Until Sunday. On Sunday, the very foundations of my political world shook, when Illinois senator Barack Obama announced he was considering a run for the presidency. I found myself hoping against hope that it was a misprint, that it was only a fabrication of a journalist desperate to make it big. But there it was in The New York Times Monday morning, as irrefutable as the date in the upper corner. He might not be in officially, but the mere mention of an Obama candidacy has sent us Clinton supporters into a frenzy.
The first stage was denial. He won't run, hes too inexperienced, hes only trying to boost sales of his book, I rationalized. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was grasping at straws. A politician as savvy as Obama would not announce his possible candidacy simply to make more money on an already popular book. He is too measured, too careful to risk announcing something and then backing down.
Next came anger. How dare he? How dare he throw his name in now? Hes only been on the national stage for two years how on earth can he think he could win a general election, much less a primary? He should wait his turn, let those who have put in their time run now. He can have the presidency when Hillary Clinton is good and done.
I tried my hand at bargaining then. How about you just run as a vice presidential candidate, ok? Maybe just test the waters, see how things are, get more people used to your name? Leave the presidency to Clinton, please. She's done the groundwork, this is her shot. Don't mess it up for her now.
I pretty much skipped depression. Its only politics, after all.
Finally, acceptance. The more I started thinking about Barack Obama as president, the more I started to like it. Guilt hit me like a truck, but I persevered. Obama is charismatic, unlike Clinton, and the worst thing anyone has managed to throw at him as that he is too thoughtful. Too thoughtful? I would rather have someone who is too thoughtful over the thoughtless straight-shooter currently in the White House . Obama doesn't have the stains that Clinton has either; his baggage is far lighter and less vitriolic. He is less partisan as well, and appears more willing to reach across the aisle than almost any politician of Clintons generation. He could give our country a break from the wretched partisan bickering and respect the publics intelligence for once.
Pretty soon, my thoughts are flying past so quickly I almost cant register them. Universal healthcare! Better funding for public schools! Respect for religion, not dogmatic adherence to or aversion from it! All the hopes and dreams of a liberal of my generation suddenly seem within reach. He might be inexperienced, but his charisma, intelligence, and lets face it movie-star good looks make him an irresistible candidate. Clinton, on the other hand, faces an uphill battle against hardline conservatives who see her as Lucifer incarnate.
Obama took the wise step of airing his dirty laundry before his senate campaign, making character attacks next to impossible. Yes, a senator is often beleaguered on the campaign trail by his or her voting record, but Obama has proved to be very good at explaining his record concisely. No John Kerry semantics this time around.
Dont get me wrong. I still believe the United States is long overdue for a Clinton Restoration. It is still too early in the game to call a winner or loser, and a lot can happen in the next two years. No matter who ends up running in '08, one thing is for sure its going to be one hell of a race.
Staff Writer Maura DeChant is a senior from West Bend, Wis. She majors in history and in English.