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Sunday Reading: Broder on the Enigmatic Obama

We've said it before and we'll say it again: David Broder's Sunday column in the Post should be required reading for any political junkie worthy of the name.

In a column entitled "Obama's Enigma", Broder writes:

"[Barack] Obama is making it hard for the Republicans to figure out how to attack him. The risk for him is if he also frustrates the voters who need to understand what makes him tick. They don't elect enigmas to the Oval Office."

Broder compares Obama's general election strategy to date to the practice whereby wartime aviators would attempt to throw off anti-aircraft guns by releasing scraps of metal during their bombing passes.

"In the weeks since he effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, the Illinois senator has done a similar trick, throwing out verbal hints of altered positions on any number of issues," writes Broder.

The effect of this strategy is two-fold, he adds.

First, it is "creating quandaries for the Republicans who can't figure out where to aim" -- a good thing for those who would like to see Obama elected to the White House this fall.

But, second, and more problematic for Obama, is that the ambiguity of his position on any one issue could lead to voters wondering what, specifically, he stands for.

"Obama's case is more challenging than the typical candidate's post-primary adjustment," writes Broder. "For one thing, he is more opaque than the usual nominee. No one in recent decades has emerged as the party standard-bearer from so truncated a political career: four years in the U.S. Senate, during which he has yet to lead on any major domestic or foreign policy issue, preceded by largely anonymous service in the Illinois state Senate."

That "opaque" quality in Obama has allowed him largely to define and re-define himself on issues during the protracted primary season and now in the first month of the general election.

But, Broder cautions that the success Obama has had in avoiding being pigeonholed on any one issue could lead to problems in the fall if he isn't careful.

"Obama will be in trouble only if the pattern continues to the point that undecided voters come to believe that he has a character problem -- that they really can't trust him," writes Broder.

It's an interesting argument and, when it is made by the Dean of political reporters in Washington, you can bet the Obama campaign and the Democratic establishment will be paying attention.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 13, 2008; 10:52 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Week in Preview: Staying on Message

Comments

Man, there are some goofy Americans. That's for sure. Bill Clinton was a liberator. The Panamanian left didn't give a crap that his views about the death penalty or welfare weren't theirs. The Panamanian right didn't care about Clinton's views on abortion and health care.

They all liked that Clinton had gotten in there and DID something in the service of peace, freedom and yes economic growth in Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia and had tried his level best in Israel and the territories.

I surely don't care that Obama was Bill Cosby from August of 2004 to March of 2008, Huey Newton from March 2008 to June 2008 and back to Bill Cosby yesterday. I care that he won't treat the sovereignty of the rest of the worst like garbage. I care that he has a distinguished and scholarly and most importantly effective economic team advising him.

Everybody's all bent out of shape about Obama's relationship with a corrupt Slavic Democratic machine in Chicago are they? Political corruption is a fact of life. Only in America do you pretend it doesn't exist.

Who was Charles Keating anyway, Jesus Christ on rye toast? Hell no, he was an S & L fraudster who shovelled all the money at McCain McCain could handle.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 14, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

The use of chaff, small metal strips, is designed to fog enemy radar, not simply anti-aircraft guns. The practice is still in our arsenal today.It is a useful metaphor in the sense that the Obama campaign is fogging the opposition's message, but the use of chaff was to allow you to get through and drop bombs, and Obama doesn't seem to be dropping any of note. As to Obama, when you cut to the chase, the question is if elected, who will occupy the White House. The "new" Obama (since early June), or the "old" Obama (the rest of his political career).

Posted by: neil | July 14, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm very pleased to read "sandra", "ob08", "kristin", "vgirlone", "obamajunkie," and "don1one" pick it up where the "Scrivener" and I left off.

I agree with everything you've all written and as a "fur'ner", who speaks "mex'kin", I'm glad to see that the public is seeing Broder (and Chris) for who they are with this -- Beltway insiders with a big interest in this match.

As a South American, I don't need Barack Obama to be a saint. I just need him to be president. We're exhausted with all this sabre-rattling and lack of respect for each of our countries' sovreignty. You cannot find a McCain supporter here among the people at all be they left, right or center. Only two Presidents, Uribe and Garcia, like him. But the people of Colombia and Peru hate him.

And it is Yanqui Go Home! all the way now. How different from eight years ago when the Clintons were to SA what JFK was to the Irish. A lot of families have framed pictures of Bill Clinton or of him and Hillary or of all three.

I think Obama is perceived down here a lot like Clinton -- an effective pragmatist with a light touch and a good feeling for negotiation and getting business done.

It's kind of hard to sell "war hero" down here. In Colombia EVERYBODY'S a "war hero"! But everyone here in Panama is super-grateful for Clinton's granting us full independence and for doing it without any fanfare.

I don't trust a word of the American mainstream media at all anymore. For American news, I go to the blogs and read the peoples' opinions and the links they provide. Much more efficient and useful.

One thing that's obvious about the MSM is that they can't blog worth a damn. No style. No flavor. Convention opinions. No links to other writers. Or to other newspapers. I think the quality of Spanish-language journalism like European, Oceanic and South African journalism is quite good, still. In our papers and on our TV news, we actually get "the news."

And there are very few kind of eminence grises like Broder. Yamid Amat on Caracol is really the only famous one. He's sort of like a Spanish-speaking Bob Schieffer or Brinkley. And unlike Broder, Amat who's center-right, makes his own opinions known and doesn't pretend to be fair. He'll really put the screws to Gaviria or Samper and just kiss the butt of any member of Uribe's party. But we've come to expect that. Broder -- like the rest of them -- believe themselves to be "objective."

It's hard for me to imagine how I ever lived in America and kept up with current events without so many great blogs.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 14, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a hopeful pragmatist -- pragmatists get things done. Ideologues don't. To get things done, you have to believe change is possible, that is the definition of hope.

Posted by: Sandra | July 14, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ob08 | July 14, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Broder's comments are irrelevant. Recently, Broder wrote an article and had to apologize for two flagrant mistakes he made relative to "facts" in his article. How many of those mistakes has Broder made without offering an apology?

It is wonderful and it is about time that the public be on to the press and its tactics, many simply will no longer accept everything they say as gospel.

Posted by: Kristin | July 14, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

To all those "concerned" that Sen. Obama is an enigma, I would like to share with them what I have said about this when it was set forth by other media pundits. because I believe you and Mr Bfoder have fallen into the same trap. Like them you seem determined to pigeon hole Sen. Obama with a single label that must determine therefore where Sen Obama must stand on every issue. It is this very idea of pigeonholing and ideological labeling that Sen. Obama is trying to get us all to understand is detrimental to the country. It keeps us apart and does not allow us to look objectively at individual issues or to make objective decisions (sometimes involving reasonable compromise) that will benefit the country not just ourselves.

Why are you so disturbed that on some issues Sen Obama seems more moderate while on others he may seem more liberal? Why must he be all one thing/ the same thing on every issue? The world is not that black and white (no pun intended). It also does not mean that someone who refuses to be labeled or to always vote based on one political outlook is not principled. It means that we all need to be objective in our thinking and take positions on individual issues because a given decision makes sense to us not because we are following some preconceived dogma. Sen. Obama is asking us to always think versus to just blindly be persuaded by preconceived ideology.

If American's can do that we will break the strangle hold of Republican labeling and fear mongering that has duped so many in the past and continues to threaten our very survival today (ref: our financial crisis and the war fiasco that took us to Iraq so we could again be threatened by
Al-Queda from Afghanistan and Pakistan. the .

Posted by: Vgirl1 | July 14, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Another OLD MAN YELLING AT THE CLOUDS!

Broder's comments is what has become one of the main Republican talking points about Obama.

