Eric Zorn swings. . .and misses.
He boldly predicts in today's Trib that Barack Obama will run for President in 2008.
And he is so wrong.
Zorn's reasons are that the momentum of all that attention (he and Michelle were on Oprah yesterday, in a particularly substance-free fluff interview) will inexorably draw Barack into a race, if only to keep up his national profile and lay the groundwork for potential runs in 2012.
I don't see that at all.
And of course, I'm willing to bet on it.
I'm challenging Zorn to put his money (or something of value) where his mouth is.
And any blogger can get in on this action. Just post something in the comments section.
The deadline is the Iowa caucus election in January 2008. If Barack is not actively campaigning in that caucus, then I win. If so, I lose.
I'll put a dinner on the line.
Why do I think Barack will sit out a presidential run in 2008?
Lots of reasons.
1. He'd make a better V-P candidate in 08 than a presidential candidate. The man has almost a decade of legislative experience, but only four years of foreign policy experience, and given the Bush Administration's taste for invasion, our National Guardsmen will still be patrolling dangerous neighborhoods in dozens of nations in 2008. (What are we we in: 50 nations with a U.S. military presence or something like that?)
2. It seems a little . . . untoward. That's one reason why Senator Clinton didn't run in 2004. Barack would have an easier time pushing that envelope since he didn't actively campaign on *not* running for president during his first term as Hillary did, but still. I think the deferential culture of Washington will mitigate against an Obama 08.
3. I suspect that he would rather spend his political capital in the next four years on electing more federal Democratic candidates and try to retake the U.S. Senate than on building his own network of Iowa and New Hampshire Obama supporters. His celebrity isn't going away, and he could help lots of marginal candidates. It's far more difficult to do that while also campaigning for president. And it is no fun to be in the minority.
4. He doesn't need to run for president in order to build up a national network.
5. 2012 is just as much of a free ride as 2008, in that he will not be up for re-election to the United States Senate in 2012 (his six-year term ends in 2010 when he will presumably run for re-election).
6. The narrative of a new kind of politics ('seeing purple' and all that) doesn't neatly mesh with an aggressive presidential campaign in 2008. The narrative meshes better with a legislative record filled with integrity, progressive votes and common-sense language. Part of Barack's appeal to the very infrequent voter is his call for unity. Presidential campaigns are a call for partisan power, and those two messages tend to conflict.
So who wants a piece of this action?