Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency has revived. Until recently Hillary Clinton had a commanding lead in the polls and was starting to seem unstoppable. But Mr Obama has pulled ahead in Iowa and level in New Hampshire, the states that vote first in the primaries. He is gaining ground again nationally. The television debates, in which he performed poorly, are behind him. What matters now is the ability to move a crowd and the energy of campaign staff on the ground. On the first, Mr Obama has no equal in this contest. On the second, he has no grounds for complaint. He is back in the race.
But here is an odd thing: the Democratic party’s progressive base has mixed feelings about this revival. What is their problem, one wonders? What could be more exciting or more transformative, from their point of view, than this candidate? Mr Obama is a clever, reflective and engaging man; he has dedicated his impressive intellect to a liberal political vision; he has a voting record in the Senate that puts him well to the left of Mrs Clinton; he makes, nonetheless, a strong appeal to the centre; he carries none of the baggage of the Clinton dynasty; and, in a country still riven by race, he just happens to be black. What’s not to like?
The main answer is not differences over policy – though it is true that Mr Obama’s positions in the campaign have tended to be in the centre, at least compared with his Senate voting record.
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