Wednesday, February 13, 2008


IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS by the tenor of my recent posts and the recent Obama victories that


I AM NO LONGER AS DESPERATELY WORRIED AS I WAS that my preferred candidate for President (hint: Obama)--who represents what I consider to be the smart, inclusive, decent, and inspiring Democratic politics of the future--might be KIDNEY PUNCHED TO DEATH by the grim Rovian politics of the past.

AND I AM NO LONGER AS PROFOUNDLY DEPRESSED AS I WAS that Hillary Clinton, whom I've always liked and defended, was the one doing the Rovian kidney punching.

SO YOU NICE PEOPLE MAY GET SOME RELIEF from the relentlessly sincere posts about politics and my worries




If you are perceived as being the darling candidate of the young, educated, liberal activists, you don't really change that impression by having your triumph in MADISON, WISCONSIN.

TO THIS POINT: Obama's little joke about his whispered conversation with a Republican who had come to the Obama fold was funny. But I winced when it became clear he was only using the exchange as a joke.

IF WE ARE ALL INDEED EACH OTHER'S KEEPER, he needed to call back to that Republican handshake in his speech, and remind his young, educated, liberal activists that the Republicans are humans as well. We need to welcome and talk to them, and not just in an embarrassed whisper. We need to stop demonizing one another by party, by region, by class, by race. And the logical next step after that rally was to urge every one of those young, educated, liberal activists to go out into their state and meet their neighbors--not just to spread the word; but also to just shake hands.

It's not just good politics for the primary. It's not just how we'll form a new, strong, young, inclusive Democratic party. It's what the Obama candidacy, at its best, is all about.


I like the fact that Obama is ahead of Clinton by about .338787 of a delegate, or whatever it is. It is appropriate for him to take up the mantle of the front runner at this point.

(AND WERE YOU AWARE of the meaning of the word "mantle" in this context? It means a kind of ceremonial cloak or cape)

HOWEVER: It seems to me wrong to promote Obama's nomination as INEVITABLE, as Obama's campaign seems to be doing.

Many have come off the crazy ups and downs of this race and called it absolutely unpredictable. All roller coasters feel that way when you're on them. But when you actually look at it from the outside, you see the peaks and valleys, and twists and turns are clearly structured and very predictable.

EVERY TIME CLINTON OR OBAMA is coronated as "inevitable"--by themselves or others--they lose. Look at what happened between Iowa and New Hampshire.

EVERY TIME CLINTON OR OBAMA is portrayed as the insurgent--by themselves or others--they win. Look what happened bewteen New Hampshire and South Carolina.

HISTORICALLY, no matter what you've read, AMERICANS HATE AN UNDERDOG--they love a winner. HENCE: BUSH.

BUT IN THIS RACE ESPECIALLY, voters HATE HATE HATE the presumption that someone else will be making this decision for them--be it the press, the superdelegates, the pundits, or the candidates themselves--before they've made up their own minds.

Obama is absolutely correct to capitalize on his winning momentum and A GENIUS to start taking his arguments directly to McCain, where he should finally show off the substantive policy chops the voters want and need to see.

But the primary races still to come will be hard. They could easily shift the balance back to Clinton, especially if she is able to cast Obama, perversely, as the establishment candidate, the pre-coronated king.

If Obama is to limit the inevitable sympathy vote that will accrue to her in the states to come, he needs to resist wearing a crown. He needs to remind Americans that his candidacy, if only by virtue of its inclusiveness, is ALWAYS at a disadvantage next to the harsh political gaming of Rove and his proteges.

The real triumph will come when he wins in spite of it.

OK, that is all I am going to say about all this. Since I have become NOTHING BUT A SHILL, I'll encourage you now to donate.

BUT NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, I THINK YOU WILL AGREE: it is time for Obama to start wearing some kind of actual cloak or cape on the campaign trail.


(Maybe Ape-Lad can envision it for us some day.)

That is all.


Unknown said...

John Hodgman,

Your sincerity blasts and genuine concern have made me feel less crazy. Plus, they are endearing, so please don't feel the need to stop now. I, like you, am still filled with some worry, because you are right that allowing Hillary to look down and out has only helped her thus far. History has shown that betting against the Clinton Machine is not the smartest thing one could do with his or her money. I still have faith that they will snatch this away, so please keep spewing hope at me.

Anonymous said...


I too was waiting, during Obama's rally speech in Wisconsin last evening, to hear him say that hope is not just for democrats, but for republicans as well. And perhaps even for CEOs, not just the teacher who also works at the donut-shop (whom, while an endearing character, has nearly worn out her welcome in Obama's stump speech). That hope and aspirations to the American Dream are for all of us. If Obama can reach out to Republicans now, I can go across the street to my neighbor with the big W on his pickup truck and hand him an Obama sticker to put over it, and allow him to hide his shame more inclusively, rather than spitefully, ruefully, or any other sort of pejorative -fully you wish to insert here.

