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Thursday, January 03, 2008

I've lost quite a bit of respect for the "netroots" side of the lefty blogosphere in the last few weeks, as they've allowed a slight preference for Edwards (and, really, for Edwards's recent rhetorical style) to solidify into a nonsensical belief that Obama is some sort of crypto-Republican. I find this really inscrutable, as do most of the people I talk about politics with in the meat-, email-, and telephonospheres—it's perfectly clear to me that either Edwards or Obama would easily be the best candidate for the left that the Democrats have put forward since at least 1992, and that we should all be very happy to be faced with such a choice.

Clinton, of course, is clearly the real enemy of the progressive left, a reality that seems to have been forgotten in the netroots' understandable disappointment over the evaporation of Edwards's chances of a sizeable Iowa bump in the face of Obamania.

Shankar sent me this Daily Kos diary last night, which I think lays the differences between Edwards and Obama out rather well—it really is a question of style, not substance, and insofar as these stylistic differences are substantive we ought to prefer Obama's strategy to inclusive coalition-building to Edwards's strategy of martyred righteousness:

Perhaps the key thing to understand about Barack Obama's political philosophy is that it is not a gameplan to get us to agree with conservatives, but a gameplan to get conservatives to agree with us. It is an opportunity to redefine progressive positions and conservative positions in a way that is favorable to us. If partisan politics are conceived of as a matter of good and evil, or immutable concepts like class conflict, we may win some battles, but we are unlikely to win any wars. If, on the other hand, we can understand the origins of conservative identity and understand its fluidity, we stand some chance of being able to reshape it in our image.
In the increasingly unlikely event that Edwards does win Iowa, then maybe he does somehow get the big Joementum and is able to score the nomination after all, as ubiquitous lefty blog commentary Petey has consistently argued since last year—but I really don't see that happening. (In terms of pure electability, it's probably even true that Edwards/Obama is the Democrats' best hand—though as I've said before the Democrats will almost certainly win the White House no matter who they nominate. Regardless, Edwards still won't win the nomination.) Infinitely more likely than an Edwards nomination is a scenario in which Obama and Edwards divide the progressive left throughout the primary and Clinton takes the nomination with what's left, thereby squandering what has been the left's best chance for transformative political realignment in over a generation.

This is why I and others think Obama victories in Iowa and New Hampshire are so very crucial—they knock out Edwards for good and leave the fight between a weakened, possibly crippled Clinton and a surging Obama. That's not just the best outcome for the Democrats as a party, it's the best outcome for the progressive left and thus the best outcome for the country as a whole, and I sincerely hope we see it. For the first time since early afternoon on November 2, 2004, and the second time since the dark days of December 2000, I'm hopeful we might actually get a good outcome in the grand universal coin-flip this time around. We'll get our first hint tonight.