Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What's All the Fuss About Barack Obama?

The already enormous buzz over Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is intensifying now that he essentially announced Sunday on Meet the Press that he's a candidate for president in 2008, setting the stage for what would be a monumentally high-profile showdown between him and Sen. Hillary Clinton. And the powers that be in the Democratic Party seem thrilled with this turn of events, gleefully hopping on the "he's our savior" bandwagon. Am I missing something here? To quote Chuck D from Public Enemy, "Don't believe the Hype...."

Don't get me wrong. I love this guy. He's genuine, sincere, articulate, highly charismatic, telegenic and immensely popular. A rock star. Unfortunately, none of these attributes necessarily qualifies him to be president of the Unites States, the most powerful human being on the planet. He has no significant national political experience, and has never been in an executive level, CEO-type position. To date, he's served just two years in the U.S. Senate; spent eight years in the Illinois State Senate; and was a civil rights lawyer and law professor. Can someone please tell me why he's the best that the Democrats have to offer? Is he truly the most qualified individual to lead the country? He may someday make for a great leader, but it is way too premature to be bestowing such accolades on him.

As a U.S. Senator, the legislation he's sponsored is innocuous at best, including the "Higher Education Opportunity Through Pell Grant Expansion Act" and the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act." He's been vague on many key issues including Iraq, the war on terror, abortion, gay marriage and immigration, choosing broad ideological positions in order to stay out of the political fray. Hollywood loves him, as do other fellow rock stars like Bono, with whom he's traveled to Africa to raise awareness of genocide, AIDS and various humanitarian issues.

To be quite honest, when it comes to political experience, there's much more qualified candidates. So what exactly is it about Obama that is drawing such attention? Perhaps it's because Obama, 45, is an African-American? Let's be truthful with each other: would there be this much hype about a White politician with such minimal experience? Former Sen. John Edwards certainly compares in terms of overall attributes, but lacks the hype and never even remotely reached the "darling" status that Obama curiously enjoys. In fact, Edwards was pilloried in '04 over his lack of exsperience. I think it's a kind of racism in America to be so fascinated with a Black man who does not fit the ugly stereotypes. Is Obama grabbing the headlines, currying so much favor and amassing so much political currency, because he's a highly educated, highly articulate and charismatic Black man in a White man's game? Is his popularity propped up by racists who would never actually vote for him, but publicly marvel at his "skills"? These are tough questions, but in light of the man's very average political career, it has to be something other than charisma that's causing such an unprecedented lovefest.

Let's be clear about one thing. I'm not saying Obama does not have the right to run in 2008, nor am I saying he shouldn't. In fact, I'd like to see him run and, unless a highly credentialed alternative like Al Gore decides to jump in the race, Obama could likely get my vote. All I'm suggesting is that, given his political experience and accomplishments or lack thereof, the level of hype and overall appeal should rival that of a Bill Richardson, Evan Bayh or Edwards. I believe there's a very subtle form of racism at work here. And don't think Republicans wouldn't love to see Obama run and win the nomination, at which point America's ugly racism won't be so subtle.


Anonymous said...

Obama has a lot of potential, but he has only been in the senate two years.

Also is the US ready for a biracial president? (I am). Some of the white men I know would never vote for him or a woman for that matter. How sad for us.

VP maybe, but not president.

Anonymous said...

Actually Andy, Barack said he has “thought” of running when Tim asked him. He said this because he’d look like a lair if he had said anything other than that. Hell, I’ve even “thought” about it but that’s as far as it got and then I sobered up.

Look, right now (this week) Barack is the hot item, he’s been on all the talk shows and magazine covers, everyone sooner or later gets their 15 minutes of fame, up until the next hot item shows up. It was just a few months ago and Al Gore (our man) was everywhere talking about the same issues and asked about running.

Barack’s time will come but not in 08, by then people will really want a strong leader with experience, one that was against the war from the very beginning, one that is passionate about the environment, healthcare, SS, education and world peace. One that has experience in the White House and I don’t mean being First Lady. Some one that has “learned” how dirty the Republicans can play and be able to take them to the mat this time. Some one that has the fire in his belly to be honest with the people and bring honest change for once. Now who could that person be? Oh, yeah, I forgot one important factor, that person has to have the last name of Gore.

