Friday, December 01, 2006

Who Will Run in '08? Part II

Rich Lowry at National Review Online has a column on Barack Obama as the Anti-Hillary:
...After all this [hate for the names Clinton and Bush], who doesn’t hunger for a clean break? Thus the energy behind the possible presidential bid of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. He is the only presidential candidate from either party about whom there is a palpable excitement. And that is because everything about him says, “I’m not a Bush, I’m not a Clinton, and can we please talk about something else?”

It will be manifestly good for the country if it elects a president in 2008 who doesn’t elicit yowling hatred from the other side...

Hillary would have formidable assets in a 2008 race, but the timing could be against her. Maybe it’s too soon for another Clinton in presidential politics. On the Republican side, the most talented and accomplished Republican officeholder in the country, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is sitting ’08 out precisely because of the baggage that currently attaches to his last name.

At the moment, nothing but sweetness and light attach to the last name Obama. Skeptics note that he is a creation of the media, as if this speaks badly of him. Most politicians would spend millions and go through every exertion to be so created by the media. The more serious, related objection is that Obama has no record of accomplishment during his two-year stint in the Senate. There’s a political trade-off here, though. By the time he does anything in the Senate, he will probably be thoroughly acclimated to the institution, making him just as unappealing as the dozen other senators who consider running for president every four years.

The genius of Obama is that he has a pure liberal voting record — a 100 percent rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action in 2005 — at the same time he appeals to independents and avoids seeming noxiously partisan. No doubt, some of this sheen will be lost the day he were to announce for president. But it also reflects something real. Obama is willing to say that Republicans are wrong, not evil — a very basic concession that nonetheless takes some bravery in the blog-besotted fever swamp that is much of the left right now. He has shown that he can speak the language of religious believers in a non-focus-group-tested, genuine way. And he has charisma, an invaluable asset that can’t be bought or faked.
So, Obama looks good. But in my estimation he looks good for a failed presidential try--which is not a bad thing. Even a failed primary campaign will give him national exposure and let him step up to the ultimate big league of politics. Everybody on the Democratic side has at least one failed primary campaign (Kerry and Edwards have a failed general campaign behind them) except for Hillary, who has lots of experience with her husband's campaigns.

So here is why I said what I said in my earlier post on this topic: Hillary has the experience and resources, while Obama has the "juice." If they could reach a modus vivendi they could link the reliable donors of the Democratic party to the excitement that, frankly, grim Hillary lacks.

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