Maureen Dowd on The Boy Wonder versus Wonder Woman

Maureen Dowd wonders of Barack Obama, the Boy Wonder, can take on Hillary Clinton, The Wonder Woman. The Boy Wonder has both strengths and weaknesses:

Clearly, the 45-year-old senator is blessed with many gifts. He can write and talk, think and walk, with exceptional grace and agility.

When he wants to, Mr. Obama can rouse the crowd to multiple ovations, as he did yesterday when he talked with a preacher’s passion about the “quiet riot” of frustration of blacks in this country, on issues like Katrina, in a speech before black clergy at Hampton University in Virginia.

But often he reverts to Obambi, tentative about commanding the stage and consistently channeling the excitement he engenders. At times, he seems to be actively resisting his phenom status and easy appeals to emotion. When he should fire up, he dampens. When he should dominate, he’s deferential. When he should lacerate, he’s languid.

Obama took on the lesser foes, such as John Edwards, but missed his chance to go after Hillary Clinton, who dominated both Democratic debates:

In the New Hampshire debate Sunday night, Mr. Obama again missed his chances. Hillary is the one he needs to unseat, but he treads gingerly around her. He seems afraid of a repeat of that moment last December, as the clamor for him to run was building, when he touched her elbow and winked at her on the Senate floor, and she kept walking. He called a friend afterwards, stunned at her icy behavior.

Instead, he wasted his time tangling with Dennis Kucinich in the first debate and slapping back John Edwards in the second.

When Hillary admitted that she had not read the National Intelligence Estimate before voting to authorize the president to go to war, Senator Obama had a clear shot. The woman who always does her homework did not bother to do her homework on the most important vote of her Senate career because her political viability was more important than the president’s duplicity: She felt that, as a woman, she could not cast a flower-child vote if she wanted to run for president. At this fateful moment, she was thinking more of herself than her country. As someone who has been known to tailor the truth to accommodate her ambition, she looked away while W. was doing the same.

Mr. Obama let the opportunity for a sharp comment pass. He made an oblique one, without mentioning her name, noting that former Senator Bob Graham said that the N.I.E. was one of the reasons he voted against the war authorization.

He missed another chance when Hillary said at the beginning of the debate that she believed “we are safer than we were” before 9/11, even though the Democrats won Congress with the opposite argument last fall, and even though the Iraq war has clearly made the world more dangerous than ever.

The next day, after reflecting on the matter overnight, the Obama campaign sent out a rebuttal to Hillary’s ridiculous claim, citing reports showing that radicalization in the Muslim world and terrorism are spreading rather than diminishing. The belated memo was blandly addressed to “Interested Parties.” But by then the only thing that was interesting was why it took Obambi so long.

Fortunately for Obama, few are watching so far and there’s a long way to go. In football, the conventional wisdom is that a team shows the most improvement between the first and second game. Obama did improve between the first and second debate, but must show even more improvement to beat Clinton. Although the media and blogs have been talking about the debates this week, many other factors will also determine the winner and it is way too early to predict a winner.

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  1. 1
    Bob says:

    It appears Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a front-runner for the Democrat Party presidential nomination, has stolen a page from the campaign playbook of Segolene Royal, the French Socialist Party candidate who lost the French presidential election to Nicolas Sarkozy early last month.

    In a Bob McCarty Writes™ post May 4, I reported that operatives of Senator Obama and his chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), would be paying close attention to the results of the presidential election in France. A day later, I wrote and published a post about Royal’s warning to her countrymen — or, as she would say, “country-persons” — only 48 hours before election day that violence would erupt in the streets of France if she lost. And it did.

    Now, according to an Associated Press report, Obama tossed out words like “Katrina” and “Rodney King” before accusing President George W. Bush of doing nothing to defuse a “quiet riot” among blacks that threatens to erupt just as riots in Los Angeles did 15 years ago.

    Sounds like a threat to me. Moreover, it sounds like he’s targeting the same segment of the Democrat Party base at which people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton tend to direct their oft-divisive, race-bating efforts, such as “No Justice, No Peace!” Worst of all, it sounds as if he’s hoping those targeted will actually resort to violence so that he — Obama — can try to lay the blame for the social unrest at the feet of Bush and, more importantly, his Republican opponent in the 2008 general election.

    If I was Senator Clinton, I would be eating this up, satisfied that the junior senator from Illinois had blown his chance and, in so doing, improved mine.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    That’s not bad as an exercise in creative writing, although it has little relevance to the real world. I’m sure that conservative blog readers, who also believe that Obama went to a Madrassa, will love this post. Anyone who has actually paid any attention to Obama’s books and speeches would immediatley see it as nonsense.

    This does raise a point. Kerry lost largely because conservatives were successful in substituting their false narrative of his live and views for the truth. They are attempting to do the same with Obama, The question is whether the Democrats will do a better job of fighting such tactics in 2008 than they did in 2004.

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