The Mack the Knife Technique

By Al Giordano



In the context of what I've referred to as "the Mack the Knife technique" of politics - that in which you slip the dagger in quietly and cleanly so there's "not a trace of red" on your white gloves - NBC's First Read seems to have smelt the blood in the water:

Obama's stealth ad campaign: Over the past week, we've gotten our hands on a number of negative TV ads Obama's been running against McCain in key states like Ohio and Michigan. This is in addition to the tough spot, uncovered by Politico, that Obama's airing in Indiana. Clearly, the Obama campaign isn't interested in telling the media about every single McCain attack ad they're running. Perhaps this is because Obama's brand can't afford to be tarnished too much if he's seen as constantly running negative TV ads. So the campaign simply puts them on the air in key markets, doesn't tell the press about them, and layers those ads with positive ones being run nationally during the Olympics. Also, by not releasing to the media, it forces the McCain camp to wait a day or two before they see the ad. McCain's camp is much more comfortable unveiling their negative ads, perhaps because they want the free press that comes with them. But make no mistake, Obama's running plenty of negative TV ads, particularly in the industrial Midwestern states. In fact, one of Obama's biggest candidate strengths -- which doesn't get the attention it deserves -- is that he plays political hardball as well as his opponents; he just sometimes does it under the radar.

That's the Indiana stealth ad, above.

What's also going on is, I think, the use of specific ads and messages in specific states to then test - through polls and focus groups - whether and what kind of effect they have, for possible use in other states or nationwide.

We're seeing other national media begin to recognize, as Mark Halperin headlined an entry the other day: "This Man Won't Be Swift Boated."

There's a big difference (especially among Democrats) between putting out a press release that claims that you're playing tough, and actually being tough. That the Obama campaign doesn't see it necessary to call a press conference each time it smacks down its rival or airs a new comparative TV ad on the local, swing state, level is a sign of the kind of quiet confidence and execution of game plan that won it the nomination.

Just as the primary victory was the result of a plan laid out before a single state voted, the general election strategy seems - to this observer - to be the execution of a playbook that was drawn weeks or months ago and remains largely unchanged and immune to the armchair counsel and protestations out there.

And while some complain or worry that national level Democratic Party leaders and politicians aren't visibly on the attack sufficiently against McCain & Co., you have to, at least, concede this: neither are they prattling off-message much either. On the Republican side you've got Huckabee attacking a possible Romney pick as VP, while top religious right leaders gripe aloud about the potential McCain running mates Ridge and Lieberman (because they have moderate pro-choice positions on abortion), but the Democratic pols, unions and national organization leaders - who also have their favorites and their nemeses on the rumored "short lists" - are mainly keeping their counsel direct and under the radar of the press, for the most part. That's unprecedented for the traditionally splintered and rancorous Democrats, and a sign that Chicago has done what's necessary to promote discipline among competing leaders. It's better to keep some folks quiet altogether when they have a penchant for yakking in ways that distract.

Now, I have no problem with the Stop-Bayh Facebook page (I in fact agree with its sentiment but I haven't joined it mainly because I don't think such efforts are effective; I still don't think he'll be the running mate, but if it turns out he is, I wouldn't want to have to walk back from there). I also have no issue with Senator Clinton's name being put into nomination. I think that was also planned long ago, and that "Greek Drama Week" and its feigned Clintonian soap opera has been successful beyond my predictions (thanks, sort of, John Edwards!) at sucking the oxygen out of McCain's hospital bubble while Obama - who heads back to the mainland today - was able to recharge his batteries in Hawaii without incident. What a lost opportunity vacation week was for McCain!

Obama will come back sprinting and I'm sure the next few days will bring plenty of new developments for us - and an increasingly attentive nation - to analyze and talk about... now that Mackie's back in town!  


