Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Obama Buzz Continues, Builds His Chances

Written from Redwood City, Calif.--

If it wasn't clear already, the continued sniping by the Hillary Clinton camp against Sen. Barack Obama confirms that the astute Clinton and her managers accurately regard Obama as their prime competition. The New York Times has an article about coolness between the two camps today.

This also represents a decline of the fortunes of former Sen. John Edwards, and an assessment that the key races in the Iowa caucuses, and perhaps the first primary, New Hampshire, have tightened. The Democratic candidate who breaks out front in these early tests is likely to have a leg up for the Democratic nomination.

Obama probably made a mistake in using the nuclear word in relation to Al Qaeda and Pakistani border regions, and Clinton jumped on him for his inexperience. But the mistake, if it turns out to be one, reflects the openness of the Obama campaign, as compared with the seemingly often contrived nature of Clinton's. Obama is willing to discuss any subject and sometimes he missteps. But, all in all, he has created, I think, a good impression and continues to stand out as perhaps the most idealistic candidate, which is not a small thing in the America of 2007.

Also, with respect to campaign contributions, Obama continues to lead the field, but only narrowly against Clinton.

There are many people who do not think an African-American can be elected in this country, but the same doubts persist about a woman. Since these are in the top positions in the Democratic race thus far, it may be appropriate to say, so be it and go on from there.

The 2008 election may well be a landmark election in several ways, not just the major candidacies of a woman and a black man. The major issues of policy the nation confronts may overwhelm ethnicity and sexuality.

Obama, in raising the possibility of further American action in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is, to some extent, clouding his position against the Iraq war, in my view, since I think it is really hard to separate the war in Iraq from the one in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In both cases, Al Qaeda is our principal adversary, although the Taliban is also present in the eastern theatre of war, while other insurgents are in Iraq. Still, the consequences of a defeat in one arena would redound to the other. The closer we get to accepting defeat in either theatre, the less appetizing it's going to look.

Maybe, the Democrats are just engaging in cheap talk, and are not as sincere about staying on and fighting in Afghanistan as in Iraq. But it would be nice to think they are beginning to see the whole war situation in a little more realistic light.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign continues to inspire lots of support, big crowds and strong feelings. This is probably all to the good.

--

Returning to Los Angeles Tuesday night, after a two week-trip to Ashland, Oregon, the Oregon coast, the Redwood country and the Bay Area, a quick scan of the L.A. Times while I was away showed that on one occasion, the paper did put the mortgage crisis on Page 1, the day that foreclosures in California were at a new high. But then most days the Times relegated this huge story back to the Business pages. During this same period, the mortgage crisis was played by the New York Times on its Page 1 several times. This demonstrates the L.A. Times weakness at this time as a newspaper. This story is one of the most important things happening for now, and it deserves repetitive front-page coverage.

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