OBAMA: "TRAUMATIZED" OR NOT?
Bulworth says Andrew Sullivan "is on to something" in this post:
One difference between Obama and Clinton does not seem to me to have been stressed enough. They are of different Democratic generations. Clinton is from the traumatized generation; Obama isn't. Clinton has internalized to her bones the 1990s sense that conservatism is ascendant, that what she really believes is unpopular, that the Republicans have structural, latent power of having a majority of Americans on their side. Hence the fact that she reeks of fear, of calculation, of focus groups, of triangulation.... She has political post-traumatic stress disorder....
Obama is different. He wasn't mugged by the 1980s and 1990s as Clinton was. He doesn't carry within him the liberal self-hatred and self-doubt that Clinton does.... The choice between Clinton and Obama is the choice between a defensive crouch and a confident engagement....
Clinton obviously has more of this PTSD than Obama -- but does he really have none? I don't think that's true -- and I didn't even before he made his big foreign-policy speech.
Admirable as it may be that Obama wants to bridge America's partisan divide, he says he wants to do this at least in part because he knows a lot of people consider Democrats arrogant and dangerous; thus, at the core of his message he's responding to the same right-wing forces Clinton worries about. And Obama wouldn't have felt the need to say "We worship an awesome God in the blue states" at the '04 convention if the right hadn't made Godliness a litmus test and declared that no Democrat could really pass it.
And as for the big speech: Yes, Obama's articulating a sensible position (let's extricate ourselves from the Iraq civil war and try to put the hurt on the 9/11 killers), but the fact that he felt the need to talk tough right now shows he's looking over his shoulder (at conservatives and at Hillary Clinton). He's trying to reach out to people who want a muscular foreign policy; by contrast, do you see any of the GOP front-runners doing any outreach whatsoever to anti-war voters? If you want to see what it's like not to have political self-doubt, look at Rudy and Fred and Mitt -- they simply don't care what liberals think.
Really, why shouldn't Obama feel some sense of being traumatized? The press and the GOP still sell conservatism as if it's normal and liberalism is freaky; Sullivan's crazy if he thinks that's an artifact of the 1990s.