Thursday, February 28, 2008

Well, I guess We are the Change We've Been Waiting For

I'm a huge fan of the blog Needlenose and Swopa, who writes over there, has a fabulous piece on the new Obama aggressive tone towards McCain and towards Bush. Swopa's been writing some of the most prescient political commentary out there for a long time, hammering away at issues and themes that underlie particular political moves. Our own SteveM has been beating up the same muse from the depressed, dark side for a long time now. His own recent posts are all over the ongoing struggle of Democrats to define themselves as more than the party of febrile elites. Swopa My favorite observation from the essay, which you should read, is this

That's part of why Obama's reply to John McCain on Iraq yesterday was so bracing:
"I said, well I would always reserve the right to go in and strike against al Qaeda if they were in Iraq," Obama said. "So, you know, this is how politics works. McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying, 'Well, let me give you some news Barack, al Qaeda IS in Iraq,' like I wasn't reading the papers. Like I didn't know what was going on."

. . ."But I have some news for John McCain," Obama said, "and that was that there's no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq!"

. . . "So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell," Obama said, "but so far all he's done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that's cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars."
What Obama is doing here isn't just responding to the factual specifics of McCain's gibe -- he's portraying himself as the ordinary, common-sense guy dealing with reality, and McCain as a foolish, out-of-touch phony who's only concerned with politics.

For those of us who've been worried about Barack's readiness to deal with the GOP sludge machine, it's a good sign.

Update: So is this bit of framing goodness from Team Obama, responding to Dubya's press conference today:
With their words today, George Bush and John McCain called for staying the course with an endless war in Iraq and a failed policy of not talking to leaders we don’t like, but Americans of all political persuasions are calling for change. The American people aren’t looking for tough talk about fighting for 100 years in Iraq, because they know we need to end this war, finish the job in Afghanistan, and take the fight to al Qaeda. The American people aren’t looking for more of a do-nothing Cuba policy that has failed to secure the release of dissidents, failed to bring democracy to the island, and failed to advance freedom for fifty years, because they know we need to pursue new opportunities to achieve liberty for the Cuban people.
Notice how the statement intentionally links "tough talk" with failure, and puts Obama on the side of the American people in wanting policies that get results instead?

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that for almost three years now, I've been "writing about the basic distinction of bluster versus responsibility and the need to consciously rehabilitate and reclaim common sense as an approach for addressing policy issues, especially with regard to national security. . . . We need to start asserting the value of thinking about what works, not just what sounds like the most macho response." It's great that Obama and his brain trust appear to get this.

Edited to add that Swopa's post seems to be in large part linked to, and borrowed from Firedoglake

but the multiple typefaces and indents made this hard to tell. Sorry for the confusion.