Live-blogging Obama’s “Potomac” breakthrough

We did it! In Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, we voted Barack Obama overwhelmingly in the Democratic primary.
I’m watching Obama giving the victory speech. He’s doing it in Madison, Wisconsin, since Wisconsin is one of the upcoming primary states.
But Obama’s stupendous. He’s talked quite a bit about the need for clarity on the war. He said some good things about John McCain’s past heroism– a nice touch. But then he said that McCain lost his way. That McCain, who had once stood against the tax cuts Bush gave to the rich but now he supports them. A number of times Obama made the link directly between the cost of the war in Iraq and the lack of investment at home.
He’s been talking in a very personal vein– about the fact that his mother was a teenager in Hawaii, and then his father left the family when Barack was only two years old…
Most interesting of all, though, has been to see him suddenly looking like someone who is ready to be president. He’s been saying a number of times “When I am president…” and suddenly it looks as if he is growing into a self-realization of the possibility, growing into the role.
Half an hour ago, I saw a very mechanical speech from Hillary Clinton.
Oh, and now CNN has shifted over from Obama to McCain. The difference in age and energy level is evident.
Also, Obama was speaking in a huge, two-tiered stadium with tens of thousands of people there. (He has shown this amazing ability to mobilize large numbers of voters, especially young voters.) The camera there kept moving into a wide shot and then panning over the massive crowd. With McCain, now, all you can see is five other– all white– people in the frame behind him as he speaks in Alexandria, Virginia. One of them is, I think, the ageing and about-to-retie Republican Virginia senator, John Warner, who is 80-plus years old.
But McCain is also promising a respectful, decent campaign. Including– I just heard him using Obama’s signature chant of “I’m fired up and ready to go!” That, with a large smile.

15 thoughts on “Live-blogging Obama’s “Potomac” breakthrough”

  1. Obama has touched a chord in the American people that is steadily gathering force…Many of the old assumptions on the part of its detractors that America is tone deaf and that its role in the world is declining may have to be reexamined.

  2. As an “older” woman I had hopes of seeing a woman president. Hillary wouldn’t be my first choice, but she’s the probably closest we’ll get in my lifetime. Obama must have lots of charm and charisma. I don’t see his speeches as I live in Europe so the charm escapes me, but he seems like a really good salesman–unfortunately I tend toward “sales resistance”. Sigh.

  3. Hi cypat. Fair concern. In my post below, I included this link to Obama’s main Virginia speech — which does include a “video” clip option for you. (There’s many other clips available off his campaign web site)
    After what we’ve endured for the past seven years, hearing a good political salesman — for something “different” — is so “uplifting.”
    As I was watching his victory chat last night — with its mix of stump lines and what seemed like off-the-cuff brilliance, I was wondering if this is what it was like to hear, to be inspired by, the likes of Bobby Kennedy. (sure, another “politician” of the first order — but a fine speaker too)

  4. In addition to the retiring senator Warner on McCain’s right, the retiring representative Tom Davis (VA-11) stood on McCain’s left.

  5. Here is a Youtube clip of him in Madison, WI.
    I should say I find him charming but also extremely smart and quick on his feet. His campaign has a great nationwide organization. One big concern I have is that that organization should NOT disappear on 01-20-09.
    But oh, I am so wary of any comparisons with Bobby Kennedy or MLK. They just seem like such tragic precedents.

  6. The people in Roland’s youtube video as well as the garbagemouths bashing Obama in the comments section of Joshua’s video are the left wing equivalent to the neocon hardliners currently trashing McCain. Extremists so fanatical about their politics that they’ll attack anyone who’s not as pure as they want. I’m taking comfort in the badmouthing that Obama is getting in those videos and on blog comment boards like this one: Obama is ticking off the right people.

  7. Hey, I like Obama! I voted for him, donated to him, volunteered for him, and will hopefully have some more time to do so down the road! If that pisses certain people off, then that’s too bad.

