Archive for the ‘YouTube’ Category

More RNC Ad Comment

July 31, 2008

When I linked to the RNC’s first parody ad attacking Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin, I wasn’t sure how much buzz it was going to generate. Now with the second ad, which makes the far more outlandish analogy between Obama and Britney Spears, the Republicans are defining the dialogue.

The GOP ought to be particularly careful with Spears. In one of her last state’s of quasi-coherence, Spears espoused political rhetoric as simple-minded as George W. Bush. Remember this famous interview. (“Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens. “)

With that said, the recent ads demonstrate three things. First, it’s possible that even financially-strapped Republicans can use web tools, such as Youtube, to get a message out. It’s odd seeing the Republicans take momentum online heretofore the home to the powerful liberal NetRoots. Second, for all the talk of John McCain not knowing anything about the web, the people around him are struggling mightily to catch up. In the vacuum left by mainstream comedians who have been reluctant to poke fun at Obama, the RNC attempt at humor has a more open playing field.

Obama on Iran: Bush-Cheney Lite Sounds Great

May 27, 2008

Ben Smith’s got an item about how Barack Obama is backtracking on his pledge to meet with Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad. You can watch that here.

It was one of the most memorable moments of last summer’s campaign, one that many thought would torpedo Obama’s chances.

Here’s what Smith quotes Obama as saying now: “‘There’s no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know that he was actually in power,’ ” he said. ” ‘He’s not the most powerful person in Iran.’ ”

Smith rightly points out that Obama stood by his answer well into the primary season, calling it “an effective point of contrast with Hillary in the primary.”

Having spent much time up in New Hampshire last summer, I remember Obama taking it even further.

Last July, I drove up to Concord’s Eagle Square to see Congressman Paul Hodes endorse Obama. Here at, I observed “there’s no question that Obama’s willingness to meet with the despots of Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela is electrifying the progressive grassroots, particularly in New Hampshire.”

Reporting for The New York Sun, I noticed that Obama not only stood by his pledge, he upped the ante on it. His direct quote, using the word dictator, reinforces the fact that he was specifically referring to Ahmadinejad.

“It is no longer sufficient to trot out the old formulas, the old tired phrases. If we want fundamental change, then we can’t be afraid to talk to our enemies. I’m not afraid of losing the p.r. war to dictators,” Mr. Obama said to prolonged applause. “I’m happy to look them in the eye and say what needs to be said… I don’t want a continuation of Bush-Cheney. I don’t want Bush-Cheney lite, I want a fundamental change.”

In presidential politics, it’s long been commonplace for candidates to move leftward to win Democratic primaries and caucuses and then tack to the center to win general elections. But it’s not exactly a new kind of politics. It’s the same kind of politics we’ve always had.

Barack Obama and the African-American Vote

January 10, 2008


Hillary Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire came on the backs of a fabulous field organization (a Manchester component made up of Mayor Menino’s political foot-soldiers) who had something to work with. The wave of sympathy for Clinton as an embattled woman.

Going into South Carolina where African-Americans comprise 50% of the Democratic vote, it’s possible that Clinton’s comments about the relative contributions of Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson to the civil rights movement could do the same thing among Black voters. Until now, many in the African-American community, particularly older folks, have had questions about Obama, the son of a white Kansan and a Kenyan father.

A reverend and New York Assemblyman, who has endorsed Obama, Karim Camara, told me yesterday he was deluged with calls from constituents and other elected officials stunned by her comments. Camara will go down to South Carolina later this month for Obama and expects to be talking about Clinton with the religious leaders he meets with. “I believe churches are very sensitive to the language we use,” Mr. Camara said. “This can have a tremendous impact in increasing their level of churches in going out and supporting Senator Obama.”

Read more here.

Trade Unionism in Chicago

August 8, 2007

Labor City

Leave it to the City of Big Shoulders to finally host a superb Democratic debate. On the historic grounds of Soldiers Field in the city where police fired upon trade unionists at Haymarket Square and 4000 Pullman Car workers struck, the AFL-CIO provided a good forum to hear the Democratic candidates out on worker protection, free trade and pensions. The authenticity of the questioners really stood out.

Let me put it in the vernacular; in short, the AFL-CIO kicks YouTube’s ass. I know we’re all supposed to kowtow to the primacy of the Netroots and the internet saavy. But I just can’t. I’m sick of the snideness and the snarkiness. I appreciate hearing the plain but powerful words of people who work for a living.

As far as the politics of the night go, I thought Hillary Clinton shined when it was her time to respond to a questioner from the audience and she went back and answered questions from several of the questioners whom had been ignored by the other candidates, including the wife of fallen miner. It was also an opportunity for the long-serving members of the Senate — Chris Dodd and Joe Biden — to highlight their years of experience and advocacy for the trade union movement. Even Dennis Kucinich had a nice movement when he voiced a mulit-clause paean to labor.

Despite Obama’s homefield advantage, I felt his performance was his worst yet. While he didn’t have a gaffe on a par with those of his prior debates, he seemed entirely uncomfortable. Most answers were incredibly awkward. For a generally verbally fluid speaker, his comments were filled with pauses, halts and uhs. I honestly don’t understand it, other than he might genuinely not know how to connect with blue collar folks.