Hillary is toast as is McPain, I see Mitt Romney being the one for the GOP in 08’.

Anonymous said...

ABsoLUTEly right on! I could not agree more. Obama is being hoisted up based on race rather than accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

obama does seem like a good honest person who would be good for the country but with the mess that has been created by "dubbya" and his cronies, we do truly need the best that the democrats have to offer, Al Gore. I fear very much that if Obama does run at the same time as Al Gore, with both men being the anti hillary, she will surley win the nomination, there can only be one anti hillary in the 08 race to have a chance of defeating her.

Anonymous said...

Somehow you are all missing the charisma factor. JFK had it in spades. Reagon and Clinton as well, though not as much as JFK. Obama oozes with it.

The man is sincere. Believable. Likable. Trustable.

Al Gore, John Kerry, Bob Dole certainly did not. They come across as false, plastic, still, practiced, unnatural.

Like it or not, it's part of what it takes to be an effective leader.

Quit being poor sports. Obama is just as smart as Gore is, just as qualified. His race is an asset as the United States is ever to realize before it's too late, the world has changed.

Fuss all you want about Black versus White. 20 years from now our main concern will be China, where there aint many of either, last time I looked.

Unknown said...

Strike when the iron is hot. Right now the iron is hot for O Bama, I doubt it is for the other"heavy hitters"

Anonymous said...

Obama's popularity comes from the speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic Convention. That speech brought the house down, and his oratorical skills have been being awed at (possibly exagerated just a little) by the media ever since. When you give the keynote address at a convention based around "America's a great place to be" you tend to wind up being pretty popular.

Anonymous said...

You're right about his being black is "the" issue, but not in the way you suggest. He'd be the next president by a landslide if he weren't black. He'll not get elected this time because he is black. I live in the south and would probbly be the only white who would vote for him. Not a white man or woman will vote for a black man I'm sure. If Ford should be elected I'll be very surprised, but TN is a little more eclectic that the south I'm talking about. Maybe the south isn't needed, but I suspect that this racism is not confined to this area.

For sure, Obama has the JFK magic. He does have charisma and he is believable and inspiring. Not another possible candidate has that. I was thrilled at his speech at the 2004 convention because of his power and the power of his thoughts. When he talks about his faith he's the only one I've been able to believe. And, he was against the Iraq war from the beginning, and he believes firmly in separation of church and state. He says all the right things to this Democrat. However, I hope he doesn't run this time because he simply cannot be elected. I hope Hillary doesn't run because she shouldn't be elected and I don't think she would. The only one who approaches Obama with personal appeal is Edwards. Gore is right on the issue and he's smart but he's got to get over looking and acting like a phoney. I don't know how but he should surely try. He was great on The Daily Show. Maybe he could do an actor's "sense memory" and repeat that every time he talks in public.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to what anon438 says, Obama is NOT as qualified as Gore. That's a ridiculous statement.

Obama will not be ready to be President in 2008 and neither will Hillary, and most definitely the USA will not be ready for either of them to be President in 2008, so we should be quite clear on that now before we waste a lot of time and money propping either of them up. I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but after 8 years of the Bush neocon clan, the USA will not be ready to accept either of these two as legitimate candidates for POTUS.

I welcome their candidacies and runs, even though it will mean splitting Dem Party funds, if only because the USA is best served by diverse dialogue, but I am personally most hoping that Gore jumps in the ring along with Feingold and Kerry and Edwards.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Post 6:23 who said Obama WOULD WIN if he weren't black. He/she didn't say he was as qualified as Gore at this time. Gore was qualified when he ran the last time and he lost because of his persona. Fair or not, personal appeal has a lot to do with winning people's votes. It inspires confidence. Gore and Kerry made fools of themsleves with the color of clothes concerns and the hunting outfit and event. All phoney. All the Republicans would have to do is show a few clips of those two campagning the last time. Feingold and Edwards have a chance with a well-run campaign. They and Obama would probably not listen to silly suggestions. Kerry listened and didn't fight the Swiftboaters, which was another very bad miscalculation,

Anonymous said...

