November 2, 2008


Campaign Shows that Obama Can Lead (David Broder, 11/02/08, Real Clear Politics)

When Barack Obama began his candidacy for the White House 20 months ago, most Americans knew next to nothing about the young senator from Illinois, barely two years into his first term in federal office. [...]

The most basic question about him -- or anyone seeking the presidency -- is whether he has the capacity to lead the country and manage the government. Nothing in Obama's history -- lawyer, community organizer, state legislator and back-bench senator -- had demonstrated extraordinary remarkable skills. The proof had to come from the campaign itself. [...]

Of course, running a good campaign is not a guarantee of success as president. Jimmy Carter figured out brilliantly how to move from Plains, Ga., to the White House, a journey almost as implausible as Obama's, but he didn't know how to govern once he got there.

Obama has been Carteresque in the extravagance -- and vagueness -- of his promises to change Washington. But he is not afflicted with Carter's intellectual-moral contempt for other politicians, the trait that wrecked Carter's relationship with a Democratic Congress. On the contrary, Obama moves well among the political insiders, even while presenting an outsider's visage to the public.

What we have learned of Obama's programs puts him squarely in the liberal tradition of the party. Unlike Bill Clinton, he has not tried to spell out -- during the campaign -- the ways in which he would propose to rewrite Democratic foreign or domestic policy. As a result, we can only guess what his real priorities -- in a time of severe budget constraints and a backlog of accumulated needs -- would be. One can imagine serious debates within an Obama administration and between his White House and Congress. [...]

Obama is not, any more than other politicians, a paragon. He reneged on his promise to use public funds for his general election campaign, driving a stake in the heart of the post-Watergate effort to reform the campaign finance system. He rejected McCain's invitation to joint town hall meetings -- opening the door to the kind of tawdry exchange of charges that we have seen. In both instances, he put his personal goals ahead of the public good -- a worrisome precedent.

The inexperience of JFK, the opacity of Jimmy Carter, the selfishness of Richard Nixon and none of those Third Way ideas that made Bill Clnton the only Democrat since FDR to win two elections...but in a good way!

The Presidential 'X Factor' (David Ignatius, 11/02/08, Real Clear Politics)

A charismatic but inexperienced young candidate sweeps toward the White House, propelled by idealistic supporters and an adulatory press corps. Up to Election Day, his advisers worry that people may not vote for him, regardless of what the polls say, because of deep-seated prejudice. But in the end, he wins. And then the troubles begin.

I am referring to John F. Kennedy, the man who defied anti-Catholic bigotry and was elected president in 1960 at the tender age of 43. Barack Obama's supporters normally like the comparison. But on the eve of the election, let's ponder it a bit more closely and consider what lies on the other side of Tuesday's vote.

Looking through the gauzy veil of history, we tend to forget what a mess JFK made of his first year in office.

First year? Absent Oswald he's Jimmy Carter.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 2, 2008 7:42 AM
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