Streams

Is Obama Being Swiftboated?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, talks about why he feels Obama is being swiftboated and attacked on his strengths.

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Richard M. Cohen

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Comments [73]

jrd

To Kelly from Park Slope, who writes:

"umm, so if you don't agree w/the far left agenda - it's "trivial, mindless and idiotic" discourse...

well, you can always read the Marxist Bugle for your news....but you've done a ppor job of smearing WNYC and its guests..."

Well, I've never heard of the Marxist Bugle, but I guess anyone who thinks that the likes of Gail Collins and Richard Cohen don't represent an adequate alternative to Republicanism must be a far-left nut. Just add Thomas Friedman and this wealth of intellectual achievement is simply staggering!

And it's clear that Americans are marvelously well served by great columnists like Collins and Cohen. Just look at the last 8 years, and their vanguard journalism and their moral courage, in telling the truth when no one else was willing to. Or do have the wrong newspaper here?

Sep. 09 2008 10:33 PM
eva

George from White Plains, here is an excerpt of an interview with JFK's secretary of defense, McNamara:

"It wasn't until January, 1992, in a meeting chaired by Castro in Havana, Cuba, that I learned 162 nuclear warheads, including 90 tactical warheads, were on the island at the time of this critical moment of the crisis. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and Castro got very angry with me because I said, "Mr. President, let's stop this meeting. This is totally new to me, I'm not sure I got the translation right."

"Mr. President, I have three questions to you. Number one: did you know the nuclear warheads were there? Number two: if you did, would you have recommended to Khrushchev in the face of an U.S. attack that he use them? Number three: if he had used them, what would have happened to Cuba?"

He said, "Number one, I knew they were there. Number two, I would not have recommended to Khrushchev, I did recommend to Khrushchev that they be used. Number three, 'What would have happened to Cuba?' It would have been totally destroyed." That's how close we were.

(Interviewer): And he was willing to accept that?

Yes, and he went on to say: "Mr. McNamara, if you and President Kennedy had been in a similar situation, that's what you would have done." I said, "Mr. President, I hope to God we would not have done it. Pull the temple down on our heads? My God!"

Sep. 09 2008 09:06 PM
george from white plains, ny

How much 'experience' did JFK have when he stood toe to toe with Khrushchev and the whole world was on the table?

Sep. 09 2008 08:44 PM
Danielle

If Obama doesn't win the '08 election, it won't be because of the so-called smear campaigns. It will because enough Americans had the sense to realize he hasn't accomplished anything in the Senate and where he wants to lead this great country is scary. He needs to stop his whining!

Sep. 09 2008 07:05 PM
Kelly from Park Slope

#68

umm, so if you don't agree w/the far left agenda - it's "trivial, mindless and idiotic" discourse...

well, you can always read the Marxist Bugle for your news....but you've done a ppor job of smearing WNYC and its guests...

Sep. 09 2008 04:28 PM
jrd

Oh lord, can the Brian Lehrer Show get absolutely nothing right in its political coverage? In any other industrial democracy, Richard Cohen would be a conservative. Look at his 2000 election coverage, his sliming of Al Gore, and his enthusiastic support of some of the worst excesses of the Bush administration.

Indeed, on this very program, Cohen professed his love and admiration for John McCain, despite McCain's horrendous right-wing voting record over an endlessly self-serving career in Washington.

So this is the guy WNYC brings on, to explain the deficiencies of the Obama campaign?

Has WNYC ever heard the word "leftist" -- I mean those terrible radicals who believe in terrible things like progressive taxation and single-payer health care. Or how about the word "analyst" -- somebody who actually looks at the facts and doesn't party with John McCain?

Gail Collins, Richard Cohen -- no wonder American political discourse is trivial, mindless and idiotic.

Sep. 09 2008 02:24 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I agree, step up the energy is accurate. State the facts and stay focused.

Sep. 09 2008 02:11 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Eva that is classic Bill and that is to his credit, calling things for what they were/are.

