was still important but not a burning passion. To me, feminism was the defining issue of my age. I think the campaign analysts played on that divide and the early baby boomers were snookered.
The nastiest thing the Obama campaign did to Clinton’s campaign was, well, there were so many, but I think the worst was denying her a legitimate roll call at the convention. But of course, they couldn’t really give her one because even the media would get a clue that the delegate count difference between them was slimmer than the width of a gnat’s wing. There might have been a floor fight. The party didn’t want anyone rocking the boat, especially the voters. I get it because they were desperate to win. But the ends do not justify the means and when you start with a bad beginning, it ends badly.
I think that this analysis somewhat underplays the role of the blogs. For me, the great untold story of that campaign concerns the use of personas to drive the national debate. People make decisions based on group pressure. Nobody wants to admit this fact -- we all think
that we can think for ourselves. But we don't.
That was the great revelation we received from this presentation
, offered unto the world by Ed Snowden. The key slide features these words: "People make decisions as part of groups. People make decisions for emotional reasons, not rational ones."
And that, I suspect, is the story of 2008.