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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEditorials | Issues | January 2007 

Barack Obama: An African-American for President?
email this pageprint this pageemail usDomenico Maceri - PVNN

Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) applaud as President Bush delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill, January 23, 2007. (Jim Young/Reuters)
"I believe that it remains possible to salvage an acceptable outcome to this long and misguided war," stated Senator Barack Obama, D-Illinois, at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Obama believes that the first step would be to start withdrawing troops in the next four to six months.

Speaking on international affairs is a requirement for a potential presidential candidate. And Obama may be one. Obama, a charismatic politician, would be the first African-American president if he were elected.

Obama would have to get the Democratic nomination which may not be easy. The major opponent would be Hillary Clinton who is most likely going to run. Yet, Obama would be a strong competitor. A graduate of Harvard with a law degree, he won his senate seat in landslide, receiving 70% of vote.

He is recognized as having given an electrifying speech at Democratic National Convention in 2004. Hes been on the cover of Time Magazine and his books are best sellers. He can claim he did not support the now unpopular Iraq war since he was absent when the U.S. Senate voted its approval.

In the Democratic primary hed be a tough challenger of Hillary Clinton because the New York Senator has been moving toward the center as she tries to shed her image as an ultra liberal.

The primary election always requires a more partisan position, and in the case of the Democratic primary, Obama would be well positioned at the progressive wing of the party that would have a significant impact. In particular, African-Americans who make a considerable part of the voting Democrats in the primary, would tend to support Obama.

Yet, Obama also has some areas which some people view as drawbacks. Hes only been in the U.S. Senate for two years, and making the jump to the White House at a very young age of 47 (hes 45 now) would be unusual. He has very limited experience in international affairs.

Even these drawbacks are not insurmountable when you look beyond the surface. The limited experience in the Senate can be a positive since he has not accumulated a number of votes which could be used against him in the campaign.

The lack of international experience may not be a drawback - it certainly did not stop George Bush in going from governor of Texas to the White House. Although he is not as well known as Hillary Clinton, Obama does not generate the high negatives that may hold back the former first lady. As to his age, in 2008 hed be one year older than Bill Clinton when he was elected president.

Obama may decide to wait for the next opportunity to run for president which could come in 2012 or 2016. But timing can be vital. Running for president in 2008 could be very favorable since there will not be an incumbent president. The field is wide open in both the Democratic primary and the general election.

Some polls put Obama at the number two spot behind Hillary Clinton and ahead of "old timers" such as Al Gore, John Kerry, and John Edwards who have been nominated and lost to George Bush in 2000 (Gore) and 2004 (Kerry and Edwards.)

In modern times, two African Americans have run for the presidency - Jesse Jackson, and more recently, Al Sharpton. Neither got very far. Obama can go far.

He may choose not to run in 2008 and wait until hes built a more substantive record. However, if he decides to run, hed have a good chance at getting the Democratic nomination.

But even if he were to lose to Hillary Clinton, he might get picked as vice-presidential candidate, and at the current age of 45 hed still be young enough to run in future presidential elections. Whatever the case, Obama could very well be the first member of a minority group to become president of the U.S.
Domenico Maceri, PhD, UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. He is the author of a book on Pirandello, one on Spanish grammar, and another on Italian grammar. He has also published a number of articles in newspapers and magazines around the world, some of which have won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.

Click HERE for more articles by Domenico Maceri.

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