Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thinking '08 Now

I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton’s re-election this November, but when it comes to ’08, I’m with Maureen Dowd.  No the NY Times columnist isn’t running for President, it’s with her choice that I agree.  I think it’s time, and not too soon, for Barack Obama.  Dowd points out that he is already a year older than was Jack Kennedy when he took the oath of office.  Looking at how experienced hands have screwed this country up of late, young may actually be a commanding attribute.  I like my Junior Senator, but in all candor am a little bit over the dynasty thing.  It didn’t work that well with the Adams family even though both father and son were men of great substance and…well I don’t have to finish the thought, do I?

Barack Obama produced the single most stirring moment of the 2004 Boston Convention.  The man has charisma, he knows how to project and nobody will question his sense of values.  Look at the dreams-poor field.  Do we want another decent but somewhat better than the other guy candidate?  Do we want someone who, lacking natural communicative skills and the ability to connect, moves from one compromise to another in order to attract this or that perceived critical interest group?  I like Hillary, but am disheartened by her muddy positions on the war.  Also, did you watch the Bill and Hillary show at Coretta Scott King’s funeral?  Did you hear anyone say that she outperformed the empathizer-in-chief?  He has the touch and only blind followers and wishful thinkers will say that her candle will hold in comparison.  Oh, people won’t compare, you say.  Right, and Pepsi didn’t invite consumer’s to compare their cola’s taste with Coke’s.  We always compare, we always contrast.  Picture Bill and Barack on the same stage.  Do you think the Senator from Illinois will be easily overshadowed?  As someone long committed to the feminist cause, it pains me to say it but Hillary, the first female candidate since Shirley Chisholm, may not be the right choice when we so desperately need a win.  Senator Clinton is not quite as wooden as Al Gore and John Kerry but something essential is missing.  Hillary’s problem is always said to be polarization when in fact its being pale in comparison.  She isn’t Bill.

I’ve said this before and with every passing day it becomes more evident.  If we want a change in ’08 we need charisma.  We need to be more than satisfied (I wish we had even been satisfied), we need to be excited.  It would also be refreshing to have someone who comes before us clean without a record and the inevitable missteps – the Swift Boat vulnerabilities.  We need an alternative to John McCain (the media-dubbed preemptive Republican nominee).  That man has captured people’s attention because he is a maverick, but have you looked at his record?  He is deeply conservative and will become all the more so as he pitches “the base” on his way to a nomination.  John McCain supported, supports and will support the war in Iraq, not just the troops which we all do, but the war.  He likes the two new Supremes whose ideology mirror his own.  He is a straight talker, but you really have to listen carefully to the talk.  Don’t forget, however repentant, he was one of the Keating Five.  And, he is not only old in age, but in his own unique way McCain is just more of the same.

What we need today is different.  We need a new face, a new voice and the ability to take a new turn.  Barack Obama seems to me the only one in range who offers at least the hope of all those things.  Perhaps Mark Warner is the new Bill Clinton (in resume if not in character) and John Edwards certainly displayed some sense of the people, but nobody among the expected to run (I’m sorry Russ Feingold that includes you) has that “it thing”, the potential star power that can move us.  Having that, having the ability to give a great speech doesn’t translate into shallow.  Remember the rich boy in the wheel chair?  The times we’re living in demand not only thoughtful decisions (that would be something new), but the ability to lead and to motivate.  I’m with Maureen (again).  My candidate is Obama – where do I get a button, where do I send a check?

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