This morning, Bruce Springsteen endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. Here is the letter that he posted on his website.
Dear Friends and Fans:
LIke most of you, I’ve been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.
He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where “…nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.”
At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man’s life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams of My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.
After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.
Over here on E Street, we’re proud to support Obama for President.
In 2004, Bruce passionately endorsed John Kerry and played some great shows for him in the final days of the fall campaign. Alas, there is no President Kerry, but given the fact that Obama has had some trouble “connecting” with working class voters (I don’t believe this, but it’s out there in the media narrative), this endorsement from the Boss should help solidify some of that blue-collar support.
Here’s video from that 2004 event in Madison, Wisconsin.
During Hillary Clinton’s concession speech last night in Youngstown, Ohio, the gloves came off…way off! Clinton surrogate Tom Buffenbarger, who is president of the machinists’ union (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) went wild. Not only did he go nuclear on Obama, he angrily went after his supporters, calling them, “latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies.”
Politics is a dirty game, but this stuff is just insulting. Using right-wing frames to insult Democratic Party voters is not lifting up the party, it’s tearing it down.
Buffenbarger called Obama a â€œthespian,â€ and he sarcastically referred to the junior senator from Illinois as a â€œwunderkind.â€ He compared Obama to â€œJanus, the two-faced Roman god of ancient times.â€ And he pleaded with the crowd to boo Obamaâ€™s labor record.
Early in his speech, Buffenbarger asked, â€œSo now we have a decision to make. Will we rely on the Harvard Law Review editor? The silver-tongued orator from Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois? The man in love with the microphone?â€
Taking off the gloves, he said, â€œBarack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois State Senate. He took a walk more than a 130 times. That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves. All the right combinations. All the right footwork. But he never steps into the ring.â€
But it was Obama supporters for whom Buffenbarger saved his most vitriolic contempt, and he proved that the Democratic Partyâ€™s coalition is nothing if not fragile. Channeling Howard Beale from the movie “Network,” he yelled into the microphone, â€œGive me a break! I’ve got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won’t last a round against the Republican attack machine. He’s a poet, not a fighter.â€
I was away this weekend in beautiful Stanley, Virginia, celebrating my upcoming 27th birthday with a bunch of great friends. While I was comfortably nestled in the supple bosom of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the political dirt was flying fierce between the Clinton and Obama camps.
For those of you not following the story, the Clinton campaign has accused Obama of plagiarizing parts of a speech that he gave over the weekend in Wisconsin. In the speech, he used similar language to that of his good friend, supporter and main surrogate Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Patrick has been all over the TV defending Obama and from what I can gather from the news shows this morning, most people in the media believe that this story is simply a last-ditch effort to try and take down Obama in advance of tonight’s primary. The only people who really think this is a story are the Clintons and their press people.
DoubleSpeak has not publicly endorsed a candidate and I haven’t written much about the day-to-day attacks and charges between the two camps. However, this one struck a nerve.
My boss, Mike Lux wrote up a piece on OpenLeft.com which is worth reading. Mike is a former Clinton Administration official.
Below is a blog post written by former Bill Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet from The New Republic blog, The Plank. It is an important piece and it should hopefully help to put this cooked-up scandal to rest.
Former Clinton Speechwriter Weighs In On Plagiarism-Gate
Barack Obamaâ€™s greatest strength is the originality of his rhetoric. Sometimes he talks like a regular person, as in his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he introduced himself as â€œa skinny kid with a funny name.â€ Sometimes, he sounds like a president from an earlier, more historically literate era, as when he situates his campaign in a tradition that includes the American Revolution, the abolitionists, and the emergence of the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and other social struggles. But only rarely, if ever, does he use the familiar freeze-dried phrases that most current politicians favor. To borrow a phrase from the UAW, the â€œdomestic contentâ€ of his speeches is unusually high.
Thatâ€™s only one of many reasons why itâ€™s so silly to accuse Obama of plagiarism because he used some of the same phrases as his friend and ally, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (who, I should add, was helpful to me when he was assistant attorney general for civil rights at the same time I was a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton). If plagiarism is borrowing rhetoric without permission, Patrick most likely is happy to have Obama sound similar notes, such as hope and inspiration being more than â€œjust words.â€ Even if Obama and Patrick didnâ€™t know each other, they might use some of the same phrases because similar public figures frequently draw on common streams of public rhetoric. For instance, labor leaders often echo Walter Reuther or A. Philip Randolph; civil rights leaders draw upon the same scriptural passages and historical sources; and conservative Republicans repeatedly invoke Ronald Reagan. Similarly, John Edwards borrowed a rhetorical technique from his campaign manager, fellow populist and former Michigan congressman, David Bonior: His litany would begin â€œSomewhere in America,â€ and then heâ€™d describe a social or economic injustice, such as a worker losing his job and his familyâ€™s health insurance. While Politico ran a story about this, it is hardly unusual for a candidate to share a rhetorical technique with his leading adviser.
