Obama has been fond of subtly comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln -- announcing his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, for instance, and equating his relative inexperience with that of Lincoln. Alas, at least politically, the better comparison is to another son of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, who had a similar scholarly approach and promised an end to politics as usual. "Let's talk sense to the American people," he said in his 1952 Democratic acceptance speech, which could have been delivered by Obama today. "Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains."
The tack has been repeated several times since. Eugene McCarthy, who nominated Stevenson for president in 1960, picked up the torch in '68, igniting the idealistic, the young, and the intellectuals within the party. McCarthy was then followed by George McGovern in 1972, Jerry Brown in 1976 (who, running at age 38, makes Obama, 46, look like a senior citizen), Gary Hart (McGovern's old campaign manager) in 1984, Paul Tsongas in 1992, and Bill Bradley in 2000.
Very good article. Obama is clearly the most thoughtful candidate in the race in either party. The problem is that if you ask him the time, he'll tell you how to make a clock. For the purposes of the election, he needs to learn to distill his ideas into understandable language. That does NOT mean that he should soundbite everything like Bush, but it does mean that he should learn to give concise but accurate answers that don't make the voters' eyes glaze over after the second sentence.
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