Thursday, January 04, 2007

# Posted 11:21 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OBAMA: FLAVOR OF THE MONTH? That was the subject on Meet the Press. According to EJ Dionne:
Barack Obama is one of the most formidable political talents I’ve ever met. There are only three people where, in the last 20 years, where the moment I met them, long before they became public figures, I knew they were going far. The first was Newt Gingrich in ‘86, Bill Clinton in ‘87, Barack Obama in ‘97. He is really—I think he’s the real deal.
I agree. On what basis? Around a eight or ten extended interviews with Obama to which I've listened, as well as the Senator's own podcasts. But I would add that Gingrich and Clinton needed plenty of good luck in addition to their talents. In politics, there are no guarantees.

But can Obama win? Gene Robinson was skeptical:
But if you look at statewide elections, women do a lot better than, than black people do. There are currently, what, eight or nine female governors. There have been two in our—two black governors in our history. There are 16, I think, female senators. There’s one black senator, Senator Obama. So you’d have to say the hill is higher for him than it is for Hillary.
I like Robinson, but that's some terrible analysis. First of all, women make up more than half the country, blacks about one eighth. Of course there are more women in office. Plus, women have run on both Democratic and Republican tickets, which dramatically improves their chances. At best there are a handful of black Republicans.

Finally, to address a question often posed by the skeptics, is Obama just the invention of bored journalists? Bill Safire thinks so:
What we have to do is come up with somebody new every couple of months. And we all swarm all over him. In a couple of months, I’m sure, it’s going to dawn on somebody that the Hispanic vote is very important. And then we’ll look around, and there the Democrats will have Bill Richardson. And he’ll be on the cover of Time and Newsweek.
Undoubtedly, Obama's hype in the media is far in excess of his name recognition or popularity in the nation at large. But I think that is just a reflection of the fact that journalists know more about Obama. They are always looking for the next contender. Regular fokes start paying attention shortly before the primaries. When they get to know Obama, I think the reaction will be similar.

I would add that the excitement of journalists may be a fairly reliable predictor of the excitement of Democratic primary voters. In the previous election cycle, no one came close to generating this kind of excitment among journalists. Even at the height of his momentum, Dean never got the kind of positive coverage Obama enjoys. The Dean phenomenon rested, I think, on his appeal to party activists. But I believe Obama can reach right across the party and even beyond it. That's a prediction. It may turn out to be very wrong. But if I were a betting man, I'd give Obama a 50-50 shot at the nomination...if he runs.
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PS The wristwatch above was sold by Zoinkers custom watches. They aren't selling Obama watches at the moment.
This is a nasty question but (it's going to happen if he runs, lay off emotionals):

How does a man with an athiest mother and a muslim father end up Christian?

ps: Is it possible to be a "clean" politician from Chicago?
"I would add that the excitement of journalists may be a fairly reliable predictor of the excitement of Democratic primary voters."

Given that the former are a subset of the latter, I suppose that makes sense...
What does it say about the Democrats that their two top-runners (so far) are both Senators? No executive experience is going to be a problem for them.

The Republicans at least have Romney and Giulani (who is not a governor, but being mayor of New York is in some ways a similar test of executive experience.)
Hi David,

Are you simply articulating your appreciation for Obama, or might you consider voting for the candidate should he win the primary (and I understand that's a big if)?
I wish we could past this discrimination and evaluate the candidate on his abilities and ideas. He is a good person and I for one don't consider race or gender an issue in this election!

Independents for Obama
And in response to mike...

Read Obama's conversion story.
Tar Heel, it is very unlikely I would vote for Obama in the general election under any circumstances. But if he won, I would say the election had been lost to a good mine and potentially a fine president.

I have major disagreements of substance with Obama, but recognize his charisma and respect the way he shows an interest in real dialogue with others. That is why I say he is the real deal, not a flavor of the month.
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