Broder sounds antiquated and ancient in his rhetoric abour "wartime aviators" in discussing the 2008 General Election.

Unfortunately, David Broder is as much out-of-touch with the average American voter as are the Republicans such as Karl Rove, Phil Gramm, and John McCain.

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | July 14, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Broder's column seemed a flop. Now the Post has to start sending in other columnists to defend and promote him.

I'm afraid Messr Broder's career is taking its last gasp. Too bad he'll be remembered as old and flailing instead of walking out on top as do more wiser men.

Posted by: don1one | July 14, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

When a columnist is too close to a buddy like John McCain, it's far better to target an "opaque" Barack and stay a mile away from Phil Gramm's quip. I'm beginning to see that Mr. Broder is much more like Mr. Novak than I thought possible.

Posted by: jpt51 | July 14, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Scrivener: The feeling's mutual. You sure you can handle being associated on this blog with an "Hispanic"? Un hispano ashkenaz, sin embargo un "HISPANIC" or "LATINO"! LOL.

I absolutely remember Jeb Bartlett's hot mic "slip-up". We get the West Wing in English with Spanish subtitles on TeleMundo/A&E. And I belonged to the same eating club as Brad Whitford in college, although he's two years older than me.

So, I'll grant you that it's possible that -- say -- Obama and Blagojevic and Daley have cooked up someone else for the Junior Senate seat besides Jesse, Jr., and Jesse and FoxNews ex-Clintonites hooked it up, while Jesse Jr was still being naive about his chances or just playing HIS part.

I'm not naive about Obama at all. Though I can't vote, my bend in the river sure has a vested interest in who is the POTUS. I came into it liking them in this order: Kucinich, Clinton, Paul, Edwards, Dodd, Richardson, Romney, Obama and then the rest. I had seen this gear of Obama's from his famous bullcrap 2004 speech until March of 2008 when he suddenly turned into the most sophisticated and hard-ass Democrat I'd seen in a long time. Now, he's back into the Bill Cosby gear. Big deal. At least I know he HAS a progressive gear. All I know about McCain is that he's the only one of 20 to begin the quest for the presidency to whom I assigned a non-trivial probability of nuclear war.

Moreover, both candidates are NAFTA purists. The difference is that Obama will at least respect MERCOSUR instead of trying to jam CAFTA all the way up our asses. Obama has in Soros and Buffett two NAFTA skeptics on his pretty Gold Medal economic team. McCain has Carlton Fiorina who should be wearing stripes in whatever the women's version of Pleasanton Farm is.

Keep up the good work here.

Un saludo de mi parte, Scrivener

Posted by: DexterManley | July 14, 2008 2:15 AM | Report abuse

good article. There is nothing mysterious in a candidate moving toward the center in the general. No one wins a general by moving away from the center, which makes one wonder what McCain thinks he is doing. Obama is NOT the great agent of change that he represents himself to be, but that is no bad thing. If he actually tried to carry out his rhetoric of the primary season this nation and the world would be even worse off than they are now. He has surrouned himself with decided pro-NAFTA economists ... a very smart move. Why? Because free trade actually works! Those on the left who are disappointed that Obama is not the disciple of Noam Chomsky that he seemed to be aren't now going to vote en masse for McCain. They'll lick their wounds, vote for Obama, and mutter darkly to themselves that Obama could have been so much more.

Posted by: ccarter | July 14, 2008 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Think I was kidding, this is what is scheduled just in Fort Lauderdale. Multiply that by a thousand. Mccain hasn't even opened an office yet. Those 4 day work week I know are tough for the old man. Mccains campaign is a joke what little campaign he has.
-----

Schedule of Events - Fort Lauderdale Team

Week of 7/14/08 - 7/20/08

Please be on time for all events. Your firm RSVP is appreciated

Bring: a clipboard and black pen to all events


Wed 7/16/08 Volunteer Orientation & Training 7 pm sharp to 8:30 pm - limited to 10 volunteers. Bring clipboard & black pen. 1131 NE 45th Street aka Floronada Rd, Oakland Park, Florida 33334. Look for the camp office with the frog on the window, just east of Dixie Hwy on north side of 45th Street. RSVP required Melanie 954-491-3313

Thur 7/17/08 Barack the "Knight" Voter Registration at movie theaters in the Fort Lauderdale area. The summer blockbuster "The Dark Knight" will be shown at midnight throughout Broward County. The lines are expected to be long and we hope to assure that every single person waiting to see the movie is registered to vote. Whether you are planning to see the movie or simply want to have a good time registering voters, please meet us at 8:30 p.m. at the All Broward Realty office @ 4325 W Sunrise Boulevard, Plantation, FL. From there we will send out groups to all the theaters for the voter registration drive. Bring clipboard & black pen. RSVP Andre 908-875-7708 andresalaz@gmail.com

Fri 7/18/08 Starlight Musicals Voter & Volunteer Registration @ 5:30 pm. This is a free outdoor concert series on the football fields at Holiday Park @ East Sunrise Boulevard and Federal Hwy. Time: 5:30 p.m. sharp. Meet: At the concession stand across from the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center courts. We'll be doing voter/volunteer registration. Directions: Sunrise Blvd. to Federal Hwy. Go South on Federal Hwy to NE 8th Street. At NE 8th Street, make a left into the park at the shared entrance with War Memorial Auditorium and Parker Playhouse. At the end of the street turn right and follow the winding road back to parking area adjacent to the Jimmy Evert tennis courts. Bring clipboard & black pen. RSVP Melanie 954-491-3313

Sat 7/19/08 Canvass For Change - Florida Kickoff Canvass. First Shift: 9:30 am. Second Shift: 2:00 pm. Meet at the Campaign Office @ 377 W Sistrunk Blvd, Fort Lauderdale 33311. Would you like to be involved in the campaign? Want to reach out to others in the community? Then this is your event! No experience is necessary. After receiving instructions you'll be ready to hit the streets, knock on doors and talk to voters. Bring clipboard, black pen, hat, sunscreen and water. For questions and RSVP: Jesse 347-331-6045

Sun 7/20/08 Volunteer Orientation and Training @ 7 pm sharp to 8:30 pm - limit 10 volunteers. RSVP required. Bring clipboard & black pen. Location and details - same as Wednesday.

If you have time to offer on weekdays please let us know. We need your help with ongoing voter registration, phone banking and volunteer recruiting. Our regular Fort Lauderdale neighborhood canvassing is on weekday evenings. If you would like to participate in any of these activities please call for details.

Jesse 347-331-6045 Andre 908-875-7708

Kevin 815-546-1076 Boris 954-529-3182

Melanie 954-491-3313 Cell 954-261-8850


+++++++
There are no Obama supporters who will not vote for Obama, they are locked in. Mccain supporters are not the same though and many I know are still on the fence even though hard core Republicans. There are lots of votes out there for Obama to farm and add to his stash. Mccain is lucky to keep the ones he already has. The formula is simple, votes will just keep pealing off in the direction of Obama and there is not a thing Mccain can do other then pray for a plane crash and then Hillary would beat him.

Mccain is doomed and he doesn't even seem to be trying to do anything about it. I am still waiting to see him began to campaign and open campaign offices. What is he waiting for. We just had a voting drive here is south Florida this weekend that was hugely successful. I signed up over 200 voter who I carefully selected and I can say with certainly are all Obama votes. I was one of about 300 working just our small area.

I am retired and all my life been very successful in business. I have started business as well as bought business that were failing and turned them around making myself fairly wealthy. As smart as I think I am, I have never been involved in anything more organized and well put together then the Obama campaign. It is a work of art and will be the model that politicians will be studying for years to come.

