Tuesday, January 08, 2008

OK - so what am I not getting?

Over in New Hampshire, Barack Obama looks like he's about to deliver a pretty shattering blow to Hillary Clinton's eight year campaign for the White House. Polls show him leading by 8-10 points in New Hampshire - and he's now leading nationally as well. What I don't get, basically, is why. I haven't heard a specific policy at all from Obama - except the promise to invade Pakistan. I've heard a lot of platitudes about change, hope and all the rest, but precious little else. Why has he suddenly got the big Mo?

Partly, I suppose, this is about narrative again - Clinton was always going to be vulnerable on this given her backstory. Partly it's about race - though I think David Aaronovitch is perhaps being a little harsh when he describes it as a triumph of misogyny over racism - in that it might make people, especially self-defining liberals, feel warm and fuzzy when they say that they support a black man for the Presidency. But when you look closer, what is there to see?

Obama is a one-term senator, with very little to suggest a track record of governance. Perhaps, as Chris Dillow would say, this is irrelevant. The President does not 'run' the country, and there's no reason why he should. But it is at least troubling that the head of the Executive of the most powerful country on Earth should be quite so inexperienced at politics. It may be that all this is nonsense - that Obama really is the offspring of Reagan and Kennedy and that a new Golden Age is approaching. I can't help feeling, though, that if the Republicans keep their heads and select either McCain or Giuliani as candidate the Democrats might just regret the triumph of hope over expectation.

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