Barack is my co-Pilate | Bleader

Barack is my co-Pilate

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Many of the city's prominent political commentators, particularly John Kass and Steve Rhodes, have been trying to lay a guilt trip on Obama supporters because, to paraphrase Atrios, he's not Liberal Jesus like everyone is supposed to think, I guess. Ben does a thoughtful reading of Ryan Lizza's New Yorker profile and concludes:

"Lizza's article makes it clear that he has the institutional insight to join this small company of presidents who used moderate means to achieve previously unthinkable ends. I think of this as the Pilate tradition in politics. Someone like William Jennings Bryan or George McGovern could not have done this (neither--need it be said?--could Howard Dean), because they were runing Jesus campaigns. [Ed note: and, I would argue, so did John Edwards. Sigh.] People who are more interested in being Jesus than in being Pilate end up you-know-where. Obama sounds like a Jesus candidate from time to time, but he's definitely running to be Pilate. That's a good thing."

FYI, just to put the language in context, Ben's a pastor. Now, people have every right to think that being a Pilate candidate is bad; it's a logical conclusion. But it's also worth noting that for all Obama's more delusional supporters--and they're out there, because every candidate has delusional supporters--there are plenty who realize his "cynicism" cuts both ways. It's frustrating, but it's also a tool.

This is part of a more general shift in Netroots culture over the past few years. DailyKos, for instance, has a rep for being a hothouse of crazy crazy hippies, and while there's some of that there's also another side that's realistic and calculating about what kind of Democrat the base should be mobilized to support, a sliding scale that changes on the race and region. Those calculations can direct a lot of money from around the country to regional candidates in important races. It's actually a fascinating process to watch, a crowd trying to figure out what it believes and the best way to achieve it.

The Democratic party base, in fact, has long suffered from a stereotype of being a group of wimpy idealists content to enjoy the suffering of their honorable defeats. After the careening disaster of the Bush administration, that's changing. And while it's fair for people across the political spectrum to find fault with that, it's definitely not an accident.

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