Today in Springfield, Illinois, the junior senator from that state declared his intention to run for the President of the United States. Barack Hussein Obama announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Obama is not the first black man to run for the office of President. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were a couple of recent black candidates for the office, but Obama appears to be the first one to have a legitimate chance to win, not only the Democrartic Primary, but the general election.
Obama has a very tough road ahead facing some formitable candidates in both his own party and in a general election. Hillary Clinton must now be considered the front runner and John Edwards another strong candidate for the Democrats, who may be fielding their strongest field of candidates in many years. If he survives the terrific battle in the primaries he must face the well funded Republican candidate who will come from a field that includes John McCain, Rudy Guiliani, and Mitt Romney. And these are not the only candidates on each side.
I am a liberal Democrat and have been all my life. What sets Obama apart I’ve asked myself since I first became aware of him when he was running for office in Illinois. Later I heard him in person at a book signing at the Orpheum Theater. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I knew he reminded me of John Kennedy. I have lived through all the Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George Bush. Some I liked, and some I wasn’t too happy with, but no one excited me the way John Kennedy did. In my adult life time the most exciting period was 1960-1963 when Kennedy was President. It seemed we were going somewhere. The President was playing touch football on the lawn of the White House. He was going to get us to the moon, and he made the Russian Bear back down. What was it about Kennedy and Obama that seemed the same?
Charlie Rose was interviewing George Clooney, the actor, a few weeks ago on his show. After they had discussed Clooney’s latest movie, Rose asked, “Who are you backing in the Democartic primaries for President?” Clooney is an political activist in addition to being a very successful actor and director.
“Barack Obama,” he answered.
“There is something special about him. When he enters a room, even one full of politicians, everyone stops and gets quiet. There is only one other man I know who can do that, Bill Clinton. I’ve thought about this a lot and I finally decided it’s leadership. I would follow this guy off a cliff.”
That was it. It was leadership. He is a born leader. I don’t think you can learn to be a leader. You either are one or not. I know all the negatives: he’s black. Can a black man be elected President of the United States? In recent days only one other had that potential, Colin Powell, but he didn’t run. Obama is inexperienced. Who is experienced? There is no other job in the world that can get you ready to be President. The closest thing would be a governor, but even that does not. So how do you know how he’ll do?
Character is the only measure I can think of. And maybe intelligence. Does he have the intelligence and the judgement to lead this nation. Does he have the vision and the drive to take the country where it wants to go and where it needs to go. Can he bring us together as a nation. Is he tough enough to be the leader of the free world? No one knows if any of the candidates is that man or woman, but I think Obama is up to the task.
He gave a terrific speech today and if you’re for him or against him you might want to listen and watch what he had to say. Try this website to see the video of his speech: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17079682/