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by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Don't Expect Obama to Win White House in 2008

(PNS) -- Last December, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama slipped into presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's Manhattan turf to schmooze with the Democratic Party's liberal and left money donors who call the shots. Obama didn't tell Clinton he was there. But then why would he? Both think they might have to duke it out with each other to get the Democratic Party bid for the White House in 2008. Obama took the first step and set up his exploratory committee, and that quickly forced Clinton's hand. She jumped in the race a week later and defiantly claimed she's in to win and can beat the Republicans.

But talk of winning the presidential spot will and should stay just that, talk. First let's take Obama. Even he recognizes that much of the talk about his candidacy is more media than voter talk, and he said as much in his statement announcing his committee. But media inflated hype is hype because there's not much else to report, or newsrooms are looking to titillate the public with celebrity doings. If Obama is judged on his record, there won't be much to go on. Apart from a stem winding speech WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? at the Democratic National convention in 2004 that created the first buzz, we'd be hard pressed to name any meaningful piece of legislation he's rammed through the Senate, or any new ground foreign policy statement he's uttered, or point to any particular diplomatic coup he's scored with a foreign leader. The brutal truth is that Obama is too new on the political scene, too untested, too politically nice, too liberal, and most of all he's an African-American. In fact, there's even grave doubt that Obama can bag the majority of black votes. In polls and surveys, blacks, including Jesse Jackson, have been lukewarm at best about him. Again, he's just too new on the scene, too foreign looking and sounding for many of them. They suspect that he's a flash in the pan and will wilt under pressure. That's simply too many strikes for anyone to seriously think he has a real shot.

If the Democrats shove Obama to the head of their presidential heap in a moment of delirium, they can kiss off 170 electoral votes before the first ballot is cast. That's the number of electoral votes in the south and the border states. That turf is still mostly white, conservative, male, pro war, anti-big government, vehemently opposed to any political tilt to minorities, and heavily influenced by ultra conservative bible belt fundamentalism. That has been the bread and butter ticket to the White House for GOP presidents Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. It will be the same for a GOP centrist-conservative again in 2008.

Unlike Obama, Clinton has phenomenal national name recognition. She can raise tons of money. She's morphed into a stateswoman, a seasoned centrist politician. She's the consummate party insider. But she's still, well Hillary Clinton, and though top cat Republicans are licking their wounds over their midterm debacle, she's still their made-in-heaven balm. Clinton is a living, breathing wedge issue. As with choosing Obama, the Democrats can also kiss the south and the border states goodbye with her at the top of their ticket.

The talk of an Obama and Clinton showdown, or even more preposterous an Obama and Clinton ticket (not sure in which order) has captured the imagination of some who think, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently mused, that America is ready to elect a black president. Others, and that includes Clinton, think America is ready to elect a woman president. This is more delusion. Of course, when pollsters ask voters about the importance of gender and race when they vote for president, anybody that doesn't wear a white sheet or sport a Nazi swastika tattoo will swear that they don't vote color or sex. After all who wants to come off looking and sounding like a bigot these days? Yet even at the risk of the gender bigotry tag, far more voters in a 2005 CNN poll said they were "more likely" to cast a vote against Clinton than for her.

In any case, it's a far different story when voters step into the privacy of the booth. Color and gender still count, and count big for many.

The Democrats are convinced that they are within striking distance of snatching the White House, and that Clinton and Obama are the best, or at least the best known politicians, and their brightest stars for now. A shining star looks pretty in the sky. But in earthly voting booths it's a far different matter. If either one, or even more disastrously for the Democrats both, are the presidential candidates, their shine will tarnish fast. Clinton and Obama are good to get the tongues wagging, but that's about all.

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Albion Monitor   January 22, 2007   (

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