The Politics of Showbiz

August 25, 2008 at 10:43 am (Democratic Party, Democrats, elections, Obama, United States, voltairespriest)

Race for the White HouseGripped as we all have been by the important, world-altering matter of the AWL’s recent internal dispute over Iran-Israel, it may have escaped your attention that this week also holds the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Given that the likelihood of a Broder-Matgamna youth and experience ticket has receded in recent weeks, it looks like we’ll just have to deal with Obama-Biden instead.

As I’m in a small minority on the left in the UK for advocating any kind of support for Obama, I probably batted more of an eyelid than most when he made his VP pick and chose Joe Biden. It’s a bit of a ho-hum choice as far as I’m concerned; Biden is known most over here for having nicked one of Neil Kinnock’s speeches during his failed 1988 Presidential run, thus effectively ending his ambitions for the White House. I’m not terribly sure what drove him (initially) to run this time; he was a no hoper from the beginning and (a couple of gaffes aside, which McCain has already leaped on) looked like an out-rider for Obama through most of the primaries until he dropped out. He’s a steady hand on the tiller in the main, and pretty much a formulaic choice by the Obama campaign given his foreign policy experience and Obama’s lack thereof.

I’d be surprised if anything much departs from the playbook this week; the Democrats have gotten a lot better at running tight conventions since Bill Clinton first took a grip on the fractious party in 1992. Even Hillary is unlikely to do much to disrupt it: she herself has employed a 40-strong team of whips to ensure that “her” delegates do no upset the Obama applecart.

This of course leads us to one of Obama’s problems – he’s so smooth that you never get to see him really looking like he’s connecting with the sort of people (non college educated Democrats) who he needs to mobilise in order to get a firm majority in November. They memorably swung behind Clinton – also previously seen as too smooth – when an attack on his wife in an early 1992 debate led to the candidate losing his temper on television and laying furiously into Jerry Brown, a primary opponent. Off-message this most certainly was, but it made the candidate “real” to those often socially conservative Democrats in a way that Obama has not (yet) managed. It will be interesting this week to see if Obama is sufficiently willing to take a risk and depart from the script laid out for him. I doubt it, but he needs to.

The other thing that I hope the Democrats finally do, is stop shutting up about the issue of race. It is infuriating to watch them flounder in front of Republican attack ads which insidiously seek to inject race into the debate, or even Rush Limbaugh openly stating that Obama is only the candidate because the Democrats didn’t have the guts to “criticise the little black-man child”. The reality is that McCain’s coalition is in part composed of open racist votes and racist backers, and everybody knows it. If Obama’s campaign really came out swinging on the issue, with a populist economic message and an anti-war, pro-engagement with the world foreign policy, and was unabashed about its message of a real new direction for the country and the world, then at least they’d be giving it a go. As it stands they risk playing the same “tacking” game that centre-left parties worldwide have been doing for over a decade, the same tired tactic that has seen the Labour Party here turn into a right-wing non entity with no core electorate at all.

Either way though, the convention will be spectacular. And besides, I don’t get a vote, so it’s only a bit of fun. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!


  1. davidbroder said,

    “Given that the likelihood of a Broder-Matgamna youth and experience ticket has receded in recent weeks, it looks like we’ll just have to deal with Obama-Biden instead.”

    I offer Change We Can Believe In.

    Yes We Can!

  2. a very public sociologist said,

    Viewing all this from afar Biden seems to be a sensible pick. He won’t scare away conservatives too much. He has a certain gravitas that comes with being an insider, balancing Obama’s cultivated image as an “outsider”. And his class background might go down well with white working class voters who backed Bush last time.

    All that said, does anyone ever vote for a candidate on the strength of his running mate?

  3. modernityblog said,

    HP has been attacked, and is functioning from a backup blog,

  4. lpcn said,

    IIRC, a Southern Democrat running mate is considered essential for any Northern Dem presidential candidate.

    Poor Morality, what will you do now with all that free time? You’ll have to play with your dolls or ride your bike or something.

  5. lpcn said,

    The defamation claim against HP Sauce is patently vexatious bollocks. That notwithstanding, HP Sauce is a hate site — what Redwatch would look like if run by lawyers and journos.

  6. KB Player said,

    “HP Sauce is a hate site ”

    Some things are hateful, for instance a UCU activist who think a neo-Nazi website is a good source of factual material on Israel and Jews. Who, when this is pointed out to her, isn’t totally mortified but a bit huffy. How was she supposed to know neo-Nazism when she saw it? That’s something that should be hated.

  7. Lobby Ludd said,

    Can you run that by us again: “I’m in a small minority on the left in the UK for advocating any kind of support for Obama”?

    What is the extent of your support? I’d (genuinely, honest) like to know.What is the progressive case for Obama, other than he is not a Republican?

  8. Will said,

    Sobby Fudd said:

    “What is the progressive case for Obama, other than he is not a Republican?”

    That he’s a black dude who will piss rednecks off?

    Sorry — couldn’t resist.

    Will laugh at all of you from a distance again. Bye bye!!

  9. Voltaire's Priest said,

    How brilliantly insightful of you Dulliam. House brand scotch on the cheap at McTescos again is it?

  10. KB Player said,

    Don’t get tetchy with Will, Volty. He is a struggling artiste after all. He regards his swearing and insulting people in comments threads, deleting them with further swearing and insults on the comments threads on his own site, and his persona of a semi-literate as “performance art”. So just think of him as being in the great new Brit art tradition of the unmade bed and the decaying shark.

  11. SP said,

    Thank you, being poorly educated myself it is always helpful for an idea of which “Semi-literate” sites to avoid.

    “Struggling artiste” now there is a subject on which you are qualified to comment.

  12. lpcn said,

    Hateful? And repeatedly posting photos, names, email addresses and places of work of socialists for an audience of slavering swivel-eyed rightwing zombies is not hateful, it’s just a public information service. Of course. A stopped clock is at least right twice a day – HP isn’t even that. On this occasion HP is partially correct, however instead of examining the social and historical context, HP focussed obsessively on one individual, as this fits the HP ‘bad man’ theory of history.

  13. Rosie B said,


    Here’s a bit of social and historical analysis for you.

  14. modernityblog said,

    This whole event has been amusing and sad, shame to see Will’s gang go so far down hill, still I suppose it was always on the cards.

    I urge everyone to assist Comrade Newman in his valiant fight, see THE HAZARD OF DUKE,

  15. Voltaire's Priest said,

    SP – what are you now, his butler?

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