Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tracking My Frontrunners

It's overload time for fans of sports and politics, with the Patriots preparing for their rendezvous with history in Glendale on Sunday and the leading presidential candidates facing their own meeting with fate on Tuesday. A couple of stories involving my choices in the latter, more prosaic, competition caught my eye today.

At the New York Daily News historian Robert Dallek takes on the issue of Obama's experience:

As one who has spent many years studying JFK, let me make this much clear: When it comes to experience, Obama is no John Kennedy. (Indeed, when distilled into the crudest terms, Obama is no Dan Quayle - who was famously branded "no Jack Kennedy"; as of 1988, Quayle had spent more than a decade on the national stage.)

But here's the much bigger question: What does it matter? An examination of Kennedy's own record - and of the broader sweep of history - leads us to this critical conclusion: Obama's lack of experience shouldn't be considered a liability. Many of our most experienced Presidents have made disastrous choices. In the long life of the republic, judgment trumps experience, almost every time.
This pretty well dovetails with my take. And in any case, in a race against Hillary, I still am unclear what this vaunted experience that she keeps touting vis a vis Obama amounts to.

At The Washington Post Robert Novak picks up on the question of whether John McCain is conservative enough. Novak equivocates, but seems skeptical. Toward the end of his piece, he writes the following: "McCain as the Republican nominee would need those 'very conservative' voters." I disagree with the implications of this argument. In this political climate of hardened partisan division, the stalwarts on both sides of the aisle are not going to stay home. They may not love their party's choice of candidate, but true devotees of politics, true believers in one or the other party, are not going to sit home on election day. Even if they are not enthusiastic for a candidate, they will show up to make plain their distaste for his (or her, perhaps especially her in this case) candidacy. These "very conservative" voters and their "very liberal" counterparts are not going to allow a fit of pique to keep them home. Swing voters, not the tried and true loyalists, will be the difference makers come November.

(By the way -- self indulgence alert!! -- this story in the Midland Reporter-Telegram on the events in Florida early in the week contains a few of my observations.)

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