Dual Meaning

In this case, Mack the Knife has a dual meaning, in that they're using McCain's (Mack's) own words (the knife) against him!

mack the knife at the convention

NPR reported yeserday that Hillary Clinton opposed having her name put into nomination, but Obama insisted and the deal is that she will publicly, in the roll call vote, vote her ballot for Obama and ask her supporters to do the same. That seems to me to be the price she has to pay for her and Bill's prime time speaking slots.  It seems to me that it would make it much more comfortable for the Clintons & certainly make it easier for her/them to play the victim if mean Barack Obama "denied" her the chance to put her name put into nomination. Then all her supporters could gripe about the sexism of that etc. This way, party unity - enforced by the glare and attention of the national spotlight - or else.  

maybe Hil will be the one to put Obama's name into nomination

didn't you point out yesterday that that role was still available?

PR for Al

Fieldhands, you may have noticed that The Field recently added icons for Digg, Reddit, etc. at the bottom of each post.

Al, perhaps you can comment on the value of these services so all your readers know what they can do for your visibility.

I'm enrolled in Digg, so I make a point of checking that each new Al post is submitted, and Digging it if it already has been.

Perhaps other Fieldhands who are already signed up for the other services can commit to doing the same?  That way, we can ensure that Al's fine work garners more eyeballs and we can spread the cure for Chicken Litle Syndrome across the web, especially in the coming convention frenzy.


Over the top

Usually, the candidate's home state is given the honor of putting the candidate over the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination.  It would be interesting if, in this case, NY was chosen for the honor and Clinton was the one who made the announcement on behalf of the state with a unanimous vote from the state of NY for Obama.

Discipline, discipline, always discipline

The hallmarks of the Obama campaign, and of good organizers in general:

Refusing to rise to troll bait and to concern-troll bait, yet finding effective ways to neutralize those attacks that rate a response.

Pivoting negative news and attacks back on your opponent.

Stopping any and all hints of drama as quickly as possible, and early in the campaign when most Americans aren't paying attention.

Not letting anything throw you off-balance or off-course.

Playing careful poker hands that see you slowly yet steadily increase your strength.

Above all, thinking before opening your yap.

Discipline, discipline, discipline.

Democrats organized used to be...

Democrats organized used to be an oxymoron.  The popular culture, MSM, talking heads, whatever the label is hasn't been able to absorb or understand the effectiveness of a community organizer leading a campaign.  Seems those who need to 'say' something to fill the space: airwaves, print media, blogs - are unable to imagine let-along describe the movement, the change, the energy of millions of individuals working with a common purpose.

If 2,000,000 people have contributed money to the campaign, at least that number and more are involved, active.  Even if it's just sending the Stop the Smears information to everyone they know.

OT:  The past few days, I've been smiling when I get emails from friends (I've been sending many, many people links to The Field since Iowa days) who are saying they're now getting links from other friends to The Field too!!

Confession: I expect a 'chicken little' moment when I read the NYTimes Book Review this Sunday.  But the campaign seems to really be on top of it.

Can I just chortle for a

Can I just chortle for a while at the Obama campaign sneakily putting their ads out on the airwaves, where the media and the McCain campaign can't be expected to find them? How unprincipled of them!

i've been noticing this as well

Obama heads for Hawaii but a flurry of activity pops up elsewhere (and I'm not talking about John Edwards...)

Attack ads in Nevada, Ohio and Indiana, along with the 'Book' ad on McCain's "economic policy." Union mailers that raise the subject of McCain's wealth and the Social Security issue. Viral videos hammering McCain and his support for Bush. Huge response to Jerry Corsi that is getting props from the MSM, complete with 40-page rebuttal of his garbage. Kerry launches an anti-smear website. Even the WSJ runs a fabulous op-ed by Obama's economic team. And I'm sure that I'm forgetting other examples.

Sounds like a WORKING vacation to me...and all McCain has done is give us a foreign policy preview that has been frankly nothing short of frightening. He can't generate any momentum...if we manage to generate some, he's toast.


In the future, this campaign will be analyzed

and sliced and diced as others try to duplicate its effectiveness.  Hard to duplicate:  having a candidate and senior staff who are disciplined, smarter than the other guys, tougher than nails and not afraid of anything.  (Fear has done in so many Dem. candidates in the past.)


Weeks ago I gave up trying to convince my CL friends (fortunately a dwindling  number) that Obama was much tougher than he appears in the media and that the discrepancy was intentional.  Now maybe they will believe me.  


@Allan:  thanks for the reminder to Digg, etc.! I belong to all of those services, and I WILL click each of them for each post!