I am sorry to tell Mccain supporters but your candidates campaign is all but non existent. If you want him to win you better get out there on a corner yourself because Mccain isn't going to do a damn thing to get elected. talking to 200 people at a time in his his Town hall meetings, that by the way he is even getting heckled at, with no press coverage what so ever is not going to do the trick. The only time Mccain even gets quoted is when he says something stupid, other then that he is the invisible candidate. You can come on here with all your bluster but your candidate is a bust and that is the truth.

Posted by: | July 13, 2008 12:31 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dex, didn't the pundits make the same kind of analysis a couple months out from the 2004 election?

And remember President Jeb Barlet's calculated open mic moment on "The West Wing"? This one was just as premeditated and superbly staged, right down to the venue, Bill O'Reilly and Fox, home of the newly hired Clintonites Davis and Wolfson.

And Dex, I respect you greatly, but making excuses for Obama and thinking he'll migrate back to his original positions once elected is somewhat naive. If he's abandoning his core principles now, imagine what he'll do when he has to deal with the power elite that really runs things day to day.

I wasn't a big Hillary fan earlier this year, what with the way she conducted her campaign. Now I look to Hillary to save the Republic from someone who is really starting to look like what the right said he was all along: The Manchurian Candidate.

I hope I'm wrong, but the Dem supers will do whatever it takes to win. The Broder column is establishment Washington's canary in the mine on Obama's chances. The bird is laying prone on the floor of the cage. Will it fly again? Will the supers take that chance when they've got "Hillary Clinton Superstar" waiting in the wings?

Posted by: scrivener | July 13, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

The "Scrivener" raises a very interesting point I hadn't thought of before. Jackson and the Clintons have been very close friends for a long time and I think Jackson was kind of committed to Obama, being a Chicago-based African-American leader.

Jackson had never had much use for Obama until Jackson's son joined the campaign and thus put himself into a position as the best and most likely choice for Obama Junior Senate seat.

Jackson criticized Obama over passing up the Jena 6 protest and never failed to argue against the hypothesis that the Clintons were somehow "racists." Jesse Jackson made it clear that he took no offense whatosever when Bill Clinton made the rather sensible remark that Jesse Jackson had carried South Carolina in the '84 and '88 primaries when the WHITE MSM and it's handful of Black subalterns were screaming "racist" at Clinton.

I don't think that the Clintons and Jackson could carry off anything that clever as to snatch Obama's nomination from him. For Jackson to be part of something in which a Black nominee is robbed of his nomination in favor of a White person would strip him of any sway he has in the Black community.

I think he dislikes Obama profoundly and has been frustrated in holding his tongue and let one slip because as "Scrivener" notes, Obama did make some moves to the right in a lot of areas of importance to Jackson. I'm pretty sure it embarrassed Jackson to have betrayed close friends in favor of a guy he didn't like only to have the guy deliver Jackson a sucker punch. Jackson may have started to worry what a massive screw-up he might have made if nothing really good comes out of this for Jesse, Jr.

It's POSSIBLE that it was PLANNED to help Obama and Junior pick up White votes. But Jesse has always had a sharp tongue and has never been shy about his views.

Obama is way too smart to believe any of the bull he's been slinging these past couple of weeks but he's also smart enough to know that he's pretty much got the Blue States and a small win locked down and is quite naturally looking for a big win.

File it under "politics." Obama would have to propose the death penalty for illegal right turns on red-lights at this point for me not to think he is in all ways superior to McCain.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 13, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse


A WARNING ABOUT THE DOWNSIDE TO REGISTRATION

Chris: There's a huge downside to registration.

Technologically savvy hackers, both private and public, possess the know-how to spoof IP addresses, key-capture passwords, etc. Experience has taught me that these forces can and do wreck havoc by altering posts, and can even invent counterfeit posts using real user names and passwords.

They have the technological ability to change passwords and/or block access to sites by whomever they choose. Trust me on this.

I am having major headaches because this is happening to me, especially on another site on which I blog.

Your site already is being stalked by paid disinformation specialists whose goal is to harm the credibility of real people and to diminish the impact of certain political views and positions.

Registration will complicate this situation, because those who have been targeted in this way will constantly have to change passwords, if not user names.

Your open system may allow multiple posts and spamming, but you know, Chris, it's never bothered me. You can see through the artiface of spam, and as for multiple posts, I think that's a benefit, because it allows posters to hit various dayparts without having to scroll through past threads.

I know WaPo is firm on registration; but I thought I'd warn you about what's likely to happen. Now let me proof this, and see if it comes through clean, or altered.

A suggestion: Tell your tech writer to do a story about this troubling phenomenon, which may have as its ultimate goal the diminution of the credibility of anything that's posted to the Internet.

Posted by: scrivener | July 13, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

VJ Machiavelli you are right, why you think Sen. Obama does not want to debate Sen. McCain?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse


FIXISTAS: IF YOU VALUE OUR DEMOCRACY AND
THE RULE OF LAW, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/vigilante-injustice-organized-gang-stalking-american-gestapo

Posted by: scrivener | July 13, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

FIXISTAS: IF YOU VALUE OUR DEMOCRARY AND
THE RULE OF LAW, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/vigilante-injustice-organized-gang-stalking-american-gestapo

Posted by: scrivener | July 13, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Captain America: No offense taken but thanks a lot for taking account of what I wrote. David Broder is a very practiced WRITER. That wasn't my point as you know. And thanks for bringing up very crisply something I often complain about here, i.e., Obama's (and Kerry's and Gore's and Clinton's and Dukakis's and Mondale's) Catch-22 courtesy of the Beltway media. Yes, they LOVE a centrist but they worry when a Centrist like a Clinton or an Obama has a number of other gears and is a better candidate than the one whose mast the MSM has nailed the color to.

For the Beltway media, with Clinton disposed of, it's now open-season on Obama. For some reason, McCain has charmed everyone in the big-time press but has failed to impress the blogging community.

The problem is in the framing. When Obama changes gears it's "flip-flopping." When McCain changes gears it's "being a maverick." I preferred to let the records, the public presentations of views, and the misdeeds speak rather than let Broder speak and although I came into the election (albeit w/o the franchise because I live in South America), I wasn't a big fan of Obama, but I think I'm seeing some real deftness on Obama's part and McCain has always been a poor campaigner and a shallower thinker than even Bush is.

If McCain's whole campaign against George W. Bush ran aground in South Carolina, that's McCain's own fault. He made only a perfunctory effort at campaigning there. Compare that to Clinton who fought it all the way and was in with a chance until the very end.

The Democratic Party has always been a blessing for us down here in Northern South America and McCain is hardly thought-of as any kind of "war hero" here. He, Bush and Colin Powell are kind of thought of as sadists who have the temereity to walk right into our countries, kill our people and tell us what to do and to whom.

The USA is test-driving some new plans: Iran (Ahmedinajad is Hitler) and Venezuela (Chavez is worse than Stalin). None of this plays in our part of the world. We've seen what damage Republicans do and what neutral-to-very-good Democrats have done.

Captain America, stay on this "Hispanics" and "Laitinos" phsraseology being both stupd and racist. Chris still has an opportunity to fix the record as referrered to immigrant. No body from Rich Mercosure contries is in a big hurry to come back to the states.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 13, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The more the voters see and hear Obama the better it is for McCain. Obama is not ready for Prime Time or Day Time.

VJ Machiavelli
http://www.vjmachiavelli.blogspot.com

Posted by: VJ Machiavelli | July 13, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Short of a miracle recovery of the housing crisis and the economy, a sudden bust in crude oil prices, a man killing plague that only goes through Al Quaeda and the Taliban and a sudden donation of trillions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury, I can't see why anyone except the top 2% of Americans by wealth would want to vote Republican. They have scewed up everything but Social Security and now John McCain wants to get his dirty little mitts on that.Go Obama!!!!

