Obama Is the Best BS Artist Since Bill Clinton
By Matt Taibbi, RollingStone.com
Last Friday night a friend called and told me that Barack Obama had posted a sort of pre-announcement of the start of his presidential campaign on his website. I immediately cued it up and within ten minutes was writing a column blasting him for ripping off half of his campaign speech from a smorgasbord of ’04 Democratic candidates — then stopped when I realized that I’d already written exactly that column about Hillary Clinton’s kickoff speech a few weeks ago.
So I went back and watched the speech again, and I actually felt chills run up my spine. A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton’s launch speech ripped off John Kerry and the DLC with its “Let’s have a conversation” theme; Obama, meanwhile, went the Howard Dean route, nicking “A campaign to take America back” from Dean and RFK Jr., among others. The fact that Hillary, like Kerry, is set up as the DLC-acolyte candidate while Obama, like Dean, is set up as the antiwar candidate suggests a kind of permanent template for the Democratic primary process. Maybe soon the race for the Democratic primary will be like Everytown USA’s annual high school production of A Streetcar Named Desire, where every year they find a new antiwar Blanche and a new pro-corporate Stanley. The faces are different, the lines are the same.
I’ve been on the fence about Obama for more than two years now, ever since his breakout performance at the Democratic convention in ’04. When I saw that speech — an iconic piece of inspired nonsense/political showmanship, one that set flashbulbs popping like Michael Jordan’s virtuoso 1988 dunk contest performance — I knew right away that he would be the Democratic presidential nominee someday, perhaps even in the next election cycle.
When I mentioned this to my friends, they told me I was crazy. Obama had had absolutely no national experience at that time, he was a political virgin, there was no way he was ready for prime time. My answer to that was, compared to what? Throw a guy who can speak like that against the list of likely Democratic candidates in 2008 — a sorry collection of human saline drips that included Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd — and Obama could fucking walk to the nomination, even if he chose a page from the Betty Crocker cookbook as his stump speech.