@ Suzy: I have heard several places that right-wingers are buying that book in bulk just to make sure that it's on the NYT best-sellers list--that's why it'll be there for two weeks at least, even if NYT hates the book...a smoke-screen to make it seem more popular than it really is...

As Al noted above, the O-man will be neither swift-boated OR swift-book-ed!!

waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


Very competent, chooses the right people, plans early and well

What else can we want from a politician? Obama is really a breath of fresh air in exactly where it matters - competency and choosing the right team. His overall planning and execution of this campaign is superb beyond any expectation or any other campaign i have seen, and was cool-headed and organized where Hillary's was filled with strife and dissaray (they didn't have a grasp of the delegate rules and got even basic math wrong, as Sean points out ). No-drama and pure competence is really what characterizes his campaign and surely makes me comfortable that until January 2017 one of the most poweful nations in the world will have the right person with the right team in the drive seat, at exactly the most important time of our lifetimes, with regards to the game-changing problems of global warming and peak oil.

As a lurker here, i would like to thank Al for his incredible insight and unique articles - truly this is the place to come if you want real journalism.

The Book...

the thing about that book that REALLY makes me mad is that he co-opted the phrase "Obama Nation" and is turning it into "Abomination"...

The O-man is ON IT...I've seen all of his ads here (+ and -) in Michigan; AND he told Kwame (Mayor--for now--of Detroit):  " will NOT be in Denver messing up my shi(p)!"  paraphrased, of course!!

The National Mayor's Group that made Kwame a SuperDelegate can (and will, I'm sure) select someone else to go in his place and cast his vote...

waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


NYT Booklist

I had an idea about the NYT booklist - I haven't thought it through properly, but an unofficial "Take back the NYT booklist" could be started, where we through our own social networks encourage supporters to buy at least one copy of a particular book, and push that to the top of the list.  At first I thought perhaps Fareed Zakaria's book -that's popular these days, but it's not exactly a pro-Obama book, although he agrees with much of his foreign policy.  But we certainly could shoot copies of Dreams from my Father or Audacity of Hope to the top.  Could buy copies as gifts, donate to book sales, etc.

I hate when I walk into a bookstore and see that idiots anti-Obama book front and center on the most prominent table in the store.  Of course, I'm sure his publishers have paid for that real estate in the bookstore.  B&N and Borders ought to be ashamed of themselves.


Obama's Vacation

In addition to helping Obama recharge his batteries, I think his vacation has served a strategic purpose as well.  The media had become so focused on Obama the man they were not reporting on Obama's message.  By removing himself from the spotlight, the media has been forced to talk about more substantive campaign issues.  It's obvious to anyone paying attention that Obama wins a substance-based campaign.  The only way McCain wins is if the campaign becomes solely about Obama the person.

On point

Excellent post, I agree entirely (and you don't read that too often here).

I think it's been reported that Hillary will - in very public fashion - cast her SD vote for Barack. Can't ask better than that.

Of course Obama wanted Clinton's name in nomination - it fires up half the base. Smart. As does, in a smaller quadrant, the Bayh campaign for netroots activists. I joined, but then again, I'm a lot more used "walking it back" this cycle than Al is.

Clark Hoyt public editor of New York Times

@Karen - thanks for the great idea. While we're thinking of which book to advocate for, we can AT LEAST send a letter/email (maybe with a copy of Sunday's Booklist - and our suspicions of the mass buying that put it on top) - to Clark Hoyt.

Obama Nation

It is my understanding that Obama Nation will be listed with a dart indicating bulk sales rather than actual popularity. A significant percentage of the copies are probably being warehoused or distributed for free. Yet another RNC astroturfing operation...

When I need a political reality check...

...I know now always to come to Al first!  Thanks, Al, for helping us remain focused and grounded as the increasingly manic days prior to the election grow shorter.

And once again, please permit me to reiterate my steadfast belief that *** JIM WEBB *** will be Obama's running mate.  I'm looking for some legal means here in my home state (if such means can even be found) to put down a hefty bet on my theory/intuitive hunch.  Since no one else appears to see the simple, profound electoral beauty and devastatingly positive pro-Obama power of such a paring, I should be able to lock in great odds -- and make a real killing!

