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Plus c’a change, plus ce la meme chose, political edition February 15, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Politics, Stupid Party vs Evil Party.
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In some ways, the current fascination with Obama in the Democratic party reminds me of the Messianic fervor that swept the ’68 and ’72 primaries, with McCarthy and more importantly RFK filling the roles of the Chosen One. One glaring difference between McCarthy and RFK vs. Obama is the fact that both ’68 Dems had evident themes upon which they were placing their campaigns, whereas Obama appears to be a blank slate, an open Rorshach inkblot upon which prospective voters may project whatever political desires they may wish and feel that they are in fact present. A very attractive -and dangerously deceptive- attribute for a candidate to possess.

But once Sirhan Sirhan snuffed the Impossible Dream out in Los Angeles and the nightmare that was Chicago and the DNC then ravaged the party, the Democrats were left in a state similar to the country-at-large during the depression, desperate for deliverance.

And amongst the younger -and more easily fooled- Democrats in ’72 there came the out-of-nowhere McGovern, a breath of fresh air seemingly destined to seize control of the political apparat and flush the brainless functionaries such as Muskie and Humphrey from their bastions of power, injecting new meaning into the workings of the Republic, and finally drive the gargoyle Nixon from the White House.

Coming out of Miami in the summer of ’72, after McGovern whipped the last efforts of the old party hacks to unseat him, the Democratic grassroots seemed ready to storm the country.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the White House. McGovern’s obvious appeal to younger voters in the Blue Areas of the US did no translate to a larger appeal to the more general electorate. He suddenly appeared to be “just another politician” as the Eagleton episode and his inability to properly formulate a working economic plan became permanent albatrosses around his neck.

Now in ’08, we have another “new Democrat” who is making a huge appeal to young and activist Democrats, and his grassroots-style of campaigning, very reminiscent of McGovern’s, is doing the same thing to the old Party Establishment that McGovern did to Muskie. Clinton, the heir apparent as was Muskie, was holding all the pre-election cards just as Muskie did before her, is getting her ass kicked from here to next November by a bunch of wild-eyed young punks who are lit with the fire of True Belief that their candidate is the one to lead them to the Promised Land. Again, just like Muskie and McGovern.

But like McGovern before him, Obama is going to have a very hard time making a broader appeal to those voters who are not taken in by his great charisma that is also devoid of tangible meaning.

It is this very lack of meaning that is the basis of his appeal. A Rorshach test is meaningless if the inkblots make for a clear picture. It is their very ambiguity that allows them to work as projective instruments. Obama’s own vagueness on his actual executive actions allows voters to transform him into whatever they wish.

That will change once if the guy gets elected, and fast.

But I do not think he will. There are still too many rock-ribbed pragmatists (and cynics) out there who espouse the old motto of the State of Missouri: “Show Me.” Obama cannot claim that he can show anyone anything.

In ’72, a maverick from nowhere drove the Party hacks from their perches to broker a convention and then seize the Democratic nomination. He promptly got his ass kicked in the general by what was regarded at the time as one of the least desirable of Presidents, Richard Nixon.

In ’08, it appears that yet another maverick will again drive the party hack Clintonites from their perches, either broker yet another convention or outright seize the nomination. But it is my prediction that he will also get his ass kicked by a Republican maverick in his own right, John McCain.

So long as McCain does not say anything to jeopardize himself, that is.

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