Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Why “Any Democrat Would Win” Is Wrong

(Crossposted at MyDD

I’ve seen people — including some who really ought to know better — say that any recent Democrat would be automatically elected in the current climate, with an implication that even the current margin and map are merely to be expected given the fundamentals of the election. I disagree — strongly. That’s exactly what we all thought in 2004 — that anyone could beat Bush. And what we got was a worse defeat than 2000, even against a wildly unpopular President.

Candidates and campaigns matter, and there are reasons that this particular candidate is in the position that he’s in right now. And, yes, the fundamentals of the election are lifting Obama’s boat, but to make the mistake that it’s merely the fundamentals; that there’s no particular strength on Obama’s part; that any Dem would be where he is; is in my opinion a major error.

Please note — I do not want to fight the primaries over. Nothing in here should be viewed as disparaging of any other candidate (in particular, as I state below, I believe Hillary would be doing just fine right now, were she the nominee). This is aimed squarely at the view that Obama is no stronger than “generic Democratic Presidential candidate”, it’s not saying he’s the strongest candidate imaginable, nor that only Obama could be winning right now (which is patently absurd).

Why Davis Matters

crossposted at MyDD

I think by now we all know about the revelation that Rick Davis, intrepid McCain campaign manager, was also (through his firm) quietly on the Freddie Mac payroll as recently as last month. I’ve also seen some allegations that this just won’t reach a lot of voters; that they won’t care, that it won’t make a difference.

My feeling is that this is a serious blow to McCain, and it’s a blow that’ll keep on hurting longer than some people think it will.

Why? Read on.

Principles First, Plans Second

crossposted at MyDD

Obama did exactly the right thing in proposing principles for a plan to bail out the financial industry rather than a plan, both politically and Presidentially. Presidents set agendas and principles and have staffs to draw up the nuts and bolts (or: you don’t think FDR crafted all that legislation personally, do you?). Obama’s not going to take the lead on crafting a plan in the Senate, can’t, and shouldn’t. That’s a job that’s going to require the full attention of the people involved. It’s also not what you expect a president to do either. Presidents set principles, goals, objectives, criteria, agendas, that sort of thing. Presidents should be overseers, not wonks (a bit of wonkiness, good; too much, bad). Presidents are not Senators. Acting as a Senator now is a necessary but not sufficient part of Obama’s campaign for the Presidency; being Presidential is much more valuable.

I don’t think that voters want a specific plan from Obama right now. They don’t want to (and won’t) read through legislation. Voters want leadership. This is step one of leadership (step two is standing by it and using his position to promote his principles and hold Congress, or at minimum Democrats, to them). McCain (and anyone else Obama didn’t mention, in laying out the principles) is now in the “follower” position, unless they start from a different set of principles and win the fight over whose principles are better (and even in that case, Obama’s still taken the leadership position by switching the debate from plans to principles).