March 8, 2008


Obama in Senate: Star Power, Minor Role (KATE ZERNIKE and JEFF ZELENY, 3/09/08, NY Times)

Senator Barack Obama stood before Washington’s elite at the spring dinner of the storied Gridiron Club. In self-parody, he ticked off his accomplishments, little more than a year after arriving in town.

“I’ve been very blessed,” Mr. Obama told the crowd assembled in March 2006. “Keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. The cover of Newsweek. My book made the best-seller list. I just won a Grammy for reading it on tape.

“Really, what else is there to do?” he said, his smile now broad. “Well, I guess I could pass a law or something.”

They were the two competing elements in Mr. Obama’s time in the Senate: his megawatt celebrity and the realities of the job he was elected to do.

He went to the Senate intent on learning the ways of the institution, telling reporters he would be “looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.” But frustrated by his lack of influence and what he called the “glacial pace,” he soon opted to exploit his star power. He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.

For this story to run suggests that something has changed, because even the Timesmen can't just now be noticing that he's never done anything. His insignificance in Congress hasn't changed. So what else could make them run this? You don't suppose it's the election results that show he'll get waxed by Maverick in the Fall, do you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2008 8:20 PM

Similar sentiments in today's Washington Post:


If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee but cannot win support from working-class whites and Hispanics, they argue, then Democrats will not retake the White House in November. "If you can't win in the Southwest, if you don't win Ohio, if you don't win Pennsylvania, you've got problems in November," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a Clinton supporter.

Even some Obama advisers see a real problem. "Ultimately, all that matters is how the nominee stacks up against John McCain," said one adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to the senator from Arizona and presumptive GOP nominee. "Right now, Barack is not connecting with the children of the Reagan Democrats. That's a real concern."


Now they are realizing the pickle they are in. They can't deny him the nomination without a civil war, and they will blow the election with him as the nominee.

Posted by: sam at March 8, 2008 8:59 PM

As the old saying goes, there are workhorses and there are show horses...

Posted by: Greg Hlatky at March 8, 2008 10:21 PM

Kennedy won, and we were less vacuous back then.

As you whistle past the graveyard, consider this...

My bet is that OJ posted an article from the Economist back in 05. It profiled Pelosi's and Fat Hastert's district, lauding the deep red nature of Lobbyist in chief Hastert's 14th district.

Tonight, Bill Foster, a deep blue anti-war, high tax, democrat just beat Jim Oberweis (both self funded millionaires) in a special election in Fat Hastert's district.

If that can happen in the IL 14th, it can happen anywhere.

Will McCain win? Most likely yes. Can it be blown? Yes.

Posted by: Bruno at March 8, 2008 11:32 PM

Sam: You have it. Pennsylvania conservatives need to switch registration RIGHT NOW, so as to be able to vote for Effendi Obama in the Democrat primary. The switch must be in by March 22.

Confusion to the enemy is the goal.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 9, 2008 6:01 AM

Amazing he and the Times just realized that the Senate is a seniority-driven institution and he's a newbie.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2008 6:53 AM

...telling reporters he would be looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.

Ah yes, the media and those unasked questions.

Am I the only one here waiting with bated breath?...

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 9, 2008 8:44 AM

It's exactly the kind of seat Maverick will easily carry with him in the Fall.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2008 8:48 AM

I actually think Obama will be a bit stronger than Hillary. I honestly think there is a fair amount of Clinton fatigue still around and I think people want something different from the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton pattern. I think that explains some of the allure for Obama and I think it perfectly positions McCain because he is seen as somewhat of a maverick.

In all, I basically think Obama is going to face trouble because of him being black, liberal and having few accomplishments. I think Hillary is going to face trouble beause of her being a liberal woman whose partial claim to fame is that she was married (in name) to Bill Clinton.

Posted by: pchuck at March 9, 2008 10:55 AM