Obama’s presidential campaign, too, was born of revolt — against the Republican White House of George Bush. But as the race has unfolded and Hillary Clinton has firmly established her front-runner status, Obama’s candidacy has taken on a new dimension. His campaign offers a place for Democrats and independents who may not reject Clinton, but who want someone else.
The crowd of between 9000 and 10,000 who gathered on Boston Common to listen to Patrick formally endorse Obama on Tuesday night bore a marked resemblance to the sorts of crowds Howard Dean attracted when he made his presidential bid four years ago: young, energetic, well educated, and desirous of change. A seasoned political observer could note that Obama’s crowd was full of supporters who — if the clock were turned back — would be rallying for Eugene McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, or George McGovern.
Patrick’s Obama endorsement is significant in that Massachusetts is a source of both campaign contributions for national operations and manpower for the New Hampshire primary. But on a purely local level, it underscores Patrick’s commitment to change. Despite the obvious ease that Patrick and Obama displayed with each other at the Boston Common rally, this had to be a tough choice for Patrick. After all, it was then-president Bill Clinton who gave Patrick the Justice Department perch that was his claim to political experience before he was elected governor. A more cold-blooded sort could have opted not to endorse one of the candidates by claiming that Clinton and Obama were too much like political kin.
The seemingly endless presidential campaign has, in fact, barely begun. But if Obama is to have a chance of besting Clinton, he will have to show strongly in Iowa and New Hampshire. Patrick is betting that his support will help Obama by supplying him with energy, contributors, and volunteers. If there is a lesson here in Massachusetts, it is that, beneath his well-tailored and well-spoken exterior, Patrick is a bit of a gambler, willing to play what, at the moment, looks to be a bit of a long shot. That is not the stuff of an establishmentarian.
: The Editorial Page
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