Sep. 09 2008 02:08 PM
eva

One of the best political speeches in my lifetime:
The Bill Clinton speech where he explains to the American people how "people" (he doesn't name who) are trying to divide us, in order to conquer us. It helped him win his first election. It got right to the issue, and it was done in a really simple, straightforward, manner. Loved the Southern accent that went with the delivery. He was just calling things for what they were.

Sep. 09 2008 01:48 PM
eva

mc,
I agree, but her crony record has to be called out, and they are doing so. Rightly so, I think. A recent ad takes on her "maverick" status, given her penchant for earmarks and her support for the bridge to nowhere.
Those are real issues, and need to be addressed. So there is no gloves off when it comes to issues, and he is right to take her on. I also thought his recent line, "they people who brought you the last eight years are going to bring you change? You're kidding, right? They must think you're stupid."
His subtle delivery of that last line was simultaneously sly, incredulous, companionable, folksy and spot-on. In a word, it was perfect. In more words, it was almost as foxy in its communicative skill as Bill Clinton was at his best.

Sep. 09 2008 01:44 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Hi eva,
I agree that Obama is striking the right tone. I think both of these candidates are way above Bush & Co. when it comes to smears.

The McCain camp set quite a trap in picking Palin. There is much to be criticized about her but many will find it hard to do so without getting misogynistic and this is a VERY bad year to do that. I have heard some in the Obama campaign want to make McCain the focus and not pay much attention to Palin. I think that is a wise course.

Sep. 09 2008 01:32 PM
lee from Los Angeles

Excellent commentary by Cohen. Obama needs to step up the energy about 500% if he wants to stand a chance.

Sep. 09 2008 01:26 PM
eva

I also think we should keep in mind that leaders CAN set the tone. If you give them cheap stuff, it's what they will expect and want... but if you offer something of substance, you might get something of substance back.
I thought the beauty of what the Kennedys did, for all their faults, was that they talked UP to the American public, not DOWN. In doing so, they not only succeeded, but they inspired.

Sep. 09 2008 01:13 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

#50 MIRTA. you are the target that they were hoping to hit when they launched the palin missile, so far off the mark it is ridiculous! She DOES NOT believe in what you believe in, what the heck are you talking about voting record for, look at her politics and make an educated decision.

Sep. 09 2008 01:09 PM
eva

#53, mc,
I agree - this isn't on the level of what was done to Kerry.
I think Obama is doing the right thing - he actually IS fighting back, but not in the old-school Dem-style manner. And he is addressing the issues, and taking Sarah Palin's hypocrisy on, just doing it without insulting her.
I actually think keeping his head above the fray the GOP has created may be the best strategy. I think where he's vulnerable is with cash right now. Unsurprisingly, Palin's unnecessarily sarcastic acceptance speech helped him raise a lot of money, I read somewhere that he raised ten million immediately after that.

Sep. 09 2008 01:08 PM
Kelly from Park Slope

I'm voting for Mccain.

I like Obama and don't feel the need to mock him. I hate the smears of him and hope they stop -- even if it will get some ignorants to vote for Mccain.

Both candidates have a combination of:

Experience, change, etc....

I like Mccain's policies better - but am happy that Obama is a US Senator and is a member of the loyal opposition (and, from my perspective hopefully will remain so)

it's the issues and policies that matter

but as Americans we can't muzzle mocking

Sep. 09 2008 01:01 PM
Rob from Bronx

Ms Molina (#50), if experience were the only criteria then I would say go ahead and vote for McCain, but there are differences between the candidates policy positions and where they will take the country, appointments to the supreme court etc. that you may wish to consider. Incidentally there have been great presidents with little experience, Lincoln comes to mind and conversely there was the war hero Grant who scholars and historian all agree was one of our worst presidents.

Sep. 09 2008 12:55 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I meant the issues of the Country not the issues of the candidates, truth is we ALL have issues, if anyone turned the light towards us we would run for the shadows BUT, I need these guys to keep a level head a talk specifics

Sep. 09 2008 12:55 PM
Kelly from Park Slope

#54 so mocking is OK - even mocking obama - I agree

and I agree too - now lets' get to the issues

often the mocking, though is about the issues...

