Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Uncle Dick (Durbin) Wants You

To urge Senator Obama to run for President.


Byron said...

Well, having your seatmate become President would certainly be a bonus. Also, there's always a lot of competition among Senators from the same state, particularly when they're from the same party. Durbin, despite being the Assistant Senate Majority Leader, is still outshined by Obama (despite that Durbin is the more experienced and superior lawmaker). This is why Dodd supported Lieberman for President, Kennedy supported Kerry, etc. Let your media-hungry counterpart move on and then you can rule the roost. (This is, of course, not always the case, as in Maryland, where Mikulski and Sarbanes genuinely like one another--not so much in Mississippi, where Trent Lott and Thad Cochran hate each other).

Obama will be making a decision in December whether to run for president. Whether he decides to run or not, I have to note that he will have served as a United States Senator for less than two years when he makes that announcement. He is extremely charismatic and energizes Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans. I think he has some significant weaknesses that other Democrats and Republicans will exploit--he is woefully inexperienced and will have to, unfortunately in the 21st century, endure speculation about whether the country will elect a black president named Barack Obama. To be fair, Hillary Clinton will face her own issues--whether the country will elect a woman named Hillary, and if she can overcome some big negatives.

It remains to be seen how exactly the field will shape up. Here's what I urge my fellow Democrats to consider: This race cannot be summed up as I have heard far too many Democrats conclude; simply stated:

"Hillary is too polarizing. She can't win. We need Obama."

This race is so much more conplex than that. If you've fallen head over heels for Obama, that's terrific, it's great to be really excited about a candidate every now and then, but remember he has huge obstacles to overcome, and don't think that his charisma, vision, and smile will give him a free pass beyond those obstacles and into the White House. Conversely, Hillary Clinton has huge advantages that folks are far too anxious to overlook: she is the best fundraiser in the party (other than her husband), she is nearly universally known, she is experienced, she is smart, she is a fairly good speaker, and she has a track record in New York that got her nearly 70% of the vote (including 20% of Republicans).

Sometimes we oversimplify, sometimes we exaggerate, and too often we almost gleefully tear down our opponents (even if they're in our own party). In this race, whoever you're leaning toward, I merely suggest that you consider each of them on their actual merits, because when the General Election rolls around we need someone who can actually win (not just someone we think can win).

Steve Fine said...

Could it be that Sen. Durbin just thinks Sen. Obama would make a great President?

Steve Fine said...

By the way, I think Obama has already made his decision: to run.

Byron said...

Steve, no doubt Sen. Durbin does believe Obama would be a great president... I just wanted to mention that more often than not politicians have other motives that aren't so genuine... but good point.

Everything I'm reading is saying that Obama is talking to staff and stepping up his travel schedule... I think he's still undecided and testing the waters to see if he could assemble the right kind of team. A lot of the most talented staffers in the party are already working for Hillary (or want to), or are have ties to Kerry or Gore and may want to reunite with their former bosses if they run. In terms of having loyalists in all of the key states, established relationships with national interest groups, an existing fundraising network, you name it, Obama has a staggering hill to climb.

Although, none of us knows what is going on in Barack Obama's head. Maybe he has decided. We'll know soon enough anyway.

Steve Fine said...


I generally agree with you. I think he wants to run (this might be his only chance) but is trying to ascertain whether he's got a good enough chance to make it worth the effort.