Obama’s Groupies

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I’m still the kind of American policy wonk who is too jaded to get swept in the obvious emotional vibe in this video of superstar entertainers supporting Barack Obama — but nonetheless I think that the concept is interesting and powerful.
Joe Klein sent the clip my way. Just FYI.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

24 comments on “Obama’s Groupies

  1. STG says:

    I’m an Edwards supporter who voted for HRC. Obama lacks substance and offers very little during the debates. I found it troubling that he voted for Cheney’s 2005 energy bill that gives billions to the oil & gas companies. To be frank, I found him lacking originality when he took parts of Edwards’ speech that excited people and claimed these phrases as his own.

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  2. Carroll says:

    Carroll,
    In person you and I probably would agree and find a lot of common ground, but what you described as wanting sounds as if you want a dictator. Democracy doesn’t work that way as there are no guarantees–it is about forming “a more perfect” union–not a perfect one. Only a dictator can tell you what he is going to do and how he is going to do it…
    I also have said over and over that within two years every single Democrat I’ve voted for and who became President, had disappointed me. I don’t expect Obama to be any better than that. I just think he’s the Democrat who can win.
    Posted by Linda at February 3, 2008 11:02 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    With all due respect, because I normally get a great deal from your comments and respect your opinion, characterizing what I want in a leader as a dictator is as about as crazy as it gets.
    I have been to Obama’s site and read every one of his issue position statements. None of them outlined exactly what he would do in terms of new “laws or legistation” to enact the changes he speaks about or how he would or would not use his executive powers to help bring them about. As I have said before I don’t have a candidate, so my questioning of Obama or anyone else is not because I prefer someone else. Every time I have questioned a Obama supporter on details of their support I have failed to get any reply other than general statements about change.
    Here I think is our difference in approaching this election and politics in general.
    You say you have been disappointed and don’t expect Obama to do any better but that you think he is the only dem who can win.
    I do expect better, I demand better than what we have had from the parties and this government and in these candidates.
    Will I get it? Not as long as people are willing to put up with being disappointed time after time after time and feel that all they can do is accept whoever the parties and system puts up.
    Changes are needed all right and I want to know about the fundmental changes in what eveyone sees as a “corrupted government system” the candidates are going to bring about so we can get to the other changes in domestic and foreign policy.

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  3. Beth in VA says:

    Steve, I understand you don’t like ad hominem attacks, but the title of this blog post is one, imho. It also denigrates a real, sincere, grassroots movement and many, many, citizen’s hopes (and yes) feelings about the moral bankruptcy in modern politics.
    And to others–no, the video is not awful! It’s viral!
    Reason and the scientific method is necessary in society, but emotions are manipulated daily by advertisers and the republican party–fear mongering and exhortation of the peity of greed in the market place.
    This video appeals to our better nature, and does nothing to deny reason, it is expressing something that folks here seem to want to deny–that a very large chunk of the Democratic party (and lots of independents too) love this movement. Obama may not win but it is crazy (and on the wrong side of history, I hope) to deny the reality and power behind his candidacy.

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  4. Lurker says:

