Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yes We Can! - Defeat Clintonism

The Obama victory in South Carolina last night was not unexpected. Even after all the smearing of Hillary Clinton through her hubby, nothing seemed to really stop Obama in the pre-election polling after his victory in Iowa. Much is credited to the largely African-American Democratic electorate in South Carolina, but Obama was also able to pick up a quarter of the white Democratic vote, which is pretty impressive in a place like South Carolina and bodes well for his ability to draw white Southerners in a general election.

What I found really fascinating last night was Obama’s victory speech. It was a beautiful piece of speechmaking, which is what we have come to expect from Obama, but it was also his first real rhetorical attack inside one of his victory speeches. As you read this quote, think iron fist in velvet glove:
But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.

We are up against the belief that it’s OK for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.

The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.
Can you hear what I hear? The Obama campaign is now challenging what was before unchallengeable in the Democratic Party: the political legacy of Bill and Hillary Clinton. It is clear that Obama has learned a valuable lesson from the South Carolina campaign. He is retuning his message of hope and change to be directed not only against the rule of Republicans, but also against Clintonism as the dominant ideology of the Democratic Party. Make no mistake about it: this is a really bold move!

Take this and couple it with the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy and the coming endorsement of Ted Kennedy and boom! The official combination of the Kennedy mystique with the audaciousness of hope.

What will this mean looking forward to Florida and Super Tuesday? I’m not sure, but the Democratic battle is now defined as the Clinton machine against the Democratic grassroots. Whether this is a fair characterization is not the point. As the victor in South Carolina, Obama gets to set the tone going into the next contests and that is what he as decided on as the definition. This should keep it interesting.

Mason Slidell

No comments: