Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Obama: The Analogy
Sen. Barack Obama's admirers sometimes compare him to John F. Kennedy, sometimes to Ronald Reagan, sometimes to Abraham Lincoln. (That is, when they are not comparing him to Jesus Christ.)
But is not the most apposite analogy ... William Jennings Bryan?
Like Obama , Bryan was a charismatic young political (just 36 at the time of his first presidential run!) with a thin political record. Yet on the strength of one legendary speech at a Democratic national convention, he was clutched to heart by the party's left wing and made the repository of its grandest hopes on a whole range of so-called progressive causes.
Bryan stands - or should stand - in American political history as an object lesson in the dangers of choosing politicians without records of accomplishment on the basis of fine phrases alone. If Obama loses in 2008 - or (at least as possible) wins, and then goes on to fail as president - I wonder if many Democrats will not be haunted by the warning that Hillary Clinton gave earlier in this cycle: There is a big difference between making speeches and making change. Deval Patrick and Barack Obama jointly deny it. Bryan's career suggests that the former first lady will likely be proved right.
02/20 09:23 AM