Obama: Running for President, or For Prestige?


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.