Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama's Principle Contradiction

I have come to think that the organizing contradiction of the Obama campaign is that between competence and changing the rules. On the one hand, Obama appeals to many Democratic partisans (it seems to me) because he is both a competent politician (unlike Gore or Kerry) and promises competent governance (unlike Bush). On the other hand, he appeals to activists and independents, it seems, because he speaks and looks and acts differently from anyone else in politics, and because he promises to radically change how politics works in America (and his campaign has already fulfilled this promise to some extent). In other words, Obama has to play the game better than anyone else AND change the rules, change the game.

This is not meant to be a criticism, or even a diagnosis of a problem with Obama's campaign. As Lenin said, "Antagonism and contradiction are not at all one and the same." Obama can be both a player and a revolutionary. In fact, he has to be both. He slips up only when he is neither (as with the current FISA and telecom immunity shenanigans). So long as Obama is anything other than lame, he'll win.