Monday, December 11, 2006

Senator Rorschach Hits the Hustings

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Concord Monitor (among others) cover Barack Obama's first trip to New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Mark Blumenthal looks at a poll that shows why we call him Senator Rorschach:

When asked about Barack Obama, more than a third of Americans (38%) and more than a quarter of Democrats (28%) are unable to offer anything specific that comes to mind.

People like Barack Obama without regard to his positions, not because of his positions. Once they get to know what he stands for, his numbers will drop.

This isn't a knock on Obama, he has ridden his personal story and his engaging personality pretty successfully so far. But he will have to define himself before others do.

If you read the Post, it's clear how vague he is:

To the question everyone wanted answered -- Is he going to run? -- Obama was noncommittal. "I haven't made that determination. I'm still running things through the traps," he said. He added, "I want to take my time on it, not only to make sure the politics makes sense but that I feel I have something unique to offer that would help move the country forward."

But he closed his speech here early Sunday night with words that seemed to signal growing interest in a campaign. "America is ready to turn the page," he said. "America is ready for a new set of challenges. This is our time. A new generation is prepared to lead."

Aides said a final decision will come in January, while in the meantime the Obama team continues to prepare the machinery for a campaign if the senator concludes that the time is right. Pronouncing himself "suspicious of hype," Obama said he would not be driven into the race "simply because of the opportunity but because I think I will serve the country well by that..."

Obama's day in New Hampshire was remarkable as much for the scene and speculation he generated than for anything specific he had to say. Wearing a black jacket, gray slacks and an open-collar white shirt, Obama delivered low-key remarks, speaking personally about his background and the origins of his belief in a more hopeful politics, as well as giving general views on issues such as energy, health care and Iraq.

He promised a new politics, to replace the "24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad bickering, small-minded politics that doesn't move us forward."

Asked what he believes is different about his politics than those of other candidates, he said, "I think what's worked for me has been the capacity to stay true to a set of progressive values but to be eclectic in terms of the tools to achieve those progressive values. To not be orthodox. To be willing to get good ideas from all quarters."

A guy who's suspicious of hype, and will only run if he has something unique to offer to move the country forward; who wants to end the era of negative 'slash & burn politics,' while taking good ideas from all quarters, and with orthodox thinking to temper progressive goals?

Now that's my kind of candidate!

Today's pleasant new face is tomorrow's empty suit. That's Obama's challenge right now.

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