Asa an african-american woman and supporter of your blog, I find your analysis very offensive. Why are you playing the race card. Leaders are elected because they appeal to the masses. He obviously does. People don't make themselves "rock stars," other people make them so. I'm really disappointed in you. Hints of both envy and racism.

Anonymous said...

Barack is NOT qualified for anything. He hasn't proven anything but he comes off as a great talking head on TV.

We can't take anymore incompetence by lack of smarts (I'm thinking of BushyBoy) or lack of experience ie Obama.

Romney is a jerk as witnessed by many during the 2002 Olympics and a Mormon to boot. You do NOT want the Mormon church even coming close to running the government and believe me, they will, if he wins. Money is no object with this church, nor is sending out their missionary minions to recruit the disenfranchised and fringe voters. It's a terrifying scenario. Why do you think the CIA and FBI like to recruit mormons? They take orders very well. And with their priesthood dogma, they think they are invincible.

Romney has already met with the church leaders to recruit the church members as his base. Thank god most of the membership lives outside the US. Mormons are notoriously Republican and Utah is the reddest state in the union. Is the picture becoming clear?

We need someone who can wipe the floor with Romney. It's not Obama, just yet.

Gore has far the most credibility and Hillary would be great in a cabinet position.

The NASCAR lovin' evangelicals are not going to go away when Bush does. They vote and they have definite ideas about a woman's place and folks of color. We need someone who can whup 'em up side the head. It's not gonna be Hillary or Obama.

Anonymous said...

9:54 Ostroy isn't playing the race card. As a university psychology professor stated in a class I attended - "Why do you think there are stereotypes?"

Of course there is fascination with this handsome, young, black man in America. While the media focuses on the gang problems in LA and shows black and hispanic males either killing or being killed, Obama is a novelty to mainstream America.

One mistake we all make is to think that others experience life much like we do ourselves. Wrong.

May Barack Obama eventually find his level of expertise. Right now the country needs someone who has the experience to lead the country out of this helluva mess Bush and the GOP has created.

Anonymous said...

I'm an outsider...not an american. Obama is a lovely guy, but at 45 he should settle down to doing another 20 years in the Senate and then run for President in 2024.

You Americans now know what happens when you get a president who has no serious experience into the White House.Do you want another bumbling no hoper with a ding bat Administration?

Barak, baby, cool it...the White House is not going to run away. It will still be there in 2024;but in 2024 you will have a lot more to offer America than you have now.

Is your career about you or America?

Mike Davis

Anonymous said...


The BigDig is history's largest pork project, brought to Taxechusetts by 2 of the most liberal Democrats to ever walk the earth.

Their corruption doesn't end with the pork project. After faulty construction kills a person, the K&K liberals appoint a committee to investigate the BigDig. They forgot about checks-and-balances when it came to a liberal government because they appointed the same organization that did the construction to do the investigation of itself.

Kennedy already killed Mary Jo Kopechne, now another death is on his hands...

Come on liberals, bring up Iraq and how many deaths are on Bush's hands. Forget to bring up that Iraq was not a place where kids fly kites. Forget to bring up that it is Clinton's fault that Al Qaeda was allow to practice attacking America in the 1990's without repurcussion and prepare for 9/11.

And now for some ON TOPIC discussion, Barack Osama (as Kennedy likes to call him) has accomplished....what?? Democrats like him because he is a good looking, articulate, black man. I'll like him when he accomplishes something. What has he DONE?

Anonymous said...

9:54 Re the allusion you made in mentioning black and hispanic males and your professor's comment, I'd like to point out the quote a professor read to our class by John Dewey, the great philosopher and educator. Dewey said "All behavior is caused." As teacher- trainees we were admonished to remember this in dealing with those innocents ready to be taught and molded. No baby is born a killer.

Anonymous said...

It is weird that the repuglicans that post their bullshit on this site seem to think that they are doing good for their cause, all they are doing is pissing us off and making us more determined to vote the repuglican scum out of office all over the country

Anonymous said...

9:59AM in addition to your comment - hence the stereotypes and the cultures that create them.

Barack Obama is an unproven politician, no matter what color his skin is. Many more years on the job will give him the edge he needs to be a successful candidate for the presidency.

Media savvy is only one component of being a world leader. We see the lack of it everytime Bush gets in front of the camera. (And people still wonder if the elections were stolen?)

