Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dowd Pushes Obama

In a contrast to the column by Leonard Pitts Jr earlier this week, Maureen Dowd seems to think, based on his appearance at the Gridiron Dinner, that Barack Obama is just what the Democrats need.

It may be true that Americans, as one Democrat told me, “will never elect a guy as president who has a name like a Middle East terrorist.” And it may be true that Democrats are racing like lemmings toward a race where, as one moaned, “John McCain will dribble Hillary Clinton’s head down the court like a basketball.”

But the clever, elegant performance by Mr. Obama — who is intent on keeping his head down in the Senate until he, too, can be a tedious insider — underscored the Democratic vacuum. Not only do the Democrats “stand for anything,” as Mr. Obama semijoked, but they have no champion at a time when people are hungry for an exciting leader, when the party should be roaring and soaring against the Bushies’ power-mad stumbles. They should groom an ’08 star who can run on the pledge of doing what’s right instead of only what’s far right.


The weak and pathetic Democrats seem to move inexorably toward candidates who turn a lot of people off. They should find someone captivating with an intensely American success story — someone like Senator Obama, Tom Brokaw or some innovative business mogul who’s less crazy than Ross Perot — and shape the campaign around that leader. Barack Obama is 44. J.F.K., who had a reputation as a callow playboy and lawmaker who barely knew his way around the Hill, was 43 when he became president.


The Democrats should not dismiss a politically less experienced but personally more charismatic prospect as “an empty vessel.” Maybe an empty vessel can fill the room.

I throw this out there with the caveat that it doesn’t mean a whole lot right now to be dreaming about who’s going to run in 2008 when we still have the midterm elections coming up in less than eight months. If the Democrats cannot put together a winning message and use the huge advantage handed to them by having a Republican president and Congress whose popularity is roughly equivalent to that of a wet dog at a wedding, getting all dreamy and creamy about Sen. Obama is just a waste of time.