Campaigns/Elections

Obama: Running for President, or For Prestige?

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John Fund at the Wall St. Journal thinks it quite likely that everyone is jumping the gun on the "Obama is running for president" thing. If he

chooses to sit 2008 out, he won't be the first person to play the media like a fiddle, being coy about his intentions in order to boost his profile. Al Gore has followed his wife's advice to leave the door open for a 2008 presidential bid in part to fuel interest in his global-warming documentary and book. Similarly, Mr. Obama knew what he was doing in October when he announced his interest in a presidential candidacy at the very moment his new book reached the stores. Since then, "Audacity of Hope" has reached the top of the best-seller lists, selling more than 400,000 copies.

In addition to all the consultants who are urging him to run, Mr. Obama has other advisers who are telling him that at age 45 he can afford to wait. He also could easily find himself on the top of her list of potential running mates. "A Clintion-Obama ticket would be the most powerful turnout machine you can imagine for the Democratic base in 2008," one Democratic congressman who knows both of them told me. "He might be better positioned to be president if he first ran for vice president. If Hillary won, he would be the heir apparent. If she lost, no one would blame him for that."

For all the disappointment the national media might express at an Obama noncandidacy, he could marshal his rhetorical skills and deliver a superb speech that would deepen his long-term appeal to the electorate.

As with lots of things (but not everything) involving elections, I'd say fundraising amounts in the next 6 months is the place to look to see who is for real and who is just floating trial balloons for the glee of watching them be batted around.

NEXT: "Pact Clears Way for Westinghouse to Build Nuclear Plants in China," Reports WaPo

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  1. Hopefully Obama will wait. What makes a person think that one term in the Senate qualifies a person for the presidency? John Edwards is just such a presumptuous jackass. I hope Obama gets more experience before any bids for the presidency. After he’s been through the wringer a few times, then we’ll see how good he looks. Otherwise, we’d just be voting for or against a smile and best selling book.

  2. Overall, I think that the Democrats would be committing political suicide to, at this point in history, run a woman and a black man for the presidency. Personally, I’d almost vote for them for just that reason, but they’d lose enough votes in the South that to do so would be a serious mistake.

    On the other hand, the fact that it’s not sheer lunacy to even suggest them doing so is very encouraging. 🙂

  3. personally, i’d like to see obama stay in illinois and run for governor some day. with that executive experience, i think he’d have a better shot. (y’know – that whole senators v. governors when running for president thing).

    of course, it’s be better if once gov of illinois, he just stayed there and didn’t run for pres.

  4. it’s = it’d which is an awkward contraction in itself, but that’s what i meant.

  5. I’m more or less indifferent to whether or not he runs (or wins), but to do so would seem foolhardy at this point. As the unnamed Democratic congressman notes, the V.P. slot would seem ideal right now. He should go for the brass ring in 2012 or 2016, when he’ll still be quite young.

  6. grylliade,

    The number of racists/sexists who honestly wouldn’t vote for a woman or a “black” man so insignificant as to be moot, especially when you count the people who’d vote for them specifically because they were not completely-white-males.

  7. After he’s been through the wringer a few times, then we’ll see how good he looks. Otherwise, we’d just be voting for or against a smile and best selling book.

    Wow. So you want someone that is completely bereft of character and integrity?

  8. Overall, I think that the Democrats would be committing political suicide to, at this point in history, run a woman and a black man for the presidency. Personally, I’d almost vote for them for just that reason,

    In that case, how are you any better than the people who would vote against them because of gender/race?

    Obama is a liberal’s liberal. I saw David Brooks swooning over him the other day on Meet the Press while acknowledging that he disagrees with him on most issues. He was like a high school girl with a crush on the jock who she knows is no good for her.

  9. Mr. Obama has other advisers who are telling him that at age 45 he can afford to wait.

    That’s true, but I imagine that he has other advisers who will tell him that politicians have a shelf-life when it comes to running for president and they also have a point. Perhaps he will wait, but if he does he will lose all his momentum and be seen as yet another creature of Capitol Hill before too long. The time for him to run is very soon or never.

  10. I couldn’t agree more. If I were him, I’d run. If your goal is to be POTUS, and you have a shot, you have to take it. Forget this waiting business.

    If he waits, he will have accumulated enough votes on issues in the Senate to have alienated virtually everyone.

  11. This is what happens when there is a charisma vacuum. The first good-looking smooth-talker to stick his toe in the water becomes a rock star. You now, this is how (ahem, cough) Hitler got elected. Watch your back, Hillary.