The Dems need a strong presence that can speak to all Americans, they just haven't groomed one yet.

Anonymous said...

It never cease to amaze me, whenever the prospect of a black politician hint or before they hint they will run. That old racist attitude raises its ugly head.

If George W. Bush can be president, two terms at that. The issue of experience should be obsolete. Hell, this qualified bush attacked the wrong freaking country.

Anonymous said...

There are several Democrats in Congress who are excellent and qualified to be president, but we have to deal with reality. Qualified politicians can't (usually) get elected president in this television age, because their voting records are distorted and used against them, and because they have to perform well on TV... and let's not forget that Americans don't like politicians much...especially Washington politicians.

I actually don't think that being a governor really prepares one to be president all that well. Bill Clinton would have been a more effective president in his first few years if he'd had some experience in Washington, I think, but he would have been far less likely to get elected. Let's not even talk about Bush's experience as Gov. of Texas, which obviously didn't qualify him to become president.

I think voters have had enough of the Clintons and Bushes. Al Gore made some big mistakes when he ran (like choosing Lieberman as a running mate) so I don't think he'll make a comeback unless he's learned a lot since then. I actually like John Kerry, but Americans seemed to be looking for someone with a lot more charisma... not that Bush has an ounce of it.

So that leaves Barak Obama looking pretty good to me... he is a fresh face, articulate and smart, with plenty of charisma. He would have to rely on experienced advisors. Do Dems. need to worry about race? Americans who won't vote for a black man aren't going to vote for any Democrat, are they? Would the racists come out in droves just to vote against him?

This is sad, really... we need political and election reform in this country. We need votes to count, and for qualified, experienced candidates to win, even when they aren't rock stars.

CDW said...

Barak Obama alerted by BS meter whe he voted to certify the 2004 election that disenfranchised millions of people of color. Then when he voted for the industry written bankruptcy bill that disproportionatly affects the people he is supposed to be championing, he lost me.
He came and stumped for the unpopular corportist Democrat Maria Cantwell. It was her first appearance in three years in the inner city among people she has done absolutely nothing for. Predictably their reception was cool and marked by dissent.
He is a gifted orator. He is also a "player".
The DLC would like him to run because he won't do much to disturb the statis quo.

Anonymous said...

The inexperienced Bush won the presidency because of the "machine" backing him. Obama, hasn't, nor does anyone else have such a force in place to assure his election.

Anonymous said...

The DLC would like him to run because he won't do much to disturb the statis quo.

The DLC is the problem with the Democratic party.Who will control the democrats, the DNC or DLC? People want to believe in the Democratic party again, and we haven't realy gone back to our principles as progressives. When the Dem's do take the majority, a skillfully coordinated fight to oust the DLC would be a logical counter move in preparing for 2008.A stonger, more people oriented party will be restored to it's status circa JFK's administration. It is perfectly healthy to have these disputes in a political party. A direction must be taken, and that is why taking on the DLC must be one of the DNC's next steps. Remember there is a long term plan here and the November election is just a small step in a journey to restoring faith in the Democratic party.Secondly, Is the Democratic message being oppressed by the executives of the corporate media? yes, this should be the next step.Trustbust the consortiums and restore the "fairness doctrine". Message, just like image,is important , because it stays in our memories. But we cannot be heard without a fair medium to explain our liberal ideals.Another benefit reaped is the restoration of a free press, unafraid to hold politicians accountable to their citizenry. I would love to talk about the Presidential race in '08, but the two questions posed must be answered for people to see just who exactly controls the Democratic party.Remember there is a long term plan here and the November election is just a small step in a journey to restoring faith in the Democratic party.We have alot of obstacles to overcome, these next few years, and we will overcome them. Lessons of the past must be learned, or history will not curry favor with us.

Anonymous said...

the liberals problem. they're more into hype and thinking who can get elected than putting forth strong candidates who really believe in their positions.

obama? typical libs. touting a guy with 2 yrs experience, no military, no achievements. why? because hes black.

Anonymous said...

TO JAKE; At least our Obama would be capable of learning on the job which turned out not to be true about Bush, Jr. who, don't you remember, was inexperienced?