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Just Another Politician 2.0

John Powers 30 March 2008 5 Comments

A year ago the New York Sun breathlessly reported that the Obama campaign “hinges on whether the uncharted power of the social networking sites on the Internet, such as MySpace and Facebook.com, can offset the organizational advantages of his strongest opponent”, while the New York Times announced that Rudy Guilliani’s daughter had- gasp-listed herself as a Friend of Sen. Obama on his Facebook site. Obama’s campaign sought to gather 1,000,000 Friends on Facebook, as sort of a showing of Web 2.0 support for the rookie Senator.

In a year I have spent gaining a greater understanding of how David Axelrod works, the Obama as grass roots candidate seems to be a part of Axelrod’s astro-turfing services rather than a newly networked group of political supporters. Consider, Stephen Colbert’s brief, Pat Paulson style, presidential campaign gained three times the number of Facebook friends as Sen. Obama in a few weeks vs. a year for Sen. Obama. Also consider that the Obama campaign claim of a large number of small donations included sales of buttons and t-shirts, which other campaigns do not include in their total number of donors.

The constant attention of the media for the last year for the Axelrod narrative has certainly disregarded the quantifiable fact that Sen. Obama has a very partisan, left-wing voting record. As noted by CDOBs blogger Bill Baar, there are at least three Obama’s:

The Obama with a voting record: On the far Left of the Democratic Party, when he decides to vote. One of the most partisan members of the Senate, while a team playing Democrat.

The Obama with position papers: Unrealistically Left Wing, with a nod to his investment banker donors. Similar to a McGovern Era Democrat, without Sen. McGovern’s recent maturity.

The Obama who campaigns: A unifying centrist, full of modernizing ideas and programs. Post-partisan, post-racial, post-modern candidate in every respect.

The media amply covered the third Obama till somewhere around the Ohio primary when the Axelrod narrative started to break down, and the second Obama came into the picture. Why would a modern Democrat be bashing trade for the old-line unions? Why would his U of C professor economics guru be calling the Canadian government to contradict Sen. Obama’s leftish economics? Why did the post-partisan candidate filibuster against a Supreme Court justice he claims to have supported?

The answers to the above are clear. Sen. Obama is a typical politician, with a clever, but somewhat destructive campaign management team. The Washington Post (thanks to CDOBs friend Adrian Holovarty) more than adequately covers voting records. The Hill Monitor calculates a regression analysis of partisanship that is statistical, not rhetorical. These web tools are available to pretty much anyone with an internet connection, giving the average voter a look under the hood that the Media has generally refused to publish.

Technology that was once touted as being a key to the Obama campaign has proven to be quite disruptive to the PR generated image of the candidate, with the recent spat of YouTube postings giving first hand accounts of Rev. Wright at Trinity United Church of Christ. Despite disappearance of various posting stating “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation”, literally millions of people have viewed for themselves what the press had refused to report. Did anyone at the SunTimes and Tribune NOT know that Rev. Wright held extreme views? Given the two editorial boards capitulated to the candidate sans scrutiny in the Tony Rezko case, the first hand reporting provided by Web 2.0 tools has given the average person an insight into a candidate that would never be provided by solely relying on our media incumbents.

Over the last week, I have been following a YouTube battle to include or remove a sermon/Obama campaign rally performed by Fr. Michael Pfleger at the Trinity United Church of Christ. Pfleger is outrageous, illogical, and unpleasant , but seemingly quite concerned as to his public image being displayed on YouTube. You can still view Fr. Pfleger on YouTube, but it is taken down every few hours. I don’t think that the Axelrod narrative was quite prepared for the actual force of the internet-enabling users to do their own research without media filters, but the information is out there and being formatted (and reformatted) as you read this.


John Powers is president of The Chicago Daily Observer.


  • Dan Kelley said:

    You are quite right to point to the outrageous performance of the Reverend Michael Pfleger (I cannot bring myself to call it a sermon) in which he attempts to defend and rehabilitate Obama’s pastor, the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It is truly bizarre to see Pfleger mimicing an African American dialect as he speaks. He must have studied his vocal stylings by listening to “Amos and Andy.”

  • Pat Hickey said:

    Great commentary, John.

    A few months ago, the Progressive Democrats of the Chicago Metro area were touting the Daily Kos, Moveon.org candidate Mark Pera for 3rd Congressional District.

    The cyber-world of Grassroots Progressive Thought was bubbling like a shook up bottle of Cold Duck!

    ‘The 3rd District demands that The Lip’s Boy goes home! Grassroots Activists are hitting the streets!’

    I saw a Volkswagon full of the Patagonia Catalogue Comrades, hundry after being chased off the porches by working people who had their Saturday morning-sleep-in interrupted by breathy pronouncements from the harbingers of change – who lived in the far Northwest Suburbs or the Peoples Republic of High;and Park.

    This foreign built heaterless vehicle’s occupants stopped at Pops’ Italian Beef & Sausage at 103rd & Kedzie for a nosh.

    ‘Why in the 21st Century can’t I get a Vegan Friendly lunch? What do people live on animal offal out here?’ All sporting Mark Pera buttons and littering the shelf with expensive and glossy Mark Pera Literature.

    Grassroots, Cupcakes, is neighbors.

    Try not whizzing them off.

  • Frank Nofsinger said:

    Fine analysis indeed.

    I can not add much except to note that certain wags on Breitbart are refering to the junior Senator simply as “BO” –

    Has a ring to it, no?

  • kpiamgodschild said:

    For it is written:

    Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

    1Th 3:7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

    Hbr 10:33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

    Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

    Psa 105:15 [Saying], Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

    Luk 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

  • Pat Hickey said:

    Verily. Gabby Obama spins some yarns. Like the corker about JFK helping to sneak Pap Obama in the USA – A Kenyan Kennedy!


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