Sep. 09 2008 12:50 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Karen what are you talking about? No one said you cannot "mock" the Obama's. McSame, McPale face..say whatever you want, what does that have to do with the issues?

Me?? I want to hear more discussion on healthcare and taxes?

Sep. 09 2008 12:43 PM
mc from Brooklyn

I think we have exaggerated what "swift boating" is. In the 2004 campaign the "swift boating" was an effort by a group of people to take a specific event in Kerry's past and misrepresent it, lie about it, and in doing so weaken him. I have not seen the same thing done in this campaign, only distorting of each other's records which is normal rough play.

Sep. 09 2008 12:42 PM
office worker from Brooklyn

I hate when people harp about "experience."

Nobody has "experience" at being a president before being a president, with the exception of someone like a vice president or possibly a cabinet member. And even in that, Americans show a willingness to cleanse out their top offices and not effectively promote successions of these people indefinitely. What I'm saying is that this whole "experience" thing is a completele lie to the foundation.

McCain has no experience for president, Obama has no experience for president, Palin and Biden, no experience for president. I'm not even willing to grant Hilary Clinton "experience" even if she lived in the White House and served on the cabinet. That old joke usually starts with "I've seen this done a hundred times..."

This hardly even counts as critical thinking. This is what happens when you let television and newspapers do you thinking for you. We live in a country where the rules say that any natural citizen over a certain age is free to take a crack at running it. We've gotten so far removed from our *values* (that old word that's been abused and beaten out of shape since the last election) that we've forgotten that.

When you talk about "qualifications," you need to be thinking about intelligence and proposed policies. Obama has both. McCain and Palin for that matter, have neither.

Good bye.

Sep. 09 2008 12:40 PM
Kelly from Park Slope

#49

it's OK to "mock" Mccain - as Mcsame

but mocking Obama/Messiah is verbotten becuase one is either racist or a meany or something, I guess...

smells a bit hypocritical

Obama and his operatives should and DO counter all attacks on him - whether the attacks justified or not.

The idea that he doesn't because he may be perceived as an angry black men.

a. people who would not vote for Obama because he sounds like an angry black man - probably wouldn't vote for him anyway

b. Obama and his operatives should be abel to effectively respond to attacks

if not, one should question his effecteiveness as a potential leader of the free world...

Sep. 09 2008 12:28 PM
Mirta Molina from New Jersey

I'm a female democrat voting for McCain. Why? He has the experience and Obama doesn't. Lehrer putting down women by saying the Palin selection "pulls on the female heart string" is rediculous. She's more independant than Biden. She at least has a voting record unlike Obama. McCain made a smart choice.

Sep. 09 2008 12:24 PM
Kevin Barnes from Washington Heights, NYC

Of course Obama is being swift-boated! Unfortunately race was not discussed during the show. Obama is between a rock and a very hard place because if he comes across as an angry Black Man he will not receive a fair hearing. If he continues to respond as he has, then he will be perceived by some as not hitting back hard enough.

As a Black male, I believe that Obama has to respond in kind to the negatives and not let the lies roll over him like they don't matter. Hopefully enough sensible people are willing to understand this point and will vote for a major change versus more of McSame!

Sep. 09 2008 12:20 PM
Kelly from Park Slope

Obama can and should be mocked and critiqued in whatever way anyone wants.

Sorry -- I though we're all against the horrible Republicans horrible assualt on free speech.

Dems should not be hypocritical and phony on this issue.
#31

McCain can and should be mocked and critiqued in whatever way anyone wants.

Good speech should overpower bad speech.

If there are smears and lies -- then the candidates should point them out.

We're not choosing an ice cream flavor here - I'd rather know all there is to know about the next leader of the free world than be in a world where attacks are muzzled - especially if ONLY Republicans attacks are censored.

To deny that Obama has already mocked Bush, McCain and Palin is being dishonest - whether or not Obama's mocks were honest or effective is another issue.

Sep. 09 2008 12:14 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Truth in journalism?

Sep. 09 2008 12:14 PM
Alex from brooklyn

The O'Reilly interview with Obama is being run over 4 or 5 shows, so Brian only has an excuse for missing Part I. (He didn't run any of it on Friday or over the weekend.)

