Obama’s speech and his persona are effective politically because, like Reagan, they communicate a worldview that generously includes what should be his political enemies. Jane Right-wing voter may irrationally fear that Hillary Clinton will ban children from reading the Bible but Jane won’t think that of Obama. Obama doesn’t radiate hostility toward your average, church going conservative voter – just as Reagan, no matter what his policies, didn’t seem to hate union men and working class Democrats. ~Michael Brendan Dougherty
All kidding aside, Michael makes a good observation here. As off-putting as I find the man’s gladhanding ways (perhaps this is why I am averse to politicians in general), they are effective and they put his natural enemies at ease. They think, “He’s not so bad. He goes to church, and he’s so very, very…nice!” Nice politicians can be fine, though they tend to go the way of David Cameron: very squishy and opportunistic. Smooth politicians are the same way, but not because they want to be thought of as nice and respectable exactly, but because I think they enjoy the waves of admiration that follow a triangulating trimmer’s clever adaptations to the popular mood. Obama is one of those rare combinations of someone who radiates this respectable, nice quality, who also possesses Clinton’s smoothness and who exudes Reagan’s energy and hopefulness, the old “twinkle in the eye” that still makes some Republicans get misty-eyed even now, and the reassuring, smiling face that says, “The best is yet to come.” Americans love this stuff. They can’t get enough of it. Which is why they overwhelmingly stuck with Clinton once he made the necessary adjustments to get back on the right side of the public (just think of “build a bridge!”, “fill the breach!”, “mend it, don’t end it” and other banalities that littered our airwaves for eight years), why they re-elected him, and why Obama will go far (alas!).
But I would still bet a good amount of money that he will not run in ’08. Not if he wants to have the successful career that he and everyone else knows that he could have given the right timing. It is not even certain that he would have a chance to run successfully in ’12; it depends on whether the Democrats win in two years and whether that President decides to run again (he/she almost certainly will). He might, like Reagan, challenge an unpopular incumbent President in the primaries in one cycle and earn his [fill in the blank] bona fides before returning in the next cycle to dominate the field and win the nomination. If he is as lucky in his enemies as Reagan sometimes was, we might one day speak of the Obama Ousting along with the Reagan Revolution. But Reagan was known and on the scene a lot longer before he ever dared make a stab at entering the big dance, and I frankly get the sense that Obama is not as shrewd as Reagan was. I can’t put my finger on why, but there’s just something missing. He is certainly untested. A rookie Senator who defeated Alan Keyes in Illinois has not really proven anything. If he were faced with real competition in a close race there is no telling how he would do. He might flourish, and then again he might fail horribly.