Monday, July 07, 2008

A study in contrasts

Rolling Stone on Team Obama:
Obama's top advisers outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton's organization with no leaks, no nasty infighting and virtually no public credit for their efforts. By all rights, Plouffe and the other chief architects of Obama's machine should be household names on par with James Carville and Karl Rove. And yet, with the exception of chief strategist David Axelrod, who has emerged as an affably low-key spokesman for the campaign, Obama's brain trust works in near anonymity from the campaign's headquarters on the 11th floor of a smoked-glass skyscraper two blocks south of the Chicago River.

That obscurity is by design. Members of Obama's inner circle are largely unknown to the public because the second rule of the campaign is: All credit accrues to Obama. The first rule? Don't talk about Team Obama. As senior adviser Valerie Jarrett puts it, "We aim for you to not know about the inner workings of the campaign because there's not much to know other than: It works."
Vanity Fair's Gail Sheehy on Team Clinton:
Ickes was the only member of the Big Five to have ever run a national presidential campaign. “The rest hardly knew a delegate when they saw one,” says a top adviser sarcastically.

But the real flaw in Hillary’s presidential campaign was the lack of any clear lines of authority. Her “team of rivals,” as she thought approvingly of them, assured she would remain in total top-down control. But it is often necessary to tell a candidate what she doesn’t want to hear in a cold, hard, neutral manner. With Hillary, the word among her staff was “I don’t want to get spanked by Mama.”


Penn and Ickes especially hated each other. Penn was a protégé of the most poisonous character in the Clinton White House, pollster Dick Morris. Leon Panetta, who had battled against Morris’s morally empty advice in the ’96 campaign, compared Penn to Karl Rove and saw Hillary’s dependence on Penn as an ominous sign. “Morris had no lines between right and wrong,” says Panetta. “There are moments when [the Clintons] want to hear from the dark side because that may be the only way to win.… Losing is not part of their vocabulary. They know no limits when it comes to the energy and tactics they will use—no matter how distasteful.”
It's a mark of how poweful the Clintons are/were in the Democratic Party that, despite a crippling amount of dysfunction within their campaign, they still almost won. It's also a mark of how important Obama's clear line on Iraq was to his victory. Yet astonishingly, neither the RS or VF piece gives the war much time. The Rolling Stone piece -- which really is very good, and you should read it -- doesn't even use the words "war" or "Iraq" once, except for talking about the Clintons' view of politics as war. Seriously.

Imagine if somebody covered Kennedy's victory in 1960 without mentioning the disillusionment with the GOP status quo? Imagine if someone covered Clinton 1992 without mentioning the economy? We're in that category here -- the clearest reason for Obama's victory is being ignored in favour of a narrative that totally airbrushes the war out of domestic politics.

Why, exactly, is it important to push the line that there was no domestic penalty for supporting this misbegotten war?

1 comment:

Steve Muhlberger said...

War? What war?
Other war? What other war?