Thursday, February 08, 2007

The "A" Word

I am going to start giving my take on the presidential frontrunners. Barack Obama seems like a good place to start.

Last week Senator Biden got in a lot of trouble for praising Obama. The word that most people seem to have the most trouble with is "articulate". It seems that, by calling Obama articulate, Biden implied that other blacks are not.

There is more to it than that. Yes, Obama can speak without substituting "axe" for "ask" and he forgoes rhyming couplets but there is more to it than that.

Right now Obama is either first or second in the race for the Democratic nomination. Why? He has very little experience. He has only served two years in the Senate and before that he was in the Illinois legislature. That's not much of a record to run on. As far as I know, he has not distinguished himself as an international expert. He has a book out but his name was topping the polls before it went to the printer. He doesn't have any signature issues. I doubt that most people can say where he stands on any issue except for the war (surprise - he's against it).

So why is he rocketing to the top of polls?

It's mainly because he gave kick-ass keynote speech at the 2004 convention. He connected with the crowd in a way that Kerry and Hillary can only dream of. He is one of the few Democrats who can speak of God without sounding like he is pandering.

In other words, he is articulate.

This isn't an insult. It is a rarity.

Nether Bush, father or son, is articulate. Gore (lockbox) sounds like a university professor. Kerry (I voted for it before I voted against it) manage to make Bush look polished.

So Obama is in the race because he is articulate. He just hasn't figured out what to articulate, yet. He is currently trying to create a campaign that will preserve his status as a fresh, young, outsider - the first post-boomer candidate.

None of this tells us what he would be like as President. Given his total lack of executive experience, I suspect that his first years would be a learning experience. It took Clinton two years before he really got a handle on the job and he was a former governor. Carter never did figure it out and he was also a governor.

Does today's world allow time for on-the-job training for a president?

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