I’m really surprised this hasn’t created any controversy, at least as far as I’m aware. Riffing off a Jay Cost post on President Obama’s tin political ear, Mickey Kaus explains how Obama could be a bad politician and still get elected to the nation’s highest office:
The answer is distressingly obvious: Obama’s the biggest affirmative action baby in history. When other pols are trying, failing, learning, while climbing up the middle rungs of the ladder, he got a pass; e) He’s the second president in a row to get a pass-George W. Bush, after all, didn’t exactly have to fight his way through a 64-team bracket. He was a legacy exception. And, come to think of it, he wasn’t that good at politics either.
Kaus is mostly right about both Obama and Bush. But I’d credit Obama with three key political insights that also helped him make the big jump: 1.) In his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, he understood exactly the right tone to strike to make independents who were weary of red versus blue polarization fall in love with him; 2.) He understood that the next Democratic presidential nominee had to have opposed the Iraq war, unlike John Kerry or Hillary Clinton; and 3.) He realized that a large part of the Democratic base was sick of the Clintons and the rest of the country was sick of the Bushes.
Now, figuring out that people were tired of Bush and the Republicans in 2006-08 was like figuring out which way the wind was blowing without a weatherman. But his other political judgments were less obvious. Obama doesn’t seem to have a clue how to deal with the present political circumstances, but the Republicans are doing their best to make sure he doesn’t have to.