October 9th, 2008
04:10 PM ET

Obama's race is receding

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/09/art.obama.speech.jpg]
Joe Klein

We are witnessing something remarkable here: Obama's race is receding as he becomes more familiar. His steadiness has trumped his skin color; he is being judged on the content of his character. But there is a real challenge — and opportunity — inherent in his success. Obama has taken some inspired risks in this campaign. His willingness to propose more governmental control of the health-care market is a prime example. But he has also been very cautious, a typical politician in many ways. The most obvious is in his resolute unwillingness to deliver bad news or make any significant demands on the public. Neither he nor McCain had anything but platitudes to offer when asked what sacrifices they would ask of the American people. Worse, when Brokaw asked if he thought the economy was going to get worse before it gets better, Obama flatly said, "No. I'm confident about the economy."

That was, no doubt, the politic answer. But not the correct one. Obama was underestimating the public's capacity to hear the truth — which is odd, since the national desire for substance, the unwillingness to be diverted by "lipstick on a pig" trivialities, has been so striking in this campaign. Everyone knows this recession is going to hurt, that there will be a price for our profligacy and that some hard shoveling will be necessary to get out of this hole. Indeed, that knowledge is what has made Obama's success possible. But if he wants to do more than merely succeed, if he wants to govern successfully, he is going to have to trust the people as much as they are beginning to trust him. After years of happy talk from politicians, that is the change we really need.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Joe Klein • Raw Politics
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. BB

    What is the difference between the "realpolitik" lack of experience between Obama and Palin. Just one thing -> Temperament.

    Obama has consistenly been cool, articulate and measured in his responses. While he may not have the "experience" that McCain has, the measure of the man is that he considers and rationalizes before he speaks. In contrast McCain has show an inclination to shoot from the hips.

    In viewing the demogaugary that has become the McCain/Palin standard, I am left reflecting that in the face of 2 major wars, an economic crisis, fundamentalist demogaugary and shoot from the hips policies are exactly what we do not need.

    I'll take measured rationality over passion in today's environment because we cannot afford to feel our way out of this: we need to think our way out.

    October 10, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  2. Peter

    For Mindy in Sunny California,

    Well you need not look much further than Bill Ayers to find another murderer. I guess you may not consider those who "Weatherman" killed to be "great men". They were probably just like the rest of us, the boring average, or perhaps slightly above that. Please look into Mr. Ayers' history and consider that Obama is close friends and allies with many like him. I would hope you show the same concern for us simple folk as you do for those great figureheads who purport to stand for the simple folk. Once you have done this quick and simple analysis, please reconsider a vote for Obama which will do more to legitimise self-confessed and unrepentent murderers than any other action you could have ever taken.

    October 10, 2008 at 7:05 am |
  3. Peter

    Whereas Obama's race may be receding, his extreme liberal views and support structure is alive and kicking. The last time I checked, Ayers had white skin, but he is one of the most visable characters in Obama's ascent from local organiser to state and national politician. Anyone reading this should simply consider two things, research it and decide for yourself. You will find that Ayers is of the most deplorable and cowardly elements which ever populated the earth. Hiding behind his supposed intellect and elitist certifications (what liberals like to call unversity degrees and accreditation), he spews venom and plots to KILL U.S. CITIZENS IN COLD blood. What you will also find is that, after uncovering the lies Obama and camp have sold us about the true nature of their relationship, (for example their kids which are on average 25 years apart in age frequented school together), you will be left to deal with the standard excuse for Obama being associated with such figures as Ayers and Jeremiah Wright and that is as follows: Being a politician in Chicago you cannot help but associate with certain radical leftist elements. This is fair enough, but do we really want someone who is a spawn of this sort of politics and clearly beholden to them as President of the United States. If so, we will be turning the helm over to the most unseemly of groups, something that the US would not even do in the 1970's when it elected Nixon, Carter and eventually Reagan to President. What are we thinking. In the end, we must have it to good to allow ourselves to be duped so badly. Obama may be perfect for Chicago and perhaps even Illinois (although I cannot believe this either), but American needs much much much better.

    October 10, 2008 at 6:59 am |
  4. Lauren, Northern California

    I agree that McCain/Palin's campaign rallies have gotten out of hand.

    I used to have respect for McCain but not anymore. He has become one of the most despicable, obnoxious, hateful candidates. He can't even control his own VP, how can he lead the country?

    He says he can work across the aisle with Democrats. Who would want to work with him and the hateful Republicans that have been spreading their hate and lies about Obama.

    We have an opportunity to elect someone who can bring peace and honor back to our country. He can work with other countries leaders.
    I can't imagine McCain even getting 20,000 people to hear him talk in Berlin, much less 200,000. I doubt that they would want to hear Palin either. All she spues is hateful, viscious lies.

    I can't wait for this election to be over. It has been way too long of an election.

    October 10, 2008 at 5:12 am |
  5. Slim

    It's to the point that I honestly cannot see how any informed,intelligent person is not for Obama. I am pretty open minded and willing to hear both sides out. I have no political party, religious affiliations or anything tying me to either party or candidate. I am neither white nor black, or any mix of the two. I am not rich,but far from poor. I am a Veteran,having served in the U.S. Army Special Forces. I have combat experience in common with Mr. McCain. As far as I know, I don't have much of anything else in common with either candidate. During the Primaries I was leaning towards John McCain or Hillary Clinton. I did not know who Barack Obama was. The first thing that I recall ever hearing about him was at work, it was a racist and ignorant comment which I won't repeat here. Shortly thereafter, I received some pretty serious and perhaps permanent injuries. I was lucky enough to have bought a very good insurance policy against just these types of things. So, having a lot of time on my hands, I became interested in the Election. I have been reading and fact checking just about everything from day one. I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden for many reasons. I would not vote for John McCain with any running mate, even less so with Sarah Palin. Mr.McCain has selected the most unqualified person EVER on a ticket of this magnitude. It's not the lack of experience, it's the lack of CAPACITY that worries me about her. It is painfully obvious that Mrs.Palin is not intellectually up to the job. I once had a great deal of respect for Mr.McCain but no longer. It appears by the manner in which he is campaigning that he has lost his self respect as well. Any pretense of John McCain being an honorable man is just that ,pretense. How sad for him that this is what he'll be remembered for, selling his soul to try to win the election. Even if the American people were stupid enough to fall for the smear tactics,what good would it do to win the Presidency and lose your self respect ?

    October 10, 2008 at 4:20 am |
  6. David, Mo

    I fear that if the McCain/Palin ticket keeps up their hate tactics. They will fracture our Nation. Our Nation will slip back 148 years.

    October 10, 2008 at 3:50 am |
  7. dale elaine

    For the majority of Americans Obama's race is receding. Unfortunately the McCain campaign wants to put race front and center again. They may not use the "N" word but McCain-Palin rallies are beginning to sound like lynch mobs.

    I'm old enough to have been profoundly affected by the assassinations of the 60's. McCain should reflect of THOSE 60's radicals besides whom Ayers pales in comparison.

    October 10, 2008 at 3:09 am |
  8. SHEPDOG from Houston,TX

    McCain is insane and will give the people Bushes same.

    October 10, 2008 at 2:47 am |
  9. speedmeisterp

    Obviously McCain has shown he can't handle leadership. Nobody running for president should have a campaign as immature and hateful as his. He may be a Maverick. You know what, Bush was a Maverick too. If you consider doing your own thing without regard for anyone else as being a Maverick, then Bush and McCain are both Mavericks. How's that working out for us? I've been to healthcare forums with all democrats, and nobody said anything bad about republicans. It was all about how we could help the country – the whole country republicans and democrats alike. The most insulting thing I ever heard Senator Obama say about McCain was that he was "out of touch". Senator Obama's rallies are about people coming from every background coming together to try to improve this nation and the world. McCain and Palin are just hate mongers, and I think that will not only cost them the race, but their political future.

    October 10, 2008 at 2:45 am |
  10. Verret

    I was undecided on who I was going to vote for, but to hear the racist massage McCain staff has been sending have changed my mind. I'm hurt and upset that in the year 2008 that we white have not changed over all the years. McCain white sheet is start to hang from his suite. He is 72 and he knows all to well how to hate, If Obama is not ready will there every be a black man ready. Are aren"t they allowed to be President we have messed it up for so long so what make you thank a Black Man can"t do it?

