Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Balm of Obama

Obama’s name is booming around the country. His impact grows as he writes, speaks and appears on talk shows. He is a rare political phenomenon, complimented by both Republican and Democratic leaders and pundits. The main objection to his running for president seems to be his lack of experience. Now I read that Michael Tomasky, the brilliant editor at large of the American Prospect, thinks that now is the best time for Senator Barack Obama to run.

In one of the best political articles that I have read recently, Tomasky presents a theory that people get tired of one type of personality in a president and shift to an opposite type. He gives several examples: Gloomy Carter followed by sunny Reagan, detached Bush I followed by involved Clinton, and ethically-challenged Clinton followed by pious Bush II. Then, he says:

If my theory is correct, then 2008, coming directly off of Bush's tenure, will be exactly the right time for Obama to run. His themes and his personality — his agreeable nature and penchant for self-contemplation, so utterly unlike the incumbent's petulant, unreflective swagger — will be uniquely in demand in 2008 in a way they just might not be in 2012 or 2016.

Exactly! The contrast is stupendous. Obama is the opposite of Bush. If you have any doubts about Obama, I suggest you read his excellent book, "The Audacity of Hope." I just finished reading it and I am more convinced than ever that after having gone through a civic shredder, our country needs an agreeable president like Obama.

Obama is a Democrat that knows how to talk to a Republican. David Brooks, who had been in favor of Bush's Iraq War, was on Meet the Press and here is an exchange between Tim Russert and him about Barack Obama:

RUSSERT:“It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.” Still feel that way?

BROOKS:Even more so. You know, I looked at some of the coverage of his, his New Hampshire trip and you look at the crowd and they’re leaning forward toward him. It’s like they’re thirsty and they’re drinking for water. And he’s offering that. And what he’s offering is the ability to see all sides of an issue. And I disagree with him. And we’ve had many conversations, and he sees the best side of my argument and then he reflects it back.

If this isn't one of the greatest compliments for a rising political star, I don't know what a compliment is. Obama can see all sides of a question. He can talk about any issue in your terms. He will work together with people who have different opinions and worldviews.

Both Tomasky and Brooks got it right. We are sick and tired of finding fault, attacking each other, screaming past each other. It's time for gaining understanding, discussing problems rationally, and working together toward American solutions. It's time for introducing harmony into our political life.

It's time for civic healing. It's time for a uniter. It's time for the balm of Obama.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 21, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #200129

Surrounded by the right geopolitical support Obama might be the person. There is some merit to having someone not yet fully indoctrinated into national level politics (somewhat not entirely) in a position to pull the country together.

He will struggle against the weight of his inexperience. However, the country might want that much of a directional change. Thank you for the post.

Posted by: Edge at December 21, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #200132

My impression of Obama is that he needs a few more years of practical experience before he is truly ready, before he has truly passed the test. It’s good to have a politician out there spreading a uniting rather than dividing vision of the nation, but I can’t help but worry about whether his strengths range beyond simply being a magnificent public speaker.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2006 10:00 PM
Comment #200142


I just don’t get the Obama-mania craze.

What is his plan for Iraq?

What is his plan for dealing with terrorism?

What is his plan for dealing with border security and port security?

What is his plan for the 18% of American’s that lack health insurance?

Obama speaks well, but he paints with a wide brush and gives no indication of his ability to paint the trim.

If America survives until 2008 we need a seasoned leader. We Democrats are not going to come off well trying to balance a budget while Bush is still hell bent on tax cuts!

If we try to cut defense spending we’ll come off even worse. We’re in between a rock and a hard place. The hard place is Bush’s thick skull.

If Obama can convince all American’s that we all need to sacrifice to bring this ship back on course I might buy into the Barack-o-mania.

Until then I support Biden first and Richardson second.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 21, 2006 11:45 PM
Comment #200143

Don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t personally have it out for Obama in any way, but let’s be realistic here.

