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  •  Sigh. Feel free to believe as you will. (0+ / 0-)

    Or, instead, read that which you comment on.

    I didn't say that Reagan was unknown.  I said that he hadn't won voters' trust.

    Reagan was associated with a right-wing ideology that many Americans found unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  He had been portrayed ceaselessly as a war-mongering cowboy. He did what he needed to do to combat that perception -- he smiled, was gracious, etc.  Basically, he reached out to tell America that he was no nut job and America bought the pitch.

    Obama's task is different.  He needs to convince America that he represents a clean sheet, not a blank slate.  He hasn't spent his life in politics, but he's engaged the world and brings plenty to the table.

    Just like Reagan didn't have to convince America that he was the second coming of Gandhi, Obama doesn't have to convince America that he is the ultimate policy wonk.  He just needs to let us know that he's been around enough to understand what's going on, smart enough to weigh the input of those with specific expertise he lacks, and principled enough to be trusted with the choices that will determine our future.

    That's the key word "enough", not maximum, just enough.

    The race is his to lose, and he'll have to work hard to do that.

    Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

    by dinotrac on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 04:11:20 PM PDT

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    •  If you make the points of comparison (0+ / 0-)

      vague enough, you can make them look similar.  Lots of candidates have to "win the voters' trust" -- that's been a huge issue for Kerry and Gore and Dukakis and Bush I ("read my lips, no new taxes!") and McGovern and Goldwater and probably even Humphrey.  I don't know if Ford was considered untrustworthy, but Carter absolutely ran a "you can trust me, I've never been to Washington" campaign in 1976.  I don't think "trust" was a huge issue for Dole or Mondale, who were old hands running against popular incumbents.

      As you point out, the "trust" issue with Obama is (allegedly) about his lack of a track record (but, in reality, is about 90% racism, IMHO).  The issue with Reagan was the opposite -- everyone knew his track record, as he'd been in public life for literally 4 decades, including 15 as one of the most important politicians in the country, and had run for President 2 times before (though I'm not sure the 1968 effort amounted to much).  The fear of Reagan wasn't some inchoate, "I just don't know about this guy" it was, "Do we want to put the New Right in power?"

      Just like Reagan didn't have to convince America that he was the second coming of Gandhi, Obama doesn't have to convince America that he is the ultimate policy wonk.  He just needs to let us know that he's been around enough to understand what's going on, smart enough to weigh the input of those with specific expertise he lacks, and principled enough to be trusted with the choices that will determine our future.

      I don't think the "trust" attacks are made in good faith or processed in good faith.  They're just racism.  Presidential campaigns have been incredibly racist for a couple of generations, at least since 1964, and in every previous one a white man was guaranteed to be the President no matter who won.  Now that it's very, very likely that a black man will be President, it's going to get uglier by several orders of magnitude.

      Obama can't answer the attacks, because the attack basically consists of people (euphemistically) screaming, "N**ger!"  I still think the fundamentals, along with McCain's manifest incompetence as a candidate, will give Obama a clear victory.  But we as a society might decide that we'd still rather burn our house down rather than let a black guy live in it.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 04:40:49 PM PDT

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      •  Remember - I'm skeptical of the historical (0+ / 0-)

        comparisons. They're all strained, and you can pick, choose, and interpret the facts as needed to support your proposition.

        I believe that the Reagan-Obama comparison is more apt than most, but it certainly isn't perfect.

        Nevertheless, you said a couple of interesting things:

        >he'd been in public life for literally 4 decades, including 15 as one of the most important politicians in the country

        Don't know about you, but I doubt that many people considered "Bedtime for Bonzo" as preparation for the presidency.

        The sum total of his political experience in 1980 was two terms as California governor, lots of speeches, and two failed attempts to win the Republican nomination, ie -- he didn't even make the cut for the final race.

        I don't know how important he was, but I do know that, as California governor, he didn't have his hands on nuclear weapons and foreign policy, and that is what people feared the most.

        >They're just racism.

        I don't know where you get that from, unless it's some place deep in your own soul.  

        Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

        by dinotrac on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 06:28:10 PM PDT

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        •  Are you accusing me of being a racist? (0+ / 0-)

          They're just racism.

          I don't know where you get that from, unless it's some place deep in your own soul.

          That's an asinine, ignorant, offensive comment, and looks a lot to me like an off-handed ad hominem delivered in lieu of a real reply.

          Do you honestly believe that racism isn't a huge factor in this election?  Once in a blue moon people might argue that he's inexperienced -- but the majority of the "trust"-type arguments are framed by explicit, or nearly-explicit, racism.  Did you somehow miss the massive shitstorm over the New Yorker cover?

          Don't know about you, but I doubt that many people considered "Bedtime for Bonzo" as preparation for the presidency.

          Well, that's only part of the point.  Name recognition and general positive feelings about a candidate matter a tremendous amount.  Being a well-liked, public figure, as Reagan was, is a huge advantage.  2 generations of Americans knew his name, and probably had pretty good feelings about him by the time 1980 rolled around.  He was in an entirely different realm of public awareness from Barack Obama, whose name was probably unfamiliar to 95% of the country before the 2004 Democratic Convention speech.

          Don't forget that Reagan was also President of the Screen Actors' Guild and went out of his way to play along with red-baiting and Hollywood purges -- he was involving himself in reactionary activism even when he was still acting with chimps.

          Lastly, despite all the Bonzo jokes, he did manage to get himself elected Governor of California, and to win reelection, as well.  That's a huge accomplishment for a politician.  Off the top of my head, I don't know whether California had already grown bigger than New York in 1966 or 1970, but as governor he represented the largest (or maybe 2nd-largest) constituency in the country, after the President.

          Yes, sane people were terrified that he'd start a nuclear war, and with good reason.  Reagan and the team he brought with him were in many cases evil nutbags, if not outright loons.  But Reagan was pretty much all there for people to see in 1980 -- his track record of busting DFH's as Governor; his red-baiting; his militarism; his launching his campaign in Philadelphia, MS; his chest-thumping "I paidfor this microphone" moment in New Hampshire.  All the resentment and anger and rage were right there -- anger had been his political persona since Sacramento, and he didn't become doddering grandpa Ronnie until his second go-round.

          Reagan's campaign amounted to a public lynch mob organized by the New Right, targeting all the people they hated -- people of color, feminists, gays, liberals, DFHs -- and I think the majority of people who voted for him recognized that that was exactly what he was going to deliver.

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 07:35:02 PM PDT

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          •  I think you're accusing yourself. (0+ / 0-)

            I said that your comment came from someplace deep in your own soul.  That leaves a lot of room to run around in.  You took it from there.

            And no, I honestly do not believe that racism is a huge factor in this election.

            A non-factor? No, of course not.  There will always be pinheaded pricks in this world, but 2008 is not 1960.

            Obama's first victory was in lily-white bible belt Iowa.  I don't think that would have happened even 20 years ago, although -- Jesse Jackson ran surprisingly well in some places nobody would have expected him to.

            Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

            by dinotrac on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 08:09:15 PM PDT

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