    October 10, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  11. Michael Joshua

    Can we just take brief moment to ask ourselves some fundamental questions like;In this very trying period of the American history,can we afford to put the future of America into the hands of an untested,inexperienced Obama rather than a Mc cain that has been tested and trusted.The truth of the matter is that if Americans make another mistake in the choice of who we choose to lead our great country,we all are going to suffer the dire consequences...........................Fine we are in a recession,but what has Obama done in his entire political carrier that wuld give anyone the confidence that he can get us out of this mess......

    October 10, 2008 at 1:44 am |
  12. Crop

    Race will unfortunately always play a factor. How did he get this far..How did we get here? For minorities, this is not an unfamiliar question.we work...we work at being parents, teachers, students, & every day professionals, often having to work 10x times harder than our counterparts in an attempt to ensure our rights. McCain & Palin need to take a step back and realize that America & Americans are not too far removed from the 50's, 60's & 70's.

    October 10, 2008 at 1:38 am |
  13. JW

    I am a white working woman and I am scared everytime when I watch the McCain/Palin campaign. It looks like a KKK meeting with no colored people around. It's ashame that they are now using this low tactic to get the votes – .RACE I got more scared when someone said Palin will come back in the future. Knowing that there are still someone like McCain and Palin around, it gives me a chill to finally know that America is still not a melting pot. I pray everyday that they will they will lose this election. All these attacks on Obama, it really tells you McCain/Palin are not a person with integrity. They only want to win the election and they care less about our country.

    October 10, 2008 at 1:22 am |
  14. DB

    This is the first politician in a very long while that has integrity and real moral values. Have you read his books? What he is saying is not just capaign rhetoric – this is really what he believes.

    I read that one comment with sadness that asked why it takes 4 times for him to explain something – I think its because 1) he never tries to condescend, so begins at his own intelligence/experience level, then realizes he needs to explain again at a simpler level so that everyone can understand and 2) it seems like the American people need to hear things more than once to really get what he's talking about.

    He is going to change Washington – but we all need to help him do that – we all need to elect Congressmen and women who will not just play the old (ridiculous) earmarking games and kowtow to lobbyists – but who have integrity too.

    On the other hand, he has to be somewhat political in order to run this country- he can't come out and say that the economy is totally in the pits and getting worse. Capitalist economies are based on confidence! And he had to vote for the rescue bill (as did McCain) even though the bill had more absurd earmarks than I've ever heard mention – wooden arrows, rum in Puerto Rico, wool... Time was running out. (What I don't get is how the senators and representatives that insisted on those earmarks in order to vote for the bill can ever live with themselves. Talk about shallow!)

    Obama has had my vote since day one of the campaign. Although I respect Hillary and the experience she has, I always feel like her own interests trump the country's best interests in her decisions.

    October 10, 2008 at 1:09 am |
  15. Ruby Jones

    I think people will vote for who ever suites their particular hopes/views. People who run for office, run on a platform that they hope they can put into action once elected. But the reality of the world is once in office you do what's best for the country and your people in this case the American people.

    As for Ayers if he was a terrorist he would be under arrest by now. If Obama was a terrorist do you really think he'd be allowed to run for president? Especially after 9/11. Get real people.

    October 10, 2008 at 12:53 am |
  16. clint Moser

    Can you Really Trust Obama at the Switch ?
    More than kozy with Freddie, Fannie & Frank (culprits in the subprime meltdown)!!! More than Kozy with a Freaky, Racest, Hate Mongering Preacher ! More than Kozy with a Domestic Terrorist !!! More than Kozy with Acorn (culprits in the meltdown and Voter Fraud Central)!!! And has the audacity to tell the american people from the stump of his plans to socilize health care and raise taxes during economic peril.
    Remember what your grand Parents said "Birds of a Feather Flock Together" Wake up America !!!! Do not let them steal our country !!!!

