In the Arena

The Case Against Obama

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The founders of Politico, Jim VandeHei and John Harris, have stepped up today with a comprehensive case against the Obama candidacy–and, whether you like it or not, there’s enough political reality there to give any Democrat pause. There are, however, two or three counter-arguments that can be made:

1. Obama is a terrific politician and, compared to John McCain, he will have some distinct advantages–namely that his description of the country’s problems, and his proposed solutions, will be closer to what Americans actually want than McCain’s will be. It’s difficult to bring God and guns to the fore at a moment when 81% of the people think we have really serious problems. He also has an advantage when it comes to demeanor: he’s cool under fire and McCain can get pretty hot. Politics is not static–and what seems set in stone now (white working class disapproval of Obama) can change in the fall.

2. Clinton isn’t exactly a strong alternative. She’s really offended a crucial Democratic constituency: African-Americans. She would bring out Republican voters in droves. And this statement isn’t true:

Clinton has her own baggage, to put it mildly. But it’s been rummaged through for years, so what Democrats see is pretty much what they would get.

There is, in fact, a massive new truckload of baggage yet to be unpacked: the buckraking that former President Clinton has done in countries like Kazakhstan and Colombia.

A few weeks ago, I surmised that if the two Democratic candidates continued on their downward trajectories, the party could turn to Al Gore. Obama proceeded to have a pretty strong couple of weeks while Clinton had to duck some fairly intense sniper fire. Now, Obama is on his (Achilles) heels…and Democrats can envision his candidacy as the latest installment of the Adlai Stevenson-George McGovern-John Kerry trajectory of high-minded candidates who can’t scare up the votes necessary to win. As I said, there are some strong counter-arguments to the Obama Disaster scenario. But is there anyone out there who can argue that these Democratic candidates are getting stronger as this thing proceeds?