Just Another Politician 2.0
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.
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.