Saturday, 8 November 2014

October Surprise 2016 : The New Face(s) of The Enemy

from Spike EP on Vimeo.

Wall Street's Manchurian Candidates Then and Now and the Franklin Cover-Up

Jimmy Carter / Reubin Askew, 1976;

Barack Obama / Deval Patrick, 2008

Ben Sasse / Tom Cotton, 2016 ?

Or Mia Love...?

"Beware Outsider Non-Politicians with Elitist Resumes"

That's What He Said
Barack Obama Sounds Just Like Deval Patrick.

Is That Good Or Bad?
By Adam Reilly and Boston Phoenix  

More than any other presidential candidate, Barack Obama owes his success to sheer rhetorical power. Obama's dazzling keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention made the thenIllinois state senator an instant presidential prospect. His breakthrough speech at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in November 2007 led to his caucus win earlier this month. Even conservatives dig his shtick: Republican media operative Mark McKinnon praised him as a "walking, talking hope machine."
Here in Massachusetts, though, Obama's oratory can also trigger déjà vu. His compelling message sounds a lot like the one that Deval Patrick who's known Obama for years, and who, like Obama, is a client of Democratic media consultant David Axelrod used during his successful 2006 gubernatorial campaign. (Axelrod also worked for Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards in 2004, the same year he helped Obama win election to the US Senate.) As David Kravitz, an editor of the liberal blog Blue Mass. Group, wrote after Iowa: "[T]here was always lots of similarity, but it's getting really dramatic."
This Patrick-Obama parallelism hasn't gone unnoticed in the press. In April 2007, after a New York Times Magazine profile of Axelrod mentioned it in passing, the Boston Globe examined it in greater depth two weeks later. And this past weekend after the Globe noted the two politicians' fondness for the phrase "Yes we can!" in a story on Patrick's decision to stump for Obama in South Carolina the Associated Press ran a bigger piece on the subject.
Overall, though, these stories have had an exculpatory gist. While the articles note that Patrick and Obama share broad themes hope, change, a faith in the power of words and the political grassroots they seem willing to attribute this commonality to shared life experiences (both are African-Americans who rose from humble circumstances to attend Harvard Law School) and shared political instincts and beliefs. As Axelrod told the AP: "It's not surprising that there would be a commonality of themes. They've been friends for so long. They talk a lot. . . . I'm sure they learned from each other."
Two Of A Kind
But did they overdo it? Remember: this is a presidential election in which authenticity (or the perception of authenticity) is playing a major role. Hillary Clinton's emotional moment pushed her to victory in New Hampshire, for example, while Mitt Romney's Manchurian Candidate persona is crippling his campaign.
To date, this dynamic has helped Obama. As Huffington Post blogger Steve Rosenbaum wrote this past year: "Simply put Obama's words feel like his own. Both convincing and colloquial. . . . His delivery is authentic."
Of course, no politician creates his or her message out of whole cloth. But the parallels between Patrick and Obama's messages are so close that they could end up limiting Obama's ability to play the authenticity card. Consider the following:
Both men depict themselves as change agents confronting stale establishments.
Patrick, speaking to National Public Radio (NPR) in December 2005: "The state is slipping behind, and I'm persuaded that the same old thing from the same insiders is not going to help."
Obama in a January 9 speech in Jersey City: "[D]o you want the same old folks out there doing the same old things? We need someone new."
Both say they're leading movements and minimize the hubris of this claim by crediting their supporters.
Patrick in his November 7, 2006, victory speech: "You are the ones who transformed this from a political campaign to a movement for change, and I am honored and awed by what you have done."
Obama speaking with reporters after his victory in the Iowa caucuses: "I think [Iowa voters] sparked a potential movement for change in the country that will be inspiring for a lot of people."
Both practice an existential brand of politics.
Patrick in an October 2006 speech on Boston Common, where he hammered Republican candidate Kerry Healey for a controversial ad linking Patrick to a convicted rapist: "Hers is a politics of fear. Ours is a politics of hope."
Obama in April 2007, responding to Republican Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that America will suffer another big terrorist attack if a Democrat wins in 2008: "Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low, and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics."
Both leaven their optimistic tone by emphasizing the need for hard work.
Patrick in a 2006 TV spot: "[M]y grandmother had a saying, 'Hope for the best and work for it.' That fundamentally is what I'm asking you to do now."
Obama in his official campaign kickoff speech in February 2007: "[I]t won't be easy . . . Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation."
Both appeal to conservatives by stressing that government isn't a panacea.
Patrick speaking to NPR in 2005: "There is a much more negative, much more hurtful vision of government that has been spreading. Not the vision that government can do everything for everyone nobody believes that but the vision that government is bad, rather than government is us."
Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2004: "The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems."
Both insist that disagreement shouldn't preclude cooperation.
Patrick addressing a church audience in Springfield in 2006: "In politics, we need to get past this point where the view is, 'Unless we agree on everything, we can't work together on anything.'"
Obama addressing supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire, prior to that state's primary, quoted by the St. Petersburg Times: "You don't have to agree on everything to agree on some things."
Both temper their tendencies toward political messianism with winning self-deprecation.
Patrick in an October 2006 candidates' debate: "I don't have all the answers. No candidate does."
Obama in a September 2005 message to readers of "Let me end by saying I don't pretend to have all the answers to the challenges we face."
The Man Behind The Curtain
Maybe liberals and progressives should find these convergences reassuring. After all, Patrick used his message to win a competitive Democratic primary, and then a general election; he was the first Democrat elected governor in 16 years, and the first African-American governor in the state's history. Similarly, Obama is seeking to win a Democratic primary, to return the presidency to Democratic hands, and to break an even bigger racial barrier. If the same message works, why not use it?
For that matter, why worry about where it came from? Axelrod probably matters more than he admits. (Here's John Edwards after Iowa in 2004: "I came here a year ago with a belief that we could change this country, with a belief that the politics of what was possible the politics of hope could overcome the politics of cynicism. . . . [T]onight we started a movement to change this country that will sweep across America.") But that just means he might be the long-awaited Democratic answer to Karl Rove.
Still, there's that authenticity problem. Obama's message is undeniably powerful. But that power diminishes a bit when you realize it isn't his alone. Whether, after this realization becomes widespread, it will still pack enough political punch to get him to the White House is an open question.

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