The flaw in your reasoning (and a massive flaw it is) is that if nominated Obama would not be running against George W. Bush, so it’s irrelevant to talk about Reagan vs. Carter or Clinton vs Bush, etc.

Despite the insane amount of press Obama currently gets, he’s not going to be able to coast forever on simply delivering warm-and-fuzzy platitudes that make white liberals feel good about themselves for supporting a black politician. And at some point, if he runs, his completely left-wing voting record (not to mention his shady real estate deal) are are going to get close scrutiny.

You’re deluding yourself if you think that David Brooks (who still says he doesn’t agree with Obama) in any way represents how conservatives feel—or will feel—about Obama.

Listening to the media, you could easily lose sight of the fact that even before Obama has talked about substantive issues and while he remains the “feel good” candidate, he still loses in polls to both McCain and Guliani. What’s worse, though, is that he trails Hillary in every poll—in some by as much as twenty points.

Obama, at this stage, is a bit like Howard Dean in the 04 election (and Dean actually maintained his momentum all the way to Iowa). Interesting to journalists and beloved of white liberals.

Now, if I were Obama and I wanted a shot at the White House, here is what I would do. Sit out the Democratic primaries, stay above the fray while continuing to deliver warm platitudes, thereby remaining unsullied, pepetuating the myth of Obama and avoiding the danger of crashing back to earth in the primaries as Dean did.

If he does this, he can very likely collect the VP nomination and then poise himself for a White House run as a clear known quantity and with the advantage of incumbency 8 years from now.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 22, 2006 12:01 AM
Comment #200156

Loyal Opposition, you must have sat attentively to any of his presentations. For you if had and listened with an unjaundiced ear, you would have heard a candidate capable of capturing the spirit, hopes, and dreams of America as no candidate has since JFK.

Lay low? No way. The more press Obama gets, the more speaking opportunities and air time he gets, the more public support he will achieve. There is a possibility this Democratic race will boil down to Clinton’s money and Obama’s popular support, and Obama will win, because the people have lost favor with wealthy candidates who buy their way into office like the current president did.

And when it comes to speech between Barack and any other Republican who could possibly be placed on stage with Obama, Obama will win, because the people are still looking for anything viable other than Republican.

The only person who can stop Obama is Obama, and his past if he has one injurious to his candidacy. I have not heard a candidate capture the heart and soul of what American voters want from leadership and for their country like Obama delivers since JFK. Hopefully, if elected, Obama will be a better leader in a broader range than JFK, because our country faces far more challenges today than in 1960.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 22, 2006 6:08 AM
Comment #200160

I get it…

Let’s elect someone who can deliver great inspiring speeches. BECAUSE, that is the most important thing.

The SECOND most important thing, is NOT having a past to base anything on or make judgements.

It’s a perfect combination.

A Smooth Talking Untested Nobody.

I’m sure that will STUN the electorate.

Posted by: cliff at December 22, 2006 8:48 AM
Comment #200163

What a clever rebuttal!
Here’s the explanation. The most important qualities in a leader are vision, determination, and the ability to inspire. The only way that we (the public) can get a glimpse of those qualities is through his/her public presentation (also known as speeches).
Yes, Obama can speak well. What a refreshing change. Obama has ideas, also a refreshing change. Obama has a vision of a whole American society, not just a wealthy uppercrust and trickle-down for the rest of us.
So, in summary, YES, I will choose a leader who can articulate achievable desirable goals for all of us.
Again, what a refreshing change.
Got any real criticism?

Posted by: Govt Skeptic at December 22, 2006 9:17 AM
Comment #200175

Honestly David, if what Americans want from a President is really what you say, we’d better off electing Barney (of the kid’s show—not Barney Frank) than electing Obama.

Barney would be just as good at articulating content-free sugar-coated vacuity.

Our spirit? Our hopes, our dreams? Huh? What baloney. Yes, we all do have hopes and dreams, but they come in conflict with other people’s hopes and dreams which is why a politician’s stand on specific ISSUES is important.