Pissed Press

Once again the MSM is pissing and sniveling about that mean ol' Obama sneaking around behind their backs by not telling them about targeted ads, just like they moaned and cried when he slipped off to an undisclosed location to negotiate Clinton's surrender and left them flying around on the campaign plane without him.

Just because other campaigns do the press's job for them doesn't mean that it's useful or smart. They hate how skillful he is! One of the reasons the MSM latches onto the attacks is that Obama's tightly run, strategically sound campaign doesn't feed them the kind of scandal they need to keep their ratings up. It's so much easier than doing some actual investigative reporting.

This is going to be a fun talk-show weekend, eh? The thrashing and foaming at the mouth we'll see! It's going to be a preview of the GE campaign after Denver--tough, tight, and beating the McCainists so bloody that Obama can get the mandate he needs.

Be prepared for the bounce--and the anti-bounce

Poblano ( on what to expect between now and September:

Our default expectation is that Barack Obama will get a decent-sized but short-lived bounce, which will quickly be compromised by the start of the Republican convention. However, the Republicans' bounce might not be as big as it otherwise would be, because there may still be some lingering afterglow from the Democratic convention.

It might take until roughly the time of the first debate on September 26 for the convention effects to dissipate completely. The polls are going to be extremely difficult to read in the interim: we don't quite know how these two curves are going to interact. I would say that, if Barack Obama still holds the lead in the race in the weekend following the Republican convention, that is probably a pretty good sign for him.

Meanwhile, we'll see the Obama machine laying solid groundwork to exploit every weakness. So there's going to be a whole lot of chicken-littling among Democrats and MSM statements about how Obama is "underperforming" in the polls between now and then. Meanwhile, I suggest stress relief exercises for all of us.

Negative Ads

To me a "TRUTHFUL" and "FACTUAL" ad isn't negative...a negative ad to me is one that purposefully lies about facts and uses non facts as if they were facts.

To me Obama has not run a negative ad; they are comparative, factual, and truthful and any dumba@@ pundit, so called analyst, reporter, etc who thinks or says otherwise is truly a dumba@@.

Go away psuedo journalists, partisan analysts, and idiotic pundits because I don't care, listen, or believe what you speak.  To me you all who make up this profession are just as ugly as lawyers and politicians...there is no more respect left in journalism except for Al, Bill Moyers, and Charlie Rose...everyone else is a dumba@@.

whip operation at the convention

My assumption is that there will be a well-organized whip operation at the convention and that they'll know exactly how many votes Clinton will receive. I'd think the Clintons will not want to be embarassed by having very, very few votes, and Obama loses nothing by enabling that to be possible while not having so many Clinton votes that there appears to be serious disunity.

Obama has lost the election...Let's go dancing...

Honestly, the thing that has been striking to me so far is that so many concern trolls are coming out at this early stage. I don't even want to think about what's going to happen in the bloggosphere in October.  Amazing!  I keep reading that according to the polls, the pundits, and even God, Obama has already lost this race.  I wonder if that means that folks  can have some FUN now.  Since  this is a lost cause and since Obama is the underdog, why not enjoy this process more.  As Emma Goldman has said: "I don't want any part of your revolution if I can't dance."  I have worked on prior Obama campaigns here in Chicago.  I have known him for years.  No Drama is also accompanied by No Fear, followed closely by "ENJOY YOURSELF, life is short."  So my advice to folks is WORK LIKE HECK to help elect Barack but have FUN doing it!  Keep dancing and if you don't dance, I suggest taking lessons starting TODAY!

Recall Obama Nation

Hey, I posted a semi-snark diary at DKos about Corsi's book wherein I took the angle that it is a defective product and should be recalled from the market by its publisher.  I hope it gives you a laugh, and if you wish to join me by contacting the CEOs of Simon & Schuster and CBS Corporation at the telephone numbers I provided therein, make the call!

I am standing by the phone, eagerly awaiting Carolyn and Leslie's return calls, and will update the diary when they contact me.

Negative vs. Smear

I note also in the First Read text that the political media are (as in every campaign) unable to distinguish between issue-contrast ads and character smears, lumping them all together as "negative campaigning" or "attack ads." I give the Obama campaign points for making their negative ads actual issue contrasts, whereas the McCain stuff is almost entirely smears and innuendo.

