Monday, February 12, 2007

Yeah, yeah, Obamania.

In a move that shows a palpable lack of respect for Hillary Clinton--and we can get behind just about anything that pays her a lack of respect--Barack Obama officially stopped putting off the obvious today, and became one more of the many people who'll likely not be President. We've enjoyed Obama ever since his Convention keynote address made us want to fuck him. Are we prepared to vote for him. We'll see. But he's got to run while the running's good, i.e., before he's got a lengthy and contradictory Senate voting record to sabotage him.

He made his entree announcement this weekend, and as you might expect, we didn't see a thing. But, a comment Matt Yglesias made about it got our attention.

"Good speech. Frankly, I sort of enjoy the absence of policy detail."
Enjoy it? Lad, you should be soaking in it! I can assure you, the least important thing a Presidential candidate needs to elaborate on--or even firmly establish in the first place--is policy detail. During the run up to the last Presidential elections, I enumerated the many problems John Kerry had as a candidate, and his tendency to lapse into policy detail was chief among them. As I wrote then:

When a presidential candidate proposes a policy or a plan and cites numbers and statistics, does it really leave an impression on you? It doesn't do it for me. Candidate X may want America to have this tax plan or that health care plan, and I may like the sound of it, but I'm always left complaining, "Well, dude, that sounds great and all. But first, you'll need to get a law passed that will allow me to vote for you, fifty-one Senators, and a couple hundred Representatives, and then, we'll need to find filibuster-proof supermajorities of the same who totally agree up and down with your plan for me to be guaranteed that this policy you describe that I now want will come to be.
In other words, so what? Your sirloin is going to become sausage, anyway, so spare me the details.

What's important for a Presidential candidate to elucidate? Vision, baby. What direction do you want to sail the ship of state? What do you want America to look like in four years? What can we, as citizens, expect to be putting our weight behind during your Presidency? What's our objective? What's the mission? Go back and peep the winners. They all had it. Even Mini-Me managed it.

Here's where a Presidential message starts:

  1. It evokes a cause or project in which American citizens may participate.
  2. It evokes a national need that is front-and-center in the national zeitgeist.
  3. It evokes a sense of National Purpose.
That's the shit you need to account for before you start crunching the numbers on your health care plan. That's the sort of thing you can sell the American people on without them asking "How are we going to pay for it?" And, best of all, once you've established it, no one will ever say that they are voting for you because you are "electable."


I don't know that Obama, or anyone has this shit down. But the absence of picayunity is a good sign. Just remember, fortune favors the bold.

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