obamainside.jpg


Back on February 20, when Michelle Obama spoke before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at the Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick, the seeds of the demise of Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes for 2008 had already been planted.

Although Clinton went on to roll over Obama in Rhode Island’s March 4 primary, the Democratic upstart, by scoring a key series of early victories, undercut the notion that Hillary was bound to be the party’s nominee. On Tuesday, after months and months of intense campaigning, the Democratic Party’s historic embrace of a black presidential can-didate seemed both unremarkable and amazing.

The 2008 campaign now begins in earnest, with all kinds of intriguing subplots: will the Democrats indulge their penchant in recent presidential cycles for screwing up? Do Obama’s charisma and self-stated repudiation of politics as usual mark a new moment? And most significantly, given the choice between two senators, an older white war hero and a younger black lawyer-activist, how will denizens of middle America respond?

The climate seems congenial this year to the Democrats, particularly considering President Bush’s record and the sour economy. Yet although questions about Obama’s ability to appeal to white voters may have been overstated in recent months, the unprecedented dynamic of two men — one white, one black — squaring off for the presidency is bound to be intriguing.

The caricature issues of 2008 have already been aired: the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for Obama, and a McCain statement describing an ongoing and long-term US presence in Iraq. Although these seem bound to be resurrected, the six months until the election will allow, one imagines, for a far more full-bodied discussion.

In keeping with the expect-the-unexpected motif of this election cycle, the once-remote possibility of Clinton becoming Obama’s running mate is now in play, and it remains to be seen if McCain can come up with a similarly surprising prospect. Whether Clinton would help or hurt the Democratic ticket, of course, is another question.

Yet before looking forward, it’s worth recalling how Obama succeeded in completely upending the conventional wisdom: that Hillary Clinton, a deep-pocketed former first lady and masterful politician — was bound to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

By so doing, he has helped not just to inject a lot of fresh participation into American politics, but to affirm that the future is unwritten.

  Topics: Talking Politics , Elections and Voting, Politics, U.S. Politics,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY IAN DONNIS
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   RHODY'S LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT FINDS ITS GROOVE  |  February 23, 2009
    Five years ago, when Farm Fresh Rhode Island (FFRI) launched its mission of promoting Ocean State-produced food, co-founder Noah Fulmer discovered a curious disconnection in the local food chain.
  •   TICKET TO RIDE  |  February 11, 2009
    In April 1999, two weeks after I started on the job at the Providence Phoenix , the FBI raided City Hall, formally unveiling the federal investigation that would land Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr., Rhode Island's rascal king, behind bars.
  •   ADVOCATES RENEW PUSH FOR PUBLICLY-FINANCED RI ELECTIONS  |  February 04, 2009
    During a news conference Tuesday afternoon in the State House rotunda, proponents of significantly expanding publicly financed elections in Rhode Island — a concept they call "Fair Elections" — cited a litany of reasons for why it would be good for the Ocean State and its citizens.
  •   THE UPSIDE OF HOPE IN RHODE ISLAND  |  January 29, 2009
    Everywhere one turns these days, there's seemingly more bad news about Rhode Island: the unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation, tops 10 percent — and the state's running out of unemployment assistance.
  •   BROGAN TAKES ON TEENS, SOCIAL NETWORKING IN TEASER  |  January 28, 2009
    Former Providence Journal reporter Jan Brogan is out with her fourth mystery, Teaser .

 See all articles by: IAN DONNIS