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July 30, 2004


I just drifted through Ofari's website wondering if anyone over there was talking about Barack Obama, who has become an instant celebrity. I think the site is broken, but I did find something interesting. More on that later. What I didn't find was any discussion about Obama or any issues associated with him. Similarly, at Obama's blog, I have only found relatively tepid steps into issues and policy, not that I expected much more from someone campaigning.

It is somewhat annoying to me that people have so quickly gone from 'Barack Who?' to 'Obama for President'. What was the name of that song? Holding out for a Hero. His instant celebrity and instant credibility are suspect and I'm not buying it. I say this with the recognition that he has come to celebrity the right way, by being clean in the face of scandal drowning people opposing him. Unless you're the DA who convicts Charles Manson, or the doctor who cures cancer, there's probably not a better way to get famous. Hell, we've already forgotten the name of the CO who captured Saddam Hussein.

I have no doubt that Barack Obama is everything he appears to be. He's sharp, charming, educated and all that. He is in many ways a textbook example of the class of African Americans I've always associated with. But what has he got that Carol Mosely Braun ain't got? If you put him head to head against Harold Ford, Jr. How does he compare? If you had a choice between Obama and Michael Steele, who would you choose and why? These are the sorts of question that I believe very few Americans are prepared to answer. He simply represents somebody who is not first generation black politico, Obama is a Not-Sharpton. That's a good thing yet I think he's yet to show that he's the equal of any of those African American politicians.

While I'm no presidential scholar, I have come to regard with skepticism that the VP is somehow a 'natural' choice for succession. Nixon made it and Johnson did under extraordinary circumstances as did Ford, but Vice-President is just as often a dead-end job. So people thinking Edwards-Obama aren't saying anything and further I don't think the Senate is the place to show leadership of the sort that makes for presidential material. So in a certain way, he's dead ending. I'd never vote Russ Feingold as president, but I sure am glad he's done what he has in the Senate. Obama is way back in the line behind John McCain. Still it's all good; sometimes a black Senator is just a black Senator.

The difficulty here is that the same kind of instant recognition that Obama is getting, especially from African Americans, is exactly the kind of thing that I expect could be a windfall for the Republican Party. The right focus and exposure on somebody who is good enough is all you need to gain momentum in this game. Obama's cred is proof that it is a game and that he's playing it right, because quite frankly (and I'm a Republican) if I had to shoot one of the two based on their value to African Americans, it wouldn't be Charlie Rangel. But I'm willing to play the opportunity game, that's why I am in the GOP. The future is more important than the past, the most important question is whether or not, as a black Senator Obama will have to prove himself worthy by answering the same old questions. If so, he's just another sacrifice waiting to happen.

I think we should let Mr. Obama win his election and actually perform admirably in the Senate before we go annointing him black messiah. Not that that's stopping anyone.

Posted by mbowen at July 30, 2004 09:30 AM

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They need him from The Mulatto Advocate
Cobb has an interesting take on Barack Obama's seemingly overnight celebrity. Hat tip to Molotov for the link. My take on it is that the Democrats know they need someone like Obama right now. Cobb nails the reason perfectly with... [Read More]

Tracked on July 30, 2004 02:37 PM

MICHAEL BOWEN COMMENTARY: Baracklash from Booker Rising
While he compliments his positive attributes, Cobb finds Barack Obama's instant celebrity and credibility suspect. "It is somewhat annoying to me that people have so quickly gone from 'Barack Who?' to 'Obama for President'. What was the name of that ... [Read More]

Tracked on July 31, 2004 08:57 PM


Nixon made it and Johnson did under extraordinary circumstances as did Ford, but Vice-President is just as often a dead-end job.

Ford is almost the exception that proves the rule, as both his short-lived Presidency and his even shorter Vice Presidency were a fluke (arguably two flukes, but given their proximity I'm counting them as one). Ford finished Nixon's term, and was done. If not for both Watergate and his own corruption charges as governor of Maryland, would Vice President Agnew have gone on to make a name for himself? Maybe, but I kinda doubt it.

Posted by: Xrlq at July 30, 2004 11:13 AM

My question is: given all Obama's obvious skills, and (apparently) his value set, whatever made him decide he was a Democrat? What is there in his principles that keep him from a Republican alignment?

Posted by: True_Liberal at July 30, 2004 02:31 PM

He's a Democrat because:

1/ he supports universal health care (i.e., socialist health care)

2/ he opposes school vouchers

3/ he supports affirmative action

4/ he opposes the war in Iraq

5/ he is pro-choice on the abortion issue

6/ he supports an internationalist foreign policy (i.e., involve the U.N.)

7/ he opposes supply-side economics

8/ he opposes outsourcing of jobs overseas

To name a few items.

Posted by: molotov at July 30, 2004 04:50 PM

Gee, is that all???

Posted by: True_Liberal at July 30, 2004 06:55 PM

Fascinating. He is in absolutely no position to do anything about any of those issues.

Posted by: Cobb at July 30, 2004 08:07 PM

I've just gotten back from Chicago. While there i visited my friend, Martha Mills. She's a lawyer who won civil rights cases before the Supreme Court back in the 1960s and then went on to a distinguished career as a corporate litigator. That becme both boring and disguisting so she's now legal counsel to the Cook County Treasurer.

She's known Obama for 20 years and says he's the real deal. Her somewhat more conservative husband, a Greek restauranteur, likes him too.

Posted by: Bill Benzon at July 31, 2004 12:56 AM

I like him as well, but as I said, I am most interested in what his candidacy and represents. As JFK was the first Catholic President, that soon was overshadowed by the events and character of his presidency. So I'm wondering if Obama's Senatorial ascendancy takes what black politics are considered into a new direction.

Posted by: Cobb at July 31, 2004 10:49 AM

"What is there in his principles that keep him from a Republican alignment?"

The Republican Party itself?

"He is in absolutely no position to do anything about any of those issues."

That can be explained by the fact that he hasn't been elected yet, don't you think? After his is, he can then vote yea or nea on thoise issues. After a few years and some seniority he can do even more than that.

Posted by: walter at July 31, 2004 10:20 PM

[...] On the main deck, the crew are transfixed.

Mouse : So what if he makes it?

Tank : No one's ever made the first jump...

Mouse : I know, I know...but what if he does?

Apoc : He won't.

Mouse : Come on..

Trinity : Come on....

Neo takes another deep breath

Neo : All right, no problem...free my mind. Free my mind..All right.

Neo concentrates and runs.

Summoning every ounce of strength in his legs, Neo launches himself into the air in a single maniacal shriek - But comes up drastically short.

His eyes widen as he plummets. Stories fly by, the ground rushing up at him, but as he hits - The ground gives way, stretching like a trapeze net.

He bounces and flips, slowly coming to a rest, flat on his back.

He laughs, a bit unsure, wiping the wind-blown tears from his face.

Morpheus exits the building and helps him to his feet.

Inside the Nebuchadnezzar, the crew are feeling kind of let down by Neo.

Mouse : Wha...what does this mean?

Switch : It doesn't _mean_ anything...

Cypher : Everybody falls the first time. Right, Trin? [...]

Posted by: George at July 31, 2004 10:41 PM