12 February 2007

Obama for President

Okay, I have to admit it: slowly but surely, I'm becoming an Obama believer.

Like everyone else, I have no idea how it'll all pan out. And my support today -- more than 18 months from the actual election, after all! -- is defeasible: he could do something stupid on the campaign trail, he could adopt a stance on an important issue (domestic or international) that deviates sharply from my own, etc. But I like this guy: I like how his mind works; I appreciate what distinguishes him from mainstream politicians; I'm struck by his humility; and I find myself optimistic about the shift in the perception of this country that, I'm coming to think, he alone could effect (contrast Clinton, Edwards, even Gore). And regarding that last point, I'm not persuaded -- as so many seem to be -- that a candidate's experience matters more than his or her personality. I'm not saying that it doesn't matter; I'm saying that I'm not sure that it matters more. The days of a president calling the shots alone are long past: presidents (like most politicians) determine policy by committee, and one wants a president who surrounds himself with the right people (whoever they are). These days, one's demeanor and good sense may matter most in determining the policy that one gets, because of the role those qualities play in determining who is chosen for the positions of VP, the cabinet, chief of staff, and so on.

I am, of course, under no illusions that Obama is a politician. And my suspicion of that breed remains strong. But as "lesser evils" go, Obama promises to introduce a welcome breath of fresh air. If you don't believe me, watch last night's 60 Minutes interview (including his wife, whose display of fortitude and intelligence was impressive) here.

In the meantime, here's the famous speech that launched his national career:

The second part is here.

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