We're always told that everyone says they hate negative ads, but "they work." I seem to recall research showing that when people say that, they actually mean they really hate smears, but not so much issue-oriented attacks. Since the conventional wisdom is that "negative ads" drive up negatives for both candidates, and you hope they drive up your opponent's more, I wonder if a lesson of this campaign will be that it's only true for smears and over-the-top stuff. It will definitely be interesting to find out.

(I'm also amused by the continuing efforts of right wingers, ever since the primaries, to claim that if Obama says anything negative at all, he's just a regular dirty politican, and not a "new kind of politics" at all. They never seem to notice that the only people saying "yeah!" are other trolls.)


The best, and I think only, really effective "negative"/issues ads are ones where the candidates own words are used against him or her in a factual manner.  These ads are a world better than some of the previous generations of ones.

Keep using McCain's own words against him. It's tough to dispute. Can't wait until they roll out the 100 years ads.

Al, looking at this from a

Al, looking at this from a structural standpont, taking brute economics and information flows (media) as a base, I can see exactly why the msm hasn't drawn attention to Obama's negative ads against McCrack (my new nick name for McLame).   To be blunt: to draw attention to the Republican neoliberal adgenda for the economy, and its real-world effects on working people,  would be to focus the public's eye on the ball.  The capitalist austerity program is all about creating the masses as alienated wage slaves, and driving their share of the produced wealth down to rock bottom.

Just like the MSM doesn't point out that fact that wages for the lower middle and working classes have fallen for three decades, they sure don't want to point out the fact that the macroeconomic adgenda of corporate America basicallly is geared toward attacking any gains workers have made over the past seventy years.

Obama can criticize these trends--but only in a roundabout way, lest he be accused of stoking class anger (only rightwingers are allowed to do this--via the racecard or other assorted divide-and-conquer strategems).  The msm would rather have a silly shooting war over Paris Hilton--not what is really going on with the well-being of the US population in general after decades of really wacked-out austerity and attacks on the working class.

The higher you are in the MSM hierarchy, the more horrible policies that hurt US workers seem like pure 'commonsense'.   While, indeed, there are a broad swath of MSM worker-bees that are supporting Obama, there are still structural constraints that will make the McCrack/Obama race a down-to-the-wire thriller.  If the media were in any way nominally 'democratic', this wouldn't even be a horse race, not by a long shot.  Obama would/should be leading by twenty five points by now.   The "Obama hasn't closed the deal" meme is just so much crap: it means, we are not reporting on real issues, and we are not amendable toward recieving feedback that might educate and cause voters to see their economic/class interests in a sharper light.

Off topic: the reason I am calling McCain by the nickname "McCrack", is because, given the horrible economic, ecological, and geopolitical factors that are squeezing the working class, abbetting the mortgage crisis, destabilizing Eastern Europe and the Middle East, wrecking havoc on our common ecological health--given all this depressing and vertigenous tumult, a working class person (the majority of the nation) would surely have to be deluded or hooked on crack to reward the Republicans and McCrack with more power in these coming elections.   The Obama campaign is more delicate than I am, they can allude to the same conclusions without being over the top as I am apt to be.

Make no mistake, the broad foreign, economic, and domestic policies of both the DLC and the neocon conservative rightwing are grinding the nation's face into the dirt.   Their collective corporate greed will surely drive this nation into being a second rate, has-been super power.  While the traditional, venal, elites in the liberal and conservative wings of the ruling class deserve to be bloodied and taken down a few notches--to do the same with the already suffering super-exploited classes would result in a level of immiseration that the people of this country (no matter how uninfomed and/or manipulated) simply in no way deserve.

With Obama the elites just might have a way of staving off a horrible crash--so, for their own sake, the ruling class better not go for what they see as the gold, the jugular,  and take out Obama.   We see where the lib/con thinking got the world through their policies on the borders of Russia.  The Western Capitalist 'democracies' deserve to be driven back into their lairs in Western Europe.

If you kick your precieved enemy while he/she is down, you better finish him off--because when he gets up, and has a while to heal and reflect, there will eventually be hell to pay.