    I was deeply offended by the “Si, si puede” rallies, this as a LEGAL immigrant myself and a resident of Los Angeles.
    The first one had a sea of Mexican flags, then the radio talk show hosts who helped organize it told the participants to carry American flags because of the negative reactions to the Mexican flags.
    On L.A. Hispanic talk radio most of the callers (I listened obsessively around the time of the rallies) supported the “reconquista” movement — one that would *give back* the U.S. Southwest to Mexico.
    But exactly what good would that do? I ask that in all seriousness — the illegals presumably are fleeing Mexico to get away from the government’s corruption, so what would be the point of extending the Mexican government’s corruption into the Southwestern U.S.? Where would these people, admirably fleeing for a better life, go then? Canada?
    Mexico has a tremendous amount of oil, which we import, while we have just about nothing left. It is up to Mexicans to take care of their own country.
    Just like it’s up to us to kick the sh*theads out of our government (ALL OF THEM IN BOTH MAJOR PARTIES), and repair the damage done by NAFTA to the Mexican people — but their own government was complicit as well, it’s not all our fault.
    The death squads in Central America WERE our fault and we need to own up to it, but in my life I have seen many political refugees allowed legal citizenship in the U.S. because they deserved it.
    But with these unfettered waves of illegals– one is legalized (I’m looking at your Ray-gun) then the next come in — the middle, lower middle, and working economic classes in this country, some percentage of which are also Hispanic, are losing.
    I invite any and everyone to Southern California to try to visit an emergency room, or try to get your child a decent public education.
    My response to, “Si, si puede.” would be, “Yes, of course you can — do it in your own country.” Do not suck my country dry, while demanding the return of what you consider your land.
    Many of the southern Mexicans and Central Americans transited through what is now the U.S. centuries ago. What gives them the right to claim land that Native Americans, and Hispanics mixed with Native Americans, who never left (including members of my own family) still inhabit?
    At the end of the day, the “Si, si puede” marches were examples of reverse racism at its best. Why give special rights to Mexicans and Central Americans whose ancestors CHOSE to leave what is now the U.S. centuries ago, why not open the U.S. to all? Let everyone in.
    It’s impossible to emigrate to Mexico, yet we here in the U.S., again including Hispanics who never left, are supposed to suck-up the loss of any kind of decent standard of living.
    Seriously, Southern California is now a cesspool: the subprime collapse has directly affected everyone except for the very wealthy. On a daily basis we have to deal with gang violence – four muggings in three days within one mile in my middle-class neighborhood.
    We are terrified to send our children to school, and if you’re African- American you maybe shot if you accidentally wander into one of the many Hispanic gang areas. And by Hispanic, I mean gangs of illegals who are affiliated with Mexican and Central American gangs.
    Don’t trust me, this was in a study just released by USC. There’s an article in the L.A. Weekly about it, and it’s available online.
    The USC study has even worse portents – L.A. style gang violence is now taking out non-combatants DELIBERATELY, PLUS it is spreading into middle class areas across the country.
    Again, to the, “Si, si puede” lot — if you want Southern California, if you want the U.S., TAKE IT. But you’re running away from a problem, a corrupt, incompetent government that favors the very rich (sounds familiar,huh?) and if you don’t fix it where you stand, where are you going to run to next?
    The people of Oaxaca, and the farmers who just marched on Mexico City to protest the government and NAFTA, are my heroes. Americans, and illegals, can learn a lot from their courage and their determination to change things while standing and fighting for their ground.
    Obama never had my vote, but now, with his cheap attempt to win the Hispanic vote (and many Hispanics are against illegal immigration) I will do my DAMN best to make sure he’s not elected. Not that I will vote for Hitlery or McPain. Maybe we truly have to reach the abyss before Americans wake-up.
    In southern California, it’s close to already here. RON PAUL IS OUR ONLY HOPE.

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  5. Linda says:

    Carroll,
    In person you and I probably would agree and find a lot of common ground, but what you described as wanting sounds as if you want a dictator. Democracy doesn’t work that way as there are no guarantees–it is about forming “a more perfect” union–not a perfect one. Only a dictator can tell you what he is going to do and how he is going to do it.
    Every single candidate of both parties has detailed plans and proposals on every policy area under the sun up on his/her website. That’s about as much as one can get to study and make a decision intelligently. As for what they say in stump speeches or debates or ads, it’s all sound bites and marketing.
    I do take some offense with mockery of one of those sound bites “Yes, we can” or “Si, se puede”
    because it does have more meaning for me and for Latinos and poor people. I didn’t march with the Justice for Janitors in LA in the late 1990s–well,surely not from downtown on Wilshire Blvd. all the way to Westwood, but I did for a mile or two and attended the rally along the way in Hancock Park next to LA County Art Museum.
    It was impressive and very moving to see the entire street full of people for blocks and blocks as far as one could see. Today in LA most janitors have a living wage and health insurance because they believed that Si, se puede.
    Am I happy and starry-eyed–absolutely not!! I still am very angry and upset because I know that in health care in hospitals all over this country, many of the janitors still do not get a living wage or health insurance. So whether it’s Medicare or Medicaid or health insurance paying the bills, it outrages me that the CEO, the director of human resources, the physicians, the nurses, and lots of other people who make the hospital function, get health insurance–but the guy or gal who keeps the place clean doesn’t. That only happens when the hospital is unionized. I don’t see any of the management or professional staff worrying about their own workers benefits and reworking their budgets to provide those benefits. So I want a Democrat to win so that it will be easier for workers to organize.
    I also have said over and over that within two years every single Democrat I’ve voted for and who became President, had disappointed me. I don’t expect Obama to be any better than that. I just think he’s the Democrat who can win.