Posted by: Agile womanly | July 13, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

ON BARACK, HIS BEHTZIM, AND HILLARY'S BIG SET

The main import of the Broder column, taken along with the Jesse "The Knife" Jackson thrust-and-slash open mic ploy: Hillary is back in play.

Of all the rookie mistakes Obama has made, and there are many, the most egregious is the alienation of the base that made his "improbable journey" plausible, at least until now.

I haven't seen any of the pundits link the Jackson slash to Obama's shifting position on the death penalty; nor have I read any account of Jackson directly commenting on the issue. But many progressive Democrats are rightfully distressed that Obama, supposedly a constitutional scholar, would endorse the expansion of the death penalty when it's well documented that young black men are disproportionately convicted of capital crimes -- and that a disturbing percentage of those convictions have been proven to be wrongful convictions.

As I said here previously, unlike Obama's stance on the issues, the death penalty, once applied, is irreversible.

Add to that Obama's recent shifts on warrantless wiretapping/FISA, gun control, and his seeming capitulation to the right on church-state issues, and a disturbing mosaic has emerged. Then to top it off, Obama insists that he's been consistent on the issues -- that those who suggest otherwise "haven't been paying attention." It's YOUR fault, he says to his diehard supporters. Don't blame me; I'm Barack Obama.

Pay attention to this, Barack: You've convinced Hillary Clinton to intensify her behind-the-scenes gamit to make Denver an open convention. There might not even need to be a floor fight. By your actions, you may have handed her all the superdelegate defections she needs to become the nominee without a bloodbath.

And with Jesse Jackson and other old-school black leaders sure to come over to her side, don't expect the black community to rise up in protest. At the risk of sounding rude and impolitic, you were only halfway there from the start with the black community, and it's not just young white MoveOn-type progressives who feel betrayed.

Just ask Jesse the Knife. He's handing you your "behtzim," Barack, and Hillary's the one getting ready to carry the big set into Denver.

Posted by: scrivener | July 13, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

ON BARACK, HIS BEHTZIM, AND HILLARY'S BIG SET

The main import of the Broder column, taken along with the Jesse "The Knife" Jackson thrust-and-slash open mic ploy: Hillary is back in play.

Of all the rookie mistakes Obama has made, and there are many, the most egregious is the alienation of the base that made his "imrobable journey" plausible, at least until now.

I haven't seen any of the pundits link the Jackson slash to Obama's shifting position on the death penalty; nor have I read any account of Jackson directly commenting on the issue. But many progressive Democrats are rightfully distressed that Obama, supposedly a constitutional scholar, would endorse the expansion of the death penalty when it's well documented that young black men are disproportionately convicted of capital crimes -- and that a disturbing percentage of those convictions have been proven to be wrongful convictions.

As I said here previously, unlike Obama's stance on the issues, the death penalty, once applied is irreversible.

Add to that Obama's recent shifts on warrantless wiretapping/FISA, gun control, and his seeming capitulation to the right on church-state issues, and a disturbing mosaic has emerged. Then to top it off, Obama insists that he's been consistent on the issues -- that those who suggest otherwise "haven't been paying attention." It's YOUR fault, he says to his diehard supporters. Don't blame me; I'm Barack Obama.

Pay attention to this, Barack: You've convinced Hillary Clinton to intensify her behind-the-scenes gamit to make Denver an open convention. There might not even need to be a floor fight. By your actions, you may have handed her all the superdelegate defections she needs to become the nominee without a bloodbath.

And with Jesse Jackson and other old-school black leaders sure to come over to her side, don't expect the black community to rise up in protest. At the risk of sounding rude and impolitic, you were only halfway there from the start with the black community, and it's not just young white MoveOn-type progressives who feel betrayed.

Just ask Jesse the Knife. He's handing you your "behtzim," Barack, and Hillary's the one getting ready to carry the big set into Denver.

Posted by: scrivener | July 13, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"DexterManley"'s post (below) is unkind to Broder but fair. As reported by the Post's own ombudsman, conflicts of interest in the past have not been disclosed by Broder so that one has not known whether a column reflected fair analysis or some hidden agenda. The column today is also disingenuous b/c Broder's crowd had earlier been preaching BO had to move to the center for the general election. Now that BO has done precisely that (on a number of fronts) we are told his political moves expose a "character" flaw. A classic Catch 22. Broder's a fine writer and his insight is keen -- and to some extent he's right to say BO needs to stop the flip-flopping and opportunism or suffer diminished credibility -- but, "Manley"'s point, though he put it impolitely, is valid, too.

__________________________________
Posted by: DexterManley | July 13, 2008 5:21 PM

How exactly is David Broder's ANYTHING required reading when we aren't informed in advance which company or trade association (that's lobbyist for lobbying group) has paid him for a speaking engagement?
______________________________________


Posted by: Captain America | July 13, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I saw your comments today about the swift Boating of John Kerry. You failed to mention that those charges were bogus and false. By the way Chris, when did you stop beating your wife?

Posted by: Alan Snipes | July 13, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Flip flops didn't have any effect on Kerry or Gore that is the news media creation trying to over simplify something far more complex. Obama's campaign is such a well oiled machine it can't even be compared to either of the other campaigns. With all that, Gore actually won and Kerry missed by a whisker. Obama will run this to the finish line in winning fashion, maybe even land slide country.

++++++++
Broder is right on the money and if anything he is understating the problems facing Obama. Flip-flops killed Kerry and Gore now Obama is hellbent on repeating thier mistakes. Voters dont expect to agree with some one on every issue but they want some one they can trust and Obama hasn't done anything to earn their trust yet.

Posted by: mountain man | July 13, 2008 6:19 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

After Phil Gramm accidentally and wondrously revealed the soul of John McCain and his economic plans, I breathed a loud sigh of relief.

No one's fooled. McCain is crap. The only choice is Obama.

I hope no one is fooled *again* by these Swift Boat Weenies for Lies; these people are cowards and liars and deserve to be shunned like the political cockroaches they are. Their actions have allowed a corporate and war criminal in both the presidency and vice presidency, which traitors have nearly destroyed the rule of Constitutional law while simultaneously rewarding criminal corporate behavior and dimming our beacon of freedom to the rest of the world.

We torture war prisoners. Say that aloud a few times, and tell me if that sounds like the good ol' U.S.A.

In many ways, we've become the terrorists. We hate each other, our basic freedoms are ignored by all three branches of government, our craphead Prez and Cheney do whatever they please with impunity, *not even caring* if we know what they do.

Pathetic. Anyone who thinks a continuation of this nightmare under McCain is a good idea is a fascist at heart, or so ignorant they don't realize what a fascist McCain has turned into.

War hero...political coward. John McCain.

Posted by: SteveCO | July 13, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Broder is right on the money and if anything he is understating the problems facing Obama. Flip-flops killed Kerry and Gore now Obama is hellbent on repeating thier mistakes. Voters dont expect to agree with some one on every issue but they want some one they can trust and Obama hasn't done anything to earn their trust yet.

Posted by: mountain man | July 13, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, all modern Presidents have been enigmas to one degree or another at the time they were first elected. The range of the President's responsibilities, his freedom to operate, and the number of things that can come to dominate his time and attention are too great to have more than a very murky picture of how a new President will handle all the various aspects of his job.

Having said that, though, I'd agree with Broder that voters do need some idea of what kind of President a candidate would be. The idea can be incomplete; it can even be wrong. Voters still want vote for something, even if they are sure about what they are voting against.

There is a ways to go yet in this campaign, but it seems to me that so far, Sen. Obama is missing an opportunity. His campaign is engaging in pretty standard tit-for-tat exchanges with the McCain campaign, trying to run down Sen. McCain's credibility while rejecting the idea that Obama himself has ever changed his position on anything. This is how a candidate convinced he is ahead usually handles a campaign -- all he really needs to do is win, and if it looks as if he probably will there is little reason to change what he has done so far. It is how Obama handled the primary campaign against Sen. Clinton.