I am happy to see O-man back on the mainland, tanned (lol), rested, and ready for action.

McCain's name

I've noticed that many on left-leaning sites like to use "McBush", "McSame", "McLame", etc. instead of McCain.  (And who could forget "Walnuts!")

But honestly, if people want to use his name, why not turn his own name against him: "John Sidney McCain III"

The right has already played their card on that - everyone who could possibly care that Obama's middle name is Hussein already knows about it.  John McCain's name, when written out fully, helps remind folks of his family privelege, his wealth, etc. which may help the out-of-touch meme stick better.

So, I have a request to everyone reading this: when you're about to write "McLame" or one of the other variants, substitute "John Sidney McCain III" instead.

Swarm advertising

When it comes to advertising, these are pros, folks, with an outside-the-Beltway mentality -- marked by a heavy Chicago flavor and a clear understanding of modern niche marketing.

From a recent story in Crain's Chicago: "Obama putting more ad shops on his team"

Continuing to lead the team are Chicago agency AKP&D Media and Message, and Washington agency GMMB, the latter a unit of Omnicom Group. Obama chief strategist David Axelrod and Obama campaign manager David Plouffe are from AKP&D.

... The media team also continues to include Fuse Advertising, St. Louis, for African-American advertising; Message Audience and Presentation, Austin, Texas, for Hispanic advertising...

...The new agencies being enlisted are Murphy Putnam Media, Washington, (which did New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign for president, including some well-received tongue-in-cheek ads); Squier Knapp Dunn Communications, which handled Bill Clinton's last race for president; Shorr Johnson Magnus, Philadelphia, which fielded Sen. Chris Dodd's campaign for president and has done numerous Democratic campaigns; and Dixon Davis Media, Washington, which handled the advertising for Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., an avid Obama supporter.

... Mr. Margolis [of GMMB] said today that the additions reflect the presidential campaign's need for more resources and that it's possible more agencies will be added later. "We will continue to lead the media effort and production, but it's a big country and (more shops) can add real value," he said.


Corsi's screed and Amazon

Just a thought - it wouldn't take long to write a short list of the more egregious lies in Corsi's production, and to make sure that any reviews you write on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Borders include it. If enough people review it negatively on such outlets, that would help, because then openminded people browsing those stores will realize what a wretched piece of work it really is.  Bearing in mind how many books are sold through them, I think it's worth fighting back there as well .

John Sidney McCain III

good idea Barath - I'm in!


Buy American - Vote Obama

This is a great idea - I hope they will put out a t-shirt - I'd definitely buy one.  I try to buy American, but it's really hard!  It would be great to have a President who would tout the values of buying American.

Buy American - Vote Obama



Re: Buy American

I think this is a great frame.  It absolutely resonates with the people of America.

When I am working the Obama table at local events, I make a point of telling each person who buys an item of Obama gear that all Obama products are union made in the USA.  I point out the union "bug" printed on the products.

Without exception, the response to this simple gesture is appreciative and admiring.  Each person buying a button, poster, T-shirt, etc., indicates how that only strengthens their support and resolve to vote Obama and to tell others to do the same.

The campaign is onto a winning strategy.

Karen, I would like to see

Karen, I would like to see that as well--but we all now that that subject is very, very scary for the corporate lib/con intelligensia.  Why that would be down-right 'un-American'! LOL

I can see this meme advanced in niche markets--but not on a wholesale level.   This issue gets to the bone--and it is essential if we are to dig our way out of the 'free-trade' propaganda whole that we've been digging for decades.  Why, we have already dug clear through to China!

The crapitalists in the US can drop money through the whole, and the Chinese can use a giant blanket to catch it on the other side.  Likewise, the Chinese can drop manufactured goods from their side, and it will pop up in Iowa.  But, hey, here's a physics question for you:  how far will the consumer goods dropped from China fly into the Iowa statosphere?  And what type of technologies will need to be employed so that the dvds and big screen televisions can come to earth undamaged?

On a serious note: I think the economic populism meme would work wonders toward sharping real issues and differences in the voter's minds--but you noticed how Obama seems nervous about broaching the NAFTA issue.  The corporate/npr media would slit O-man's throat if he became really agressive with these types of economic issues.

