Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Cool Kids Club

Paul Krugman joins Walter Shapiro in slamming Obama's supporters as "The Cool Kids Club." As Shapiro writes:
Either you are a full-fledged member (with the secret handshake and the decoder ring) or else you find yourself voting for a well-known, albeit flawed, alternative called Hillary Clinton.
Krugman then adds,
Despite this, Obama is still the clear favorite for the nomination. But if he is the nominee, and runs this way in the general election — if it’s about the candidate’s awesomeness, not about why progressive policies make peoples’ lives better — it’s a formula for defeat.
I've heard these lines of argument a lot, and I just don't get them. Shapiro seems to be criticizing Obama's supporters for liking their candidate more than Clinton's supporters like theirs. There's a certain -- dare I say it? -- elitism in this attitude, as though emotional attachment to a candidate conveys too much amateurism for modern politics, and the proper attitude is to vote for someone without caring.

And as for Krugman's point, how many elections have Democrats lost despite most voters preferring their policies to Republican ones? (Answer: a lot.) It seems to me that an effective presidential campaign would capitalize on both the candidate's positive personal traits and his popular policy stances.

I thought we were past the point of calling Obama vacuous. He's got a website full of policy proposals that he defends well under questioning. Just because he's capable of doing more than reciting policy stances on the podium doesn't mean he doesn't have any.

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