Obama Is Brilliantly Marketing Leftwing Answers to an American Majority (as Reagan Marketed the Right)

US Politics
on 11 Comments

Last night I watched appearances by Hillary and Obama in Texas on C-Span. The difference between the two candidates was revealed for me by their statements about oil policy.

Hillary speaks of Bush and Cheney as "the two oil men" in the White House. She goes on about the oil "cartel" and the special interests. She promises to bring gas prices down. Hillary’s answer strikes me as pandering. She is selling Americans a
pipedream about prosperity–gas prices can’t come down, and she knows it–in order to try and keep her working-class vote. She has found a demagogue’s bogeyman: the oil companies (and yes, also "Wall Street"). And she is misleading the public about the causes of our miserable policies in the Middle East (purely for

Obama is much more serious. When asked by a student at a town hall in Carrollton, Tx, what he will do about "increasing oil prices," he first jokes with his questioner, "Do you want me to increase them?" then handles the question subtly. He talks about driving past a Hummer dealership on the way to the speech. He says that Hummers get only 10 miles a gallon. He suggests that that is wrong, without saying it should be illegal. He says we have to raise fuel efficiency standards in cars to 40 mpg. He says that we are using too much oil and that this is making us dependent on foreign governments and limiting our freedom to make foreign policy in the Middle East. He talks about global warming and alternative sources of energy. He cracks another joke about the Hummer….

As a leftwinger who believes first in conservation, I see all my progressive issues latent in Obama’s answer. He obviously knows the issue from a leftwing perspective. As he knows the Israel/ Palestine issue from a progressive perspective. But he disguises this analysis brilliantly, in a way that will be palatable to Americans generally.

Just as Reagan took conservative issues and marketed them to a majority of the American people, a big majority at that, Obama is marketing leftwing issues to the American majority. That is his political genius. Yes I am disappointed that he is not being more upfront about the issues I care about. But guess what, I’m sitting at a desk (in a proudly cold house!) in upstate New York and he’s addressing multitudes in his severe black suit. No we’ve never seen anything like this before. My side is coming in.

11 Responses

  1. jonathan ekman
    March 4, 2008, 11:43 am

    I doubt very much whether Saint Barack, should he be elected, will have the courage
    to force a solution on the Israelis, considering how indebted he is to powerful
    Jewish interests in his campaign.

  2. Richard Witty
    March 4, 2008, 12:00 pm

    Obama won't force a revolution on his Jewish constituents.

    He will do as he's said that he will.

    He will support the relationship between the US and Israel, and help Israel transition to a just reconciliation with its neighbors.

    Not revolutionary, evolutionary.

    The right and kind way to go.

  3. Jim Haygood
    March 4, 2008, 3:17 pm

    "He knows the Israel/ Palestine issue from a progressive perspective. But he disguises this analysis brilliantly, in a way that will be palatable to Americans generally."

    I wish I could agree with you, Phil. But Obama's endorsement of targeted assassination is not progressive; nor is his promise to ramp up the Afghan war. Obama's administration is going to be as blood-stained as Bush's. PLEASE read everything he said last week to the Jewish group in Cleveland, not just the bits which make him sound progressive.

    You are right about one thing. Hillary has an unerring instinct for barbed remarks, which make her opponents feel insulted. Obama is good at withdrawing the stinger first, so that even when you disagree with him, you don't dislike him.

    I just wish Obama's extravagant political talents could be directed to getting the U.S. OUT of disastrous middle east wars. His intention to escalate the Afghan conflict could make him into a left-wing version of Bush, increasingly resented as the bloody quagmire of his own making deepens.

    Will Obama allow photos of the flag-draped caskets coming into Dover Air Force Base? Better ask him now, because this is the future Obama has promised us. I want to be really pointed about this, because his quoted remarks are absolutely clear and unmistakable. And you, Phil, are not getting it.

  4. Charles Keating
    March 4, 2008, 3:25 pm

    Ohio is the World. Obama told the buckeyes he would put some local humanity into NAFTA, while sending his rep to tell Canada not to worry as he's just playing politics.

    Who knows what Obama really will do once in office? Well, we know what he did to get a nice home for wifey and kids. Where's the change?

  5. Jim Haygood
    March 4, 2008, 3:47 pm


    Where's the change? See the linked cartoon:

    link to overcompensating.com

    "Mosquitos," as Mondoweiss readers know, is an insider-joke reference to "Palestinians." Take a bow, Richard Witty — you've made the big time!

  6. Charles Keating
    March 4, 2008, 6:00 pm

    We need a need lemon law for our foreign policy tank. Nader knows the lemons.

  7. MM
    March 4, 2008, 7:04 pm

    At last, a real leftwing candidate, one who promises MORE money for the Pentagon and presents no alternative to U.S. neoliberal foreign policy (client state imperialism). One TRUSTS that rogue states like Colombia and Israel will continue to get their enormous allowances from Uncle Sam under President Leftwing, as well.

  8. Richard Witty
    March 5, 2008, 8:31 am

    "Mosquitoes" is a description of the political strategy of irritating Israelis with low-level violence until they "voluntarily" leave.

    It has nothing to do with any generalization about Palestinians, or Arabs (Hezbollah employs the same strategy).

    It would describe anyone that undertook low-level violence repeatedly, pretending that it was non-violent (innocent) civil disobedience.

    You are able to distinguish between a criticism and a generalization, Jim?

  9. Charles Keating
    March 5, 2008, 9:13 am

    Or tactics and strategy?
    Metaphor and reality?
    Propaganda and objectivity?
    What critique assumes or displays no generalization(s)?

  10. Richard Witty
    March 5, 2008, 9:49 am

    I meant no offense to Palestinian civilians.

    I meant offense to Hamas, Hezbollah, and any "resistance" that uses low-level violence as a means, pretending that it is innocent or "non-violent".

    I meant offense to those among the "solidarity" that regard low-level violence as incidental, as not terrorism (especially rockets that do kill) or not "mosquito-like".

    You know it characterizes the strategy well.

  11. Charles Keating
    March 6, 2008, 4:57 pm

    Patton read Rommel's book. The Palestinians read the works of Irgun, Stern Gang, etc. Violence leads to violence. Strategy, yeah, the same old s….

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