TAKING THE FIRST STEP: IT ONLY GETS HARDER FROM HERE
It's hard to ignore when lots of supporters are urging it, and political pundits are suggesting you're gonna do it. At some point, it'll eventually get to you, so it was no surprise that U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D - IL) announced Tuesday that he would form an exploratory committee to discover the amount of support he would have for a possible presidential campaign next year.
The excerpts of his speech I saw were well written and on target. You can read the text here.
There is no doubt that this fresh face from Chicago is an extremely intelligent individual, not afraid to sit down with all sides and discuss an issue and actually consider all arguments. And there's no doubt that he seems to be well liked and respected by numerous people across the nation; one only has to read about the rock star-type receptions the senator receives nearly anywhere he speaks.
But as today's editorial in the Chicago Tribune notes, it ain't gonna be that easy.
He will have to change the perception held by a good number of people, including many African-Americans, that a black man cannot be elected president. He will have to change the notion that a relative newcomer to national politics cannot be elected president. He will have to change the thought that it will be U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's year to make history by being the first woman elected president.
That is a lot of change, indeed, for one man to accomplish as he begins the long quest for what the cynic Ambrose Bierce called "the greased pig" in the American political arena.
To his eternal credit, Obama has at least given himself the time.
With a full brace of campaign advisers on board and enough charisma to weather even some of the most perilous bumps, the Illinois senator now has his chance at making history.
But before the home-staters start chilling down the champagne and preparing for the big inaugural celebration, here are some names and numbers to remember from March 2002: Al Gore (26 percent), Hillary Clinton (19 percent), Tom Daschle (8 percent), Joe Lieberman (7 percent), Dick Gephardt (7 percent), John Kerry (6 percent), John Edwards (2 percent) and Howard Dean (1 percent.)
That was the lineup based on polling support for candidates two years before the 2004 presidential election.
Of course, we know at the end Kerry and Edwards --- two of the near bottom rungers in that poll --- were the Democratic standard bearers in 2004.
One of the best damn bloggers in Florida, the Miami-based Bark Bark Woof Woof, points out that the right wingers will have a harder time finding trash to attack the Illinois senator on:
They will go after his lack of experience in government and foreign policy, although they will have a little trouble doing it with a straight face given the current occupant of the Oval Office. (Mr. Obama has said he will address that issue immediately by launching his campaign in Springfield, Illinois, the home and burial site of Abraham Lincoln, who served all of two years in Congress before becoming president.) They will dig up the fact that he once used cocaine, but Mr. Obama already brought up that issue several years ago in his own book and actually uses it as a talking point for showing how a young man on the road to ruin can turn himself around. Again, he's inoculated himself against attacks by the likes of well-known vice admirals like Rush Limbaugh (although rank hypocrisy and self-inflicted irony has never stopped him before) and Bill Bennett.
Then they will play their last card and do a big build-up to ask the most irrelevant yet brow-furrowing question of all: Is America Ready for a President Obama? Ah, the open-ended question; leaving it up to the responder to define what being "ready" means: are we ready for a black man in the White House? Are we ready for a president whose middle name is Hussein and whose last name ends with a vowel?
The answer is that it's a bullshit question and the only reason they ask it is because they can't come up with anything else that doesn't sound racist, trivial or just plain stupid.
And while we're bringing up the idea of racist, trivial, or just plain stupid, it should be noted here that Senator Obama is not the only individual who announced the formation of a exploratory committee. Congressman Tom Tancredo (R - CO) says there is a void among the Republicans looking at the 2008 campaign, "being a true conservative with a conservative history". While Tancredo is likely best known for his hard-line stance on immigration, all we really need to know is that 1) he's the lawmaker who insulted the people of Miami, Florida, and the idea of the "melting pot" of diversity which makes America the great nation that she is by calling the South Florida city a "third world country", and that 2) he voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina (H.R. 3673). I'm a native of South Mississippi, and had family and friends who were affected by that terrible storm...it wasn't just New Orleans and the surrounding area. It doesn't matter: A vote against assisting the people of the affected area, many of whom lost much or all of what they had, was simply an unforgivable decision. Just remember what we here went through only a couple of years ago with four hurricanes...what if a chump like this had voted against helping here? That's all one needs to know. Tancredo should crawl back in his Colorado snowbank and hibernate.