Saturday, January 05, 2008

Final thoughts on Iowa

By Libby

Going from zero back to ten hour work days has left me a bit foggy, but I've been thinking about what it all means and posted my second impressions last night at my place. Having mulled it over this morning, and catching up on the news and more reactions, I'm rather bemused by the Obamania that ensued in the wake of his victory. Even my sister has been bit by the Obama bug and is merrily emailing the good news that a savior has been born in the cornfields of the mid-west.

On the other hand, my daughter practically spit when confronted with the news and vehemently announced she would vote Republican rather than vote for Barak. She hates Obama and likes McCain. I don't know why. I've learned the hard way that the secret to peaceful mother-daughter relations is to not ask questions when it comes to our political differences. But I would note that she represents a demographic of a highly educated, over-acheiving, professional class that doesn't closely follow politics and who are probably more susceptible to the soundbites of The Village 'wise men' than they should be. Her first choice is Hillary.

Which brings me back to my main point of last night. Matt Stoller agrees with me that the story was in the turnout and breaks down the numbers to find Obamania is creating new voters. I think that's great. We need to engage the young and the previously apathetic voters if we're going to have a chance to really wrest control of our government from the politicians. To the extent that Obama is energizing this demo, it's a good outcome.

But I'm not so willing to hail him as the new uniter or some harbinger of great change. Maybe he really represents some new model of governance, but I don't see it in his actions, only in his pretty rhetoric. Lambert, [via], puts his finger on what bothers me about Obama. His past accomplishments on the state level aside, what has he done for us lately? Have we forgotten that he is adopting GOP talking points on Social Security and effectively dodged on fighting telecom immunity? What bold leadership has he shown on the Senate floor in the last year, or ever? Does anyone believe he's going to stand up to the industry and fight for a national health insurance program? I don't.

Which is not to say that I think either Clinton or Edwards offer any more hope for real change. In the end I'm left just as unexcited about the field as I was a year ago. I don't really care who wins. They're all preferable to any potential GOP contender but I think none of them will really fix what's broken in our system. I'm looking for a populist leader, but all I see are professional politicians.

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