And Part I can be found on Fox News's site, or on You Tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJH2n4aFEhA

Part II, from last night, is available on the Fox News site. But also on You Tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLfYQqxp884

Does this matter? Well, I think that how Obama addresses Bush voters is important, yes. And Fox News is the best way for him to do this. With You Tube, you don't even have to tune into Fox News or watch any of their commercials. Plus, there's the added bonus of watching Colbert's inspiration, making the whole thing kinda surreal.

Sep. 09 2008 12:12 PM
natalie walshe

I thought Obama was great on Bill O Reilly last night - I have never watched the O Reilly show before, didn't think i could stomach it - but I was surprised. He didn't seem to be able to bully Obama the way I thought he would. It's a long interview spread out over a few days - Last thursday, last night, tonight and tomorrow. I'm going to watch them all, i actually found it really informative. And I agree with the caller who said she thought O Reilly might vote Obama ! And yes I think he is getting swiftboated and he SHOULD stand up for himself. Don't be another John Kerry.

Sep. 09 2008 12:12 PM
Rob from Bronx

As someone who predicted the Sarah Palin selection (see my question for Carolyn Maloney at the DNC convention and later comment on the LL show on Thursday of that week); I say that Obama or his campaign should not go after Palin, she is a distraction meant to put the campaign off it's game plan. THE ECONOMY, THE WAR. If the Obama campaign goes after Palin they just engender sympathy for her. Although both Biden & Palin are on the ticket, the voters are deciding between Obama and McCain, emphasize the difference between them. THE ECONOMY, THE WAR.

Sep. 09 2008 12:08 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Califano? is that an immigrant surname?

Sep. 09 2008 12:06 PM
Debra from short hills nj

Obama is being swift-boated on many fronts. Did anyone catch the part of Palin's acceptance speech where she derided Obama for consulting people before making a decision? Did I miss something - when did putting some thought into a decision, especially a presidential-level decision, become a negative? That is the essence of turning something positive on it's head. I agree with Mr. Cohen, however; if Obama does not take the opportunities given to him by the media to respond, he will lose. By the way, portions of his interview are on Bill O'Reilly through Wednesday, I think, and I'm a Democrat and I absolutely will watch.

Sep. 09 2008 12:05 PM
J.C. from Minneapolis

I just read Cohen's article and I agree. Dang, I loved Obama's acceptance speech, but now I'm starting to think I was right back in February--that Obama is with the wing of the Democrats who for some unknown reason never wants to fight back and hands elections to the right-wing.

Look, you don't have to go into McCain's and Palin's sex lives, but they're hypocrites on policy, and you HAVE call them out on it if you want to win! I mean, the Rs are a party that was ready to scream about experience, and then nominated a VP candidate who's been a governor for 2 years. That's called both hypocrisy and insincerity--let's start using those words.

Sep. 09 2008 12:05 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

"Too Cool To Fight"? No too intelligent!

Sep. 09 2008 12:05 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Everyone who admit the truth, on both sides knows that fox news is slanted and one-sided. They all walk with a limp over there. If you watch prepare to be offened on some level!

Sep. 09 2008 12:04 PM
karen

Obama needs to win swing voters like myself by speaking to the talking points on taxes. this he did beautifully on O'Reilly on Monday night; just as the caller said, O'Reilly turned into toasted marshmellow. They argued about 28% versus 15% and agreed - they
A G R E E D that what was on the table was 20% - this was OK
O K A Y !
with conservative O'Reilly, who three times spoke against the "redistribution of wealth" syndrom. Obama got O'Reilly to say "that's okay with me". AMERICA, PUT ON YOUR ARITMETIC THINKING CAPS!

Sep. 09 2008 12:04 PM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

If you really want to elect an irascibly, cranky woman to be 'First Lady'- Vote O-Ba-Ma!

Sep. 09 2008 12:02 PM
Ethel Sidney from New Jersey

I saw the MNBC interview and thought he should have come in stronger on McCain/Palin in terms of the "swiftboating" that I agree McCain is trying to do.

