He has funny but friendly ears.
Eyes that are intense but endearing.
And if you'll pardon the barrage, he's tall, youthful, chiseled, athletic and exotic.
His voice resonates sincerity. He's not slick nor given to anger the way, say, Bill Clinton is. He dislikes gutter politics. You can see it in his face.
His message is change--peace, prosperity, harmony--but his stance is one of insistent independence from sad norms of this low, dishonest decade.
In short, Barack Obama is the political equivalent of a rock star.
When has either party offered such an attractive nominee? Go down the list.
Johnson? Nixon? McGovern? Ford? Carter? Dukakis? Mondale? Bush 41? Gore? Kerry? McCain? Don't mention Dubya. To this day, about two-thirds of Americans change the channel when his mug fills the screen. He has anti-charisma.
Reagan? Bill Clinton? Kennedy? Sure, they had charisma, but even they never routinely drew the excited crowds Obama attracts wherever he goes, and this campaign's abuilding, my friend. Just watch.
That's why barring some unspeakable tragedy Obama will thump John McCain. I say this with some fear and trembling. After all, I've been wrong before.
I thought Kerry would beat Bush. I flat predicted eight years ago that Gore would clean Bush's clock. I was wrong. Gore got more votes, but not enough to seal the deal given a Republican slant to the Supreme Court and our enslavement to the old-timey Electoral College.
But Gore's destiny is not Obama's, for these three reasons:
Charisma, charisma, and charisma.
OK, that's shallow, so here are five more:
First, Swift-boating will not stick to Obama. His long, fierce fight with Hillary renders him nearly immune to more smear and scandal. So do years of hypocritical fear mongering from Dubya and other Republicans. Most Americans see through such shenanigans now.
Lies and innuendos stuck to Gore and Kerry because they were famously wooden. When Republicans pitched the bald-faced lie that Gore claimed to have single-handedly invented the Internet, Gore should've knocked that it out of the ballpark. Instead, he tried laughing it off. Unfortunately, he has a wooden laugh. When Bush 41 accused him of being the Ozone Man, he should've embraced the moniker and then elevated the conversation. Nothing could be more clear than how right Gore was about ozone and other environmental issues. Straight talk might've turned the tide, but Gore was aloof.
Obama's different. He knows to strike back with intelligence, grace, sincerity and he has the speech-writer's ability to articulate truth. Consider how decisively he knocked the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's radical opinions out of the stadium. First he elevated the discussion by acknowledging that race is a big issue and not a one-sided issue. By elevating the conversation, he made news that changed the subject in a way Gore and John Kerry were unequipped to do. Had Kerry taken on the Swift Boaters in such a forthright way, he might've carried the day. No way does Bush's draft-dodging National Guard service in Texas and Alabama trump Kerry's commanding a gunboat on the Mekong River in Vietnam, but somehow, in 2004, Kerry failed to stand up and say it.
There'll be new and resurrected scandals regarding Obama. We'll see tapes ad nauseam about the Rev. Wright, about an associate of Saddam Hussein's named Nadhmi Auchi, about the death penalty, and in each case we'll hear well-timed, news-making eloquence from Obama that'll win hearts and minds.
Second, Democrats are energized as never before. Their history-making primary between a man of color and a top tier female candidate drew millions of new voters. Hillary's speech on Saturday has begun a healing process that'll keep voters in the fold. She's ably dampened prospects of a divided convention, a walkout or other such demonstrations in Denver.
Third, issues favor Obama. We're in Year Six of a war nobody's happy about with the possible exception of McCain. That's glib, but it's close to true. McCain exults in the prospect of armed conflict. Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb Iran?
It's true McCain and Obama agree on other things, but McCain has flip-flopped on torture, veterans' benefits and other issues. He's way too keen on nuclear power.
Meanwhile the economy is tanking. Millions face foreclosure and / or bankruptcy. Credit card debt is ballooning, fuel prices are rocketing, federal debt is the largest in history. I personally know people who have eschewed potentially life-saving checkups and treatments for lack of insurance. McCain's failure to forcefully address such issues hurts him.
Four, history favors Obama. Only once in my lifetime has a party held the presidency for 12 consecutive years, and that was when George Bush 41 beat Michael Dukakis, to follow Ronald Reagan, in 1988. He did so while Republicans were taking credit for bringing down the Soviet empire, and he did it, in part, by lowering the tone of debate. The Willie Horton ad and other icons of dirty politics were on display.
No party has ever won a third successive term to the White House while the economy spiraled downward during a no-win war as energy costs soared, against the backdrop of a half-dozen scandals, especially while their opponents raised millions more money.
Five. We're ready for change. Even baby boomers are tired of government by boomers. We're weary of culture wars. We've had enough of the radical Christian Right and the Far Left. Yes, Obama's opponents will try to pigeonhole him as a radical lefty, but he's too reasonable, graceful and eloquent to let it stick.
He's a rock star of politics.
His time has come.