Shawn–whatever you or I may think of Obama–it’s pretty clear that he is winning right now because of the fact that he is uniting the party around his message for change, but that she is failing because she mounted a campaign based on destroying her opponents. Ever since her first sign of trouble at the driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants debate in late October, she went into panic mode and reverted to a 1992 war room mentality. Either directly or through surrogates she set out to destroy Obama–whether on drug use, suggesting he was a Muslim, citing his kindergarten essay, bringing up
Tony Rezko, playing the race card, or the more recent plagiarism charges. Everything backfired, and just reminded Democratic voters why they found Obama’s call for a “new kind of politics” appealing.
As for the DailyKos crowd, I’d have a few points to make. Just as John McCain’s victory on the Republican side demonstrates that talk radio doesn’t represent the entire Republican primary electorate at large, the angry left doesn’t account for all Democrats. So, while that vocal segment of the party may be itching for a fight, it doesn’t mean that Democratic primary voters haven’t been drawn in by Obama’s call for unity. Also, I think the failure of John Edwards’s campaign demonstrates that the angry left may not represent as large a portion of the actual Democratic electorate as one would think. Edwards took all of the far left’s positions, and combined it with a promise to fight Republicans, corporate executives, and lobbyists with the zeal of a child fighting bullies in rough mill towns. And he lost.
So, while Obama’s rhetoric may have initially made the angry left worry that he was a sissy, I think he eventually won them over because they realized that he was both more liberal and more likable and thus more likely to win and successfully implement a liberal agenda than Clinton. But I do think his call for unity–however empty it may sound to our more skeptical ears–did win him votes among Democrats overall. And I don’t think it’s “buy(ing) into his transparently messianic rhetoric” to try to explain why his rhetoric has been so effective.Â