I would really like to think that Barack Obama is the great hope of the Democratic party. He’s got it all; smarts, charm, looks, the whole package. But as Matt Stoller points out, he’s like a bag of chips that, when you open it, you find that the contents have settled and there’s not as much in there as you were expecting.
Obama likes to passive aggressively excuse his non-impact in the Senate by talking about how he’s 98th in seniority. The problem is that the 98th in seniority argument is reasonable only if Obama rhetorically acknowledges that he can’t get anything done when he’s speaking. What he’s doing, though, is playing to the crowd by criticizing those in Washington (as if that doesn’t include him) for acting small while giving excuses to progressives as to why he himself must act small.
It is important to read the Sirota column linked in Matt’s post to get a feel for the real Obama, and, quite frankly, Sirota’s take is pretty much the vibe that I have gotten from watching the Senator from Illinois. I don’t know if he is overly cautious by nature or if he is allowing himself to be held hostage by the dreaded consultants from the Clinton years who have convinced everyone that they were responsible for the selling of Bill Clinton when selling Bill Clinton was like trying to sell ice water in the desert.
I would buy Obama’s deference to leaders in the Democratic party if I felt that were any leaders in the Democratic party (Anyone? Anyone?) but he doesn’t seem to want to fill the void and so we end up with a bland parsing pol who spends all of his time trying to not leave anything distinctive on his permanent record…and we already have an Evan Bayh. Personally I’m tired of Democrats who are obsessed with process and talking about how they need to get their message out. There comes a time to decide what you stand for…and then stand for it.
I don’t have a horse in the 2008 Presidential election and I’ll vote for any Democrat short of the Joe’s (Lieberman and Biden), I only have one requirement for my candidate: someone who can win. And for that, and because both parties bases are pretty much set in stone, you need someone who can excite the mushy middle (also known as the “independents”) and I don’t think that you can get them off the couch them with more mush.
If you want to lead the party, then lead. Otherwise stop wasting my time and sucking the air out of the room…