Sunday, May 04, 2008


New York Times today:

Sometimes, as Senator Barack Obama seemed to argue earlier this year, a flag pin is just a flag pin.

But it can never be that simple for anyone with direct experience of the 1988 presidential campaign. That year, the Republicans used the symbols of nationhood (notably, whether schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance) to bludgeon the Democrats, challenge their patriotism and utterly redefine their nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts.

...Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has promised a different politics, one that rises above the fray and the distractions of wedge issues. As Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for Salon, recently put it, "The entire Obama campaign is predicated on the belief that it is no longer 1988." ...

I don't think that's what Obama is saying. I think he's saying that it's always going to be 1988 -- until voters reject 1988-style campaigns.

I don't know if he really can win an election by rejection this kind of trash-wallowing, and I don't know if he'd be able to govern effectively afterward if he did win that way, but he's still standing, and I can't say categorically that he's wrong. It's rather, er, audacious of him to argue that he's the 1988 killer, but that's what he's arguing. But I'd say he knows that 1988 is still alive.

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