Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Village Endorses Obama

Our man has received a ton of good press lately from opinion-makers. I count near endorsements from David Brooks, Frank Rich, Andrew Sullivan, Harold Myerson, David Broder, Roger Cohen, and even my favorite young cynic, Matt Taibbi.

This kind of thing doesn't happen by accident. This press wave was undoubtedly orchestrated by Obama surrogates who worked the phones and the DC dinner parties, using all the tools at their disposal: flattery, calling in old favors, and the promise of access to the Candidate, to generate a positive buzz for their man. You see some hint of this in Cohen's column, which mentions that Obama took a half-hour away from his campaign schedule to sit down with the columnist. This "time-dropping" is Cohen's way of reminding the world that he's important enough to merit one-on-one time with a possible future president.

In my view, this speaks to the savvy of Obama's campaign. While he's running as the outsider and the change candidate, his people have charmed the DC insiders.

I'm not sure who is organizing the Obama columnist charm offensive, but a good bet is that Karen Kornbluh--Obama's policy director and a longtime DC Villager--plays a substantial role. Karen's background in the Clinton White House and with the slightly-funky-but-still-establishment New America Foundation is just right for this role.

I should note that Obama's efforts with the press is in marked contrast to Howard Dean, who made little effort to win applause from the columnist crowd, in part because he rightly saw them as part of the problem. Apart from intense but scattered efforts by senior adviser David Halperin and policy director Jeremy Ben-Ami, Dean made no effort to work the pundits.

The Internet may be leading us towards a post-pundit world, and if nothing else we now live in a universe where the ranks of the opinion-makers are not so closed, and people like Glenn Greenwald, Brad Delong, and even the occasional anonymous blogger can get a word in now and then. But for the time being, at least, what the Villagers have to say does matter, and it's good to see that Obama understands this.

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