OK, I skimmed through the whole thing, and it seems like just a bunch of conventional wisdom patched together. (We learn that Iowa is very important, that Obama's campaign theme is to be against conventional politics but that some accuse him of being political himself, etc.) I can't see any surprising insights.Thanks!
It doesn't even have the theme or structure of a TNR article. (I know it's by a TNR editor, but I've often seen the same author [Ryan Lizza] write better articles for TNR than other publications.) For instance, the first paragraph is about how as a con law prof he would always question students about the reasoning underlying their assumptions. I kept waiting for the author to make that story pay off by connecting it to something about the campaign, or even just making a broader point about Obama as a person. He didn't.
I like Obama's point about how Hillary flip-flopped on ethanol, and the last two paragraphs are mildly interesting. Other than that, nothing stands out.
Here's the ethanol part:
On November 5th, Obama’s campaign sent reporters a research memo that criticized Hillary Clinton for changing her position on ethanol, Iowa’s most parochial issue. The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s major daily, ignored it, but when the campaign offered Obama himself for an interview a story was assured; it appeared on November 7th, with the headline “OBAMA: CLINTON FLIP-FLOPS ON ENERGY.”(Ethanol is a boondoggle, though, so HC is right about that. And she's got to compete in Iowa, like everyone else. What are you supposed to do? Go to Iowa and tell them the truth?)
I asked Obama whether ethanol was a subject that merited such personal attention. “It has less to do with the particular issue and more to do with her change in position,” he replied. “Now, Hillary has been in the Senate for seven years now. She has consistently voted against ethanol, because the perception in New York state is that this is making gasoline more expensive and that it’s a boondoggle. Those of us in farm states, obviously, have had a different perspective on it. If she came here, and she made a cogent case as to why she doesn’t think ethanol makes sense and why she voted against it, that’d be one thing. After seven years, she comes here and suddenly she’s an ethanol proponent! Well, how did that happen?” He managed to sound genuinely astonished by such brazenness.
Here are those last 2 paragraphs:
What was notable about Obama’s speech at the dinner—one of his finest and most passionate — was not just the roaring choreography from his red-clad supporters but the way that, at 11:30 P.M., he galvanized the entire auditorium, with a succinct description of the difference between his campaign and Clinton’s: “If we are really serious about winning this election, Democrats, we can’t live in fear of losing it.” Even many of Clinton’s troops could be seen beating yellow thunder sticks together in appreciation. Obama seemed to be making an argument about the connection between boldness and electability. With Hillary Clinton, he suggested, there is an inverse relationship between the two: she is so polarizing that she is forced to be a milquetoast candidate in order to become an electable one.Oh? Does he think he's telling the truth about ethanol? Or is it just that because he started in a farm state, he didn't have to switch positions?
Obama is not the most liberal candidate in the race, so he’s not defining his boldness strictly in ideological terms but, rather, as a sort of anti-politics that prizes truthtelling above calculation.
When I asked him about this new tack, he seemed supremely confident. “I’ve been an observer of politics for two and a half decades, and what I’ve seen is that Democrats have not been able to move their agenda through Washington,” he said. “They have not been able to get the American people to embrace their domestic agenda, and they have been constantly on the defensive when it comes to their foreign-policy agenda. And it seems to me that, you know, if you’re not getting the outcomes you want, you might want to try something different.”How about an agenda that people want?