Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Senator Rock Star 

After a disappointing Presidential election, it's great for the Democrats to have a Senator-Elect to be excited about. Amy Sullivan applauds Obama's fist big staff hire:
OFF TO A GOOD START....The future just keeps getting brighter for Barack Obama. Pete Rouse, chief of staff to outgoing Democratic Leader has just agreed to head up Obama's Senate office, bringing instant credibility and invaluable institutional knowledge to the operation. And he also provides a connection to the new crop of leaders on the Democratic side--Rouse once served as incoming whip Dick Durbin's CoS in the House.

A Hill veteran who started out answering constituent mail along with fellow legislative assistant Tom Daschle, Rouse is so well-respected for his political skills and knowledge that he's often referred to as the 101st Senator. Obama will be fortunate to have Pete's steady hand at the helm, particularly given the enormous expectations that will accompany him into office

But, Roll Call's Stuart Rothenberg wants everyone to take a deep breath (subscription only), before Obama's give the Democratic Presidential nod in 2008:
While I believe that the Democrat would have won no matter whom he faced in November, let's remember how he got to the halls of Congress: He never drew the intense scrutiny that most Senate Candidates receive.

He won a bloody primary, where neither of the frontrunners were willing to risk an attack on the only credible black candidate in the primary contest, or Obama took few hits.

Secondly, the Republicans were in chaos for the general election, with Jack Ryan, the GOP primary winner, pulled out of the race when his custody papers went public. Then, the Illinois State Central Committee chose to select Maryland-based conservative Alan Keyes as the Republican Party's nominee for the Senate. Keyes nomination was a joke, and his selection transformed the Illinois Senate contest from a serious race to a coronation for the Democrat...

More importantly, the GOP didn't use their opposition research on Obama
They say he failed to vote (or voted present) on a number of anti-crime initiatives, including one that would have expanded the definition of "sexually violent offenses" and another that made it more difficult for abusive and neglectful parents to regain custody of their children. They cite his record on taxes and his controversial comments on the Iraq war.

Rothenberg closes with:
Obama surely has plenty of skills, and he has the potential to move up his party's Senate leadership and to become a spokesman for the Democratic agenda. But, he is very much a Blue State politician, and it's silly to be talking about him as a national figure-or for higher office-at this point.

Now, I view Rothenberg as a center-right pundit, whether he's "outed" himself that way or not, but his analysis typically is pretty sound. I agree his main point, Obama may have a bright future, but let him serve a day in the Senate, before he's made out to be the next President. Now, the Democrats feel like the guy who was about to marry the model, only to get spurned at the alter, who's now left looking for someone new and exciting to show his friends. Take a deep breath.


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