Maureen Dowd on Obama

It isn’t very often that David Brooks and Maureen Dowd both have favorable columns on the same person. Today’s Maureen Dowd’s turn to write about Obama, but it is actually David Brooks who is more interested in seeing him run for President:

Mr. Obama’s main accomplishment so far is sending a chill through Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ dreaded eventuality. It must certainly be more fun cavorting on a cover with Eva Longoria than caucusing in the Capitol with Harry Reid. Working on legislation can be so tedious, compared with a 13-city book tour in which you are feted as the liberal hunk of the 21st century, generating buzz about your future instead of the country’s.

Mr. Obama, who fears being seen as fluffy and who has been known to mock pretty boys in his party, never seems to take off his makeup these days, as he pads from one soft perch to the next, from Oprah to Meredith to Larry. The first black president of the Harvard Law Review is spending too much time in green rooms.

He also logs a lot of time at the gym. (You never know when Anna Wintour will call.) It is the only thing this intellectually nimble, preternaturally articulate smarty-pants has in common with W.

“Politics sometimes blends in with celebrity,” he told Oprah this week. “And it gobbles you up because the tendency is for people to want to see you perform and say what they want to hear, as opposed to you trying to stay in touch with, you know, that deepest part of you, that kernel of truth inside.” Doesn’t he see that when you express this skepticism on Oprah it is not skepticism at all?Haven’t we seen this tease before? Before the 1996 campaign, Colin Powell scared the bejesus out of Hillary’s husband by showing a fair amount of leg on his book tour. He sold 2.6 million books and was hugely popular, but caution crimped him. He never ran for president, and when he went to the State Department he never stood up to the forces of darkness.

Senator Obama’s caution, too, may cause him to miss the moment. Like Alma Powell, Michelle Obama is afraid for her husband to run.

After 16 years of polarizing presidents driving them crazy, Americans will be yearning for someone as soothing as Obama. (“No one is exempt,” he writes in one of many platitudes in his new book, “from the call to find common ground.”) He is so hot now that tickets to his political events are being sought, at scalpers’ prices, on Craig’s List.

His appeal combines the political ability — alien to the Bush administration — to see something from your opponent’s point of view with the cool detachment of a J.F.K. He’s intriguingly imperfect: His ears stick out, he smokes, and he’s written about wrestling with pot, booze and “maybe a little blow” as a young man.

He has been told by Democratic leaders to think about whether he really wants to be president, or whether he’s just getting swept away by people who want him to do it. (That’s a distinction that entitled and unqualified Republican WASPs like W. and Dan Quayle never bother to make, simply learning — or not learning — on the job.)

Does Barack Obama want to be a celebrity or a man of history — or is there no longer any difference?

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  1. 1
    Lou says:

    No one does snark better than Dowd.

    I don’t think Obama has the National Security creds the Democratic party needs in the next election, but I’m glad he’s out there right now, because he’s one hell of a spokesman.

  2. 2
    janet says:

    I caught a little bit of Obama on Oprah with his wife a few days ago. They were talking about their child’s birthday party. His wife said he was incapable of handling the goodie bags so she assigned him the balloons and the pizza and the required time of delivery.

    When Oprah questioned why he couldn’t handle the goodie bags, his wife responded that if he walked into a party store and had to find and pick out little items for girls and boys, his “head would explode”.

    I know this is cheesy but it really cracked me up—I’m still laughing about his wife saying that.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:


    No, I don’t see Obama as ready yet. Besides lack of national security credentials, I would like to hear more specifics from him on domestic issues. In my previous post on him I was much more willing to consider him for VP than President, seeing a Warner vs. Obama contest as possible.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    My wife has always handled the goodie bags.

    (Obama, Oprah–that isn’t a David Letterman routine is it?)

  5. 5
    kj says:

    UMa Oprah
    Poor old Dave. He crashed and burned with that one.

    My sister used to listen to him when he was on the radio way back in the day. He had a news item that a whale was seen chugging up the White River through the middle of Indianapolis. Caused a traffic jam of people trying to spot the whale in the middle of ocean-locked Indiana. Now that was funny. 😉

  6. 6
    battlebob says:

    I want to hear more about his voting patterns.
    We know he voted for Rice but against Gonzales
    Here is a link to his voting record.
    It is a lot to wade through.

  7. 7
    Donnie McDaniel says:

    I might get some flak over this, but I don’t see Obama as a viable candidate for president. Given time, he might be the one to look at, but not now.

    Looking back from the perspective of where I came from, there is but one man that I would hate to see run if I was still back where I was before. And that man is of course John Kerry.

    If I was still on the “Dark Side” as Ron puts it, that is the man I would be first to tackle. I would find him to be a priority if that was the case. But then again, that is just me.

  8. 8
    janet says:

    Donnie, I tend to agree with you!

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