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February 10, 2007
Obama Makes It Official

He only has two years of national office under his belt, and has not even faced a credible opponent. He has few legislative accomplishments for his resumé, and no executive experience at all. For the Democratic Party in 2008, that apparently makes Barack Obama the #2 candidate for the Presidential nomination behind Hillary Clinton, a position Obama assumed with his official announcement of candidacy a few minutes ago:

Democrat Barack Obama declared himself a candidate Saturday for the White House in 2008, evoking Abraham Lincoln's ability to unite a nation and promising to lead a new generation as the country's first black president.

The first-term senator announced his candidacy from the state capital where he began his elective career just 10 years ago, and in front of the building where in another century, Lincoln served eight years in the Illinois Legislature.

"We can build a more hopeful America," Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery. "And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States."

Obama did not mention his family background, his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia or that he would make history if elected president.

Obama made a number of references to Abraham Lincoln in a subtle attempt to address the critcisms of his lack of experience. Lincoln also had a lack national political experience and no track record as an executive, and went on to become perhaps America's greatest President. That happened in the context of a civil war, though, and Lincoln's greatness came from standing up to secessionists and ignoring demands for an end to the war and a political compromise that would have split the nation.

Obama, on the other hand, wants to inherit the mantle of Lincoln while essentially arguing for everything Lincoln opposed. He wants to assume the leadership of the new Copperheads, who believe that the present war cannot be won and that America should withdraw forthwith. Obama seems closer to George McClellan in this regard, who lost against Lincoln in 1864 after getting fired by Lincoln as commander of the Union Armies.

The world has changed since 1864, and the United States is a very different nation. In 1864, when Lincoln ran for President, the nation was an agrarian state just beginning to industrialize in a serious manner. The federal government had much less power and impact on the lives of everyday Americans, who usually only had contact with their local government except in extraordinary circumstances. Executive experience meant less in those days, especially since the party that won swept out the existing federal workers in a spoils system that later was replaced by the bureaucracy-cementing civil service system. It's so different as to be an apples-to-oranges comparison.

No one can doubt that Obama has charisma beyond anything seen on either side of the political divide at this time, and he's no dummy, either. He lends an aura of gravitas to every debate in which he participates, and his confidence will attract plenty of support in the primary cycle. However, he's only 45 years old and has almost no track record on which to run. Even John Kennedy, one of the nation's youngest Presidents, had fourteen years in Congress and a Vice Presidential run on his resumé when he ran for the Presidency at 43. Obama has won one national race, and that one was against the carpetbagging Alan Keyes, where Obama didn't even have to break a sweat.

He's rushing towards his destiny, instead of patiently building the experience that would make him irresistable. It's a mistake, but apparently one he refuses to acknowledge. The American electorate will hopefully see it more clearly.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2007 10:28 AM

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