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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Media darling Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., rocked the political boat earlier this year when he announced that he would be running for president. In the last week, though, he’s had to spar with the Rev. Al Sharpton and his Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., both of whom have questioned his lack of experience. Is Obama ready for the White House?

    Ignorance makes for Obama bliss

    Three years ago he was a professor and part-time state legislator, and now he’s brawling with political Goliath Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    Barack Obama is the American dream: Multiethnic son of immigrant father makes it to the biggest of big times. Sure, he stands apart from the staid establishmentarianism of his current rival, yet how is he so uniquely worthy of the presidency?

    Nobody questions Obama’s abilities in terms of raw potential; he is, after all, a Harvard Law alum. But he’s still a rookie among 100 U.S. Senators.

    Imagine, then, what veteran senators must have thought in 2005 when Time magazine brashly anointed him one of “”the world’s most influential people”” mere months into his young Senate career.

    What exactly had Obama done to deserve such a pompous designation? What has Obama ever done to stand out in a sea of presidential hopefuls with more substantive resumes?

    Exactly who is this man?

    Apparently we should all know. Enter into political dialogue with the average college student, and the same words emanate from far too many mouths: “”I don’t know about (insert hot-button political issue), but I’m just glad Barack Obama will be our next president!”” Never mind that this student couldn’t point out Iraq on a globe if his life depended on it.

    Damnit, if Obama’s good enough for Oprah, Sharon Stone, and the eminent Charles Barkley (all are listed as supporters by the Obama campaign), he’s good enough for me!

    Of course, my failure to adhere to Obama-mania likely means I’m simply unaware of his many positive attributes. In Obama there is something for everyone:

    Blacks, it seems, should support him because he is black. Never mind that black activists like Jesse Jackson and even Al Sharpton have done more for equal rights than Obama ever will.

    Young people should support him because, well, he’s young – but young people should prefer sound policymaking to a lack of facial wrinkles.

    Those disillusioned with Washington politics should support him because he’s a relative newcomer – but nobody is elected to the U.S. Senate without the connections and behavior that make us ashamed of our Washington politicians. Obama is still a professional politician, despite naive illusions to the contrary.

    The truth of the matter is that Barack Obama has gotten a free ticket to the White House from the national media. He’s young, black and a purported Washington outsider – the perfect candidate to rally behind. But does a dream candidate a good president make?

    Sure, youth is grand, but I’d rather my president be an experienced, battle-hardened leader. Yeah, it’s great that a black man has a real shot at the presidency, but if racial equality means anything, his ethnicity should be irrelevant. And that whole belief that this or any other politician knows nothing of the corrosive ways of Washington, well … that’s the definition of naivete.

    Look: Dedicated, informed liberals should (and will) rally behind Barack Obama because, well, he’s a dedicated liberal. For instance, his absence from the 2002 vote to allow the invasion of Iraq grants him the ability to position himself as the anti-war candidate.

    But if you didn’t already know at least that much, you’ve no right singing his praises.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at

    Age before beauty, except after ‘Bushy’

    America can be a peculiar kind of country. We did, after all, elevate an aging actor to the nation’s highest office, and some of us even considered changing the Constitution twenty years later to allow a muscle-bound “”Governator”” to seek the Oval Office.

    So it’s really not hard to feel some sympathy for those that regard the ubiquitous Barack Obama with a healthy degree of skepticism. Indeed, he comes to us with all the trappings of any other fleeting cause cǸlÇùbre: Media adoration, throngs of admiring (though usually uninformed) fans, glowing reviews from pundits and politicos.

    Normally, then, I’d be the first to tell you that a more experienced hand should be guiding the most powerful office in the world. But consider this: Our current president has one of the most experienced bands of senior advisers in Washington, and if the latest job approval ratings are any indication, most would probably agree that the results haven’t been pretty.

    So it is that Obama is the most qualified candidate for the presidency in 2008. That might seem a heady claim, especially when we’re more than a year away from Election Day, but much of it turns on a different definition of “”qualified,”” one that takes into account a real dedication to a moral agenda.

    Regardless of what the ever-optimistic group of White House spin-doctors will tell you, America stands at a dangerous crossroads. Worker productivity has shot through the roof, even while wages have stagnated. Americans’ savings rates have been hovering in the red. Our trade deficit continues to explode. The wars in the Middle East have strained our military. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing at an unprecedented clip.

    Clearly, the “”qualifications”” of establishment politicians have offered very little to solve these issues in the last few years, and it’s time to consider a leader who offers a new way.

    Obama offers such a way, and his qualifications are manifested by convictions that convey a sense of moral certitude that is conspicuously lacking in the words of more “”experienced”” politicians like Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.

    On issues ranging from organized labor to educational opportunity to family values, Obama’s stances are rooted in morality rather than any kind of liberal dogma.

    “”When a gangbanger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we have a problem of morality,”” he has written. “”But I also think faith can fortify a young woman’s self, a young man’s sense of responsibility, and the sense of reverence all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy.””

    That’s hardly the kind of talk you’ll hear from most religion-shy liberals, but it’s indicative of a man that goes his own way, who’s able to convincingly reconcile the need for school vouchers and loyalty to public schooling, the need for globalization and support for labor groups.

    After eight years of a Bush presidency that has eroded our nation’s moral purpose, it’s time to look beyond experience.

    It’s probably true that a great many of Obama’s fans don’t really know his policy positions better than John McCain’s or Hillary Clinton’s. The only difference is, people who do make the effort will end up respecting him more.

    Damion LeeNatali is a senior majoring in political science and history. He can be reached at

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