More than Inexperience Stands in Obama's Way
Amba directs us to an excellent post by Mark Daniels where he lays out the reasons why Barack Obama shouldn’t run for president in ‘08. I agree entirely. Despite Obama’s glowing charisma and clear intelligence, the man is politically undercooked. He needs more time in the oven.
But I completely understand the push to get Obama to run. After all, he offers more than a magnetic personality. He offers Democrats a new direction. Many Dems know that their left flank is disastrously wrong. The party will not win by becoming more purely liberal. Instead, they need to be reconnecting with middle America, forging new alliances and leaving behind the heavy old grudges of the past. Obama is one of the few prominent Democrats who seems to “get it.”
Nevertheless, even if his campaign went as well as did his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (and it’s nearly impossible to believe he could maintain such a glorious high), he’d still be battling for the same ground that Hillary Clinton has claimed. Let’s not forget, as polarizing a figure as she is, her tenure in the Senate has been filled with bipartisan cooperation and earnest outreach to her political opponents. She’s claiming the middle and she’s the early frontrunner. That’s why most of the other potential candidates are setting up shop to Clinton’s left (even Wes Clark is flirting with the party’s liberal base).
Barring a radical shift within the Democratic party, the nomination of a candidate in 2008 will most likely be a fight between a centrist-leaning Dem vs. a Daily Kos approved left winger. There is room for Obama OR Clinton to make a serious run—but I don’t think there’s room for both. And I certainly don’t think Obama wants to get in Clinton’s way, creating tensions with the very powerbrokers and fund raisers he’ll need if and when he runs in a future Presidential election
Of course, I’ve just given the exact reason why so many want Obama to run. If the nomination ends up going to either Clinton or a left-winger, that will make winning the national election a seriously difficult challenge. A lot of Democrats want another middle-of-the-road Democrat to knock Clinton off her perch. Mark Warner was their best hope, but now that he’s dropped out, who remains?
Obama is the most obvious choice, but he’s also the Dems most valuable future asset. There’s no need to sacrifice him now in what could very well be a failed bid to halt Clinton’s advance. If Clinton is going to be stopped by someone who isn’t to her left, it’ll have to be by someone not currently in the public limelight.
There isn’t anyone with Obama’s charisma, but there very well could be a likable candidate with the right mix of wisdom and deep experience necessary to win the national election while keeping the Dems from falling off the left side of the political map. Moderate Dems should start looking because they’ll make a mistake trying to pull Obama into this race.