The problem with this approach in the general election is twofold. First, it requires Obama's campaign to spend a lot of time attacking McCain at his strongest point, trying to persuade voters that McCain is not likable and worthy of respect. This is really doing things the hard way against this kind of opponent.

Mostly, though, the approach Obama has taken so far makes little of his greatest asset -- President Bush's unpopularity -- and the opportunity that gives him to answer the most important question voters have about himself. This question is simply, "what kind of President would this guy be?"

It's pretty hard to give an answer to this question only be comparing Obama to McCain, simply because McCain has never been President. Much easier would be an approach that set the Republican candidate to one side and focused on Obama defining himself in terms of President Bush, and how he has handled the Presidency.

Bush is unpopular for a lot of good reasons. It would be unwise to take for granted that voters have absorbed all of these, or that all the reasons Democrats dislike Bush are the same reasons other Americans do. Just take two prominent aspects of Bush's conduct in the White House: he has spent a lot of time on vacation, and he has often indulged in big talk about addressing crises and problems without backing it up.

Obama could do a lot worse than to remind Americans of this, and present a picture of himself as a President who will not spend so much time goofing off and will not make the kind of airy promises that Bush did, for example after Hurricane Katrina. This is actually a tactic Bush himself used effectively in 2000; everyone understood that when he promised to return "honor and dignity" to the White House he was promising not to engage in the kind of sordid personal conduct Bill Clinton had, and Americans had wearied of. For that matter Clinton, in 1992, had also contrasted himself effectively with the first President Bush's seeming disengagement from voters' economic concerns.

The difference this year is that the current President Bush is a much easier target, and Obama's need to define what kind of President he would be is greater. Bush and Clinton had each at least had records as governors of their respective states to suggest the kind of President they'd be; in 1992 the United States was going through a mild but disorienting recession after a triumphant period in its foreign relations, while in 2000 people may have been sick of Clinton personally but had little reason to complain about the economy or anything else.

In 2008, things have gone wrong across the board, and voters blame most of them on Bush and his party. Obama, a blank slate to most voters, can go a long way toward answering the question of what kind of President he would be by pointing over and over to things Americans dislike about Bush and saying, "not that kind."

This isn't fundamentally about defining Obama's positions on issues. It's about establishing an expectation about what a President Obama would be like with which American voters are comfortable. Obama doesn't need and shouldn't try to convince Americans outside the Democratic Party that he's the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt, or a mixed-race John Kennedy. All he needs to do is sell them on the idea that he will be, in specific and personal terms, not George Bush.

Posted by: Zathras | July 13, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama will very likely be a good president with the possibility to be great and at the very least will not do damage. Mccain is nothing more then a dime a dozen Washington hack you can find on any corner in the capitol. There is no greatness in Mccains future, he should not even be running. He also has the possibility to rival Bush as one of the worst and most dangerous presidents in history. We can not take that kind of chance.

If it is a matter of the best of a bad lot then so be it. But the fast learning brilliant Obama is light years ahead of Mccain and the only rational choice. It is not even a close call. I know guys who are total raciest bigots who will be voting for Obama because they care more about their country then their silly prejudice. I think this whole thing is being promoted by the media because that is their business. Truth is though, this will not even a close election. As it is Mccain has already become a joke, by November even those trying to make this seem like a contest so they have something to talk about will have to admit it.

++++++++
I don't know whether Obama will be a good president, and I certainly don't agree with all of his policies. Why will I vote for him? Mostly anger at Bush: his incompetence and his misuse of executive powers. Also no confidence at all in a fumbling McCain. I don't dislike him, but I fear that at best he would be a mediocre president. (With his narrow pluralities, would he have been nominated in primaries held under Democrat Party rules?) At least I can hope that Obama has the smarts to grow into the job. As for Broder, I once read him with respect, but his columns now seem simplistic. I suppose that either Broder or I have changed.

Posted by: David Fahey | July 13, 2008 4:30 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

7/13/08

With regards to David Broder's column, "Obama's Enigma." His column is quite true in a fashion speaking because one can not see the reflection of truth but a reverbrating commentary with little substance.

The voters to date can not and will not be able to put a finger on any specific issues and that will continue for a long time to come.

Although perhaps the FISA bill was passed and public financing was addressed there is still a resemblance of chancery with which the thicket gets even more unassessable.

And with David Broder's column inquiring and stating that the ambiguity continues and how would Republicans aim their attack.

While watching a program on a major network who were looking into both camps that being Obama and McCain to see definitively who and how many female to male staffers were on board and their payscales.

The investigation came back with the fact that Obama's camp had fewer females who were paid a lower salary then the male staffers and there were more male to female ratios.

In the McCain's camp the figures found that John McCain has more female staffers who are paid somewhere near $50,000 a year and the ratio was higher for female than male.

Having a female candidate(Hillary Clinton) run for president and getting the most votes in a primary than any other Democratic candidate speaks volumes who and what will definitively vote the next president of the United States into the White House.

There has also been a question of the impact of younger voters and also the older voters with their ideas.

The general consensus is to immediately get our troops out of harms' way.

This quagmire is so complicated and politically and economically, and socially, strategically and geographically ingrained that it will take alot of planning and security for our men to come out safely.

I remember my ex-husband in Viet Nam telling me the horrors of the war there. He is a silver star recipient and went to two tours of Viet Nam as a forward observer.

He told me when they were ready to go back to the rear and they would be waiting and would be so happy to be leaving that devastation and one would get over anxious and would slip up and there would be another causalty/causalities.

For anyone to promise the American public we will have all our men or even some of our men/women out of Iraq immediately after the presidency is a myth.

It has taken 5-6 yrs for us to be ingrained strategically and militarily and the American public must heed warning that it will not be an overnite process.

Currently we are being asked to send more troops now back to Afghanistan.

We have the Iranians showing their muscle with nuclears tests.

And the mounting debt of the defict which will continue to rise and so will our prices for foreign dependency on oil.

We as a nation of immigrants and natural born Americans must be very selfish with your vote until you can pinpoint all the issues you want answered.

Don't give away your freedom of the right to vote.

Vote with discretion.


Diane M. Newman-Gregerson
Julian, Ca

Posted by: diane m. newman-gregerson | July 13, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

More quaint folkloric thinking from your friendly neighborhood HISPANIC:

(BTW, You still haven't explained to me exactly how my being Panamanian of White skin, Ashkenaz Jewish ancestry and American-educated, makes me the same as a Chihuahuan who just crossed a fence into Douglas, AZ, but I'm sure you'll get around to it someday. For now, just remember that every time you write "HISPANIC" or "LATINO" you might as well be writing "COLORED.")

I get that a certain amount of brown-nosing is required in careerist journalism but David Broder is hardly a reliable source. He is as "Anne" noted the paragon of boring, stuffed-shirt Beltway-think.

Not that those guys are all bad. Manchester, Schelesinger Jr, and Dallek I can read all day and night and always get some pearls of wisdom from their stuff.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 13, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

How exactly is David Broder's ANYTHING required reading when we aren't informed in advance which company or trade association (that's lobbyist for lobbying group) has paid him for a speaking engagement?

I'm just a dumb Hispanic but I know how to consider my sources.

Posted by: DexterManley | July 13, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

There is one thing we can all be assured of when reading or hearing of Mr. Broder's conventional Washington wisdom. Washington pundits will applaud it. Wrong more often than not, they still guzzle his kool-aid with abandon.

