It seems as if Barack Obama will indeed be the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.
We are faced with a choice between two very different Senators; however, I will argue that they are both mysterious. Each of them will be a leap of faith, to a certain degree.
We don’t know much about Barrack Obama. Not only has he spent a very short time holding a federal office, he hasn’t cast any particularly telling votes, as many have already noted. If elected, he will have sold himself to the American people as someone who can be trusted despite this. Is it risky? Perhaps. We can pay for it if we aren’t careful. I would argue that we did in the case of John F. Kennedy. He couldn’t handle Cuba had his (and every other American’s) life depended on it. We found ourselves in the very awkward Bay of Pigs controversy and (possibly because of that) locked in the Cuban Missile Crises with a junta of Soviets who thought our president was weak and incapable. Perhaps it’s unfair to make this comparison. It remains a fact that Barack Obama has had a very short public career and has said rather little.
On the other side of the aisle we have John McCain. During his rather long public career he has proven himself to be rather unpredictable. Some of his enemies (on the right and left alike) claim that he is very much a party man and that he has made a noticeable shift toward that image in the past eight years. His history, however, indicates that he is not your run-of-the-mill Republican.
America seems to misunderstand the executive’s role in our government. I’ve long thought this. Our media and our pundits drone on and on about a president’s view on a particular issue or his past feelings on something or other. We know the president has little law-making ability without a complicit congress, so why do we hang up on these things. Much more important is his ability to act as a political unifier, an ambassador, the manager of a cabinet, etc. Of course, you can’t predict these things during a campaign season. If there’s no personal history to observe, it’s always a leap of faith.
In either case, this will be an interesting upcoming decade.