The Obama Surge
Andrew Sullivan has a reader email post that captures, for me, the reason that Obama has been catching on of late and could very well knock Hillary Clinton aside in the run for the Democratic nomination. A sample:
It’s remarkable how little Obama has focused on black voters until now, but that may have been a savvy move. Fair or not, many African-American candidates get pidgeonholed [sic] as having only niche appeal. But Obama has spent all this time branding himself as a candidate who strives to transcend race, so that now when he has to campaign hard in the black community in South Carolina and elsewhere people don’t see him as limited to one constituency. Oprah is the perfect metaphor for that strategy. He’s trying to get the best of both worlds.
This strikes me as being right. His main obstacle to the nomination is his skin color and the fact that he would be the first black president. Assuaging the concerns of non-black voters first seems like the best approach to handling this problem and then doubling back to deal with the black voters. By doing this he assures non-black voters that he is not to be feared and then makes up with a constituency of which he is a natural part.
He also has some experience issues, but these can be overcome by his appeal to peoples’ hopes and a desire to break with the past. Hillary Clinton has the same issues with experience with just four additional years in elected office. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Clinton has decided to attack his “naked ambition” by revealing a third-grade essay where he says he wants to be president. She has her own naked ambition (notice the lack of ironic quotes) that’s far more obvious and pernicious; she’s trying to attack him from the ambition angle before he does the same to her, a common tactic among politicians.
On a completely unrelated note, before I recently moved to Chicago I hadn’t had a land-line telephone since 1999. I’m starting to remember why. I didn’t realize that telephone spam had emerged as a problem. Some scam artist with an automated dialing machine (company name PFS, 317 area code) has been calling me and claiming that I have a very large debt that’s past due with a company I’ve never heard of. This alone is about enough to get me to abandon the land line again. Be warned.