    October 10, 2008 at 12:16 am |
  17. Lynn

    I was hopeful that CNN would be honest with the American public.
    Why does it seem that one candidate can do no wrong and the other can do no right? Even the strategists from the same party can find nothing positive to say about a certain candidate. The strategists belittle the candidate.....age, mental status, anti-women.....yet what about the truth about the other candidate? Acorn contributions and Acorn attorney, Farakkhan calling him "The Messiah", Wright's "God d..... America, hired by unrepentant William Ayers with long term involvment: the truth....not attacks. When will we hear about this man's life? Why are so many trying to hide it? If he is so qualified, why the fear to answer legitimate questions?
    Why such lopsided, prejudicial and irresponsible journalism? Why not answer all the questions fully and completely? There are a lot of facts and information that is purposely being withheld! Why? What kind of journalistic responsibility is this? Why is the emphasis on polls, even calling the election, weeks before the election has occurred? It's not over until the American people speak.....give them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    October 10, 2008 at 12:08 am |
  18. PennyRose

    Well, let's unravel this race issue for what it is. In the beginning the pundits help to propagate whether Barak was black enough.
    Now, the secret is out many voters won't vote for a black man. I really think that we need to get our heads out of the sand and recognize that Barak is just as much anglo as he is african.
    In fact I would venture to say that he is 50/50. It seems to me that he spent the majority of his young life growing up with his white grandparents as opposed to his African father. We talk about how we are shaped throughout life based on the relationships we have developed coming into adulthood. Barak feels us all because he has had the grand opportunity to walk in both worlds. Wake up America he is just like the rest of us AMERICAN.

    My mom and I had an interesting conversation today regarding race, She is colored, I am negro, My neices & nephews over 35 are Afro-Americans, those under the age of 35 are African Americans. What difference does it really make at the end of the day we all have the distingushed right to be called Americans! Let's Go Americans and let's elect this Joshua to lead our nation for such a time is this. You feel me!

    October 10, 2008 at 12:06 am |
  19. Dan

    When Obama answered "NO", he was looking forward to bring back the economy to stability. If you were voting for McCain, then you might have answered "YES, it will get worse"...and you're ready to sacrifice the future of this country simply because you don't like the man on the other side.

    October 9, 2008 at 11:59 pm |
  20. Kathy

    I am assuming this is strictly a Democratic party here. All I have to say is look at the ACORN accusations that could really turn the numbered voters around. Both parties are not using the best tactics, but I wish more of you would have more of and open mind. I have had some pretty nasty comments and hateful attitudes from Democrats. We will soon see how the latest ACORN situation plays out. Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

    October 9, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  21. carol kesling

    john mcsame is a very angry man !!!!!!!! OBAMA GOT CLASS!!!! i think is makes john mcsame mad cause his little digs dont get to him GO OBAMA and michelle will make a great first lady with class , hands down......

    October 9, 2008 at 11:56 pm |
  22. kimber

    As someone from a multi-racial/ethnic/religion family, race has absolutely NOTHING to do with the way that I am voting. McCain supporter here! (Note...I didn't say Republican either, and definitely not Conservative!)

    October 9, 2008 at 11:53 pm |
  23. Mad Mac

    I for the first time in my life time have never been so intrigued by an election process. Barack Obama has lifted my spirits higher than anyone in politics that I can remember. I believe that America has come full circle to realize that our life and liberty has taken front stage. No more are we accepting the word of the old guard and treading lightly that all will be well, if we just hold on. Its time to move, its time for action, and we won't tolerate the same anymore. McCain for all is service to country, is not in touch with the American people. Race be damned, I want my children to know that "anyone" who works hard can become anything they want. Even President of the United States.

    October 9, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  24. Kent, Illinois

    No..............Obama said what he needed to say. There is something about being the messenger of bad news that is not good for the messenger. When he is President it will be different. If at the debate he told everyone that the economy was gonna get worse.........everyone would of looked negatively on the answer..........and negatively on Obama. He understands it's gonna get bad. He has a plan to help this country out of this mess. But, you gotta give him that chance..........

    October 9, 2008 at 11:48 pm |
  25. cathy

    .....One nation under GOD individsible withe Liberty and Justice for All. One day everyone will be judged by the "content of their character "and not the color of their skin!

    October 9, 2008 at 11:48 pm |
  26. Dixie

    His campaign is based on words... not on a proven track-record... if his words are not supported by facts, there’s nothing left but an empty blue suit. No experience; no judgment; no integrity; NO Obama.

    October 9, 2008 at 11:47 pm |
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