Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cheap Entertainment: Set Up Obama Against Krugman

...and watch your comment thread explode.

What prompted this dogfight was the ongoing conflict between Paul Krugman and Barack Obama over health care and social security. Krugman's been pretty critical of Obama's DLC-esque positions on both, and Obama's campaign responded with an Oppo piece that was pretty unfair to the Professor.

Leaving aside the wonkish aspects, I have to say that I think Obama made a misstep here. While Krugman man not be "the most progressive voice in American media", as Ezra describes him, but he is absolutely revered among progressives for speaking out against the Bush administration during the 2002/2003 period, when criticism was hard to find and quickly slapped down when it appeared. Attacking Paul is like attacking Jon Stewart; you CAN do it, as he can be criticized on a number of issues, but if you do it too openly and too harshly than is warranted, you're going to step on a lot of progressives' toes.

I think I see the problem, too. The Obama campaign has always been a kinda-sorta centrist one. That's where all that "no red states, no blue states" stuff comes from. The problem is that they think that their success is due to this centrist tone. Thing is, Hillary already has the centrist ground well staked out, and has had it staked out since long before Obama became a serious contender. Obama is unlikely to be able to get much traction coming in from her right, but they seem to think their attempts to do so are bearing fruit.

They aren't.

Let's be honest. He's partially successful because he's a good speaker, but he's really successful because of that prominent progressive position that he's taken: his opposition to the war in Iraq and to the upcoming war in Iran. Hillary took her centrism too far, on an issue dear to Dems where "centrism" is totally immoral and unwarranted, and she's being punished for it. Obama went progressive, and has reaped the benefits.

This does not suggest that coming in from the right on domestic issues is going to help you. Far from it: it suggests that progressivism works, and that it's probably a good idea to have more of it.

Hopefully he'll get it, but in the meantime, he should lay off Krugman. Trust me: it ain't gonna help.

No comments:

Post a Comment