December 15, 2006

barack I have to admit, I don’t get all this sudden hype about Illinois freshman senator Barack Obama. I mean, I DO understand it, but I don’t (if you know what I mean). From where I sit, I chalk up the sudden surge in Obama hype to one of four possible reasons:

1) He’s handsome, articulate, and a rather charismatic politician.

2) There is a hungering out there for anyone other than a “Bush” or a “Clinton” to run for President, and a fresh face and relative newcomer who doesn’t stand for “politics as usual”.

3) The Democrats deep down are scared stiff that Hillary Rodham Clinton will have no real competition during the 2008 primaries and they’ll be stuck with a Presidential candidate who is virtually unelectable.

4) It’s that dead time between the elections and the start of the new Congress (and, I might add, the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election), and there’s really nothing else to talk about at Christmas gatherings inside the Beltway.

You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about him being an African-American. Frankly, I don’t see that mattering a whole lot in this day and age. I have a feeling that if Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or former SoS Colin Powell were at least keeping the door ajar to their own possible Presidential runs, the mainstream dino-media would be all over them too, although, as Republicans, in an obviously different way. (Especially SoS Rice, who oozes a similar – although in a different way – kind of star-power and charismatic presence.)

John Podhoretz in yesterday’s New York Sun dubs Obama the “Rorscach Candidate of 2008′, and I think he is on to something here: He explains:

…This is the key to his appeal, and it places Obama in a very unusual position for an elected politician: He is now the semi-official Rorschach Candidate of 2008.

The Rorschach Candidate is the one who provokes enthusiasm not because of the positions he takes but because of who he is. He doesn’t seem like a politician; he seems to be better than a politician – fresh, new, different.

There’s no way of knowing whether Obama will run. But his emergence as the Rorschach Candidate makes it clear that Democrats don’t want this nominating process to turn into a Hillary Clinton coronation – and that’s healthy for the party and its prospects. Just as George Bush was tested by John McCain in 2000 and made battle-ready for the general election, so Hillary will need some testing as well.

All the Obama talk also reveals just how easy Hillary might have it if he isn’t the one to test her: The enthusiasm he provokes is a sign that John Edwards, Tom Vilsack, Evan Bayh, John Kerry and others are exciting to no one.

(Hat tip: NRO’s Corner blog.)

While observers on the Left are wondering what Obama’s true political intentions are, and those on the Right are wondering what he’s ever done politically to warrant even CONSIDERING a White House run, I think it’s all in good fun and politically interesting. (In fact, I dare say the lack of an extensive political record might be considered a favorable trait to an electorate exhausted with all the political sniping, divisiveness, and gridlock of the Clinton/Bush presidencies.)

My personal nightmare is having to go into a voting booth in November, 2008 with only Hillary Clinton and John McCain to choose from. Talk about two Washington political insiders who talk out out of both sides of their mouths and never met a camera they didn’t like! If that’s the best we have to choose from in ’08, well….oh, wait a minute, our 2000 choices were Al Gore and George W. Bush, and in ’04 John Kerry and George W. Bush. Never mind!

Regardless of what anyone says 2008 is still a very long ways away – actually light years, politically. Just a year ago, people were talking up Virginia Senator George Allen as a strong candidate for the ’08; this past election, dude couldn’t even get himself re-elected to the Senate. There’s a lot of probing, politicking, and positioning to take place between now and a year from now. Whether Obama finds himself still in the mix is anyone’s guess, but it should be an exciting year.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. I’m thinking a bit of irrational exuberance is kicking into the Democratic presidential race right now. Let’s face it – after Hillary, who do they have? No one.

    So given the dearth of qualified candidates on the Democratic side in 2008, and a nationally unattractive candidate in Hillary (who will thrill the extreme left, but few else), Obama is now on the radar screen. However, he has the same downsides as John Edwards had – great personality, but no legislation behind him and no experience other than his soon-to-be 4 years in the U.S. Senate; arguably the death-knell for presidential candidates from all political parties.

    By 2008, this guy will be another footnote in presidential politics, and we can get onto the viable candidates soon to come.

    By the way, the appearance on Monday Night Football was a bigtime loser for him. Simply pathetic.

    Comment by Dave Richard — December 15, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

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