Obama: The Democrats’ Standard-Bearer

A wide range of opinions on the U.S. President-Elect.

November 4, 2008

A wide range of opinions on the U.S. President-Elect.

What is unique about Barack Obama?

“Obama is in a cultural skyrocket, a vertical ascent. He has touched something very deep that had been waiting to be touched for a very long time — returning idealism to a central focus of our politics. I tried to touch it in 2000 and didn’t make it.”

(Bill Bradley, three-term Democratic senator from New Jersey and 2000 Democratic presidential candidate, March 2008)

Might hopes be too high?

“Make no mistake, Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation possibility. Admittedly, in many ways he is too good to be true. Hopes of what he might achieve are running out of control.”

(Clive Crook, Financial Times columnist, February 2008)

What is Obama’s greatest strength — and his greatest weakness?

“An America that chose as its commander-in-chief a 46 year-old African-American with Hussein as his middle name would be a different place. There lies his political strength — and his weakness.”

(Philip Stephens, Financial Times columnist, January 2008)

What is one of his greatest political assets?

“He has a kind of cool grace in almost all situations that indicates an underlying self-control remarkable in a relative novice.”

(John O’Sullivan, National Review contributing editor, February 2008)

What other trait has served him well?

“He is almost insanely eloquent.”

(Daniel Henniger, Wall Street Journal columnist, February 2008)

How is Obama’s background unlike that of any other presidential candidate in history?

“Obama is what you might call a ‘world man’ — Kenyan father, American mother, four formative years living in Indonesia, more years in the ethnic stew of Hawaii, middle name of Hussein and so on.”

(Michael Kinsley, Time magazine staff writer, November 2007)

How is Obama a mainstream candidate?

“Obama is a product of America’s mainstream, in which he enjoys unlimited opportunities. He is a model of blacks’ possibilities when they are emancipated from ideologies of blackness.”

(George F. Will, Washington Post columnist, December 2007)

How does another conservative — President Bush's former speechwriter — put it?

“Obama’s appeal is straightforward: getting beyond ‘the ideological battles that have consumed us for the last 20 years’ — in which Clinton and her husband have been two of the main combatants.”

(Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, February 2008)

How else?

“As Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer president, Barack Obama could be the first Generation X president.”

(Jenny Lyn Bader, New York Times reporter, February 2008)

Why are many Republicans — and some Democrats — uneasy about Obama?

“The big question about Barack Obama from the very beginning has been: Is he safe? Safe in terms of both the cultural values that he has, and about whether he is strong enough to be commander in chief.”

(Peter Hart, Democratic pollster, February 2008)

To which defeated Democratic presidential candidate does a top Republican strategist compare Obama?

“The reborn Adlai Stevenson.”

(Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush, April 2008)

Do other conservatives believe Obama will be elected?

“Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election — and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.”

(Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post columnist, February 2008)

If elected, what foreign policy challenges will he face?

“A grand Enemies Tour awaits President Obama — Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Syria’s Assad, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, an al Qaeda ‘diplomat’ from Osama bin Laden, Sudan’s Hassan al-Bashir, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Burma’s junta.”

(Daniel Henninger, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, May 2008)

And finally, through the eyes of a conservative, what does Obama have in common with Ronald Reagan?

“McCain’s problem might turn out to be the fact that Obama is the Democrats’ Reagan. Obama’s rhetorical cotton candy lacks Reagan’s ideological nourishment, but he is Reaganesque in two important senses — people like listening to him, and his manner lulls his adversaries into underestimating his sheer toughness — the tempered steel beneath the sleek suits.”

(George Will, Washington Post columnist, May 2008)

Takeaways

"Obama is the Democrats' Reagan — people like him, and his manner lulls his adversaries into underestimating his sheer toughness." <br> (George Will, Washington Post columnist, May 2008)

"Obama has touched something very deep — returning idealism to a central focus of our politics." (Bill Bradley, three-term Democratic senator from New Jersey, March 2008)

"Make no mistake, Mr. Obama is a once-in-a- generation possibility. Hopes of what he might achieve are running out of control."<br> (Clive Crook, Financial Times columnist, February 2008)