Is this guy ready to be president?

I admit that I never understood the premise of Barack Obama’s presidential run. He’s very smart, very articulate, and very charismatic, but he’s never done anything, never led on any issue, never made clear why he’s different than any of the other candidates. He’s good at raising money. He has the rock star thing going for him. But what makes him presidential material?

I never bought into the whole Purple thing, either. I love the color, but this is not a time to be compromising with a Republican Party that that has gone from red to infra-red. This is a time for reestablishing what the Democratic Party is about, and what America is about. The Purple thing doesn’t do that. When he was elected to the Senate, I thought Obama would learn, grow, get some accomplishments under his belt, and eventually become president. Plenty of time. Plenty to learn. Plenty of room to grow. When he decided to run, this time, I thought his ego and ambition had gotten ahead of him.

So, I have to be open about the fact that I was always skeptical about this run. Then came the Donnie McClurkin disaster. At first, I assumed it was a clumsy staffing mistake, and I discounted those who took a more cynical view. I assumed Obama would fix it. His subsequent actions have convinced me the cynics were right. I now believe Obama is just another craven, calculating politician. Throwing gays under the bus may give him a boost in South Carolina, and it probably won’t hurt him in Iowa or New Hampshire, so why be principled when there are votes to be had?

Now comes this, from the New York Daily News:

Barack Obama sparked a generational fight Wednesday by trashing White House rival Hillary Clinton for being too old to unite America, saying she and others her age have fought the same tired fights for too long.

“I think there’s no doubt that we represent the kind of change that Sen. Clinton can’t deliver on, and part of it is generational,” Obama, 46, said on Fox News. “Sen. Clinton and others, they’ve been fighting some of the same fights since the ’60s, and it makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done.”

Experts and opponents pounced, saying Obama’s remarks could offend the most reliable voters, people older than 50 – especially in early-voting Iowa. “You are counting precisely on an older group of Democrats in Iowa,” said Iowa State University’s Steffen Schmidt. “You can’t tell them they’re backward-looking. Somebody should be fired in his campaign.”

It’s just stupid. Obama keeps demonstrating that he doesn’t get what it is to be on the big stage, and that he doesn’t understand how to retain his own political framing. Older voters matter a lot more than gay voters, to someone making cold political calculations, so I expect Obama will actually do something, this time, to make amends. The contrast between how he handles this and how he handled the McClurkin situation will only further demonstrate why he didn’t bother to make a serious effort, that time. But these stumbles just further demonstrate that his premise of being a unifier is nothing but political babble. He plays the game, and he doesn’t even yet play it well. And he has still yet to take an original stand that differentiates himself from any other candidate on any major issue.

Many Obama supporters try to make the race a binary: it’s him or Hillary, so we’d best get on board. Frankly, at this point, I’m not sure he wants to force that choice.


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  1. with Obama. If given that binary choice, I’m actually not sure which button I’d press.

    From the last debate:

    Sen. Barack Obama was asked, “What specifically is your relevant experience for being president?”

    “The experience I have in politics is primarily legislative, ”

    Forget the fact that that’s true. What kind of politician says something like that?! The attack ad writes itself. I wouldn’t care so much, expect that Obama has showed his anti-acumen on the issues that matter to me, and this is just another example of his anti-ear.

  2. Off the top of my head, Rudy Guliani and Fred Thompson come to mind.

    But you are correct, he is running a piss-poor campaign to those of us watching closely.

    But he is motivating millions to get involved in politics. And most of these are younger, so when he slams Hillary for being ‘old and tired’ he is speaking to his constituents.

    Of course, you are absolutley correct on the make-up of your average primary voter. These are not BO’s target group, and never have been.

    This has always been his problem. He would do far better in the General Election than he will in the Primary. IMO.

    That said, his McClurkin fiasco did far more to depress me over what kind of President he would make than his insult to the primary voters you discuss well above.

    I actually wonder if he is more Conservative in his heart than Hillary.

    Cheers, and good essay.

    • banger on November 8, 2007 at 16:28

    He has no power base within the establishment that respects him and will follow him, rather those in the oligarchy that do support him can pretty much dictate to him what to do. Hilary Clinton has her own power-base and is not as constrained which is why, rhetoric to the contrary, I think her Presidency would be more progressive than Obama’s (not that it would be all that progressive). BTW, most of us by now would have to realize that talk is cheap and in a Presidential campaign is completely and utterly bullshit meant to fool the public unless you are not in the top tier of candidates like Kucinich and Paul when it’s only semi-bullshit.

  3. … as I’m not sure how much of this is blogging the future … but if you must …

    … well, yeah, he probably does not have the national campaign experience for a successful run at the White House. Doing what he is doing would be providing a lot of that experience. If reflecting on the result after the fact leads him to the right conclusions, a next effort might go better.

    He’s definitely making a stronger run at Vice President than Richardson, by actually trying to get the Presidency even if it is likely out of reach of his campaign as it is presently operating … but even there, not if Senator Clinton is the nominee unless its a brokered convention and his delegates gives someone the nomination, and Senator Clinton would certainly not allow personal animosity to get between her and the White House … so there’s nothing lost to his careers prospects in setting the choice out as himself against Senator Clinton.

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