Just the way I see it.



So, Karen, and others....I

So, Karen, and others....I guess ya'll don't like my "McCrack" idea?

Sheesh...some great memes and minds are simply passed over.  Sigh.


Hey Steven - I was just thinking about ya

Literally - I just read this article and thought, hmm, Steven H. might be interested in this one:

There's a great story at the end:

"This is the signature principle that underlies Project Vote, as well as Piven's lifetime of activism: that a democratic society with an enfranchised constituency of the poor and marginalized will look very different from the status quo. But unless these new voters are somehow organized and capable of asserting themselves after the election, it'll be all too easy simply to take them for granted.

At a panel on the Obama campaign's organizing approach at Netroots Nation, Ohio general election director Jeremy Bird relayed an anecdote that gives a brief glimmer of what this new enfranchisement might mean for our politics.

After the Democratic primary in South Carolina, one of the most active Obama volunteers in the city of Florence, a 37-year-old attorney named Steve Wukela, decided to run for mayor against a thirteen-year incumbent named Frank Willis. Wukela ran at Willis from his left. With a motto of "Real Democrat for Real Change," he castigated Willis for having donated to George W. Bush and for standing by "while sales taxes were increased on the poorest among us, shifting the burden to those least able to afford it." Wukela activated the volunteers he'd met going door-to-door for Obama, implementing a voter-contact model he'd been trained in by the campaign and reaching out to new voters. "Everyone said, Steve, that's nice, the Obama campaign was nice, but you probably shouldn't try to unseat a thirteen-year incumbent," explained Bird. "You're getting a little ahead of yourself."

But there was a constituency for change, thanks in part to the voter-registration activities of the Obama campaign, which had registered 8,000 new voters in Florence during the primary. And when votes in the mayoral election were tallied, Wukela had eked out an upset. By one vote."


Off topic:  but if anyone

Off topic:  but if anyone saw the photo of O-man putting a flower in his daughter's hair while walking on the!  I am a little old for it, and the wrong gender, but I wish I was eleven and O-man was my dad.  Barack and Michelle are really great parents.  I know, it's sappy--but the kind of sappy that makes people happy.

Seeing these people in the White House will do psychological wonders for this nation.

Not to dog on Bush's daughters, they both have admirable qualities--but the party-girl, vapid, unintellectual nature of the Bush family really epitomizes these lost eight years.

At least Laura Bush is a closet smoker (and, I think, moderate/liberal).  She probably thinks that health care for all children wouldn't amount to the commies taking over.

Hey, is it her fault that she married a slug? (Don't answer that.)


Karen, Yes!  Love it--and

Karen, Yes!  Love it--and one vote does make a difference (provided that the counting is legit.

This is what democratic mechanisms can do to help initiate progressive change.

As Al can attest from where he has been--it is so easy to become cynical and jaded in societies where super-exploitation and corporate/elite propaganda are the status quo.

I think that Obama will help invigorate grass roots organizing throughout the nation.   Without these efforts, we will continue to decline as a nation.  Indeed, I have no doubt about it.   Healthy change only happens when the little people become active, informed, organized, and vigiliant.  Easier said than done--as with anything and everything.

Off Topic-

 Ambinder says Obama in VA next Thursday. Could he announce his choice on Wednesday? Interesting about a focus group held on Kaine and Warner?

Another potential clue: a Democratic research firm spent part of last week quietly focus grouping the political skills and attributes of Kaine and Gov. Mark Warner last week, two people familiar with the results say.


For a break from the humdrums, Obama bodysurfing (I bodysurf, so I love this). He is good!

Releasing a lei at the memorial spot for his mother.

@Karen, I really like the Buy American, I would buy a shirt like that.


oh lord

What the hell is with the Clark hysteria at DailyKos? Did we not already learn that the man cannot walk on water? But it seems we're now destined for another generation of military fetishists who are convinced that Clark just has to flash his medals and a 50-state landslide will ensue.

Bayh Is The Devil Incarnate...

NOT. Everyone needs a breather. He's not who I had in mind for VP, but some people on the liberal blogs are acting like it'll be the end of the world if Obama selects him. It's starting to verge on hysteria now. What will these people do if we get an Obama/Bayh ticket? Will they suffer mental breakdowns? Goodness!

