Tom Hayden on the Obama campaign

All summer Obama has offended his most ardent supporters, and lost countless others, while spending too much time ingratiating himself with people who will never vote for him in November.

The result, according to the Zogby poll, is telling: McCain surged ahead by five points this week, a gain of fifteen percent. Obama suffered a reversal of nearly 20 points in his favorable/unfavorable ratio. The primary reason, Zogby, said is that Obama flip-flopping move to the center was perceived by his supporters as a move to the center.

The magic is tarnished.

No doubt, at least on the Left. But Obama’s timeworn if cynical calculation is, who else will they vote for but him, especially with Nader and McKinney being nonentities this election.

Hayden is quite correct when he says progressives should and must pressure the Obama campaign to tilt leftwards and to hit McCain on the war and economy. Hard.

Else it’ll just be ten weeks of unending meaningless attack ads driven by pollsters, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.


  1. I agree with your comments to the extent that I can while almost totally disagreeing with Tom Hayden.

    Always hard to attribute cause accurately to statistical vicissitude however I feel this loss of luster in the Obama campaign/presidency isn’t due to a movement to the center, or his forsaking the farther-left (far-left has now become a very inaccurate and misused label). I believe Obama was a centrist from the start, maybe moreso than Bill Clinton. I believe many on the father left were fooled by their own prejudices. An exciting young, black Democratic candidate. Many assumed he was a true progressive.

    I believe many misinterpreted his promise for change as being a change in US policy from it’s current extrapolated line. I always interpreted as a change in the timber of the debate away from partisanship and nothing more. His moving to the right will occur not because he’s become an appeaser, but because his policy was always that of appeasing the right to reduce the violence of debate. I don’t agree with Obama (or, more accurately, this depiction of him), but I do understand why he might make this the goal of his presidential campaign).

    I post this here rather than directly to Tom Hayden because:
    a) I don’t even know who Tom Hayden is, though the name sounds a bit familiar;
    and b) I actually thought from some previous posts that Bob held at least a suspicion that, inherently, Obama’s policies were deliberately targeted to a moving center.

    I’ll add to this in my own blog when I get a chance. This is in the blog-queue somewhere.

  2. and to clarify, the reason I believe Obama’s poll numbers are falling is that his followers, even some of his most ardent, are realizing that he never was what they thought he was (a revolutionary mainstream American politician… Or as much as such a thing can exist).

    And I think they’re all asking themselves how much they loved Obama, and how much they loved his packaging. Now that the box is open, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

  3. I’ve always seen Obama as a centrist, and not a progressive at all. I was startled though by how fast he moved from his supposed left stance to to center after he won the nomination.

    Hayden thinks Obama is behind. However the polls show him with a steady lead. I expect he’ll get a bump up after the convention too. He’s still the favorite.

    Tom Hayden was one of the founders of SDS in the 60’s, a major figure in the antiwar movement then, one of the Chicago Seven defendants. He was married Jane Fonda for many years, became a CA state senator, and now back more involved with the Left and writing books. I respect him and his legacy hugely. But, just because progressives feel disillusioned doesn’t mean Obama’s working the center won’t get him additional votes.

  4. If McCain’s adds Romney to the ticket, that will help Obama, too. To many, McCain was the eco-friendly, fiscally conservative, centrist GOP; one of the leaders of the Gang of 14 and saner than most Repubs– the opposite of the Bushies. But he’s rapidly blowing that perception with his move to the hard Right, and adding Romney would surely further reduce his appeal to the Center.

  5. Progressives for Obama has tagged Obama’s centrism from day one. Read our initial call. That’s why we organized a pole to his left, and push him to do better. But we want him to add votes that can defeat McCain, not subtract them

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