It’s a measure of how starved the country is for a sensible, appealing, intelligent, trustworthy leader that a man who until just a couple of years ago was an obscure state senator in Illinois is now suddenly, in the view of an awful lot of voters, the person we should install in the White House.
At the Kennedy Library forum on Friday night, Mr. Obama declined to rule out a run for the White House in 2008. In an appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, he made it clear that he was considering such a run.
With all due respect to Senator Obama, this is disturbing. He may be capable of being a great president. Someday. But one quick look around at the state of the nation and the world tells us that we need to be more careful than we have been in selecting our leaders. There shouldn’t be anything precipitous about the way we pick our presidents.
That said, the Barack Obama boom may well have legs. During the forum, every reference to the possibility of him running drew a roar from the audience. He’s thoughtful, funny and charismatic. And there is not the slightest ripple of a doubt that he wants to run for president. …
The giddiness surrounding the Obama phenomenon seems to be an old-fashioned mixture of fun, excitement and a great deal of hope. His smile is electric, and when he laughs people tend to laugh with him. He’s the kind of politician who makes people feel good.
But the giddiness is crying out for a reality check. There’s a reason why so many Republicans are saying nice things about Mr. Obama, and urging him to run. They would like nothing more than for the Democrats to nominate a candidate in 2008 who has a very slender résumé, very little experience in national politics, hardly any in foreign policy — and who also happens to be black.
The Republicans may be in deep trouble, but they believe they could pretty easily put together a ticket that would chew up Barack Obama in 2008.
My feeling is that Senator Obama may well be the real deal. If I were advising him, I would tell him not to move too fast. With a few more years in the Senate, possibly with a powerful committee chairmanship if the Democrats take control, he could build a formidable record and develop the kind of toughness and savvy that are essential in the ugly and brutal combat of a presidential campaign.
At MyDD, Matt Stoller thinks Obama should run for the Dem nomination in 2008:
I think there are two keys to understanding Barack. The first is to look at his formative political experience, the seering loss to machine politician Bobby Rush in the Democratic primary in 2000. Before Brand Obama emerged, the Senator got destroyed by bucking the system. Losing to a machine, as Cory Booker also did, does strange things to idealistic-appearing hyperambitious politicians. It makes them a lot more wary of picking fights and making enemies, and it makes them a lot more inclined to cultivate chits and work within a system they know isn’t working.
And Obama knows America is broken. He knows it, he gets it, and that’s why he is so aggressively dismissive of progressives. He feels that he is one of us, and so we should understand why he has to have contempt for us. Here is, for instance, what he wrote on Daily Kos:
Unless we are open to new ideas, and not just new packaging, we won’t change enough hearts and minds to initiate a serious energy or fiscal policy that calls for serious sacrifice.
Barack Obama knows we must change, but he also knows the penalty for fighting for change. This internal contradiction comes out in his sickening praise of Bush, whom he praised today on Meet the Press, or in his embrace of bipartisanship for him and his Senate buddies. It comes out in a strong disdain for progressives, be it random sneering insults towards liberals or pandering to an authoritarian pagan right-wing evangelical tribalism. He doesn’t like that we make him revisit his loss to Bobby Rush, because the last thing he wants to think of himself as is a loser, and because we make him make choices. You know, like the choice he made to not go to Connecticut to campaign for Ned Lamont, which we will remember as the unprincipled betrayal of the Democratic Party that it is. We want to hold him accountable for the dreams that are invested in his persona, and he doesn’t want to be responsible for the hope of millions, though he does want to sell a book called The Audacity of Hope.
Go to MyDD for the rest of the argument.