Despite McCain's claim of independence from George Bush, his campain staff is being led by Bush campaign operatives...swiftboating a surprise...I think not.

That being said, the latest Obama ad in response to the Republican lies is on target and strong. In addition, the media is reporting a change in the tone of his campaigning. Seems like he is calling McCain Palin on their campaign and lack of focius on issues while stating his own positions.

Sep. 09 2008 12:01 PM
Marco from Manhattan

Obama is a talented politician and superb orator, but there is no way to hide the fact that he has precious little experience. He had never been to continental Europe before his last, highly publicized trip. I guess for the Democrat power brokers multiculturalism trumps competence. Feel sorry for the likes of Mrs. Clinton and Bill Richardson who must be scratching their heads.

Sep. 09 2008 12:00 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Senator Obama cannot get into a street brawl with these people. Showing sign of aggression would be a mistake. Just look how they have labeled Michelle, angry with a chip on shoulder..and she has not given one reason for them to label her either.

Sep. 09 2008 12:00 PM
Abigail from midtown

1. The press's job includes saying x politician lied when s/he said y. The lie itself is news. It's bizarre to suggest that something becomes news only when it's she said he said. Why is a fight between two candidates news but the underlying facts, on their own, are not news?????

2. The O'Reilly interview is being broadcast in multiple parts over multiple days. The Thurs night bit was only part.

Sep. 09 2008 11:59 AM
Jeremy from Upper East Side

Actually, Obama was on O'Reilly last night, and will be on for two more evenings. I believe that the caller was referring to Monday's appearance, not Thursday's.

Sep. 09 2008 11:58 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Kelly No. 13. It's not that Obama can't be mocked -- it's that his campaign needs to mock back. Big time.

Sep. 09 2008 11:58 AM
Aaron from Brooklyn

Swift-boating takes many forms, the main one in this cycle is the complete fabrication of Palin's record from the 'bridge' to eBay to the chef to balancing budgets.

As for Obama trying to pass the buck back to the press he's absolutely correct. Journalism is not about reporting propaganda verbatim it's about TRUTH finding. Also remeber Obama has to step carefully, a passionate white person is an angry black...

Sep. 09 2008 11:58 AM
Trey from Midtown

It's NOT the press's responsibility to report anything unless a politician or Congress says it first? What happened to investigative journalism? What happened to objectivity and fact-checking?

Journalists should seek the truth, not just one side or another's talking points.

Sep. 09 2008 11:57 AM
Robert from NYC

That I disagree with, I think it's up to the media to go out and find out the "dirt" on these folks and report it. And it is up to the press to question why is she so knowlegable in foreign policy JUST because Alaska is next to Russia!!!? That is so vacuous and crap, plain old crap.
Duh!

Sep. 09 2008 11:57 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Yes, he's being Swiftboated. I was surprised when you questioned the person who called in yesterday. I wondered why your definition was so limited. And Obama is being way too cool. On TV you have to be hot hot hot hot. I bet you're wrong on the ratings for his OReilly interview. OReilly's audience doesn't care about Obama -- and Obama's consitutents wouldn't watch Fox.

Sep. 09 2008 11:57 AM
O from Forest Hills

#21 I agree with you. Community Organizer is a term by the Republicans as a code they speak, they are trying to show him as an incompetent idiot.

They are trying to make him to be Muslin and will take the oath of President on the Koran which is totally not true.

Sep. 09 2008 11:57 AM
mc from manhattan

The fact that Obama doesn't "attack" his counter parts is exactly why I'm voting for him. All you ever see are people attacking one another and misrepresenting the facts. I want to hear what the candidate's policies are, not attacking the other because it's the only card they have. It's all such BS.

Sep. 09 2008 11:57 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

I'm an Obama supporter. But Obama's stuttering replies during debates is going to make him vulnerable to evisceration by McCain and, in turn, the general public. I feel George Stephanopoulos made him look bad overall. And that's excluding Obama's accidental (what some on the Right are calling a Freudian slip) "My Muslim faith" foible. And I'm sure George is probably secretly rooting for Obama. Though he's a brilliant and talented orator, I would be much more confident with Biden in a debate. I suppose we'll see soon enough.

