I think that Phil has it about right. Obama evinces a Reagan-like generosity toward his political opponents that has been missing from many Democratic leaders in recent years. When he describes his vision for America -- in ever so vague terms -- he does not appear to be excluding conservatives from that vision. He also seems to agree with Bill Clinton that, "Nothing is wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America."
Yet Reagan was a polarizing political figure until after he was dead. Clinton remains deeply polarizing to this day. Generous sentiments can only get you so far in the heat of a political campaign.
I also agree that a desire for a "unity culture," as James puts it, helps fuel the Obama speculation in much the same way it contributed to Colin Powell's appeal. But like Powell, he may well become less unifying when he is identified with specific positions on deeply controversial , emotionally charged issues.
Star power may be able to transcend issues. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain will both be testing this theory on the Republican side. And such tangible intangibles as being a "nearly physiological embodiment of the Modern American Dream" could well propel Obama to the White House, or at least the Democratic nomination. But let's wait and see how dreamy he still appears to people when elements of the media no longer are interested in preserving the freshman senator's star quality. That , it seems to me, will tell the tale.
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