The Unsavory Politics of Coming Together

"I believe I can bring the country together in a way she [Hillary Clinton] cannot do. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be running."

That's what Barack Obama told the Washington Post in an interview for a remarkable story that appears this morning.


That's the reason Obama is running? In order to "bring new people into the process and break out of some of the ideological gridlock?"

Not so he can end the war in Iraq, address global warming, provide healthcare to all, reduce income inequalities, address global poverty and HIV/AIDS and other global healthcare crises, create a viable system of public transit, deliver quality education to kids, ensure income security for retirees, and create good jobs and stem offshoring? Not even to end corporate lobbyist control over Washington? (apparently not; see below).

Just to bring the country together?

Well, that may be just this side more exciting than Mike Dukakis's famous proclamation in 1988 that the presidential campaign was about competence not ideology, but it betrays the same basic flaw.

If you don't run on a substantive progressive program as your core message, you won't deliver one.

You may also find that since you're not standing for anything of substance, you are vulnerable to political attack from those who do, or who are able to outmaneuver you in the image game. In any case, what's the point of seeking office if it is not to advance a substantive agenda? What's the reason that people should support such a candidate?

The Post also reports that "during the interview, Obama softened his attacks on Washington lobbyists."

"The insurance and drug companies can have a seat at the table in our health-care debate; they just can't buy all the chairs," Obama said.

That's definitely not the kind of coming together we need.