  12. I don’t think any of the Senators of either party are going to be elected Prez in 2008. They have a very poor track record.

  13. Obama would not cost a Clinton/Obama ticket one southern state–as Billy Preston once famously sang, nuthin’ from nuthin’ leaves nuthin’. This presumes the GOP does not nominate a nut, or Mitt Romney and his semi-impersonation of a nut.

    It might cost an Edwards/Obama or Gore/Obama ticket one, however.

  14. In that case, how are you any better than the people who would vote against them because of gender/race?

    I did say “almost.” Much more likely, I’ll hate both major party candidates and vote libertarian.


    The number of racists/sexists who honestly wouldn’t vote for a woman or a “black” man so insignificant as to be moot, especially when you count the people who’d vote for them specifically because they were not completely-white-males.

    I think that if Hillary had a white male running mate, or if Obama were running with a white male running mate (or as a mate to him), that’d be easier. A woman with a black running mate will be a hard sell. It might be subconscious, just like people don’t consciously vote for the taller candidate. In the present political climate, where tenths of percentage points might mean the difference in a presidential race, they might lose just enough support to lose the race.

    Of course, the people who might be disinclined to vote for non-white males might never vote for a Democratic candidate anyways. It might be a moot point. And maybe the gains might be greater than the losses. But in the end I think that the Democrats will be a little more cautious than that, and Obama will only get a chance if someone other than Hillary gets the nod.

  15. “The number of racists/sexists who honestly wouldn’t vote for a woman or a “black” man so insignificant as to be moot”

    Uh, where do you live?

  16. The Dems are idiots. There is no way in hell Hillary “My husband fucks interns with cigars” Clinton will become the first female POTUS.

  17. I don’t think that race/gender are such handicaps in themselves — rather it’s the presumptions they feed. If a female/ethnic minority ticket with conservative political records ran on a strong center/right platform, the classic “only Nixon could go to China” effect would apply. I think they’d pick up more votes from conservatives happy to feel open-minded than they’d lose from hardcore sexist/racists. The problem Hillary/Obama would face is that the current of social prejudices would make it that much harder for them to pretend to be less left-leaning than they are.

  18. I hope Obama runs…because it’s bad for McCain. In 2000 McCain benefited from lots of independents who opted for the Republican primary since the Democratic primary was a complete non-event. McCain runs far weaker among “true” Republicans.

    The more interesting the Democratic primary is, the worse off McCain is.

  19. John Fund is out of his mind if he thinks that the path to an Obama presidency lies through a vice presidency from Clinton. (Though the set up is kinda just like a Chris Rock joke that i’m sure lots of folks have heard).

    If there is any chance that he could actually pull through he needs to go ahead and do it now. Americans are fickle. You’re here one day and gone later that same day, so four years from now he could be a relative nobody, as far as *it* power goes.

  20. Perry,

    i’m inclined to agree and disagree. it seems that americans are indeed fickle – but in my mind that is contained to pop culture.

    however, when i look at politics, it seems like it’s all the same players from when my parents were my age. in this regard, obama (now that he’s established in national politics) has the potential to be on a ballot that my own kids may be eligible to vote on.

    and i don’t have any kids!

  21. “Wow. So you want someone that is completely bereft of character and integrity?”

    Um, “integrity” is not where Obama’s strongest suits lie. When you’re heavily involved with Chicago real estate developers, things like integrity can be deal breakers.

  22. grylliade,

    Screw the South. The blue-on-blue states plus just one or two in the southwest or mountain west (or Ohio) equals Teh Victory.

    andy,

    It isn’t the out-and-out bigots voting against someone because they’re black or female that are the problem. It’s those who have latent prejudices that make them easily manipulated. Very often, these exist right alongside the desire to vote for a minority of female candidate to show how unprejudiced you are (the political equivalent of showing off your black friends).

    After the Republicans run a few scary “Willie Horton” type ads, we would hear people saying, “I’d love to vote for a black president, but I think Barack Obama is just too sympathetic to criminals and thugs.”

    After they run a few “judgement on national security” ads, we would hear people saying, “I’d love to vote for a woman for president, but I just don’t think Hillary Clinton projects a strong image for our country.”

  23. Joe, what color is the sky in your world?

  24. I think you’re correct Joe. People like this red/green/blue character have apparently forgotten that Karl Rove ever existed, or that Karl Rove wasn’t even the first GOPer to stoop to sleaze. The left can get sleazy to, but the old “he does it too” isn’t much of a defense, now is it?

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