There is an element in the blogosphere that is just as obsessed with peripheral bullshit and their own narrow agenda as the lazy process-consumed corporate media that Elizabeth Edwards laid into this morning. One example was the howling outrage from certain quarters when Barack Obama had the audacity to say that Social Security funding is in crisis. This was interpreted as an example of buying into right-wing frames. After the successful 2005 effort to kill Bush’s privatization plan, which including a coordinated effort to beat back the talking point that Social Security is in crisis, Obama’s comment seemed like a betrayal.
“I can’t understand how Obama can be this out of touch,” economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote recently. “As a political matter, I don’t understand why he would essentially try to undermine the first big victory progressives won against the Bush administration and the rightward tilt of the Beltway consensus.”
Never mind that Obama opposes privitization and said that Social Security is not in crisis both immediately before and after his offending comment. This one slip was seized on as if Obama were a stalking horse for Grover Norquist.
The latest example of faux outrage is Barack Obama’s decision to appear on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace this morning. Nevermind that Obama has boycotted FOX News for months and even helped kill off a debate that FOX was due to moderate. Bonddad is so outraged by Obama’s appearance on FOX that he is going to write-in Frank Zappa rather than vote for someone that would legitimize FOX News. Matt Stoller hyperventilates:
You can’t trust the Obama campaign, they will lie to you to promote right-wing institutions.
You see, if the blogosphere comes up with some strategy like a 100% boycott of FOX News, or never, ever saying that there is any solvency issue with Social Security, no candidate shall violate their new rules. Violate those rules and you are unworthy of support. Better to vote for a dead guy.
Speaking of strategy, Elizabeth Edwards points out:
A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals.
Calling the long-term solvency of Social Security a ‘crisis’ in an interview is not a reflection of Obama’s ideas and proposals for Social Security. It’s just a violation of the blogspheric ‘strategy’ for fighting off privatization. Likewise, going on FOX News says nothing about Obama’s ideas and proposals for dealing with mass communications. It’s just a violation of the the blogosphere’s ‘strategy’ for delegitimizing FOX News.
I don’t disagree with the underlying strategies. But that’s all they are. It’s takes a tremendous amount of self-important chutzpah to decide you are going to reject a candidate for using a different political strategy than the one you advocate. If a candidate’s political strategy involves pandering to fear and xenophobia, or racism, or misogyny and homophobia, then I can understand why their strategy might, in itself, cause a person to foreswear any support. But an appearance on FOX News Sunday or a throw away line in an interview?
I’ll conclude with two points. First, we should heed Elizabeth Edwards’ words. Obsessing over strategy is not our job. Second, we should have learned by now that the Obama campaign is better at strategy than we are at giving strategic advice. If Obama had followed the blogopshere’s advice he would have been marginalized long ago as a fringe candidate of the far left. Let them do the strategizing. They seem to know what they’re doing.