mm427: Obama’s restless summer

MUDGE’s Musings

Barack Obama, the black Will Smith, has been, is and will be in the news permanently, or at least until Nov. 5, 2008 should John McCain’s wet dream (of somehow overcoming the horrendous legacy of his good buddy, George III) become reality.

So there’s no shortage of worthwhile reading on all things Obama. Here are four of the most intriguing.

1) Fundraising expertise

David Brooks has spent some useful time poring over the campaign finance statements.

nytimes

Obama’s Money Class

Op-Ed Columnist | By DAVID BROOKS | Published: July 1, 2008

Barack Obama sells the Democratic Party short. He talks about his fund-raising success as if his donors were part of a spontaneous movement of small-money enthusiasts who cohered around himself. In fact, Democrats have spent years building their donor network. Obama’s fund-raising base is bigger than John Kerry’s, Howard Dean’s and Al Gore’s, but it’s not different.

As in other recent campaigns, lawyers account for the biggest chunk of Democratic donations. They have donated about $18 million to Obama, compared with about $5 million to John McCain, according to data released on June 2 and available at OpenSecrets.org.

People who work at securities and investment companies have given Obama about $8 million, compared with $4.5 for McCain. People who work in communications and electronics have given Obama about $10 million, compared with $2 million for McCain. Professors and other people who work in education have given Obama roughly $7 million, compared with $700,000 for McCain.

So, Senator Obama, as has every presidential candidate in history, a rhetoric/reality gap.

When he is swept up in rhetorical fervor, Obama occasionally says that his campaign is 90 percent funded by small donors. He has indeed had great success with small donors, but only about 45 percent of his money comes from donations of $200 or less.

The real core of his financial support is something else, the rising class of information age analysts. Once, the wealthy were solidly Republican. But the information age rewards education with money. There are many smart high achievers who grew up in liberal suburbs around San Francisco, L.A. and New York, went to left-leaning universities like Harvard and Berkeley and took their values with them when they became investment bankers, doctors and litigators.

What began as seemingly an exercise in “Ha! Ha! Caught you!” turns out to be a pretty interesting analysis of the source of big money for political ends in the first decade of the third millennium.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Op-Ed Columnist – Obama’s Money Class – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com

Used to be that what was good for General Motors was good for America. Now, with that once great entity in decline (or perhaps I should use the plural?), Brooks feels that one should substitute the name of Goldman Sachs.

Well, when one thinks about it, at least Goldman Sachs knows how to make money without having to convert it from iron ore, coal, rubber, aluminum, copper, silicon, glass, paint, labor, etc.

The perfect captains of industry to steer us in these post-industrial times.

2) Flooded by lies

John Kerry had his Swift Boat. Barack Obama is confronting an entire armada of lies and distortions, and many people are swallowing them without reservations.

washingtonpost

In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying

By Eli Saslow | Washington Post Staff Writer | Monday, June 30, 2008 |Page A01

FINDLAY, Ohio — On his corner of College Street, Jim Peterman stares at the four American flags planted in his front lawn and rubs his forehead. Peterman, 74, is a retired worker at Cooper Tire, a father of two, an Air Force veteran and a self-described patriot. He took one trip to Washington in 1989 — best vacation of his life — and bought a statue of the Washington Monument that he still displays in a glass case in his living room.

He believes a smart vote is an American’s greatest responsibility. Which is why his confusion about Barack Obama continues to eat at him.

On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor’s house, at his son’s auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate’s background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

“It’s like you’re hearing about two different men with nothing in common,” Peterman said. “It makes it impossible to figure out what’s true, or what you can believe.”

Here in Findlay, a Rust Belt town of 40,000, false rumors about Obama have built enough word-of-mouth credibility to harden into an alternative biography. Born on the Internet, the rumors now meander freely across the flatlands of northwest Ohio — through bars and baseball fields, retirement homes and restaurants.

Hitler, Goebbels and Karl Rove were/are all committed followers of the principle of the Big Lie. If you repeat it often enough, it must be true. And, if Findlay, Ohio is any template of what’s going on in this country, Sen. Obama’s truth-telling team has its work cut out for it.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying – washingtonpost.com

One strains always for faith in the intelligence and clear-headed thinking process of the great majority of U.S. citizens. Of course, history has taught me repeatedly that such intelligence and clear-headed thinking does not much exist (is there anything more uncommon than common sense?).

He looks different than me or my neighbors. Must be a fraud, if not worse.

3) Saluting his flag

The saga of the flag pin won’t die. Herr Rove and his minions won’t let it (repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat).

So, off went Obama to Independence, Missouri, birthplace and home of veteran and superior (finally, in history’s belated estimation) Democratic president, Harry Truman, to attempt to set the nation straight.

washingtonpost

Obama Fiercely Defends His Patriotism

Democrat Also Decries Criticism of Rival McCain on Service to Country

By Jonathan Weisman and Michael D. Shear | Washington Post Staff Writers | Tuesday, July 1, 2008; Page A01

INDEPENDENCE, Mo., June 30 — Dogged by persistent rumors questioning his belief in country, Sen. Barack Obama journeyed to Middle America on Monday to lay out his vision of patriotism, conceding that he has learned in this presidential campaign that “the question of who is — or is not — a patriot all too often poisons our political debate.”