And, yes, I am eagerly awaiting more Mole-Man speak here. I love Obama, but I am concerned if we do not know more about these underground-dwellers before the election we may miss out on a key constituency to whom we can reach out.

For instance, are there Mole-Men here in the Denver area that I can register to vote?

tony said...

We might need the mole men to help with the super delegates if the sores in the pit of my stomach are correct about the fix being in regardless of how actual voters vote.

Unfortunately it might be too late for them to help with the fiascos in Florida and Michigan that my heartburn is alleging was a DLC scam. Unless they can help fund a do-over from their cache of treasure.

Blake Himsl Hunter said...

Could Obama in a cloak be a new internet meme (assuming I am using the word 'meme' correctly)...I am working on one right now as we speak/type...

Anonymous said...

Obama forgot the tail end of his Republican story last night - the last line is usually him saying "but why are we whispering?" He is not as embarrassed by Republicans as he made himself out to be with that retelling last night!

Hopefully they will back off of their inevitability kick soon. After a bit of media brou ha ha I think Hillary was gearing up for another New Hampshire last night and I think she was very surprised to not have gotten it.

stephanie said...

If you enjoy LOLcats and Barack Obama, you may enjoy:

Yes We Can Has!

It's Lolcats ABOUT Barack Obama.

I just stumbled on this yesterday. It's fairly new, and fairly hilarious.

The Curiously Dull Mint said...

i'm confused.. a crown is bad but a cloak is good? would it be like a lord of the rings elven cloak that can withstand almost any barrage of any kind, or more like a wrestler's cloak that screams out to all challengers "YOU'RE GOING DOOOOOOOWN!!!"

obama started his campaign on a real high note of unification between dems and pubs and mole-men, it would be a shame for him to lose that very important and positive part of his charm now.

but don't stop the sincerity blasts - we need them to keep our spirits up.

fancycwabs said...

I ran some numbers, based on states falling close to their demographically and geographically similar neighbors, and I have Obama with 130 more pledged delegates than Clinton when it's over, assuming that nobody concedes. This leaves the decision to the superdelegates, but that's been the case for a long time now.

Lubab No More said...

Just a heads up:

CNN has PC supporting HRC.

Unknown said...

Yipe! Please hurry up with making the Magic Cloak of Invincibility! I remember being dumbfounded by the "fairy tale" comment in January, thinking how sad it was that The Man from Hope was arguing against Hope, but now, they are quite literally arguing against democracy. Here is their plan to win without winning the pledged delegates.

In other scary (local for me) news, there is also an effort to "win" the Washington state primary. Long story short, WA has a caucus and then a primary. Rs allocate delegates based on half caucus and half primary. Dems allocate based on the caucus ONLY - making the primary a meaningless beauty contest for us. Obama swept our caucus (you're welcome!), and most Dems threw away their primary ballot (we vote by mail). Now Clinton thinks if she can win our Primary on 2/19, she can show that caucuses (caucii?) really ARE an unfair plot by the man to suppress the true will of the voters, and can give our superdelegates some cover to buck the will of the people. BAH ON ALL OF THIS. more HERE


Blake Himsl Hunter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blake Himsl Hunter said...

Here is the best I could of drawing Obama wearing a cloak with the time I had.


Unknown said...

trophiogrande, that is SOME CAPE, and looks very protective too. I feel a bit more at ease already!

Tim said...

So, is there some sort of form we can fill out to nominate Hodg-man as Obama's running mate?

'Cause there should be.

Elizabeth said...

I think it needs to be a superhero-type cape rather than an ermine-lined royal cape. Remember Nixon's Whitehouse guard uniform gaff? American's don't like a king, unless, of course, it's Elvis.

The Curiously Dull Mint said...

i'm leaning toward wrestler's cape.. superhero might be too pretentious for some, and ermine lined would just piss off the PETA folks (like me)(unless it's fake-ermine) and be a little pretentious as well. i think i had something like this in mind... just think of the cross-cultural (if wrestling is cultural) appeal!!

suttonhoo said...

tangential and perhaps largely inconsequential -- something re Obama you might enjoy, which includes, among other things, this snippet from the Mayor of Obama, Japan: "I will present you the chopsticks of Wakasa paint and I am glad if you use it habitually." »

The Curiously Dull Mint said...

OMG CHOPSTICKS DAY AND OBAMA'S BIRTHDAY???? that's it, fate has spoken. in all caps.