Obama: starting through the meatgrinder

Workout notes Swimming, 3100 yards. I opened with 500 of fist/free (lengths), 6 x 50 on 1 (49 to 48), 2 x 100 on 2 (1:36, 1:35), 10 x (25 drill, 25 free), then the main set: 5 x 100 on the 2: 1:35, :34, :32, :31, :33.

Then I finished up with 5 x 100 (side/free), 500 pull (8:22) and 100 of cool down.

That was the best set of 100s I’ve done in years (which shows you what a pathetic swimmer I am 🙂 ). Aferwards, I stretched some in the hot tub and then did some yoga in the sauna; I was able to get “camel” deeper than I ever have.

No, I didn’t look that good!

Obama: he is starting to get put through the meatgrinder. That is one area that I have to give an edge to Hillary Clinton: she has already been put through it and has stood up to it very well. Unfortunately, Obama is catching it from the left:

Over breakfast we talked about Obama’s impending announcement. Paul was preparing to drive down with me on Saturday to watch the speech in person, but feeling ambivalent about the candidate himself. “I can’t quite figure out where to plant my flag on him,” he said. “I was looking back at my blog from 2004 and the posts I wrote about him and I was so completely committed to him and so convinced he was special and wanted to convince others. And now, I just, I can’t quite get back to that. I want to recapture it, but I can’t remember what it was.” […]

I asked Dan if he shared Paul’s doubts. “I have issues,” he said with a frown. “He’s so fucking coy. I mean, I love the guy, but there are things that really matter to me, and they’ve got to really matter to him. And it’s not clear to me right now that they do.”

This sentiment is pretty widely shared among the Chicago progressives I know. Many have grown disillusioned with a man they once thought was one of their own and now seems in danger of becoming just another politician. Part of this can be chalked up to a kind of punk-rock-band-gone-MTV disaffection. People who were into Obama when he was an underground, authentic phenomenon aren’t necessarily so into the slickly produced, more pop-friendly version. […]

Having it both ways, attempting to be at once a progressive champion and an ideological cipher, has become the hallmark of the Obama rhetorical strategy, but there are still so many circles this campaign is trying to square, you wonder if it can last. On the one hand, Obama wants to present his campaign as something more than a campaign, a kind of grassroots, people-powered movement. “That’s why I’m in this race,” he said Saturday, “Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation.” When people like Paul and Dan and others were working on Obama’s senate campaign in 2004, that’s how it felt. But now he’s running for president at a moment in history when the national media rewards the kind of air-tight focus and message discipline that are not exactly what actual grassroots movements are known for producing. […]

Then there’s the other major contradiction of the campaign, the fact that it is simultaneously promising two things — progress and unity — that have an uncomfortable relationship to each other. In his speech, Obama recited moments in American history when politics became something more than the mundane mechanics of governing and effected a true transformation of the polity: the civil war, the New Deal, the civil rights movement. But the problem is that those were moments not of unity, but of extreme polarization. The South only granted rights to black citizens under force of arms, armies of unruly war veterans gathered in Washington DC during the Great Depression to demand the government provide them with a safety net, and when Martin Luther King Jr went marching through the South, he was met with batons and firehoses and accusations that he was dividing people and stirring up trouble.

Grrrr….I swear, this is one of the things I hate about being a liberal. We can’t stand it when our candidates do the things necessary to get elected!

Listen: there is nothing wrong with winning elections!!!

Now there is a nice article about Obama and how he transfromed himself into what he has become today; this story reminds me a bit of how Bill Clinton learned his lessons after his second electoral loss. The background is that Obama was, at that time, a two time State Senator from a university oriented neighborhood (and a law professor at the University of Chicago). He ran for the U. S. Congress and lost in the primary:

As a correspondent for the Chicago Reader, I covered Obama’s 2000 campaign to unseat Bobby Rush, the ex-Black Panther who’s been a Democratic congressman from Chicago’s South Side since 1993. It’s the only election Obama has ever lost. As even one of his admirers put it, “He was a stiff.” You think John Kerry looked wooden and condescending on the campaign trail? You should have seen this kid Obama. He was the elitist Ivy League Democrat to top them all. Only after losing that race, in humiliating fashion, did he develop the voice, the style, the track record and the agenda that have made him a celebrity senator, and a Next President. […]

Wherever Obama went, he talked like a poli-sci thesis. Here’s how he bragged on himself back then, as I reported in the Reader: “My experience of being able to walk into a public housing development and turn around and walk into a corporate boardroom and communicate effectively in either venue means I’m more likely to build the kinds of coalitions and craft the sort of message that appeals to a broad range of people.”

Obama just couldn’t — or wouldn’t — loosen up. The dignified demeanor that had won him a state Senate seat in the university community of Hyde Park did not translate to the district’s inner-city precincts. His internal rhythm was set to “Pomp and Circumstance.” “Arrogant,” scoffed a South Side radio host. Even his body language signaled he was slumming.

Obama returned to Springfield a loser. The week of his defeat, he sat down to his regular poker game at the home of state Sen. Terry Link, a fellow Democrat from the Chicago suburbs. The same words were on the lips of every pol at that table: I told you so. Obama didn’t need to hear it. He knew he’d blundered.

“He made a lot of mistakes, and he learned,” Link says now. “He forgot who he was. That he’s Barack. He tried to sell to a crowd who wasn’t buying.”

Around that time, Obama also had a soul-searching drink with Miller, the Capitol Fax publisher. He was upset about the way Miller had characterized him, but “he took that criticism the right way,” Miller remembers six years later, “and he could have taken it the wrong way.”

“A lot of politicians, they know that they’re smart,” Miller says. “They know that they’re capable. It messes with their minds. Politics is not a game of qualifications. It’s a game of winning. That congressional campaign really showed that to him.”

On the state Senate floor, Miller saw a more focused, more collegial Obama, who began to take his work — and his fellow legislators — seriously. Using his experience in constitutional law, he passed legislation to curtail racially motivated traffic stops and to require police to videotape murder confessions. He sponsored legislation that added 20,000 children to the state’s health insurance program.

So, he is human after all. And, more importantly, he learned from his mistakes!

February 12, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, swimming, yoga | Leave a comment