To quote Alex Beam, I write this with my head, not my heart. I don’t have a dog in the 2008 presidential hunt. But I’m mystified by Beam’s assertion in today’s Globe that Barack Obama is this year’s version of Howard Dean, Paul Tsongas, Bill Bradley and Bruce Babbitt.
Dean, Tsongas, Bradley and Babbitt were all utterly without charisma; Dean and Bradley came across as rather unpleasant fellows to boot. Tsongas, Bradley and Babbitt got a big boost from media types who were suckers for their cerebral, moderate politics. (Yes, Bradley ran as a liberal in 2000, but that wasn’t his reputation as a senator.) Dean was the darling of the netroots, but actual voters never warmed up to him.
By contrast, Obama oozes charisma. His campaign’s biggest asset, by far, is himself. Members of the Beam Quartet were small-timers trying to break into the the big time. Obama is a big-timer who may not quite be ready.
Obama may or may not be chosen as the Democratic presidential nominee. But if he’s not, it certainly won’t be because he’s suffering from Howard Dean syndrome. And unlike the Beam Quartet, if Obama falls short, I suspect he’ll get another chance somewhere down the line.