When Barack Obama first announced his candidacy for the Democrat presidential nomination, it didn't seem to most seasoned observers that he had much of a chance against former first lady, New York Senator and seeming shoo-in for the nomination, Hillary Clinton. Whatever else we wish to think about Obama, he's certainly proved many of us wrong. Now, despite some negative baggage that would have sent most Republican candidates packing, Obama stands on the threshold of being the Democrat standard-bearer this fall.
As Obama cruised to an easy victory last week in the North Carolina primary, it became increasingly clear that his supporters-especially fellow African-Americans-are not going to hold his questionable associations against him.Â Neither, it appears, are the "super-delegates" who seem to be moving more and more into Obama's camp. The fact is that without Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" encouraging Republican voters to cross over and vote for Hillary, Obama may well have won the Indiana primary as well; one he would have won against all odds.
The question that is now being raised is whether Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory rhetoric, Tony Rezko's criminal trial and Bill Ayers' lack of remorse for bombing the Pentagon may hurt Obama more in the general election than they are hurting him now-which seems to be very little. Is this a reflection on many Democrat voters' moral relativism-after all, they managed to excuse Bill Clinton's inexcusable behavior on a number of fronts-or the country's at large? If Obama is indeed the nominee, we may need to wait until November to find out.
And, if it's true that John McCain has the best chance of winning against the candidate with whom he will actually joust a little bit, then Obama, not Hillary, is probably the Republicans' worst nightmare. With Obama as the opponent, every McCain ad will have to be carefully vetted so that there's no criticism of Obama that could possibly hint of racism-which in reality means there will be little if any criticism of Obama at all. You cannot defeat a political opponent that you are trying to quietly tiptoe around, any more than you can win a football game by playing "prevent defense" the entire game.
Obama has fooled a lot of people with the way that he has swayed Democrat voters and has all but left Hillary's floundering candidacy in the dust. The question before us now is whether he can fool enough voters in November, should he become the nominee, to occupy the White House come January of next year. If things keep going as they are, don't bet too much against him.