Posted by: Crempole Stalwart | July 13, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Obush isn't an egnima, he's a political $LUT....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't know whether Obama will be a good president, and I certainly don't agree with all of his policies. Why will I vote for him? Mostly anger at Bush: his incompetence and his misuse of executive powers. Also no confidence at all in a fumbling McCain. I don't dislike him, but I fear that at best he would be a mediocre president. (With his narrow pluralities, would he have been nominated in primaries held under Democrat Party rules?) At least I can hope that Obama has the smarts to grow into the job. As for Broder, I once read him with respect, but his columns now seem simplistic. I suppose that either Broder or I have changed.

Posted by: David Fahey | July 13, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

you all have been in washington too long. You no longer live in the real world. Your view is distorted and skewed

Posted by: Anne | July 13, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Mr. Broder, a fine man who has enjoyed a stellar career, is that he (and frankly Mr. Cilizza and most D.C. pundits) is that they can only view Obama through the prism of old Washington politics. Those are the politics that take something as multi-layered as abortion and boil it down into a passionate debate over a single surgical procedure that may, at most, involve 1,000 out of 1.3 million surgical abortions. It is the type of politics that takes a problem as complicated as developing a new energy policy and deciding the only serious question to answer is whether you favor or oppose drilling in ANWR. In other words, they don't do nuance and when confrontied by nuance -- a fancy word for common sense -- they give it a fancy name like enigmatic or opaque.

So long have they been exposed to debates driven by special interest groups on the far side of every issue, that it is inconceivable to them that someone could agree the Second Amendment does in fact guarantee an individual's right to bear arms, while still believing that right is not absolute and that reasonable community restrictions could still be constitutional. They seem to bleieve it is nonsensical that one can simultaneously believe that (a) immigrants should learn English and also (b) Americans should learn a foreign language. The only phrase that can describe such apostacy is "flip-flop." God help us.

The funny thing is that Broder is actually old enough to remember another president who was considered opaque. This president was accused of saying "fine" to everyone. This president was faulted for not laying out detailed plans, instead claiming Americans wanted action, not ideology, and he was broad-minded enough to be willing to experiment. This president also excelled at communicating in ways that seemed deceptively simple to the pundits -- he called them "fireside chats" -- but which Americans embraced as inspirtational and a call to common sense. This president was FDR -- and he was elected four times.

Will Obama become the next FDR? Only time will tell. All I know is that I appreciate that he can see many sides of each issue. That does not trouble me as being opaque; I view it as a special and especially useful form of intelligence. For as Gail Collings noted in the NY Times this week, Obama is not really an idealogue -- he is just anti-dumb. And after the Bush administration, which has so often seemed pro-dumb, this is the kind of change I am looking for.

Posted by: Scott Farris | July 13, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Look closely at McBush's town hall meetings; just a bunch of old white people, like the candidate himself and a few veterans who still feel the need to wear their VFW hats.
McBush is running the worst campaign since Dole in'96.'
The Republican Party is still the party of the rich who can't be bothered with the concerns of the middle class.
See: Phil Gramm

Posted by: Mike Dooley | July 13, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I know who's BMObama. Let me put it this way. If you have a back-ache and you go to a doctor, Dr. will give you a scientific solution; go to a priest and P will give religious solution; go to a lawyer/politician like BMObama and BMO will give you rhetoric and no action/solution. Don't believe me? Just look back at his record, all rhetoric and no action/solution. He does not have the foundation to solve problems.

BTW, Chris and McC supporters keep speaking the truth about Mr. Obama, and don't back down. You will notice that when you are exposing Mr. Obama, his supporters will start cursing, threatening, and yell bloody racist to get you to back off. When they start doing this, you should take their reaction as a compliment and nail em harder because their reaction is an indication you are hitting them on their tender spot.

Posted by: Cory | July 13, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

First, I am not Obama fan.

Having said that, it is interesting to note that the general election in November does not matter. Real general election ended when Obama defeated Clinton and the result is Obama won (sort of).

If Clinton could not defeat Obama,
there is no way McCain (or any opposition party) can defeat Obama. This is real strange and historical election where nothing matters.

Voters have decided long time ago in Iowa, they want Obama. Like it or not that what America will decide.

For me, I have no dog in this election.

Posted by: Bob | July 13, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

It would be incredibly easy for a good GOP candidate to reduce BHO's support to near the single digits, but the only real opposition we're stuck with is McCain.

For instance, since McCain is every bit the pandering multiculturalist fool as BHO, he can't use this shocking BHO statement:

http://lonewacko.com/blog/archives/007811.html

McCain is probably too scared of being called names to call BHO on his series of lies, such as this one:

http://lonewacko.com/blog/archives/007804.html

And, McCain can't call him on his support for illegal activity, because McCain supports illegal activity just as much as BHO does.

There's a lot that a non-corrupt candidate could do, but McCain doesn't fit that description.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | July 13, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

You're delusional if you think Broder's comments (on anything) should be required reading. The dude needs to take his early retirement, go on a world tour and write articles for the National Geographic Magazine.

I was beginning to think you might be a good replacement for "the Dean" but, you've proven me wrong with your misguided praise of him.

Posted by: YankeeClipper | July 13, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and McCain is a better candidate? The guy who's been in the Senate 26 years and hasn't done a darn thing for the environment and energy policy? The guy who was chairman of the commerce committee but admits that he doesn't understand economics. The guy who chose the corrupt Mr. Enron as his econ policy advisor.

Europeans who read this blog come away with one key finding: Republicans are stupid. A recent poll in Germany had Obama winning 70%-10%. 7-1.

Why? Because they want peace and prosperity for the global market, and they overwhelmingly see Obama as a better President.

I can only think that white americans, of which I am ashamed to call myself one, are supporting McCain out of sheer racism.

McCain can't even keep straight in his head the relations between Shias, Sunnis, Iran, Iraq and Al Qaeda!

We would not be safe with that old git as Presdident. When he talks about bomb bomb bomb Iran, or how he wants to kill the people there, he puts us at risk.

Wake up white people!

Posted by: JR, Boston | July 13, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Apparently it cannot go without saying that Mr. Broder's column is not about Barak Obama or his policies; it's about strategies. The Obama campaign has taken a defensive posture since early March. One of the defining victories of Obama's nomination campaign was losing in Indiana. The mantra has been "don't screw up". The McCain campaign has been weak enough that this strategy may succeed, but Mr. Broder is right that the Obama strategy contains its own risks. Mr. Obama and his handlers should remember that winning in November is necessary but not sufficient. Broad, enthusiastic support will be necessary to effect policies to help recover from the Bush administration's mismanagement. Of late, the Obama campaign has shown few signs of using Mr. Obama's talents to build this support. The Obama campaign strategy seems akin to having General Patton to defend the Maginot Line.

Posted by: Coloj | July 13, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

This kind of writing doesn't really help your candidate get elected. It is just silly shouting in the wind. I would suggest you get out there and work for him in some way of your own because he isn't going to do a damn thing to get elected. Your candidate has sold you out with his own ineptness. He is a dime a dozen politician, nothing special, not destine for greatness. There is just nothing there. Better find things you like about Obama because he is going to be your next president regardless how much denial you are in.

+++++++++++
Obama is a con man who cannot be trusted. It has nothing to do with his skin color -- it is his lack of character.

He tries to be all things to all people, and his only goal is his super ambition to be president -- the very sin he accused Hillary. Hypocrisy defines him.

Once he has used people to his advantage he throws them away if he feels they hinder him.

To appear black enough to get the black vote he called his granny a racist and threw her under the bus. Now that he has the nomination, suddenly he needs the white vote so now granny is now an important influence in hsi life according to his commercials. Hypocrisy...