“Throughout my life, I have always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given,” Obama said in the 29-minute address to about 1,150 people crowded into a gymnasium at the Truman Memorial Building, named for former president Harry S. Truman. “It was how I was raised. It was what propelled me into public service. It is why I am running for president. And yet at times over the last 16 months, my patriotism has been challenged — at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for.”

Scholar that he is, Senator Obama gave his audience a history lesson.

Obama’s speech put the issue in a broad historical perspective, speaking of charges that Thomas Jefferson had sold the nation out to the French and that John Adams “was in cahoots with the British.” He also questioned policies enacted in the name of patriotism, including Adams’s Alien and Sedition Acts, Abraham Lincoln‘s suspension of habeas corpus, and Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s internment of Japanese Americans.

“The use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the republic,” Obama said. “Still, what is striking about today’s patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s — in arguments that go back 40 years or more. In the early years of the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic.”

Also Sunday, Wesley Clark, the retired Army general and one-time presidential candidate in is own right, came out criticizing the holiest of holies, John McCain’s war record. Can’t touch that, guys. The man spent five torturous years in a North Vietnam prison camp.

Obama’s speech came on the same day that his rival for the White House, Sen. John McCain, pushed back hard against criticism of his own record as a Navy flier and a prisoner of war. On Sunday, retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark questioned McCain’s qualifications for the White House. “He hasn’t held executive responsibility,” Clark said on CBS‘s “Face the Nation.” “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

More on Gen. Clark’s attack below. Meanwhile, here’s the complete story, with a short video.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Obama Fiercely Defends His Patriotism – washingtonpost.com

Gotta love Gen. Clark. There’s a lot to respect in John McCain, but it’s true, he did get shot down. And there’s very much to be disturbed about Sen. McCain, as we’ve illuminated previously.

But, to the good general.

4) “the grunts hated the flyboys”

Fred Kaplan writes on military matters for Slate.com. As that oddity, a high ranking officer who also is a Democrat, Wesley Clark can’t be faulted for his attempt to defend his party’s candidate. Obama does not have military experience whatsoever, a comparison that John McCain would like to take great advantage of in this time of war. Clark’s background is exemplary. He just went a bit too far on Sunday.

slate

The Grunt vs. the Flyboy

The real reason for Wesley Clark’s ill-advised comments about John McCain’s military record.

By Fred Kaplan | Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2008, at 4:45 PM ET

There are two explanations for Gen. Wesley Clark’s politically tin-eared remark about Sen. John McCain last Sunday.

First, Clark is politically tin-eared. Remember his 2004 presidential campaign?

Second, and more fundamental, Clark was an Army infantry commander during the Vietnam War while McCain was a Navy aviator. As a rule, the grunts hated the flyboys.

Here, as a reminder, is what Clark said when asked about the Republican presidential candidate on the June 29 episode of CBS’s Face the Nation:

I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war.

That was where Clark should have zipped his lips. But, as if he couldn’t hold back some raging impulse, he went on:

He hasn’t held executive responsibility. … I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

In a sense, of course, Clark is right.

Kaplan goes the extra mile, and illustrates Wesley’s shoulder-chip with a brilliant chart of the casualties sustained by the four services in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not unexpectedly, the guys on the ground (Army and Marines) are taking an outsized proportion of deaths and injuries, despite this enlightened era of joint responsibility.

An Army general might want to take the Navy (fly a lot of planes) and the Air Force to task over this, not to speak of what must have been pretty similar experiences in Vietnam.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The real reason for Wesley Clark’s ill-advised comments about John McCain’s

With this political faux pas, as the media has joyfully played it, Gen. Clark just might have clobbered any possibility of joining Sen. Obama’s ticket as the vice presidential candidate.

But he does get one thinking. John McCain first got famous for getting shot down and taken prisoner. Never commanded a cub scout den so far as we know.

Now, his father, and his grandfather, knew command. Full admirals, the Admirals McCain were distinguished heroes and commanders. A guided missile destroyer, USS John S. McCain DDG56, is named after them.

ddg56mccain

Yr (justifiably humble svt has actually toured the McCain, since our son, and our future daughter-in-law, served as junior officers on that ship, based in Yokosuka, Japan, some years ago.

Challenging times

The junior senator from Illinois has made history from the moment he stepped into the fray. He has won more primary votes, raised record-setting amounts of money, and beat off a furious charge from the last century’s most fearsome political force.

He should be able to bide his time, take advantage of the summer lull between the last primaries and the convention to replenish and rearm for the battle ahead, a presidential election the Democrats shouldn’t have any trouble winning, based on what a stinking pile of manure the incumbent has deposited on the office.

Barack Obama is just now learning just how tough it’s going to be to win this thing. His foreign name, his race, and of course his intellectual firepower are all unsettling to a large swath of Americans like those in Findlay, who seem to find it easier, egged on by Herr Rove and his hate radio and Fox News colleagues, to focus on those differences as frightening negatives, rather than as simply differences.

So Obama will work very hard 24/7, all summer, and all the way to November 4.

It’s going to continue to be a fascinating campaign.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


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