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Barack Obama sort of ended all the suspense this morning, by doing exactly what everyone expected, only a little sooner. Obama announced that he would create an exploratory committee as the first step towards running for President in 2008:
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, whose best-selling books and political travels generated huge pressure to run for the White House, joined a crowded Democratic field yesterday, vowing to advance "a different kind of politics" in a campaign that could make him the nation's first African American president.
Obama, a state legislator just three years ago, announced that he has formed a presidential exploratory committee, accelerating his already rapid emergence in national politics and establishing him as his party's most formidable rival to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the Democratic front-runner.
Obama, 45, portrayed his youth and short tenure in Congress as an asset in a statement distributed via Web video and e-mail. "Today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way," the senator declared. "Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions."
It's early in the season, so we'll cut him some slack, but it isn't the job of the President to work on eliminating the partisan bitterness in politics. Most of that revolves around Congress anyway, and Obama would have more impact working on that goal from his current position -- which to be fair, he has. The President's job is to run the executive branch -- and for that task, we generally don't find a lack of experience to be an asset.
Obama has little choice but to latch onto the "change the tone" banner for this election. What else could he campaign on? He has served two years of his first term in the Senate, which is also his first two years in Congress at all. He hasn't served in any other national capacity. In fact, he has done little in foreign affairs at all except to demand a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and considering that foreign policy is one of the areas under the full purview of the White House, that lack of experience seems much less an asset than a liability.
Granted, the Democrats want to find a candidate who can capture the imagination of the American electorate, but one would hope that they wouldn't run an imaginary executive in order to do so. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll get two, the other being John Edwards, who almost served one full term in public office before running for President in 2004. Neither man has any executive experience, not even in the private sector, and between them they have eight years in national office. And yet, they rank #2 and #3 in straw polling for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Obama is 45 years old. He has plenty of time to gain the experience and gravitas needed to lead the nation. He should run for governor in Illinois and build some executive entries for his resume, and show us he can run a state government before asking to take over the White House. I'm not inclined to give the keys to the business to Nick The New Guy, and Democrats should resist the temptation.Sphere It View blog reactions
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