In a blog post at the National Review Online, reporter Jim Geraghty asked the question, "Once you take away Barack Obama’s likeability… what’s left?"
What indeed! What has he got going for him or what have his opponents got going against them? Hillary has been asking herself the same question, you may be sure. Speaking as a recent, and reluctantly former, John Edwards supporter, I would be glad to tell Mr Geraghty what is left as I see it:
Going for Obama:
- Obama actually can think on his feet and speak the language with clear force...he will not be our second aphasic-in-chief. He is not less able in this regard than McCain or Clinton
- Alone among all the presidential hopefuls, Obama was the solitary person to oppose the war when it was not popular to do so. THAT is leadership No one else can play that card and spinning the issue will show like a paunch on a fashion model.
- He was not born to money, certainly not to power and he has not had power for long. Make a weakness of that if you can Hillary but it means his support is coming from individuals rather than institutions to a far greater degree that your room full of the usual consultants can ascertain by a few phone calls.
- the highest forclosure rate in decades
- a crisis in the banking industry that will only be partially relieved by letting the oil Sheiks own our banks
- recession, one signaled by furious backpedaling at the Fed, one whose bark the fanboys of the MSM financial pages claim to hear in the "technical" distance and whose bite job seekers feel today
- An unwinnable war in a country that had neither terrorists nor WMD, a war that bleeds our treasury and divides our people and multiplies the enmities that gave rise to the treachery of a few Islamic fanatics.
- A country defiled with its descent into the lower rungs of human rights abusers: spying on citizens, torturing suspects. Even McCain has waffled on torture and only the utter dead enders still stand for our nation's pointless new cruelty.
The virtues of Obama may seem slight but the vices of present leadership, the price we all sense we will pay to set things right and the taint of association with that corrupt leadership fall on every other candidate. Mr. Geraghty, you may well wonder what has Obama got but the problem your strategists can't fix is that they have the stench of Bush/Cheney that will not wash off. Let me ask you a rhetorical question: How did your man Bush manage to make "anything to avoid more of the same" into a feeling so thoroughly spread among the population that all sorts of presumptions of power and attractiveness, including Hillary's, are falling like lead balloons? And let me give your hunkered down party strategists some free advice: disown and repudiate the Bush years and agendas as soon and loudly as you can...or else the majority of us, whatever our former political labeling, will have an easy decision to make.
Even if Krugman were correct in portraying some of Obama's support as cult worship, he is probably wrong in supposing it to be shallow or short lived. If we have a Barockstar Obama it is because people are desperate to escape the despair and disrepair brought on by the unbridled application of Neoconservative priorities and George Bush's "values". The unconscious calculation of voters as a ground swell that did not become a visible tsunami until it came ashore in the polling booth might be summed up thusly: "the less you are like Bush or the less you are associated with Bush, the better you are." I do not mean to belittle Obama's stellar organizing and speaking abilities, his high intelligence or his bone-deep appreciation of America's genius for enabling an ambitious up-from-nowhere rise to prominence...but to answer Mr Geraghty's question, it might be best for republicans to look in the mirror and take a little advice from Shakespeare: The fault dear Brutus is not in our rock stars but in ourselves.
Whats left? Quite a bit on the left actually. And we owe thanks for it. We thank you Messrs. Rove, Cheney, Bush, Kristol and Wolfowitz for being so spectacularly bad that even a Southern Baptist can finally smell it. We thank you for being so blind, so tolerant of lies and corruption, that doubts spatter from you like blood and excrement onto those who still witlessly or dishonestly praise your programs and play with words to put a good spin on your purposes.