Monday, February 4, 2008

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Why Republicans feel OK about Obama

Peter Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President Bush, writes in the Washington Post about why Republicans have positive feelings towards Barack Obama:

What is at the core of Obama's appeal?

Part of it is the eloquence and uplift of his speeches, combined with his personal grace and dignity. By all accounts, Obama is a well-grounded, decent, thoughtful man. He comes across, in his person and manner, as nonpartisan. He has an unsurpassed ability to (seemingly) transcend politics. Even when he disagrees with people, he doesn't seem disagreeable. "You know what charm is," Albert Camus wrote in "The Fall," "a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question." Obama has such charm, and its appeal is not restricted to Democrats.

A second reason Republicans appreciate Obama is that he is pitted against a couple, the Clintons, whom many Republicans hold in contempt. Among the effects of the Obama-Clinton race is that it is forcing Democrats to come to grips with the mendacity and ruthlessness of the Clinton machine. Conservatives have long believed that the Clintons are an unprincipled pair who will destroy those who stand between them and power -- whether they are political opponents, women from Bill Clinton's past or independent counsels.

When the Clintons were doing this in the 1990s, it was viewed by many Democrats as perfectly acceptable. Some even applauded them for their brass-knuckle tactics. But now that the Clintons are roughing up an inspiring young man who appears to represent the hope and future of the Democratic Party, the liberal establishment is reacting with outrage. "I think we've reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons," writes Jonathan Chait of the New Republic. Many conservatives respond: It's about time.

A third reason for Obama's GOP appeal is that unlike Clinton and especially John Edwards, Obama has a message that, at its core, is about unity and hope rather than division and resentment. He stresses that "out of many we are one." And to his credit, Barack Obama is running a color-blind campaign. "I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina," Obama said in his victory speech last weekend. "I saw South Carolina." That evening, his crowd of supporters chanted as one, "Race doesn't matter." This was an electric moment. Obama's words are in the great tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. Obama, more than any figure in America, can help bind up the racial wounds of America. In addition, for the past eight years, one of the most prominent qualities of the American left has been anger, which has served it and the country very poorly. An Obama primary win would be a move away from the politics of rage.

I'd say this sums it up nicely, but the last point in particular should be stressed. Every single conservative I've talked to since the South Carolina primary has mentioned the Clinton comparison between Obama and Jesse Jackson -- and it left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

posted by Dan on 02.04.08 at 01:31 PM


Concern trolling at a high level; do not feed. Also, the notion that Clinton destroyed Starr is somewhere between laughable and contemptible.

Oh yeah, Wehner is also a political heir to the people who called MLK Martin Luther Coon, derided him as a Communist, fought his initiatives, fought the federal holiday and even now stick their fingers in America's racial wounds whenever it helps their partisan agenda. Your Republican establishment, disgusting as ever.

posted by: Doug on 02.04.08 at 01:31 PM [permalink]

Wehner is credible? Here's one view:

"Writing days after the release of the final report on Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs …, [John] Neuhaus [of the magazine, First Things] chose to base his analysis not on the report itself but on a heavily redacted and deceptively interpreted version … provided … by Karl Rove’s White House deputy, Peter Wehner."

Damon Linker, The Theocons. Secular America Under Siege (New York: Doubleday, 2006), 137.

Deal Hudson has more on the White House role in misleading Roman Catholics, though it does not mention Wehner by name:

Daniel Tompkins

posted by: Dan Tompkins on 02.04.08 at 01:31 PM [permalink]

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