Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Credit Where Credit's Due

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Credit Where Credit's Due

As I was watching Barbara Walters's interview with the Obamas, I couldn't help but notice how presidential Barack Obama looks. I then started thinking back on how he got to this point, and I realized that he'd never have made it without the contribution of Illinois Republicans. At this time of thanksgiving, I'm thankful for them.

One of my concerns when Obama announced his candidacy was that it was too early, that he wasn't experienced enough. I could probably find posts to this effect in my archives, but I'm not going to take the time to look tonight, but I was worried that Obama hadn't been tested on the campaign trail. Clearly, he ultimately proved my worries unfounded, but we had to wait to see him in full campaign mode to realize that. My doubts arose because Obama's campaign for Senate four years ago was quite an odd one. During the primaries, he ran against a number of other Democrats and was mostly unknown at the time. The leading candidates encountered various problems, and their campaigns either imploded or never got off the ground. When the dust cleared, Obama was the strongest candidate standing and thus won the nomination. Surely he'd face a tougher campaign in the general. After all, the race was to replace a sitting Republican who chose not to run again. But, sure enough, the Republican candidate ran into problems and had to withdraw from the race. State Republicans had already had problems with former Governor George Ryan (who's currently serving time and reportedly angling for a presidential pardon when W heads out of office), and they were very much at a loss about what to do next. They finally brought in Alan Keyes to run against Obama. That basically allowed Obama to take the Senate seat in a walk, but more importantly, it freed him up to campaign for other Democrats around the country. He'd made a splash at the convention that summer and was a hot attraction on the campaign trail. The result of all of this is that he'd already built up a huge amount of good will. People around the country got to see him, and Democrats were appreciative and, to an extent, owed him. Had Obama needed to remain in Illinois to actually campaign for the office he was seeking, it might have taken him longer to build up the political capital and credibility needed to mount a successful run for president.

So remember Illinois Republicans tomorrow as you're chowing down on turkey, and be very appreciative.


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