Saturday, February 02, 2008

Republicans for Obama - A Problem We Don't Have

What fascinates me as the US presidential primaries unfold is how hard it is to find Obama haters. He has his detractors, true, but he conjures all the love and adoration that a Bill Clinton can command and more but suffers little if any of that visceral hate and ridicule from opponents that rain down on all the other serious primary candidates. He is truly the It politician. Some people are hard to not hard to like. But Mr. Obama is hard to not love.

At least that is the impression that I get from the news and blog reports about Republicans crossing over and declaring (or even volunteering) for Mr. Obama. But even more arresting it is to read about people saying that they will crossover to vote for Obama if Mitt Romney becomes the Republican candidate.

Now, a Republican can be a social conservative, fiscal conservative, government conservative, religious conservative or a neo-conservative without being all of those things at the same time. In fact, in Massachusetts, a Republican need not be any of those things. And even conservatives can change their minds. Still, Mr. Obama, by this account at least, the most liberal Senator in 2007, wrongfoots the Republican agenda in every which way.

Some people explain this crossover phenomenon by calling Mr. Obama a conservative by temperament. Perhaps. In any case, it is the messenger, and not the message, that these recent and prospective converts are buying. The messenger is the message.

Now imagine what an Obama could do in Japan, where the space between the political agendas of the LDP and DPJ is mostly of tactical rather than strategic origin. We caught a glimpse of the possibilities with Prime Minister Koizumi, who on one occasion beat the DPJ by running against the LDP. Instead, the choice we now have is between the pleasant but uncharismatic Yasuo Fukuda and the erratic and secretive Ichirō Ozawa.

Perhaps it is for the better. After all, charisma can just as easily lead the public into making really bad choices.

UPDATE (same day):

“…Everyone in Arizona ought to see what we saw today," said Tim Nelson, a lawyer for the state government, after bringing his 9-year-old daughter to see the candidate in Phoenix.

In Phoenix, Cynthia and Stuart Preston said that as they were driving to Obama's rally with their children, they quizzed each other to come up with three of the candidate's major platform planks. To their surprise, they couldn't think of them. Despite that, Cynthia Preston said she is supporting Obama. She was drawn, she said, by the "popular movement" behind him.

Voters "need to know the magic…" she said. "It's a problem."

- from The Washington Post

These are not selected quotes, at least on my part. There's a hypnotic quality here that reminds me of Jesus Christ and the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

And an Eisenhower to boot. Note the excerpt from President Eisenhower’s farewell address. It is so finely crafted that it makes you want to go and read the whole thing. His granddaughter seems to have a way with words too.

Yes, Ted Kennedy is a Democrat. But the excitement is infectious. Look, the reporter has caught the bug too. Which is a little scary.

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