In his Washington Post column today, Charles Krauthammer joins those pundits giving political advice to Barack Obama. The big question, of course, is should Obama run in 2008, or wait another four years so he isn’t such a novice? Krauthammer says he should run to gain more experience, even though he’ll ultimately lose.
I’m not so sure I agree with Krauthammer. Right now, Obama has a spotless record as this young, fresh-faced politician. Should he run and lose the nomination fight, I think there’s a danger that he loses his aura and becomes just like any other politician. Krauthammer says that by running, he puts himself in the position to get a vice-presidential nomination. But I think he can acomplish the same thing merely by flirting with the presidency, which has already generated a lot of buzz and demonstrated his star power, without having to go through a bruising political campaign. By sitting out, he kind of shows deference to his elders, doing something for the good of the party, which I think could be rewarded with a vice-presidential nod.
Of course, my calculation is based on my view that national security issues will dominate the 2008 presidential election, which is why I think that Giuliani can overcome his liberal stances on social issues to win the Republican nomination. If I’m right, then Obama would not have a prayer of winning in 2008 because of his lack of national security credentials.
However, there clearly is a growing section of the electorate that’s tired of war and the deep divisions in this country during the Bush presidency. In my view those who don’t understand the nature of the threat we face are living in denial, but regardless, there are those who want to return to a world where we aren’t in a prepetual state of war. So, for those looking for the antidote to the bitterness of the Bush years, they may find it in Obama, who clearly projects a sort of sunny optimism.
Though I think running in 2008 would be a risk, waiting could also be a risk. If he runs now, he may turn out to be ready for superstardom a la LeBron James, who came from the NBA right out of high school and proved that he was ready for prime time. But if Obama doesn’t strike while the iron’s hot, he could risk the Matt Leinart syndrome. Leinart, of course, would have been a sure No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in 2005, but by staying an extra year at USC, he dropped to the 10th pick.