Sep. 09 2008 11:56 AM
rick

yeah, that clip they just played from ABC was incomplete and after it ended Obama DID defend his experience vs. Palin's.

Sep. 09 2008 11:56 AM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

Elect Hillary in 2012...

Vote for McCain in 2008!

Sep. 09 2008 11:56 AM
Maggie Waters from Brooklyn

I'm convinced that "community organizer" is freighted as a racial slur. To defend Obama would highlight the differences between his community -- multi racial -- vs. her white towns.

Sep. 09 2008 11:55 AM
Hugh from Brooklyn

Obama was similarly lackluster in debates with Hillary Clinton.

If you take a charitable view of him, he relies on the intelligence and understanding of the public to respect his calm, cool, collectedness.

OR you can take the Mr. Cohen's view (which I share) -- Obama doesn't have the moxie. He won't fight. He's listening to the Democratic Leadership Council strategy book. It'll lose him the election.

Sep. 09 2008 11:55 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Senator Obama is right not to react to these obvious anger baiting tactics. Once he does they will be able to convince the inbreds in the hills go "see, there is the angry black man that you were raised to be fear and be afraid of!"

Sep. 09 2008 11:55 AM
O from Forest Hills

If he does nothing that will more fulfill the angry black man stereotype.

Sep. 09 2008 11:55 AM
Eric from B'klyn

I completely agree... and I fear that Obama is making the exact mistake Kerry made when he didn't get indignant and push back hard. This is a character issue, a courage of his convictions issues

Sep. 09 2008 11:54 AM
Robert from NYC

I agree with Mr. Cohen here. It's very sad and frightening to think it might cause Obama to lose the election.

Sep. 09 2008 11:52 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Agreed JT @ #11 - Once Denator Obama shows any signs of retaliation he will be labled an angry Black man. They are obviously trying to bait him into showing that behaviour.

Darn shame you can't run a clean campaign!

Sep. 09 2008 11:52 AM
Renee Lux from Greenwich, CT

Wasn't Obama's time as a community activist an example of EXACTLY the kind of service to country and community that McCain called for at the end of his speech?

Sep. 09 2008 11:52 AM
Kelly from Park Slope

So now we can't mock a Obama?

chilling.

Sep. 09 2008 11:51 AM
O from Forest Hills

It's time to play dirty now, not next election cycle.

How bad do you want change? How bad do you want leadership?

When sheep run around without a shepard, they tend to run in whatever direction and go over the cliffs as we have done since 2000.

It's time for a change.

Sep. 09 2008 11:50 AM
JT from Long Island

I think they started working on Obama last year when they constantly stated his entire name with an emphasis on Hussein. Then the flag pin became an issue. And now they're mocked the role of a community organizer before Obama could define it. Hopefully the debates can counteract this.

As long as people are too lazy and/or stupid to read Obama's bio and policy for themselves "swiftboating" will work. The right knows this so they define themselves before the media has time to do it. The people that are in love with Palin only know what they were told by the party. The same with Bush and his record in Texas. McCain doesn't know how many homes he owns yet he can call the left elites. He defined himself before the media did.

If McCain wins the left might have to start playing dirty next time.

Sep. 09 2008 11:48 AM
Karen from Manhattan

I meant respect and exploit the myths, not attack them. You're not going to destroy 250 years of mythology in 8 weeks,

Sep. 09 2008 11:44 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Also, regarding the "experience" issue: Obama's experience can be more effectively depicted as thin because of subliminal prejudices against African-Americans. Obama has played in the big leagues, and very successfully, for twenty years. Yet the Republicans are dismissing that experience with the claim that it is neglible and that Obama has no "substance." Those charges would not stand up were people really looking at Obama's record. They aren't, however; they are reacting viscerally, based on attitudes toward African Amercans.

Finally, the fact that Obama does not fit the racist stereotypes -- he's not uneducated, a rapper or in jail -- does not really help him because it creates cognitive dissonance in the minds of Americans whose racial prejudices are basically subconscious. Hence the charge that "we don't really know him." In other words, he's damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't: either he's a criminal, or he's an "enigma" (to quote Joseph Conrad).