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  6. Carroll says:

    “Yes we can” what?
    Get Obama elected?
    Then what?
    Once the public has become united and overcome their differences and apathy and selfishness what then?
    After Obama has reformed and united the public does he plan to reform congress and the system? How does our unity and hope work? Does we citizens overwhelm Washington and congress with our unity and hope and demand a fix to all of the above..will the protest be led by President Obama or what? Or does the unity work by voting out the congressional partisans financed by special interest money one at a time over the next decade or so…is that what Obama meant when he said it will “take some time”?
    Will that stop the influence of the drug, insurance, banking and multinational lobbist from buying congress and legistation in their favor? Will that stop the military industrial complex that puts so many politicans in office? Will that stop American’s part in Israel’s illegal occupation? Will we get campaign finance reform so we don’t have to choose from franchises for President? Will that stop the kind of corruption we have seen more than half a dozen members of congress indicted for the past two years? Will that change the trade laws so American industry and jobs have a fighting chance against cheap offshore labor? Will it get us a health care policy that isn’t patterned after the Medicare D designed for the for profits?
    Tell me how our hope and Obama as president is going to work on each of the specific problems above.
    I don’t have a candidate, I just want to know exactly what Obama is going to do and I want him to explain “how” he is going to do it.

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  7. Me says:

    The video is absolutely awful. I guess in that sense it’s “interesting.” And it’s a big turnoff from Obama, so in that sense I guess it’s “powerful.” If Obama’s nominated, I’m voting Republican.

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  8. TonyForesta says:

    My favorite sign in all the protests, and one that always provoked an uncontrollable smile – was on of Ike, lifted from a campaign poster, with the admonition “I told you so” beneath his confident knowing smile. Thanks for reminding us Linda.
    Obama’s appeal is hope! It is the “audacity of hope”, that real or imagined compells young Americans and old alike, to look to Barak as a vehicle of change, as fence mender, and not a fence walker, as an articulate and eloquant leader giving voice to the voiceless.
    This may all be an illusion, or some kind of macabre ruse, – but the hope is true and genuine, people want someone they can trust in the office of the executive; someone they can believe in, and someone the people believe will truly give voice to the voiceless.
    Deeds are what shapes a human being. Words mean nothing, especially in this time of surreality pimped as reality, and the blurring of fact and fiction, news and entertainment, information, and infotainment, lies masked as truths, and truth slimed as lies. Words mean nothing. It is deed that shape our course, and define who we are as individuals, as leaders, and as a nation.
    We ache for hope, and a restoration of some sense of order and law, and the trust in our Constitution having more authority than Bush’s signing orders.
    Obama, right or wrong, real or imagined touches upon that hope for many Americans.
    “Deliver us from evil.”

