Sunday, January 23, 2005

Candidate Profile Nine: Barack Obama

NOTE: No doubt you've come by here as the result of a Google search for Barack Obama's resume. I'm glad you're here, but I'd rather see you at the brand-new Decision '08, which can be found here. Come join the conversation!

Barack Obama is the rising young star of the Democratic party. He is currently a senator for Illionois after a landslide victory against the laughably inept campaign of Alan Keyes. Obama's presence was ubiquitous during the Dem's 2004 convention; you couldn't throw a brick without hitting a media outlet lined up to interview him. What's all the hubbub? Let's take a look.

Barack Obama - Official Biography

Resume - Junior Senator for Illinois; first African-American editor of Harvard Law Review; former Illinois state senator

Obama is an attractive candidate - good-looking, articulate, smooth, polite, intelligent - all of these adjectives can be applied to him without fear of contradiction (and keep in mind, I'm a staunch Republican!), so it's not hard to see why the Dems get so fired up about him. He claims he will absolutely not run in 2008, but we've heard that before, right? Eric Zorn, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, thinks he'll make the run; others disagree. Time will tell.

Obama is refreshingly direct - take a look at a couple of quotes from an interview with Rolling Stone:

What advice do you have for people who feel hopeless after the Kerry loss?

Get over it. Go to the movies, go to the park, go on a date -- get some perspective. Losing an election is not a tragedy.

What would most surprise people to learn about you?

Probably that I'm a failed jock. I love basketball, but my love for the game always exceeded my talents. I was pretty good but never really good. Also, I'm a reformed smoker; I think that surprises people. I quit, but then during the campaign when you're in a car driving through cornfields, occasionally I bum a cigarette or two. But I did all my drinking in high school and college. I was a wild man. I did drugs and drank and partied. But I got all my ya-yas out.

When's the last time you heard a politician admit past drug use, and the occasional cigarette, or failure in anything? Contrast that with 'I didn't inhale'...

As always, there are negatives. Obama's primary political message seems to be some sort of economic populism similar to that espoused by the much more boring John Edwards. Ask Bob Shrum how well that populist message goes over in national elections, Barack. We haven't yet had much of a chance to evaluate his very young Senate career, either. Naturally, the self-destructive community of black 'progressives' oppose his non-radical style and association with the Democratic Leadership Council, apparently out of fear that the Democrats might actually win the presidency again.

Obama's first real turn on the national stage in his new position was at the confirmation hearings for Condoleezza Rice, and he got good reviews from some conservative commentators. The fact that he voted to confirm the obviously qualified and imminently suitable Dr. Rice hasn't won him any friends among the Radical Left, however - though it's hard to imagine any responsible politician winning their support (or for that matter, even WANTING their support).

Barack Obama clearly has the qualities to make a run, but my gut tells me 2008 is a bit early for him. I would keep an eye on this guy in 2012.


UPDATE 07/04/05 10:34 p.m.:
Obama's not really making any moves...I'm dropping him slightly.


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