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Thursday, June 1, 2006 01:06 pm

Voice of the people

Weighing in an Obama run for president in 2008

In addition to this column I publish a daily political newsletter named Capitol Fax. A couple of years ago I also started a blog, found at thecapitolfaxblog.com. Running the blog is a real pain sometimes. It’s a lot of work, and I’ve had to weed out some truly insane comments. Still, most people have interesting, insightful thoughts, so I thought I’d share some. Every day on my blog I ask a “question of the day.” Last week I asked my readers whether U.S. Sen. Barack Obama should run for president. Here are some of the responses, edited for space and style. Ron: Give me a break! This political novice would get his hat handed to him. 105th Blues: He’s never been challenged seriously on his views and has gotten a free pass by the media up to this point. I think if he wanted to run, the response would be too much too soon. Beowulf: It is too soon for Barack. He would receive quite a few votes but not enough to get the job done. I would hate to see him spoil or set back his political future by pulling the trigger too soon. Throw da bums out: Strike while the iron is hot. To those who think he needs more legislation or significant achievements, I say that four or eight more years is simply hundreds of votes that can be manipulated against him later. Goodbye Napoleon: Yes. He should run — first term doesn’t matter in reality. Look at John Kerry; he’s been in the Senate forever and when he speaks — you can tell — he talks like a senator and he’s highly unlikable. Old Elephant: If I were advising him, I’d tell him to go for it. Tragically, substance matters very little these days (as evidenced by our current governor) and because the media have a very short attention span, he needs to strike now, before they move on to the next superstar and he actually has a record to defend. Zatoichi: He needs some more wear and tear on him. Smart guy with a great future if he takes his time, develops relationships, and actually does something that stands out in a difficult situation. The Hankster: People seem to never understand that half of everything in politics is timing. This might be his time and best chance to win. Experience means very little when you look at how people vote the way they do. ZC: No, he should not run. Bottom line: He hasn’t accomplished anything yet to run on, which counts more than people give credit for, and he hasn’t been on the national stage long enough to acquire an aura of presidential caliber even lacking some signature accomplishment. Obama is the media darling, but make no mistake, that glow will vanish as soon as he becomes a candidate and goes up against Hillary Clinton’s $40 million ad machine. Just Saying: Not to be glib here, but Lincoln had comparable experience in elected office. Lincoln was a state rep for a while and served in the U.S. House for a single term. Then Lincoln lost two consecutive U.S. Senate races. All I’m saying is, there’s not a formula for determining how much experience is enough. And there might be a downside to having too much experience (look at Kerry, Gore and Dole) . . . Obama’s magic is, he’s all things to all people. He’s a Midwesterner because of his ties to Kansas and Illinois. To blacks, he’s a former community organizer who’s fought City Hall, literally, for better schools and housing. He’s the son of an immigrant to people who have recently come here. He’s a Harvard-educated lawyer for the upper class and the New England liberals. He manages to appeal to all these segments of society without alienating the others. That’s why his Democratic National Convention speech went over so well. ChicagoCynic: Obama won’t run in 2008. He knows he doesn’t have adequate experience or sophistication. Any careful observer of Obama’s words and actions (as opposed to mythology), knows he is a very, very careful and cautious politician. Frankly, he still hasn’t really found his national voice yet, and sometimes his excessive caution is extremely frustrating. It will come in a couple of years. So, what do you think?


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