There have been a lot of campaigns to draft a candidate to run for the presidency. Colin Powell is the most vivid example. These are efforts that are driven by anyone else besides the candidate. Almost all of them are unsuccessful.
The hundreds of thousands of people who convinced Barack Obama to run for the presidency over the last year or so have pulled off the most successful draft campaign in recent memory.
What other presidential candidate includes the statement "I didn't expect to be here one year ago" as Barack did when he released his exploratory statement a month ago? No one! Who else wonders what role a presidential campaign might play in changing our political culture? Only a candidate who was drafted.
Usually it's the candidate's ambition and drive that is at the center of a presidential campaign -- or any other big campaign. But not this time.
I think it's extraordinary. I've never seen anyone else get drafted to run.
Don't get me wrong: at this point, I'm sure Senator Obama is fully invested in the campaign. And he was certainly the driving force behind all of his previous runs for office (as he disarmingly writes in his book). But a year ago -- and certainly two years ago when most candidates were already working on their campaigns (see Hillary or John Edwards or John McCain or Rudy Giuliani or just about every other candidate), I am absolutely convinced that Barack never seriously entertained the thought of running for president. And other people drafted him to do it.
Very, very cool. It means that he resonates with people. And when people look at him and see a President -- a level-headed, honest, progressive, pragmatic, candid, consensus-building President who appeals to our higher instincts -- it's something unique. That's more important to voters than having been working in Washington, D.C. for years and years. The skills he learned in the Illinois General Assembly to build a consensus for progressive public policies are among the most important any leader can employ. Especially after two terms of the rash, stubborn and arrogant approach from the Bush Administration, I sense voters are hungry for the type of consensus-building leadership that Barack brings. And that's the experience -- forged in Springfield -- that is far more important than having spent years hanging around in D.C.
This is going to be a great year.