Your hopes and dreams are not the same as either a CEO, a labor boss, or an illegal immigrant. Obama can’t just toss sugar-canes to the audience if he’s a cadidate. He’ll have to take sides, just like everyone else, and thats where he looks like just another pol.

When Obama talks fluff, he looks good. When he talks issues, he’s talking hard core left wing dogma. And in an election, he would HAVE to talk issues.

Also, these audiences of supposedly average Americans who swoon over Obama—who are these people? Who would go throught the trouble to see Obama speea? White liberals. That’s who. Obama has done a nice job of winning over the 04 Dean voter, and as happened with Dean, people greatly exaggerate the significance of that accomplishment.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 22, 2006 10:57 AM
Comment #200176


That’s exactly the point…
There is nothing to Critique…
Are you STUNned?

Posted by: cliff at December 22, 2006 11:00 AM
Comment #200199

The most important qualities in a leader are vision, determination, and the ability to inspire? How do these things help you make the tough decisions? What happens when you have to chart a course for Iraq, react to a terrorist attack, or deal with a recession, to give a few possible examples? We have just gone through 6 years of a president who wasn’t qualified to have that office. Haven’t we learned our lesson?

Posted by: nchoosier at December 22, 2006 1:59 PM
Comment #200201

GWB had absolutely no leadership qualities to start with. He sold himself as a down-home simple-type guy. So as a result, a down-home, simple-type guy is screwing up our foreign policy, our GWOT, and every domestic issue or crisis (including 9/11) he’s touched.
My point is this: Obama can not only form coherent sentences, but has demonstrated that he can think a ways into the future. Just speaking coherent English puts him ahead of GWB, but obviously Obama has much more to offer.
Out of curiosity, what characterstics do you look for in a leader? “Grew up on a ranch”?

Posted by: Govt Skeptic at December 22, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #200219

Loyal Opposition, your comments appear to indicate you haven’t really listened to Obama. The hopes and dreams in common for Most Americans are peace, prosperity, liberty, and a better future for their children. Those hopes and dreams don’t conflict amongst the vast majority of Americans, and Obama is speaking directly to those hopes and dreams and offering strategic policy directions toward fulfilling them.

You really should try listening to him objectively and ask yourself objectively, what is he is saying that is taking the crowds by storm. It is precisely because he appeals to COMMON sense in the American people that makes him such a political threat to both Hillary and the Republicans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 22, 2006 8:24 PM
Comment #200221

Obama can talk about prosperity and hope for americans but the President has to do a lot more than just that. How would he deal with a domestic crisis like 9/11 or Katrina? Or a recession? A foreign crisis like the tsunami, or a nuclear confrontation with Iran or N. Korea?

Talking about domestic issues and giving people prosperity and hope, etc. isn’t enough. Also their own dreams aren’t the only guiding forces behind a person’s vote. Abortion is a big one. Obama apparently is quite pro-choice. This is quite a big handicap among many voters. Not everyone will go for a car in every garage or a chicken in every pot. There are other issues he will have to face.

Posted by: Silima at December 22, 2006 8:51 PM
Comment #200290

Silma, I expect Obama would follow his own knowledge, and where that knowledge is insufficient, he would do as all presidents do, rely on the more experienced advice of his advisors and consultants.

Bush, did the latter, he just lacked the former.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 24, 2006 8:21 AM
Comment #200358

Can you give me just one example where Obama stepped in on a big issue, talked the talk of others, brougth parties together, saved the day, and got something done?

I mean, you are telling us this is what he will do for us so you must being looking at situations where he has done it right?

He’s not just a pretty face from the radical far left that can talk “christian” is he?

Posted by: stephen L at December 25, 2006 5:11 PM
Comment #200663

Obama may be the right man at the right time, but does anyone, on the left or right, honestly believe Hillary and Bill will let him get the nomination if Hillary runs?

These two may be the most vicious and vindictive
political animals in American history. If Obama tries to run against the Clintons, they’ll eat him alive.

Posted by: ulysses at December 28, 2006 2:41 PM
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