Sep. 09 2008 11:35 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Yes, he is, but it's complicated. Religious fundamentalism, individualism, anti-elitism and the "frontier ethic" have been linked together in American culture and mythology for 250 years. The Republicans are pushing all these populist buttons. The Jacksonian Democrats, while technically secular, elevated populist politics, including "Davy Crockett" myth of the gifted amateur who outdoes the professionals, to a theology.

That's why blue-collar voters aren't listening to Obama. We have the better policies, but the Republicans have the coonskin cap. Obama needs to work on his narrative and attack the myths and symbols that the Right has prempted if he hopes to win.

Sep. 09 2008 11:32 AM
Robert from NYC

Thanks Marianne excellent indeed. And what Obama should do is really attack that 312 days charged to the Alaskan taxpayers and in a debate call her on it and have--be sure to have--the facts down and correct and let her face it openly. It's a tactic the republicans wouldn't hesitate to use.

Sep. 09 2008 11:30 AM
Robert from NYC

The swiiftboating started a while back. Already McCain and taken the "Change" theme and they will eventually succeed in taking it over and I wouldn't be surprised to see them claim that they spoke about Change first--which of course they didn't. As Obama said on Olbermann's show last night, the Republicans are good at campaigning but not at governing.
Yeah, Barak Obama has to get tougher and maybe a little bit nasty too.

Sep. 09 2008 11:27 AM
rick

I saw the ABC interview on sunday and also the MSNBC interview last night and feel that Obama was actually quite good in both. I believe that his campaign should be more negative but I am not sure what Richard Cohen wants Obama to do in these interviews. he was pretty harsh and dismissive of the mccain palin ticket, saying last night that they "weren't telling the truth". etc.

Sep. 09 2008 11:27 AM
Marianne from Staten Island

The McCain/Palin team as well as the media appeal to the ignorance of the public with headlines/populists notion . Their message appeals to the lowest common denomination without merit or substance, like emphasizing that one of Palin's "asset" is the geographic proximity to Russia. This, while she herself never left the country, although she billed the taxpayers of Alaska for the 312 nights of
"per diem" travel allowance for herself and her family while staying at home, as reported in today's Washington Post.
These are the pork-barrel issues that Obama, as community organizer didn't do.
We understand that Obama is not going to go to this lowest common denominator, but this is where the Republicans are winning, like the Swift Boat.
Imagine the Republican uproar if a prominent Democratic front-runner's unmarried teanage daughter would be pregnant!
Cool and steady is not enough when the other side has a history of playing dirty.

Sep. 09 2008 11:23 AM
O from Forest Hills

Obama wants to run on the issues but that isn't going to get too far with the American public. The y need to start launching a counter attack on McCainn.

Many Americans don't have the political sophistication that we have listening to Brian Lehrer and I listen to Air America. Back in 2004 I didn't listen to these shows or follow the issues, I liked Kerry but I felt even back then I didn't know much about him and he was too weak, he walked away too soon.

If Obama, wants to be President, he has to fight for it and I hope he will. America can go in new direction with him as President. He need s to emphasize leadership not just change!

Sep. 09 2008 11:19 AM
Jeremy from Upper East Side

While maybe I should wait to listen to Richard Cohen to comment on his observations and thoughts written in his column, I wanted to mention that I was quite impressed with Obama on Sunday morning. He answered every question that George posed to him, not skirting any issue. Rather than most politicians and (sadly) Axelrod who dodges everything he is asked by Chris Wallace, Obama took them head on and provided concrete solutions to issues. I understand that Cohen would prefer if Obama swung back, attacking and getting riled up; but I appreciate the fact that he takes time to deal with the issues.

Sep. 09 2008 11:12 AM
O from Forest Hills

Yes, he definately is being swiftboated.

Obama's campaign needs to go on the offense towards McCainn/Palen team.

Biden had an opportunity to do that this past weekend in an interview and they're soft pedaling.

If they don't get their act together, it will be President McCainn, not Obama.

Sep. 09 2008 10:40 AM

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