Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Do you believe in magic?

Posted by Ron Coleman on November 15, 2007

Kaus on how Obama is arguing for his electability (link added by me):

Obama’s new wrinkle is the argument is that Bush is so unpopular he’s freed up a bunch of voters at the center for Dems to capture without triangulating. That may be true on universal health care coverage (where Obama’s plan arguably triangulates a bit more than Clinton’s plan). But I’m not sure where else it applies. At bottom, it still seems a variation of Shrumian populism, the idea that there are obvious answers to benefit the common man and the only thing standing in the way is some elite group or “corporate lobbyists in Washington”–as opposed to the non-populist position, which is that there are answers that benefit the common man but what’s standing in the way is usually a) the common man and b) poweful interest groups on the Democratic as well as Republican side. If our most difficult domestic problems (Social Security, health care cost control, poverty, civil rights, immigration) really did conform to the Populist model, they’d have been solved by now, by Democrats.

William Jennings BryantBut they will be, really soon. Why, just look at the Democratic Congress!

UPDATE: I took a closer look at the link I placed in the quote above for a definition of “Shrumiam populism.” It’s a very good article by Bill Clinton (and now Hillary Clinton) enabler Joe Klein, presaging the “Bob Shrum is the kiss of death in presidential elections” theme that was indeed proved true again in 2004. But being me, I liked this bit about John Edwards, because it’s a lot like what I’ve been saying all along:

The notion of economics as a zero-sum game—the people gain when the powerful lose; the people gain when they don’t have to compete against immigrants for work—is the mean-spirited fallacy at the heart of modern populism. This message is not only a proven loser but also the intellectual opposite of the expansive, inclusive, “rising tide” public activism that moved a generation of Americans, including Bob Shrum, to get involved in politics in the first place. The next John or Robert Kennedy may be a forlorn liberal hope and—as presented by Shrum—a threadbare cliché, but the Kennedys were, at the very least, idealists who raised the nation’s spirit with inspirational words and deeds. And they never defended “the little people” for a third of the take.

That leaves the Democrats (one would like to think) with Senator Clinton, who is not having her best autumn ever.  Not by a long shot.

This just might turn out okay!


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