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Obama the politician

Regardless of the ridiculous controversy over the cover, this New Yorker article on Obama is worth reading.

It’s not flattering, but it’s by no means a negative article. The man is smart and he figured out how to work Chicago’s political landscape and propel himself into the U.S. Senate. He learned from mistakes and made it to the top. A bit ruthlessly, maybe, but politics isn’t for timid folks like myself. The story also does a good job showing just how absurd the allegations that he’s some kind of left wing radical are, as well.

It does cut against his idealistic message of hope change a little, though. He used Chicago’s political machine when he needed it, he didn’t try to change it. He didn’t push sweeping changes at any level. I’m tempted to say that’s really what the controversy over the cover is for – to redirect attention from this article – but it doesn’t seem like it’s worth the trouble.

UPDATE: Jesus, I should read these more carefully before I post them.

Categories: 2008 elections
  1. Lina
    July 18, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Now, I admit I haven’t paid attention to every press release from his campaign, so I don’t know if they’ve given specifics on what we’re supposed to be “hoping” for and what this “change” would entail. But I’ve always assumed he uses those buzz words more in relations to the underlying cultural/societal implications of electing a young, funny, hip, black guy with an Arab name. I think they refer, in an unspoken and possibly even unconscious way, to the dawn of a new era in race relations without alienating (too much) people who aren’t 100% comfortable with that. My mom, the Hillary fan, keeps whining that he’s not going to suddenly get every liberal piece of legislation passed, but I don’t think that’s ever been what the Obama campaign has meant.

  2. Lina
    July 18, 2008 at 6:29 pm


    Uh, yeah, meant “in relation to”.

  3. July 18, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    That’s underlying everything, but they’re more explicitly appealing to those who are dissatisfied with politics as usual – the corruption and partisan gridlock. This kind of thing, from his “Blueprint for Change” pamphlet:

    The Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we’ve led not by polls, but by principle; not by calculation, but by conviction; when we summoned the entire nation to a common purpose – a higher purpose. And I run for the presidency because that’s the party America needs us to be right now. I run to offer this country change that we can believe in.

    I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I’m in this race because I want to stop talking about the outrage of 47 million Americans without health care and start actually doing something about it. I’m in this race to end our dependence on Middle East oil and save our planet from the crisis of climate change so we can give our children a planet that’s cleaner and safer than we found it.

    America, our moment is now. I don’t want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s. I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America, I want to be the President of the United States of America. That’s why I’m asking you to stand with me, that’s why I’m asking you to caucus for me, that’s why I’m asking you to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept. In this election – in this moment – let us reach for what we know is possible. A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.

    It’s very idealistic, which is not how that article depicts Obama.

  4. July 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    It’s a good article – no agenda that I could discern. Lizza just laid it out. I was especially curious about his quote about Obama’s Iraq stance, to the effect that at that time in that place Obama could not possibly have supported the war.

    Did you read Surfing the Universe” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in the same issue? It’s a gripper.

  1. July 18, 2008 at 8:30 am

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