Like all of you, I’ve seen probably every speech and every interview and every press conference Barack Obama ever gave. Multiple times. And still, his press conference yesterday – especially the last 4 minutes – blew my mind to pieces. It was riveting. Astonishing. Beautiful beyond words. Off the cuff, from the stomach, with so much passion and anger and heart. Damn, what heart he’s got. Those final 4 minutes will go with me all the way to November 2012, and I hope that with you too.
This awesome piece was written by Stephen Marche in last week’sEsquire.It is such a beautiful, loving letter to PBO (even if Marche is not shy of criticizing him), that some RW blogs – which I won’t link to to save my life – mocked it while waiting for their heads to explode. And their heads exploded alright.
Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich [FIG.1] creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.
Due to the specific nature of his political calculus, possibly not a single person in the United States — not even Obama himself — agrees with all of his policies. But even if you disagree with him, even if you hate him, even if you are his enemy, at this point you must admire him. The turning point came that glorious week in the spring when, in the space of a few days, he released his long-form birth certificate, humiliated Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and assassinated Osama bin Laden. The effortlessness of that political triptych — three linked masterpieces demonstrating his total command over intellectual argument, low comedy, and the spectacle of political violence — was so overwhelmingly impressive that it made political geniuses of the recent past like Reagan and Clinton [FIG.2] seem ham-fisted. Formed in the fire of other people’s wars, other people’s financial crises, Obama stepped out of Bush’s shadow that week, almost three years after taking over the presidency.
But even that string of successes cannot fully explain the immensity of his appeal right now. Reagan was able to call upon the classic American mythology of frontiersmen and astronauts and movie stars; Obama has accessed a much wider narrative matrix: He’s mixed and matched Jay-Z with geek with Hawaiian with Kansan with product of Middle America with product of a broken home with local Chicago churchgoer with internationally renowned memoirist with assassin. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman [FIG.3] wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy. Christopher Booker’s 2004 book The Seven Basic Plots, a wide-ranging study from the Epic of Gilgamesh on and a surprisingly convincing explanation for why we crave narrative, reduced all stories to a few plots, each with its own kind of hero. Amazingly, Barack Obama fulfills the role of hero in each of these ancient story forms.
While Obama’s story is ancient, it is also utterly contemporary, perfectly of the moment. His gift — and it is a gift that makes him emblematic — is that he inhabits all these roles without being limited by them. He has managed, miraculously, to remain something of an outsider while being the president of the United States of America, the most inside man in the world. He’s African-American, but he’s not African-American. He’s from Chicago, but he’s from Hawaii. One month he’s bailing out the banks, the next he’s keeping Gitmo open. He pushes health-care reform through with an unimpeachable heave of will then extends the tax cuts. He walks smiling through the newly opened White House garden on his way to announce renewed efforts at oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, his “balanced” approach to the economy has led to a slower recovery than other industrialized nations and the war in Libya has been half-assed at best, which is exactly what war cannot be. For two years, he seemed disingenuous and defensive, pushed into roles that his predecessors had scripted, alternately playing savior then monster. But no more. We can finally see who he is, we can finally understand the reality: In 2011, it is possible to be a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters. It is possible to be many things at once. And even more miraculous, it is possible for that man to be the president of the United States. Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a “world-historical soul,” an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.
We love Obama — even those who claim to despise him — because deep in our hearts and all over our lives, we’re the same way — both inside and outside our jobs, our races, our cities, our countries, ourselves. With great artists, often the most irritating feature of their work is the source of their talent. Obama’s gift is the same as his curse: He’s somehow managed to be like the rest of us, only infinitely more so.
WASHINGTON — President Obama has outraised his Republican rivals in six of nine key battleground states that he won in 2008, a USA TODAY analysis of new campaign-finance reports shows.
In North Carolina, one of nine states won by President Bush in 2004 that Obama captured in 2008, supporters donated more than $300,000 to Obama during the April-to-June fundraising period, about twice the amount of individual contributions that flowed to the top GOP fundraiser, Mitt Romney. In Indiana, which Obama won by 1%, the president outraised Romney 3-to-1.
FINALLY: Letting you know that over the past week I banned two people until further notice. It’s the first time I ever had to do such thing, and frankly, it broke my heart. But honestly, as I said justyesterday, I had enough. If you want to whine and bitch and set your hair on fire and attack other posters – FIND SOMEPLACE ELSE. I have very few rules here and I ask you to follow them.
Among the more than 550,000 donors to the president’s 2012 reelection bid were big-name movie stars including actors George Clooney, Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, also gave to the 2012 campaign, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report. Jennifer Garner and Gwyneth Paltrow both contributed under their married names —Affleck and Martin, respectively.
30 Rock” actor Alec Baldwin, who has often toyed with a potential political run, also shelled out cash for Obama’s second-quarter fundraising haul. And several other TV actors — such as “Monk”’s Tony Shalhoub, “Glee”’s Jane Lynch, “24”’s president Dennis Haysbert and sci-fi stars Scott Bakula and Richard Dean Anderson — joined Baldwin in contributing to the president’s reelection bid.