I could go on and on. Only those still drunk on Obama's snake oil cannot see the truth about him. Most of the WaPo staff constantly makes excuses for him while ignoring the facts. You're no longer journalists -- you're Cult of Obama
Posted by: William | July 13, 2008 1:00 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

There are 1,153 videos that the Obama campaign has put on youtube.

The most recent one is a 22min speech that Obama gave on energy policy.

For Broder and the WaPo to say that Obama is an enigma or opaque is an out-and-out baldface lie.

Read a policy paper. Watch a policy video.

Tell the people the TRUTH. We live in an overcommunicated society. The information about Obama is out there. If the WaPo doesn't like him, for whatever reason, it should just come out and say it!

But do not lie and say that we don't know who he is. The Post should be above that.

Posted by: JR, Boston | July 13, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Chris, c'mon, give us a better post than this. You follow up every Broder article with a flattering post about how he's the Dean, how everything he says should be taken seriously, how people are paying attention, blah blah blah. I read his actual article, it was fine. I didn't need to have it gushingly regurgitated it to me. We deserve actual substantive Cillizza. We deserve better.

Posted by: Jake | July 13, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I am no fan of Obama or McCain. At least you can ususally take McCain at his word, but often it's his word that bothers me. The Democratic Party is making a huge mistake in nominating the unknown (and seemingly unknowable) Obama. The chickens will come home to roost for Obama fans, if not on election day, than sometime afterwards.

Posted by: Joe | July 13, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I was going to read the article, but it was moot after reading Chris' summary.

We have seen the 37th&OStreet Translator, and now Chris is the David Broder Translator.

Posted by: bondjedi | July 13, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse


This is the week that should have effectively ended John McCain's efforts to become the next president of the United States. But you wouldn't know it if you watched any of the mainstream media outlets or followed political reporting in the major newspapers.

During this past week: McCain called the most important entitlement program in the U.S. a disgrace, his top economic adviser called the American people whiners, McCain released an economic plan that no one thought was serious, he flip flopped on Iraq, joked about the deaths of Iranian citizens, and denied making comments that he clearly made -- TWICE. All this and it is not even Friday! Yet watching and reading the mainstream press you would think McCain was having a pretty decent political week, I mean at least Jesse Jackson didn't say anything about him.

But let's unpack McCain's week in a little more detail.

1] McCain unambiguously called Social Security "an absolute disgrace." This is not a quote taken out of context. John McCain called one of the most successful and popular government programs, which uses the tax revenues of current workers to support retirement benefits for the elderly "an absolute disgrace." This is shocking - and if uttered from Obama's mouth would dominate the news coverage and the Sunday shows, as pundits would speculate about the massive damage the statement would cause him among retirees in Florida.

2. McCain's top economic policy adviser calls Americans a bunch of "whiners" for being worried about the slumping economy. Words cannot fully explain how devastating this statement should be from Phil Gramm. You would think it would be enough to sink McCain's campaign. Of course McCain only thinks that the economic problems are psychological.

3. Iraqi leaders call for a timetable for U.S. withdrawal, McCain gets caught in a bizarre denial and flip flop. The Iraqis now want us to begin planning our withdrawal - McCain however wants to stay foooorrreeevvveerrrr. So what does McCain say - First, he refuses to accept Maliki's statement as being true. Then he concedes that it was an accurate statement, but was probably just a political ploy to curry favor with his own people and WOULD NOT influence his determination to keep US troops in Iraq indefinitely. Yet, McCain in 2004 at the Council on Foreign Relations said that if the Iraqis asked us to leave, we would have to go. No matter what. But that was apparently a younger and less experienced John McCain.

But let's just look at his comment that Maliki's statement is "just politics." If that is true, then it must also be true that the American military presence in Iraq is so unpopular with Iraqis that the government is forced to push for a timetable in order to survive at the ballot box. That's a reason to stay for 100 years.

4. McCain's economic plan to cut the deficit has no details and is simply not believable. There are so many things here. McCain pledges he would eliminate the deficit by the end of his first term (the campaign latter flip flop flipped about whether it was four years or eight years), but does not provide any details about how he would do it. Economists on both sides of the political aisle said that this was simply not believable, especially given McCain's other proposals to a) cut individual and corporate taxes even further, b) extend the Bush tax cuts and c) massively increase defense spending on manpower (200,000 more troops) and d) maintain a long-term sizable military presence in Iraq.

5. McCain's deficit plan includes bringing the troops home represents a major Iraq flip-flop. Speaking of the long-term military presence - a story that has gotten absolutely no attention is that McCain now believes the war will be over soon. The economic forecasts made by his crack team of economists predict that there will be significant savings during McCain's first term because we will have achieved "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The savings from victory (ie the savings from not having our troops there) will then be used to pay down the deficit. The only way this could have any impact on the deficit in McCain's first time is if troop withdrawals start very soon. So McCain believes victory is in our grasps and we can begin withdraw troops from Iraq pretty much right away -- doesn't sound that different from Obama's plan does it. Someone should at least ask McCain HOW HE DEFINES VICTORY - and why he thinks we will achieve it in the next couple of years.

cont'd

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-bergmann/the-week-that-should-have_b_111983.html

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a con man who cannot be trusted. It has nothing to do with his skin color -- it is his lack of character.

He tries to be all things to all people, and his only goal is his super ambition to be president -- the very sin he accused Hillary. Hypocrisy defines him.

Once he has used people to his advantage he throws them away if he feels they hinder him.

To appear black enough to get the black vote he called his granny a racist and threw her under the bus. Now that he has the nomination, suddenly he needs the white vote so now granny is now an important influence in hsi life according to his commercials. Hypocrisy...

I could go on and on. Only those still drunk on Obama's snake oil cannot see the truth about him. Most of the WaPo staff constantly makes excuses for him while ignoring the facts. You're no longer journalists -- you're Cult of Obama

Posted by: William | July 13, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I must say the political columnists such as Broder may have some IQ shortage in figuring out Obama and call what he did an enigma. It is more than obvious what he did: pandering to the people who he did not win and take those who did vote for him as granted. Republican don't know how to aim? Only if republican strategists has IQ similar to Mr Broder, but unfortunately they are not. Simple answer: Obama is unreliable and untrustworthy, is this enough to sink him?

Posted by: God father | July 13, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

You lost me at "Oh my God, my boss is amazing." You know, the first sentence. Broder's article is blather. Obama trying to appeal to the center, as every nominee does in the general election, is like releasing chaff? Is Broder after Friedman's weird-metaphor gig?

Posted by: aleks | July 13, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I notice today that one of the lead stories of the WaPo is -- CHANDRA LEVY.

What has happened to American Journalism? Why has it fallen into the toilet? This is absurd and obscene. We deserve better than this.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

You really are a pathetic hack, Cilizza. Broder is a republican gasbag who stopped being relevant before you were born, kid.

His attempt to paint Obama as a 'flipflopper' and an 'alien' is simply the echo of the rest of the MSM's position.

Check out the cover of the NYTimes today, where there's a big puff piece comparing McCain to Theodore Roosevelt.

Sad how badly the corporate press is in the bag for Republicans. This country is suffering deeply for it.

But of course for you overpaid cocktail wienies in DC that means nothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama isn't "selling out the party's values". He's being pragmatic, and Hillary would have done even more flip flopping had she been the nominee. Personally I don't like Obama's position on FISA and a couple of other things but I'm going to suck it up and vote for him. He is our last best hope when compared to the horror that would be a John McCain presidency.

Posted by: Luke | July 13, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Floundering, Are you kidding? It is the most well run and organized political campaign in the history of America politics.
Mccain doesn't even have a campaign, period. You don't win elections by default you have to actually play the game. Someone may need to tell Mccain he is running fro president and get off the four day work weeks. He is selling you all down the river if you have given him any money.

