04 February 2008

Bring 'em on

Obama last week won the endorsement of the members of Moveon.org, the activist group representing the largest liberal faction of the Democratic Party. A candidate needs a 2/3rds supermajority to win the group's endorsement, which Obama eclipsed with over 70 percent of the poll. The New York Times' Caucus blog reports.

The Republican National Committee weighs in, scoring the endorsement as a sign of what they call Mr. Obama’s left-leaning ideology and a rejection of Mrs. Clinton.

“It’s no surprise MoveOn.org would endorse the newly crowned ‘most liberal’ member of the Senate. Obama may claim to unite the country, but he’s only uniting the extreme-left wing of the Democratic Party,” said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican committee. He added, “Considering how MoveOn.org was originally founded to defend the Clintons, this must be a blow to Senator Clinton. Coming after the Kennedy and Kerry endorsements, today’s news begs the question: Why are those most familiar with Clinton’s record rejecting her?"
What the GOP spokes-bot is referring to, before further killing the English language with yet another misuse of "beg the question," is the annual National Journal survey claiming Obama had the most liberal voting record in the Senate last year. You can't take a list too seriously that considers Obama and Biden further to the left than, say, Sanders and Feingold, and, as the Crooks and Liars post suggests, the conspiratorially-minded will note that National Journal's 2004 top spot went conveniently to Kerry and Edwards. Where would the GOP be without a liberal helping of liberal liberal talking points, preferably backed by authoritative sources! Liberal liberal liberal liberal liberal!

Kidding aside, this could make for an entertaining dynamic in the general election should Obama pull through and face McCain, who looks like a dead lock (and also looks just...dead). Will Obama follow his predecessors and react to the inevitable Liberal Scare by burying the base and running for safety in the Mushy Middle? Well, yes and no. Obama is an infinitely more skilled politician than Kerry, and he has so far been able to juggle the seemingly incongruent coalition backing him, and he knows he can't count on the muddy middle against McCain. Alas, he won't turn into an unabashed liberal in the general, and the substantive outcome will most likely be the same. But I think Obama's a better counterpuncher than he gets credit for being, and he could react effectively by using the "divisive" card to deflect charges of his liberal liberalyness.