December 10, 2007
Will Oprah Winfrey's endorsement swing next year's presidential election? Maybe. Her appearance with Barack Obama before huge crowds in Iowa and South Carolina over the past couple days showed how much energy she can generate in our celebrity-crazed society, but getting the voters out to the polls on Election Day is another question entirely. And, no, those folks who vote for Obama will not get a free car from Oprah.
Obama-mania is not exclusive to the Democratic side. In The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan (a disaffected conservative) gets a bit carried away extolling the unique virtues of Sen. Obama, who he thinks is the right candidate at the right time in U.S. history. Obama, Sullivan believes, is the real "bridge to the 21st Century."
[H]e could take America--finally--past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. ...
In other words, he would transform American politics, in a sort of paradigm shift, and thereby steal the rhetorical thunder of the screeching polarizers such as Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, and Keith Olberman. Well, that would certainly be nice, but somehow I don't Obama would have that much impact. Furthermore, I really don't think that the Iraq War will be the central issue in the 2008 campaign, contrary to what Sullivan thinks. I think the economy will be the main focus.
In the National Review (story link not available), Rich Lowry has a more convincing take on Obama, noting his heritage: "Barack Obama comes from a long line of thoughtful, achingly idealistic reformers in Democratic presidential politics." They are very inspirational and rally a devoted cadre of followers, but in the end they lose -- all except for Jimmy Carter in 1976, that is. Like Carter, and unlike Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, or Gary Hart, Obama has oodles of personal charm, and that could make the difference. Yet Obama has an inherent weakness similar to Carter: a penchant for blaming the United States for the resentment other countries express toward us. For most Americans, that line of thinking is a hard sell.
Perhaps the bigger story is getting lost in the shuffle: the rapid meltdown of front-runner Hillary Clinton's campaign. "The taller they stand, the harder they fall."
I have reshuffled the lower-ranking GOP presidential candidates, moving Mitt Romney up to sixth place, and moving Tom Tancredo down to seventh place. I'm still a little leery of Romney's slick appearance and tendency to recalibrate policy positions, but he sounds reasonable on most of the issues. Plus, he has that elusive presidential "timbre." On the other hand, Romney's Mormon affiliation also concerns me. The more I read about it, the more convinced I am that Mormons fall outside the theological parameters of Christianity, and I'm not sure this country is ready for such a big step. Meanwhile, Ron Paul slips back to last place, mostly because I am leery of his over-eager true-believing
insurgents supporters, who recently created a big ruckus at the GOP "Advance" in Arlington.