  8. Obama is depressing!
    Yes. Bright. Glib. Good in front of a crowd. Just like JFK. Who spent his first two years in office just figuring things out. In the process got played by Castro & Khrushchev. Remember?
    A fresh face. An outsider. Someone new to Washington. Like, let me see…. GW Bush. No executive experience. Dependent on his advisers.
    Obama might be as successful as Jimmy Carter. Who was bright & glib & good in front of crowds & a fresh face & an outsider. Carter, as a former governor, at least had some executive experience.
    Obama, like every Democratic candidate since Carter in 1980, has to face the Republican attack machine. Which, to date, has handily defeated Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore & Kerry. Call me racist, but I don’t think they’re going to have a hard time chopping him to pieces in the fall. Which was Paul Krugman’s observation a couple of days ago.
    The original US Constitution did not provide for the direct election of Senators & Presidents, and for good reason. I have seen this same horse race, with the same outcome, all my adult life. Cheer the first horse to break out of the pack. Doesn’t make any difference which one. I am sick of it. If we can’t go back to what was, then I’m in favor of a national, 50-state, primary Tuesday. With ALL the candidates on it, with a run-off for the top three. (Why are the French always ahead of us?)
    The very best that might be said about Obama is that the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress that will accompany him to Washington seems to want to work with him. But even then, 350+ Democratic egos will still need to be stroked. 350+ Democratic individuals, who know how the legislative game is played, will use their experience to game the inexperienced president at every opportunity. What will Obama do? Well, probably the same thing that every previous, inexperienced President has done: Wrap himself in further Executive Powers at the expense of good government & the Constitution in general.
    Not much better can be said of Hillary. When Ted Kennedy threw his support to Obama, it signaled that a second Clinton administration will be DOA so far as the Democrats in Congress are concerned. Will Hill’s eight years of hard work in the Senate give her the same powers & abilities as possessed by, say, Lyndon Johnson? Who, as former Senate Majority Leader, had the raw legislative experience to enact JFK’s many idealistic proposals into law? Can Hill be as good as LBJ if the Democrats in Congress unite against her, as seems likely?
    If you want an effective President, if you want a legal, law-abiding President, if you want a President that can work effectively with Congress, if, in other words, you want a successful President, then you want to elect a senior member of Congress. Which, if you read it, was the clear intention behind the Constitution’s original method of Presidential selection. (Article 2, Section 1) The Founding Fathers expressly sought to exclude the fresh face, flash-in-the-pan, however glib & appealing. To exclude the military hero on horseback & his seductive appeal. In favor of, say, an experienced Senator. Like any of the various Senators who ran & who were largely eliminated from contention before a single vote was cast (save Hillary). It might be “democracy”, but it ain’t good government.
    Oh! I know who this reminds me of: Silvio Berlusconi. An outsider who takes the capital by storm, for better or worse. Now if the Italians could just limit him to two consecutive terms, maybe some other Italian upstart would have a chance.
    Obama vs: McCain. Or Hillary. Three failures in waiting. I have to vote for one of them?

  9. “If you want an effective President, if you want a legal, law-abiding President, if you want a President that can work effectively with Congress, if, in other words, you want a successful President, then you want to elect a senior member of Congress. Which, if you read it, was the clear intention behind the Constitution’s original method of Presidential selection.”
    Umm, no.
    What constitutes a success or a failure is relative. However, to the extent we want to get into “rankings,” scholars have generally been able to reach some agreement as to who was considered successful or a failure. At least at the very extremes.
    The three U.S. Presidents who are universally considered to be the most effective (or “the best”) are Washington, Lincoln, and FDR. Only one of them, Lincoln, had any congressional experience, and that was a whopping 2 years in the House. Washington was that flashy “war hero” you say shouldn’t be qualified (to be fair, since he was the first, there was no-one with Congressional experience to draw upon).
    Other ones who are ranked in the top ten by historians? Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, Dwight D. Eisenhower. None of them had any Congressional experience.
    The only Presidents ranked in the top 10 who had any experience in Congress were Harry Truman and James K. Polk.
    The least effective? Warren Harding, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, William Harrison. All with Washington experience (Harrison doesn’t really count, since his “failure” was dying so soon after he was elected).

  10. Hello Joshua,
    The issue I raised was about Obama & his qualifications for the toughest job on the planet, not previous lucky outcomes. (Washington’s qualifications were well-known to his contemporaries, FDR had previously served as Secretary of the Navy, etc., etc.) Does Obama, in fact, have any qualifications for the post he seeks? In what way is he more qualified than, say, Stephen Colbert? Has Obama ever stared down a president as Stephen has?
    In the first decade of the 19th century, the Constitution was changed. Presidents were thereafter elected by popular vote. This disadvantaged precisely the people best qualified to hold the office. Gave us the likes of Andy Jackson, who oppressed the Indians of North America, and Ronald Reagan, who slaughtered the Indians of Central America.
    We’ve got to get through the summer of 2010 & its aftermath. Everyone who’s looked at that period, including me, wants to flee the planet. Or at least the country.

  11. “Extremists so fanatical about their politics that they’ll attack anyone who’s not as pure as they want.” The Real News team are extremists? They are “the left wing equivalent to the neocon hardliners “? The news team who on Youtube have garnered awards such as:
    #1 – Most Subscribed (All Time) – Non-Profit
    #2 – Most Viewed (Today) – Non-Profit
    #3 – Most Viewed (This Week) – Non-Profit
    There seem to be a lot of extremists out there. Is it then some kind of a mainstream “extreme”?
    And having what transpires is a plan to continue the illegal occupation of Iraq, in which 1.2 million civilians died by the end of 2007, is merely “not being perfect”? I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. Personally, I don’t agree. I do however empathise and understand. Voters have a strong urge to believe there is a presidential candidate who offers change and hope, and this transcends consideration of even very serious global crises. Obama is a fine orator who appears to offer change and hope. I hope he offers far more than he appears to.

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