I came across an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by a former deputy assistant to the Chimperator (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/01/AR2008020102663.html?nav=hcmodule) that looks at why Barack Obam is such an appealing figure to many Republicans. This is something the Democrats should be thinking long and hard about in selecting the nominee most able to win in November, 2008. Unlike Hillary Clinton (except for her ability to unite the GOP), Obama is a force for unity. Something much needed in this fractured nation. Moreover, he offers a sense of hope for the country – something I will admit that I had lost until his appearance on the political scene in this primary season. Truth be told, I had come pretty much to the opinion that to find the kind of country I wanted to live in, I would need to move to Canada. Now, that may not be necessary. Time will tell. Here are highlights from the op-ed piece:
What is at the core of Obama's appeal? Part of it is the eloquence and uplift of his speeches, combined with his personal grace and dignity. By all accounts, Obama is a well-grounded, decent, thoughtful man. He comes across, in his person and manner, as nonpartisan. He has an unsurpassed ability to (seemingly) transcend politics. Even when he disagrees with people, he doesn't seem disagreeable. "You know what charm is," Albert Camus wrote in "The Fall," "a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question." Obama has such charm, and its appeal is not restricted to Democrats.
A second reason Republicans appreciate Obama is that he is pitted against a couple, the Clintons, whom many Republicans hold in contempt. Among the effects of the Obama-Clinton race is that it is forcing Democrats to come to grips with the mendacity and ruthlessness of the Clinton machine. Conservatives have long believed that the Clintons are an unprincipled pair who will destroy those who stand between them and power -- whether they are political opponents, women from Bill Clinton's past or independent counsels. But now that the Clintons are roughing up an inspiring young man who appears to represent the hope and future of the Democratic Party, the liberal establishment is reacting with outrage. "I think we've reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons," writes Jonathan Chait of the New Republic. Many conservatives respond: It's about time.
A third reason for Obama's GOP appeal is that unlike Clinton and especially John Edwards, Obama has a message that, at its core, is about unity and hope rather than division and resentment. He stresses that "out of many we are one." And to his credit, Barack Obama is running a color-blind campaign. "I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina," Obama said in his victory speech last weekend. "I saw South Carolina." That evening, his crowd of supporters chanted as one, "Race doesn't matter." This was an electric moment. Obama's words are in the great tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. Obama, more than any figure in America, can help bind up the racial wounds of America. In addition, for the past eight years, one of the most prominent qualities of the American left has been anger, which has served it and the country very poorly. An Obama primary win would be a move away from the politics of rage.
Barack Obama is among the most impressive political talents of our lifetime. If he defeats Hillary Clinton, the question for the general election is not whether he can transcend his race but whether he can reach beyond his ideology.