Comedians Will Ferrell, Carl Reiner and “The Simpsons”’s Yeardley Smith also doled out money for Obama, whose campaign attracted a record-breaking $86 million in donations.
So, Obama can rake in the big bucks—no surprise there. The real story is the 552,000 donors who gave to the Obama 2012 effort, “more grassroots support at this point in the process than any campaign in political history,” said campaign manager Jim Messina in a video message to supporters. Messina said that 98 percent of donations last quarter were under $250, and that the average donation was $69.
That haul throws a huge bucket of cold water on claims that Obama is losing his liberal/Democratic base. Pollster James Zogby wrote in September 2009 that Democrats were souring on Obama after the health-insurance-reform fight and for his policies on the war in Afghanistan. Liberal TV host Ed Schultz told former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs last year that “you’re losing your base.” If Obama’s donor rolls are any indication, the left appears to be just as motivated in the 2012 race as they were in 2008.
Of course, reams of polling data have been reinforcing this for months. According to Gallup polling, Obama’s approval rating among Democrats has held steady at around 80 percent, give or take a few percentage points, since September of last year. Among liberals, Obama’s doing almost as well, with approval ratings hovering around 70 percent; it’s currently 76 percent.
So all that talk of Democrats and liberals sloughing off Obama? Nothing to it. Today’s fundraising numbers prove Obama’s still hugely popular, and that whomever the GOP picks to run against him will face the major undertaking of matching the powerful Obama fundraising machine.
The more they lie about him, the more they insult him, the more they disrespect him, the more they smear him and his family, the blinder they are to the enormous goodness of this man – The stronger we’ll have his back.
I’m incredibly proud of our small part in this amazing achievement, and I hope that this is only the start.
It’s the same old story: The beltway totally underestimate us. Fast forward couple of months, the beltway is left with eggs on their face. It’s boring. 🙂
Please make sure people watch this Messina vid, because the details are just great and the contrast with the Republicans fundraising machine could not be bigger.
CHICAGO —The nation’s largest teachers union voted Monday to endorse President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, despite teachers’ widespread unhappiness with his education policies.
The vote, which came during the annual convention of the National Education Association, was supported by 72 percent of the union’s 9,000-member representative assembly. The assembly is the top decision making body for the union.
The endorsement allows the union, which represents 3.2 million teachers, to start working to help re-elect Mr. Obama.
The NEA has never endorsed a presidential candidate this early in the campaign cycle, instead waiting to make the decision during the election year. But union leaders, anticipating a tough re-election campaign, wanted to bolster support for the president early on.
I hope you’re all having a great holiday weekend. Here’s some nice campaign details from Jake Tapper, believe it or not:
COUNTING THE CASH: After a month of 11 fundraisers – from Miami to Puerto Rico, DC, New York and Philly – the Obama campaign seems poised to hit or exceed their Q2 goal of $60 M raised jointly with DNC. At this point in 2007, Obama alone raised $33.1 million from 180,000 contributors.
While spokesmen are mum on when they’ll drop the top line number, the campaign website says they closed out the quarter with more than 490,000 individual contributors who made 660,000 contributions. (During the entire 2007-2008 campaign, OFA received contributions from 3 million supporters.)
SWING STATE SPOTLIGHT: NH – A top state Democrat says to expect Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to assume a high-profile surrogate role for Obama in 2012, particularly if former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney becomes the nominee. They say Patrick has a “compelling case” against Romney, refuting his economic record on job creation and defending the state’s health care law, and strong appeal in battleground New Hampshire. Patrick will be back in the Granite State on July 19 for a fundraiser for state Dems.
TALKING TECH TOOLS: The 2012 campaign will be defined by “mobile social, hyper-local, grassroots community organizing,” says Jonathan Askin, who was a member of Obama’s technology task force in 2008.
“It’s harnessing tools like 4-Square and Places, or tied into Google maps, so people know and can conveniently access real moments of campaign activity – events, calls, phone banks – in real time and real places,” he said. The campaign’s website has already begun to integrate many of these features. “If 2008 was geometry, we’re now in calculus mode. … If geometry is imperfect and edgy, calculus smoothes out the curves so every void is filled. They are going to figure out how to use analytics, time and place identifying information to maximize the value of every person related to the campaign,” he said.
One cautionary note on micro-targeting from Askin: “The campaign is going to have to be very careful to make it seem like people aren’t being used and oppressed by constant communications. How will they use our personally identifiable information? Will it seem like Big Brother is following us for the benefit of Barack Obama?”
TWEETER IN CHIEF: Potus will hold his first Twitter townhall next week, the White House announced Thursday with much fanfare. The discussion will be moderated, with handpicked questions from Twitter users limited to those on jobs and economy. The president will respond in 140-character replies.
Obama added 102,000 Twitter followers this week (8.9 million total) and 78,000 Facebook fans (21.8 million total).