++++++++
Broder is no republican, he is very even handed and he is right. The Obama campaign right now is floundering. Trying to be all things to all people isn't going to cut it. It is exposing what alot of us already knew and that is that Obama is an unprincipled who is going to do whatever it takes to get elected.

What we need is a candidate who will support the agenda of the Democratic party, not someone who is going to sell out those values in order to court independent/republican voters, and this is exactly what Obama is doing.

Posted by: DCDave | July 13, 2008 12:32 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Broder is no republican, he is very even handed and he is right. The Obama campaign right now is floundering. Trying to be all things to all people isn't going to cut it. It is exposing what alot of us already knew and that is that Obama is an unprincipled who is going to do whatever it takes to get elected.

What we need is a candidate who will support the agenda of the Democratic party, not someone who is going to sell out those values in order to court independent/republican voters, and this is exactly what Obama is doing.

Posted by: DCDave | July 13, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

There are no Obama supporters who will not vote for Obama, they are locked in. Mccain supporters are not the same though and many I know are still on the fence even though hard core Republicans. There are lots of votes out there for Obama to farm and add to his stash. Mccain is lucky to keep the ones he already has. The formula is simple, votes will just keep pealing off in the direction of Obama and there is not a thing Mccain can do other then pray for a plane crash and then Hillary would beat him.

Mccain is doomed and he doesn't even seem to be trying to do anything about it. I am still waiting to see him began to campaign and open campaign offices. What is he waiting for. We just had a voting drive here is south Florida this weekend that was hugely successful. I signed up over 200 voter who I carefully selected and I can say with certainly are all Obama votes. I was one of about 300 working just our small area.

I am retired and all my life been very successful in business. I have started business as well as bought business that were failing and turned them around making myself fairly wealthy. As smart as I think I am, I have never been involved in anything more organized and well put together then the Obama campaign. It is a work of art and will be the model that politicians will be studying for years to come.

I am sorry to tell Mccain supporters but your candidates campaign is all but non existent. If you want him to win you better get out there on a corner yourself because Mccain isn't going to do a damn thing to get elected. talking to 200 people at a time in his his Town hall meetings, that by the way he is even getting heckled at, with no press coverage what so ever is not going to do the trick. The only time Mccain even gets quoted is when he says something stupid, other then that he is the invisible candidate. You can come on here with all your bluster but your candidate is a bust and that is the truth.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Broder is an old has-been gas bag who likes the sound of his voice too much. His day in the sun has long passed, and it's time for the rest of the insular beltway community to come to terms with it.

Posted by: PR | July 13, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Broder clearly has a bias toward Republicans. His comments are consistant and many times wrong. This election will be decided by the people. I think and I hope that Americans are now awake. Otherwise, many of us will deserve and get what the right wing and the Washington D.C. insiders vote for.

Posted by: Patricia C. Gilbert | July 13, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, if Cillizza wants to give the old guy a blow job, he should at least have the decency to close the office door. This post isn't just embarassing, it's obscene.

Posted by: Peter Principle | July 13, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

some of these posted comments show why ultimately Obama could lose what should be a landslide year for the D candidate- his most ardent followers are caught up in a personality cult and it's off-putting to those of us who like our politicians mortal. Is this the new generation's "new politics"? personally attack every critic without responding to the critique?

Posted by: tony | July 13, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Upon reflection, it occurs to me that the WaPo is glorifying the bloodsport nature of America politics.

Why should an election be about how one party can attack another?

Elections should be about which ideas are the best ideas for the times. And, among other glaring deficiencies, conservatives are clearly skeptical of global warming. Reagan and Bush I eliminated all of the progress that Carter made in energy independence.

As far as I can tell, the WaPo's mission is to pursue the TRUTH and serve the public interest. During this campaign it seems that the WaPo is just an extension of the Bush/McCain marketing machine.


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Posted by: JR, Boston | July 13, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I think David Broder needs to get out of Washington for a while.Talk to some people who don't live there. He is so encased in the Washington bubble that he has ceased to make sense.
Barack Obama has not moved to the center. While I was disappointed in his vote on the FISA bill, his positions on the war, guns, economy, even campaign finance have not changed.
On campaign finance Obama said during the primaries that he would persue a deal with John McCain, but that deal would have to mean that 527's would be reigned in. John Mccain said he has no control over them so no deal was possible.
On the war in Iraq, Obama has consistently said that we have to be as careful getting out as we were reckless going in. This means that we set a goal, but adjust for conditions on the ground that would affect the safety of the troops. If the 16 month goal takes 20 or 24, or 30 months to complete, then that's what it will take. This is very different than staying indefinitley.
I think the reporters pushing this meme either have not been paying attention, or are not bright enough to recognize the difference between having a complex position on complex problems and not having a position at all.

We have seen the results of having a president whose positions on everything can fit on a bumper sticker, and it's not pretty. Perhaps if reporters did more explaining what his positions are rather than trying to fit them in a right- left box the voters would be more informed.

Posted by: Atlliberal | July 13, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

It is a sign of Cillizza's inability to think for himself that he devotes an entire entry to trotting out the tired, tired cliche of Broder as "Dean of the Washington Press Corps" and then recites Broder's "echo chamber" conventional wisdom as if Gospel.

Posted by: David Boxwell | July 13, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"when it is made by the Dean of political reporters in Washington..."

Those days are long gone. Welcome to the 21st century.

Posted by: Lisa | July 13, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Sloppy reporting that fails to recognize that, due to the historic nature of this campaign, Obama's policy positions have been evaluated perhaps more closely than any candidate in modern history.

What was Bill Clinton's running on: putting people first? Like Sen. Obama, Clinton ran on pretty generic left-center policy positions. And, if you haven't noticed, Sen. Obama has a website which clearly outlines his policy positions.

If the WaPo wants to label an empty argument as an interesting one, that is it's business. Perhaps this country is not only ready for a new President but also a new media outlet. One that is unbiased and pursues the TRUTH. One that will serve the public interest by focusing on the issues: peace, prosperity, health care, environment/energy, and education. And one that doesn't get distracted by he said/she said politics.

Obama has positions on all of the above issues. If that is news to your readers, then you haven't done your job. Obama has and will change his positions from time to time. The world is a dynamic place - and, shock, horror, he's a politician.

There will be a major analysis of the media after this election. By feminists and by minority activist scholars. And within a few years computer programs will emerge that will analyze political content and rate the media outlets on basic issues of fairness and accuracy.

Last week was strange: When Mr Enron makes more news for calling Americans whiners than he does for, well, being Mr. Enron, then the media has some serious explaining to do.

Posted by: JR, Boston | July 13, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The ONLY thing Broder is worthy of is more articles exposing his complete violation of Post rules in accepting money for speeches while simultaneously criticizing Congressmen for the same actions.

Posted by: Jonathan | July 13, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The single change of position by BHO that I as an indie found most troubling was the rejection of public financing for the GE. The single change of position by McC that I as an indie found most troubling was McC's apparent new-found acceptance of the notion that the Prez may operate outside the law - a position he never espoused in the Senate, a position he used to openly criticize.

For me the McC change is more troubling.

Almost everything else they have changed position on does not speak to a previous "pledge" on the one hand, or to the fundamental nature of government, on the other.

And the media, including David Broder, refuse to distinguish among modifications of positions, general goals, arguing points, and matters of principle or constitutional dimensions. All changes of position seem equal to the media - and I have seen less coverage of McC's change on unitary executive theory, which is huge, than I have about his tax policy, which is simple campaign pandering; and far less than BHO's suggestion that he would listen to his Generals on military matters, which is a non-event.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 13, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Broder has very little credibilty with the new generation, his continued fealty to the Bush administration says it all.

Posted by: Oscar | July 13, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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