Hillary Clinton has been running around telling audiences that the GOP political machine fears her candidacy. While I am not in a position to confirm or deny her allegations about the sleepless nights she’s causing for Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, and Newt Gingrich, I can say that I don’t fear her at all.
The simple fact is the Democrat candidate is going to need a whole lot of independent votes, and a fair number of Republican votes, to be the next President. Hillary, for all her blustery pronouncements of her fear factor, doesn’t have the stuff to attract that level of support. Barack Obama does.
I think this because I spend a lot of time talking to people back home (read: outside the Beltway) who all truly dislike Hillary (regardless of party). Hillary may have a lot of her husband’s former supporters behind her, but in the words of Llyod Bentsen, “You, madam, are no Bill Clinton.” She lacks, almost entirely, any of her husband’s appeal.
Barack, however, has generated a level of excitement in both Republicans and Democrats that I have never seen. In 2004, all the chatter in the media was about Dean. As a Republican, I was hoping for a campaign against Dean. He would have been easy to rout. Every Republican I knew thought he was a joke. He had little support amongst any in our party.
Barack, however, is much, much different. Republicans I know like what he has to say. Democrats I know like what he has to say. The media loves the guy. The chattering class likes to focus on his short time in the Senate. However, the only people I know who disparage him for not being a lifer in Washington are those in Washington. They don’t like the fact that he hasn’t fed from the trough as long as they have.
They’re the only ones who see that as a bad thing.
Obama has tapped into that fact. Just this weekend he had a great line to address that concern, and it’s a line that will get traction in the real world.
I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness – a certain audacity – to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we’ve changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King’s call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
His speech this weekend, like his speech to the Democrat’s convention in 2004, could not have been better written in a Hollywood script. It captured the charisma of the man, addressed the alleged failings charged by his detractors, and left anyone listening with a bad case of the warm and fuzzies.
So regardless of what Hillary says, as a Republican, I welcome a race against her. I sincerely hope the Democrats give us one. I just hope to hell that they don’t make us beat Obama.