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  9. Linda says:

    The hour is late, and I forgot to put the computer to sleep. I just noticed that DonS put up the link to the Susan Eisenhower op-ed. Thank you.
    One more favor. Find “Eisenhower’s Farewell Address” from January, 1961. It’s easy to find on the web. I’ve probably referred to it 3-4 times over the years of posting at TWN. Take the time to read it all. Remember that it was written after long after Ike had ended the Korean War as he promised when first elected. (well, as best one could as it’s not over yet). Also remember that there was peace and prosperity. Also that JFK had defeated Nixon (yeah!) by believing that there was a missile gap with USSR that later proved to be untrue. I turned 21 in 1960 and cast my first vote for JFK, but history shows he was no dove. He goofed badly with Bay of Pigs, did well in ignoring his generals in the Cuban missile crisis, and we’ll never know what he would have done about Vietnam, but we already had “advisors” in the jungle. We know what LBJ did. The Democrats started that war.
    But just read what Eisenhower said in 1/61. Both parties wanted him to run. He was way more popular than Colin Powell. And he couldn’t have been more correct about everything. The video pales in comparison to thinking about what Ike said.
    McCain is going to run as Ronald Reagan. Obama should run more as a bit of FDR and Ike.

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  10. Pacific John says:

    It’s a great video, but it reinforces the wrong frame, that Obama is a messiah, or perhaps the second coming of MLK.
    Against that, he can only fall short.
    The opposite thing has been working for Hillary since the debates. Her bar has been set so low by the VRWC and her Dem opponents, that she can only exceed expectations.
    I am a Hillary supporter, and while I thought it was very well done and effective to pump up Obama’s troops, I found the hagiographic aspect creepy. I wonder just how well “the one” goes over with the electorate.

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  11. Bill R. says:

    Thanks, Steve, you’re not as hardened as you might like to present. Cerebral yes… Anyway, this video is circulating the net like wildfire. It’s a work of artistic genius. This was not produced by the Obama campaign but they are quite pleased to use it for sure. Some artists who are supporters put it together.
    Great leaders communicate the story that we are living and connect it with the story that has gone before and the promise of the story that is to come. National purpose mobilizes citizens to unite around common goals. Obama does this skillfully and that makes it possible for him to inspire. This is what some might call “soul.” What binds us as a national people, as a species, is the common ground, the common experience of the journey we make on this planet. As flawed as his policies were, when Reagan drew on the American story he became “the great communicator” and he was able to lead, not always in the right direction, but lead nevertheless. Obama understands this and he is effective with it. It also doesn’t hurt that he is able to draw members of the creative class to align themselves with this effort. You interest yourself in policies, but someone had to unite the people to bring policies into reality and to explain them in terms of a vision of national purpose. Thanks for making allowances for the res

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  12. JohnH says:

    Steve is still in willful denial of the fact that leadership depends on an ability to inspire and motivate people to action. Obama’s broad fund raising appeal confirms his ability to move ordinary folks to put their money where their mouths are.
    On the other hand Hillary tends to inspire lobbyists to protect their investments, which is going to perpetuate the status quo, not solve problems.

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  13. DonS says:

    Linda, here’s the link you refer to.
    http://tinyurl.com/2pglfs
    Nice column, for those who rememeber Ike, though it seems rather gratuitous that Susan Eisenhower singles out “extremists” on both ends of the spectrum — that’s like your basic no-nothing generality that fails to address issues.
    Another question about her piece is the bit about “Putting America first — ahead of our own selfish interests . . . .” That, also, is a nice line, reministcent of JFK, but rather avoiding the hard work of deliniating the continuum of selfishness which — albeit we all are guilty of — some are obscenely more guilty of than others.
    Finally, Ms Eisenhower’s lament for the legacy of the U.S. as a nation defined by the “passing of America’s greatest days a marginalized country that is left to its anger and divisions” seems a bit optimistic. Time, as we can perhaps all notice, is accelerating relative to events. Expecting that any president, even an energetic Obamanistic democratic one, can return us to the glorious days of yesteryear, seems possibly unreal. (Re)Taking our place as one among other law abiding, powerful countries seems to me to be a best case scenario.

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  14. memekiller says:

    You’re a stronger man than I, Steve.

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  15. Linda says:

    I’m terrible at putting links into comments-so I just challenged Steve to put up something more substantive from today’s WaPo Op-Ed page. Susan Eisenhower is endorsing Obama. That’s a lot more important than this video.

