Europeans who thought John Kerry was a shoo-in because he was the sort of candidate they would vote for may be in for the same sort of shock in 2008. A few American political reporters at Politico look at what’s going to get hurled at Obama if he wins the nomination:
McCain … would have a free hand to exploit a paper trail showing Obama’s evolution — opponents would say reversals — over the past decade from liberal positions on gun control, the death penalty and Middle East politics. He would exploit Obama’s current position in favor of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and beginning diplomatic talks with U.S. adversaries like the dictators of Iran and Venezuela….
…The last two Democratic nominees, Al Gore and John F. Kerry, were both military veterans, and both had been familiar, highly successful figures in national politics for more than two decades by the time they ran.
Both men lost control of their public images to the right-wing freak show — that network of operatives and commentators working mostly outside of the mainstream media — and ultimately lost their elections as many voters came to see them as elitist, out-of-touch, phony, and even unpatriotic.
Obama is a much less familiar figure than Kerry or Gore, with a life story that is far more exotic, who is coming out of a political milieu in Chicago politics that is far more liberal.
The freak show has already signaled its early lines of attack on Obama. Polls show a significant percentage of Americans believe — falsely — that he is a Muslim. Voter interviews reveal widespread unease with minor and seemingly irrelevant questions like why he does not favor American flag pins on his lapel. Nor have we heard the last about [Jeremiah] Wright and his fulminations.
For more on this, let me hoist from comments to a previous post this excellent interview of David Paul Kuhn, author of The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma.