Why all the excitement among Democrats over Barack Obama? Look at Democrats' top choices for the 2008 nomination: Hillary Rodham Clinton (37 percent among registered Democrats in this month's CNN poll by Opinion Research), Obama (15 percent), Al Gore (14 percent), John Edwards (9 percent), and John Kerry (7 percent). Only one name on that list looks new. All of the others are tied to the past.
Obama burst onto the political scene at the 2004 Democratic National Convention with a stirring call to unity and reconciliation. "There's not a liberal America and a conservative America," he told the convention. "There's the United States of America." Obama is new, he's eloquent, and he's the embodiment of multiculturalism. Bill Clinton used to describe himself as "the man from Hope." Obama's best-selling book is The Audacity of Hope -- what he defined in his convention speech as "the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too."
He may be a United States senator but he comes across as a political outsider. That's a very good thing to be in a time when outsiders are in.
Obama has a lot going for him, and doubts about Hillary Clinton's electability top the list. Most voters don't want her to run for president. They said so, 55 percent to 44 percent, in last month's Gallup Poll. Clinton is at the top of the Democrats' list: 77 percent of Democrats want her to run. But she's near the bottom of the GOP's list: 88 percent of Republicans say she shouldn't run.