On Meet the Press yesterday:
MR. RUSSERT: Howard Kurtz, no parsing, no denial, saying in his own words, not being coy, that’s somewhat unusual for many politicians when they clearly change their mind.
MR. HOWARD KURTZ: Clearly you just wore him down, Tim, he got tired of saying no to you. He figured he may as well run or he’ll just keep getting these questions. Look, I haven’t seen a politician get this kind of walk-on-water coverage since Colin Powell a dozen years ago flirted with making a run for the White House. I mean, it is amazing. You know, you, you could say the chord that he has touched in the country, but also in journalists, but, at the same time, a guy with all of two years experience in the United States Senate getting coverage that ranges from positive to glowing to even gushing.
Can we acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, Americans as a whole and the press in particular would really like to see an African-American president? And that with all of this enthusiasm, this not-so-subtle cheering, this yearning for an African-American to give us a real-life David Palmer, that maybe it’s getting a little silly to ask whether Americans are ready for an African-American president?
Later Roger Simon (not the blogger, the other one) points it out directly:
MR. SIMON: Yes. He is not the candidate of Washington. Hillary Clinton is the candidate of Washington. That’s his message. He does not want to be the Washington insider. And in fact, he changed his mind about running when the analysis that he made and the polling he did showed that Hillary Clinton was beatable for the Democratic nomination. Also, I think, the, the real theme of this campaign is that it has become a litmus test for how much racial healing has taken place in this country. He says it’s audacious. He says it’s improbable. By implication, it is. If America actually nominates him and then votes for him for president and elects him, this will be a sign that we are a good and decent country that has healed its racial wounds. Now, Jesse Jackson had a same subtext, but Barack Obama is a much different politician than Jesse Jackson—much less threatening, much more appealing, and he actually has the ability to carry this off.
Of course, the inverse of this is the suggestion that if Obama loses, then we are not a good and decent country that has healed its racial wounds.