Will The Real Ronald Reagan Please Stand Up
Reagan. Ehhhh. It's no coincidence all this Obama-Reagan stuff comes up right after Obama announces he is explicitly running as a figurehead
; people think Reagan was a figurehead and that wasn't a disaster. That's my take, but digby
and others are debating Obama at his word, rather than the 'figurehead' subtext.
Subtext is everything. Obama talks as if Reagan won big with Obama-esque 'New Morning' bullshit. But twin themes of nationalism and demonization fueled the Reagan landslide. 'Optimism' was just the surface overlay--and even that optimism was founded on brute American power (No More Mr. Nice Guy/Jimmy Carter was a wimp). Reagan demonized liberals, hippies and welfare bums. And he ran as a militant anti-communist. Another landslide victor, LBJ, campaigned as a "liberal nationalist
" Texas asskicker (albeit a sane one) while demonizing the Radical Right/Goldwater as raving atomic lunatics. ('In your guts, you know he's nuts
Nationalism is the only proven path to a landslide presidential win. A side dish of demonization is an unfortunate ingredient. Add a dash of optimism and you get Reagan instead of Nixon. But it's not the dash of optimistic 'flava' that accounts for the Reagan game-changer. It was nationalism and demonization (two elements all post-FDR landslides have in common).
So all this talk of Obama as a 'liberal Reagan' who could change the trajectory of the nation with a landslide win sounds like bullshit to me.
Obama doesn't demonize the Radical Right -- that's Hillary's thing. On the contrary, Obama is explicitly soft on 'The Base.' And he's not a nationalist. His 'Singapore Sympathy' song is anti-nationalist. I don't see an anti-nationalist path to landslide. A narrow win, maybe, but the idea that Obama could win a landslide--that don't hunt. Because he's not channeling Reagan the candidate. He's channelling Reagan the fuzzy-headed figurehead.
The 'Reagan as Figurehead' thing doesn't work for Obama because Reagan ran as a former governor. Whatever Reagan's executive style, it worked for him in California--voters knew Reagan could rein in his delegates. With Obama, not only do we not know who his 'Jim Baker
' will be, we have no evidence that Obama can rein in the ambitious personality-type who can serve as Shadow President. Chief Operating Officers and high level A-type egomaniacs are not known for passivity. In fact, one of the toughest jobs of a CEO
is not to get backstabbed by the COO.
Another candididate with a necrophiliac Reagan fetish is Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani first sought elected office in 1988, the end of the Reagan era. Giuliani thinks he's Reagan
, and he stole straight out of Reagan's playbook. Instead of 'welfare bums/queens' it was the plague of 'squeegee men' -- poor people who, instead of panhandling, offered to wash your car windows for a quarter. And where Reagan channeled John Wayne
, Giuliani channeled Charles Bronson ('Death Wish
'). Demonization and busting heads --- if you can smile at the same time, you've got it made.
So is there a liberal equivalent to John Wayne that a 'liberal Reagan' could channel to a landslide victory? Because if you mention Reagan's mandate and don't mention John Wayne, you're talking bullshit.
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Kate Harding proves it -- the media is a joke. In just the best blog post of this election, Harding skewers Meghan Daum of the L.A. Times -- comparing Daum's gender hit piece on Clinton stupid-for-stupid to a joke piece in the spoof newspaper The Onion. This is unbelievable:
"Shouldn't the first woman to break the gender barrier of the American presidency be the type of woman who listens to those who doubt her and bows to public opinion more often?"
"We want, on some level, for her to win the White House according to the dating guide "The Rules" -- acting aloof to the point of indifference."
Now, don't peek. You pick the spoof from the supposedly serious editorial. Then go to Harding's blog and see. She could have used some of the Maureen Dowd crap, but Daum will do. Our media have officially become jokes. But no matter how bad it gets, I still believe in the First Amendment.
Obama and Hillary share credit for the huge primary turnouts and galactic fundraising we've seen. I slept through the 2004 Primary. Gore vs Bradley was a virtual lobotomy of a snooze of a drag of a bore. Clinton vs. Obama is 21st Century Celebrity Deathmatch.
The contrasts are drawn clear as crystal--we react in different ways. Andrew Sullivan says Hillary's 'experience' is 'sliming her opponents'--like that's a bad thing. Yes, Hillary slimes the perverts, freaks and hypocrites on the Radical Right -- you go, girl! Her most controversial 'flaws' -- I see as strengths. She's a winner. People knock her for having what it takes to win an election in the modern American democracy. To me that makes zero sense. Who wants 'Mr. Rogers' wimp who can't win?
And speaking of wimp, can you spell Obama? Why hasn't he cheated on his wife? Is it morality or low testosterone? Has he at least lusted in his heart? Can we get a reading before we nominate this guy?
Bill Clinton proved Americans want an Alpha in the White House. Alpha Male, Alpha Female. Makes no difference to me, but the President has to be an Alpha -- by definition.
What's this Obama 'vision' thing about? The President has to run a vast network of Alphas. I mean, who becomes Defense Secretary? Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, FBI Director, CIA Director? Betas don't rise to those positions.
Obama can see all the visions he wants. Alphas don't do what Betas tell them.
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Clinton Obsession Factor
Ezra Klein documents the Clinton Obsession Factor. Exhibit 1, Andrew Sullivan's play-by-play of the Nevada debate:
"Read [Sullivan's] liveblogging of last night's debate. Edwards never even makes an appearance. Obama, who Andrew is deeply committed to, hardly even qualifies as a walk-on character. Instead, it's Clinton. It's Clinton and Clinton and Clinton and Clinton."
Klein is describing the Clinton 'mystique' that has Chris Matthews, Sullivan and countless others in its grip. We hear a lot about Obama's charisma, but Hillary Clinton has been the most captivating personality in American culture for 16 years. That she still exists at all -- let alone that her star is still rising -- is beyond amazing.
Remember the mega-viral 1984 ad? Now imagine the same ad with George Bush, Lieberman or Giuliani instead of Clinton. Snore! 1984 was fascinating only because Clinton was in it!
Her critics just can't take their eyes off of her. That's why she can't get swiftboated. Gore or Kerry can't answer smears without media cooperation -- which they never get. Clinton doesn't need a fair and balanced media to get her message out.
Case in point: "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy."
Case in point: "A willing suspension of disbelief."
What did Obama or Edwards say about the surge six months ago? You'd have to google to find out. Everyone remembers what Clinton said. What did anyone else say a decade ago? Give me just one quote off the top of your head. (Well, "I did not have sex with that woman." Case closed.)
Case in point: "I don't bake cookies."
Case in point: "I'm not Tammy Wynette, standing by my man" or something like that.
She talks. It goes viral. She plays the 'obsession' card brilliantly.
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