Friday, January 18, 2008

Russ Stewart on Obama for President

This was one of the columns I missed from last month the day after Christmas. A nice forecase of primary elections for Obama until we get to the general. In which case Obama is forecast to lose to a Republican. Do you want to know why?

But he will not be elected. Three factors dictate a presidential outcome: comfort, competence and stature. A presidential race with an incumbent is a referendum. Without an incumbent, it's a choice, and if Obama is the Democratic candidate, voters -- especially nonliberal whites and conservative Hispanics -- will ask themselves: Am I comfortable with Obama in the White House? Do I want a black president? Does Obama have the seasoning, gravitas and experience to be the commander in chief?

Kerry lost by just 2,912,497 votes in 2004, carrying 19 states with 252 electoral votes. For a Democrat to win in 2008, all he or she need do is win all the 2004 Kerry states plus 18 more electoral votes -- such as in Ohio (20), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5) or Arizona (10). Clinton or Edwards would do that. Obama would not.

In Tennessee in 2006, Democrats ran U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr., who is black, for senator. He ran as a moderate, not a militant, but he lost by 49,935 votes, getting 48 percent of the votes cast, to an unimpressive Republican, Bob Corker. Ford got 156,501 fewer votes than Kerry, who lost the state with 43 percent of the vote. A substantial number of white voters simply will not vote for a black candidate.

Nationwide, for Republicans in 2008, it will be Tennessee all over. If the Democrats nominate Obama, a Republican will beat him.
Did you see that? He compared what could happen to Obama to what did happen to Harold Ford in Tennessee. Some wiser people did say that, there are white voters out there who just won't vote a black man for president. We may need a few more years for that.

I just have to bring this up. Here's a commercial that aired in Tennessee that was a hit against Harold Ford, who was then a Congressman representing the City of Memphis, Tennessee.

A very dirty ad playing Harold Ford like a liberal Democrat, something I don't believe him to be and unfortunately presenting him as if he liked the white ladies. I just have to show this piece of aftermath...

Desperate I suppose but do I know where he's coming from, yes. I expect that Barack will respond to this differently should the Republicans choose this same course of action. It's not just because I see Obama as a nice guy, but because he should have learned from Harold Ford. It's that simple to me.

A good example is how he's handling this bickering between him and his senate colleague Hillary Clinton over a race flap. Whether we're talking about Bill Clinton's fairy tale comments that some saw as racial or BET founder Bob Johnson making his comments about Obama. Something that Mr. Johnson apologized for.

Personally I like Obama in some respects. He's intelligent and well spoken and charismatic. The reasons I may not support him is that he's green and his political resume is small. Out there I read that he's only had one bill passed in the US Senate and in his many years in the Illinois State Senate he's also only passed one bill. He doesn't have a lot to speak for nor have I heard him speak much about it. It would be nice if he had.

So his political career seems at this point mediocre. Except that he has an exceptional ride towards the top. If Illinois didn't fall in love with him the rest of the country did. Even I suppose young liberal activists who I believe Obama appeals to the most. Especially if you believe in the generational divide between Obama and Hillary.

Still looking at the Republican side or the Democrat side a tough choice is to be had right now. There is no Republican front runner and the Democrats are slugging it out nicely though we might be closer to see who'll emerge on that side. 2008 may very well be a very important election!

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