Georgia-S.Ossetia-Russia Drama

While other blogs are burning with this drama, Al and the Field Hands are giving it the silent treatment. Do you all think that the RW saber-rattling from John Sidney McCain III will not gain any traction with the voters ? I am asking this as a non-american.


Kaine on MTP Sunday

Kaine on Meet the Press Sunday - also Josh Green Atlantic Magazine - sounds interesting!

Buy Audacity of Hope

@Karen.  Great idea and it can work.  I just ordered a second copy. I'm going to pass the suggestion around.  I hope others will do the same.



Mostly I think it's too early to have any idea where this will be come November: a brief distraction from the Olympics since forgotten, or a looming showdown in Poland? Similarly, while Bush has to deal with this real-time, we'd prefer Obama and McCain, who can do zip on this for 5 months, were refining how this would work in their vision of the US's role in the world without undercutting anything Gates needs to do.

If it's a national security election that usually helps Republicans. With McCain tied to Bush, though, it depends on how people like Bush's handling of the situation--again, in November, not August. Negative-Obama spin: the USSR is back, it's a new cold war, and McCain is the guy with experience. Positive-Obama spin: the Republicans are eager to refight the wars of the previous generation, but it's a new century with new issues and players--fighting the last war over again has served us very poorly under Bush, and we need new ideas and 21st century leadership.

In terms of selling the latter, it's worth noting that the US military leadership has talked in terms of 21st century, assymetrical warfare, peacekeeping over ground wars, for some time, though its funding and practice tend to be tied to the old ways. (The Navy may not want a new aircraft carrier, but by God we need one built in Congressman X's district, and so the Navy will have a new carrier.) Obama already gets far more money from troops on the ground; get Webb and Clark out there talking about an American military for this century, about all the things the services have wanted (e.g. better pay for retention, rather than another carrier) that the pols have ignored, and the patriotic, Go-US Army theme can meld seemlessly with the change theme. McCain opposed (and voted against if he showed up) Webb's bill to give better support to those who've left the service--he's wide open on this issue.

Two Winners who are Losers...

as VP names. Obama-Spitz or Obama-Phelps. Awful sounding huh? BTW,what's up with Nate at 538 and the plane picture with no comment? Slow blog day I guess?

Just thinking that Nov 4 for John Sidney McCrack McCain III might turn out like Hillary's month of March. "Darn, we FORGOT about THOSE states..."

Barack the Dad

Steven H, I couldn't agree more - that was a beautiful candid photo - his oldest daughter shyly a bit embarrassed by her Dad's affection but loving every second of it.


Re: Bayh Is The Devil Incarnate...

FISA redux?  I hope not.

The contrast between the two conventions

will be the big story of the coming month.

Think about it: first comes the Democratic convention with all those great speakers and the moment of catharsis when all Hillary supporters are officially welcomed into the fold. Obama's acceptance speech will be unlike any you've seen before.

Then comes the G.O.P. convention, with Bush and Cheney speaking on the first night, the most unpopular President and VP in the history of polling. The lack of enthusiasm about McCain and the deflation of the conservative movement will never be clearer than there and then. And McCain's acceptance speech, given his track record, will contrast poorly with Obama's.

Game changing indeed.

Add comment

Our Policy on Comment Submissions: Co-publishers of Narco News (which includes The Narcosphere and The Field) may post comments without moderation. A ll co-publishers comment under their real name, have contributed resources or volunteer labor to this project, have filled out this application and agreed to some simple guidelines about commenting.

Narco News has recently opened its comments section for submissions to moderated comments (that’s this box, here) by everybody else. More than 95 percent of all submitted comments are typically approved, because they are on-topic, coherent, don’t spread false claims or rumors, don’t gratuitously insult other commenters, and don’t engage in commerce, spam or otherwise hijack the thread. Narco News reserves the right to reject any comment for any reason, so, especially if you choose to comment anonymously, the burden is on you to make your comment interesting and relev ant. That said, as you can see, hundreds of comments are approved each week here. Good luck in your comment submission!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

User login


About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

RSS Feed