A reader writes:
I'm not sure you've addressed the fundamental question that confronts Democratic primary voters: who is more electable, Clinton or Obama, or for that matter, Edwards (my current pick)? If the choice boils down to Obama vs. Clinton, all we've seen from Obama is a campaign organized around an airy platitude: kumbaya. Clinton hasn't been overly specific on policy, either, but during the debates this summer we got to see how she'd handle the Swift Boats next year -- with competence and a spine of steel. As much as I'm emotionally drawn to Obama, his performances in the debates and on the stump have been less than stellar. It's all too easy to imagine him getting his ass kicked by the GOP and losing in a landslide to a thuggish dictator like Giuliani. Clinton may never reach the 52% she'd need to win the election -- but so far, she's the only one who looks like she can give as good as she gets. And whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face a hell of attacks the likes we've never seen.
Also, tragically, I just don't think Americans will elect a black man with the middle name of Hussein and the last name of Obama. The GOP is already testing out that meme -- and I'm afraid Obama is exactly the kind of candidate they know how to run against (think Reagan in Philadelphia, Mississippi; Willie Horton; all the Rove tricks). Race still would derail Obama in the general, despite his potential to be, as David Brooks has pointed out, a transformational politician.
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