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  16. Closet Liberal says:

    I am preternaturally jaded from the velvet nightmare of 30 years of conservative ideological dominance, and proudly advocate (didn’t say I believed in) exclusively what a poll of some miniscule sample of 1,000 people tell me is the right course to follow – to the point of memorializing those findings in strategy memos. I’m old, crotchety and a Deep Cover Liberal. (Don’t tell anyone.) I can’t name a single one of the people singing in this video, but like I said, I’m not of the generation it’s ended to inspire. I’m past inspiration. Been there, done that. Inspiration is overrated. Time to count some coins.

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  17. daniel says:

    This video could energize a lot of young people. YP are coming out strong for Obama, and now, there could be more…
    Is a bit too MTV for old people like me…but it works…

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  18. Jim says:

    Edwards supporter who’s now for Obama here. It didn’t do much for me, but I’m not the sort of person this sort of ad is aimed at. I think I’m too old, for one thing. I recognized several of those “superstars”, but I couldn’t put a name on any of them.
    I still think the biggest challenge to Obama’s message of unity and optimism is Charlie Pierce’s: Name ten republicans in Congress who are going to join the “Yes We Can” express.

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  19. Linda says:

    I don’t put political stickets on my car, but he’s the only candidate that I thought could win since he announced almost a year ago.
    And I have to admit I’m too old and out of touch to recognize most of the superstars. “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” was closer to my generation. But that was so 20th century! This is quite a lovely piece–very smart use of “Yes, We Can” in English a few weeks ago preparing for CA where everybody knows that’s “Si se puede.”
    Today Obama got the endorsement of SEIU in LA and of “La Opinión.” It’s the largest Spanish language newspaper in the United States and second-most read newspaper in Los Angeles (after The Los Angeles Times).
    I still don’t think he can win in CA, but my friends there are sending me information that is surprising.
    Much too small a sample to tell anything, i.e., a few feminists who were for Clinton but have switched to Obama in the past week and started sending me Obama stuff. I haven’t even been in touch with either of these women in many months and have not tried to influence anyone’s vote.
    They both say the same thing that they would love to see a woman as President, but they don’t think she can win, really didn’t want four more years of Hill and Bill, and suddenly are more enthused about Obama than I am.
    So all I can thnk of is Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”:
    “There’s something happening here
    What it is ain’t exactly clear”
    Could it be a trend?

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  20. Jason says:

    I’m going to revise my comments a bit. I watched it a second time, and I think it could be effective in energizing the faithful and creating an emotional connection with people less cynical than I. But for me, someone who has already put a few clips from Obama’s speeches and talks on his blog, I would be embarrassed to share this video with my friends. It’s like a photo of a cat hugging a dog with the inscription “I Wuv You”. Some people say, “Awww…”. Others roll their eyes. I guess I’m an eye-roller.

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  21. Jason says:

    I’m an Obama supporter, and I have to say, I was turned off by the video. It pushes the promise of Obama into the land of hype and hyperbole, and I have a reflexive reaction against anything or anyone who is too gloriously lauded. Hope can be uplifting; hype can have a backlash, and in this accelerated media environment, it doesn’t take much to sour realists and cynics who may be attracted to Obama’s message but reflexively reject this type of idolatry.
    The Obama campaign has no control over who lauds him, but if this type of praise continues and starts too border on religion fervor, he may end up being in a rare position for a politician: having to deal with a backlash from too much of a good thing.
    I’m not saying this video goes too far, but after watching it, it did make me think for the first time about the possibility.

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  22. p.lukasiak says:

    I agree that its a great video…. but to me reflects the same “style above content” theme that seems to be at the heart of Obama’s campaign itself.
    (Full disclosure… Edwards supporter who may vote for Hillary, or uncommitted, but won’t be voting for Obama.)

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  23. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s a very well-composed and well-produced video.

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  24. Cay says:

    Out here in Oregon I’ve had an Obama sticker on my car since November. I considered the personality, positions, electability, history and potential of the Democratic candidates and that’s where I landed. So Obama’s already my candidate, but music sure tugs at the old brain stem.

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