Sunday, January 06, 2008

Obamamania

Obamamania is foaming and bubbling in America’s stew pot of opinion and commentary.

George Will, no progressive, views Obama as the only adult in a squabbling classroom of fossilized politicians caught in the imprisoning amber of yesteryear: “Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee -- an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic ‘fights’ against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.”

Dick Morris, certainly not a progressive and no longer a boot licking Clintonite, agrees: “Suddenly, the Clintons have become old before our eyes. They are, as if by magic, now part of the past, no longer inevitable in the future. It took Obama and Huckabee to put them there, but they have become the couple that can’t stop thinking about yesterday.”

According to New York Time scold Maureen Dowd, even some Republicans have slipped by night into the Obama camp: “I interviewed three Republicans in the Obama section of the [Iowa] caucus who were ready for the red state, blue state merger. They said they didn’t want Hill and Bill back in the White House, and that John McCain was too much of a yes man for W, who had betrayed Republicans with his handling of the Iraq war and his fiscal irresponsibility.” On a sour note, one tends to dismiss airily the opinions of those who so joyfully fall into the clutches of new-age neo-pagans.

Grace Vuoto, the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal, certainly no progressive, thinks that Obama may have more than an even chance of becoming president, owing mostly to a propitious correlation of forces.

She points out that the Hillary Bill Clinton co-presidency has more skeletons in its closet than Obama: “…it is Mrs. Clinton, not Mr. Obama, who cannot be elected. In last week's Fox 5-The Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports poll, 40 percent of Americans state they will vote to prevent Mrs. Clinton from becoming president. She gets the largest "anti-vote" of any candidate in both parties: 64 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of third-party or independent voters, and 17 percent of Democrats insist they will vote against her. Hence, the Clinton camp's recent attempt to malign Mr. Obama as unelectable is pure farce. It is like telling Democrats to be afraid of a toy pistol while ignoring a bazooka which is being aimed at them. In a general campaign, Republicans will go nuclear against Mrs. Clinton.”

According to Vuoto, Obama’s view on illegal immigration, less punishing towards illegal immigrants than many Republican presidential contenders, exploits a division between Republicans and business people who have recoiled at the the rigorous enforcement of immigration laws. Many Republicans are understandably ticked off at the leaders of their party who have abandoned conservative principles and would vote for Obama if only to administer a lesson to backsliding Republican leaders.

“The secret among conservatives,” she writes, “is that many are rooting for Mr. Obama — and many will even vote for him in a general election no matter how liberal he is. Why? He will be heroic for defeating Hillary; he is authentic, and he is likeable even in disagreement.”

Lastly, there is the question of political dynasties and electability. Having struggled through a Bush dynasty, the country may understandably be averse to a Clinton dynasty. It is not always true that the evil you know is better than the evil you do not know. It has been known for some time that Hillary Clinton is a polarizing figure. According to a recent CNN/WMUR poll, New Hampshire voters tagged Obama as the Democrat candidate most likely to beat a Republican rival; Obama has a 42%-31% edge over Clinton on the issue of “electability.”
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