Not to be outdone by the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic's put Andrew Sullivan's new Barack Obama cover story up for free online. Andrew focuses on something that I think had largely dropped out of view as the campaign proceeds, the meaning of Obama's relative youth and freshness:
At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.
I think that's very true. In the course of highlight this difference between Obama and the others I think Andrew does wind up underplaying the systematic factors separating all the Republicans from all of the Democrats, but it is an important point. I would also add that while I think Andrew's approach to politician-evaluating is a bit more personality-driven than is wise, his approach is by far the most common one among swing voter types and the fact that independent-minded conservatives can find Obama compelling in a way they don't feel compelled by Clinton reflects a real virtue of his candidacy.