After all, if there is one sentence from Scripture that is literally true, it is this line from Ecclesiastes: â€œThere is nothing new under the Sun.â€ To be condemned as plagiarism, a political speech needs to be grievously offensive–using lots of distinctive but little-known material from another source without attributing it to that speaker or receiving his or her permission. For instance, in 1987, Joe Biden once used, without attribution, a speech by the British Labor Party Leader Neil Kinnock, in which Kinnock credited social programs with the fact that he was the first in his family to have attended college. By borrowing the speech and inserting his own name, Biden suggested that the men in his family had been coal miners when, in fact, as Maureen Down dryly noted, his father had been an auto dealer. (In fairness, Biden had quoted Kinnock when he had given the speech on other occasions.) Does what Obama did come close to what Biden did? Absolutely not. Next scandal, please.
UPDATE: Hillary Clinton is “Fired Up and Ready to Go!”
They say that if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. Well, that wise wisdom is certainly appropriate in some situations. However, this morning I found myself face-to-face with something that really almost killed me – and oddly enough, I don’t feel any stronger.
After our morning interview with the good people at AFSCME IOWA, we stopped at a Casey’s (think 7-11 meets WAWA) to grab a cup of coffee and something to munch on. Josh and I both purchased muffins from the baked goods/pastry section of the store. Check it out.
Well, that bugger nearly killed me. Well, maybe not an immediate death, but this muffin, packed with a whopping 640 calories and almost 40 grams of fat was just too much for this guy (and Josh) to take down. We threw them out in the trash. I need the occasional fix of junk food, but that muffin was just a little extreme.
We finished up our interview with Bruce Braley from the Iowa 1st and we’re now headed all the way back to Sioux City, where we will get a couple of hours sleep before beginning the epic trek west towards Montana. We’re like Lewis and Clark, but fatter and a little more Jewish.
Iowa has been amazing, as always. I spent some much needed time this weekend with Laura, my very understanding girlfriend who came to visit from Philly. You can check out pictures from our brief visit to the Ankeny pumpkin patch on the DoubleSpeak flickr page)
I’m really looking forward to getting out to Big Sky Country and seeing some old friends and meeting some up and coming candidates who are working hard to change the political landscape in Montana and the Mountain West.
Wish you could all see what I’m seeing: rolling corn fields, lots of cows and a really stunning sunset. Oh, and did I mention – listen to DoubleSpeak’s new Wisconsin episode!
Knowing they are on the verge of suffering massive election losses at every level of government, the Republicans have reached the point where, monkey-like, in many campaigns they are simply flinging their own waste at the wall and hoping something sticks.
It would obviously be impossible to chronicle every ad of this caliber in one brief blog post. Nor would every negative ad qualify; political realism dictates that many ads from both sides will be riddled with remarkable truth-stretching. We speak now only of ads that contain outright lies or logic so laughably flawed that it would get one expelled from a first-year philosophy course at any decent university.
One prime example is a recent ad run by the NRSC claiming Ohio Senate candidate, Rep. Sherrod Brown, hadn’t paid his unemployment taxes in 13 years. And although Mike DeWine improbably told Ohioans to “read his lips,” (always a good idea for Republican politicians), the ads were false and TV stations pulled them shortly before the NRSC did. This ad was so egregious it earned DeWine the appellation of “Mud-Loving Mike DeWine” from the Dayton Daily News.
But our favorite comes from Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional district, where the NRCC has engaged in bizarre flights of fantasy to discredit the honorable life of businessman and physician, Dr. Steve Kagen. The first claim was that Kagen was a big bully for forcing patients who stiffed him to pay up; as The Capital Times’ Joel McNally noted, this is surely a novel argument coming from Republicans, who have otherwise rarely been known to side with the Jean Valjeans of this world.
When that didn’t work, Republicans have settled for trying to impugn Steve Kagen’s character using the tried-and-true trickery of guilt by association. Since Steve Kagen’s lawyer has done criminal law work, says the NRCC, Kagen’s evil-doing mind surely holds a vast reservoir of sympathy for serial killers and rapists. This claim is of course preposterous, but is an excellent sign of how desperate the GOP is and why it must lose this November.
There aren’t a lot of politicians these days that you can truly look up to and believe in. The GOP has become a corrupt corporate patronage machine where its highly respected legislators vote for torture and the elimination of several civil rights. And sadly, many Democrats seem to aim for Republican-lite. But not Russ Feingold.
We just drove up to Lake Hallie, Wisconsin, just outside Eau Claire for a town hall discussion with the Senator. At the end we pulled him aside for a few minutes along with some local reporters for a few questions. Not the longest interview we’ve ever done, but I’m quite excited to put together the Wisconsin show now with Russ and AG candidate Kathleen Falk.
Folks up here in Wisconsin seem to stand by their political convictions.