Thursday, December 7, 2006

Barack the Casbah: Right now, Sen. Barack Obama's star is rising in the night sky, with Americans just discovering who he is. But, The Morning News asks, just what makes him so novel?

It may be a stretch to say Barack Obama is the Democratic party's George W. Bush, but it's not beyond reason to see Obama's charisma as an analog to Bush's cocky frat-boy congeniality. The Obama the public sees is a bright, but humble, regular guy who also happens to be a politician. He's easygoing and self-effacing, but also thoughtful and often serious. He is one of the most promising personalities in the otherwise charmless and marginally humanized society that is the bane of Washington, and certainly in the eyes of his supporters, Obama has been very good at distancing himself from the cynicism with which many Americans now view the political process. Exit polls conducted during the November midterm elections showed more voters citing corruption as an "extremely important" factor in their decisions than terrorism and the war in Iraq. While Obama has had to contend with some emerging doubts of his white-shoed incorruptibility, including questions of favoritism for the energy industry as outlined in Ken Silverstein's recent Harper's article, he often calls attention to the personal hesitation and uneasiness that separate him from other politicians. In the speech he gave at his New York book signing, Obama beamed as he talked about walking around the nation's capital. The grand architecture of D.C. reminded him he was a part of the democracy it signifies. Yet, he said, he refrained from bringing his family with him to D.C., because he disliked the idea of becoming "a creature of Washington."

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