Thursday, January 20, 2005

Zorn blows it with an Obama '08 prediction

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?


IlliniPundit said...

I'll take a piece of Zorn's action, too.

I'll wager a $20 iTunes gift certificat that Obama doesn't run in '08, in accordance with Dan's conditions. I'll also make the same (safer) wager that Blago won't run either.

Anonymous said...


You're probably right. But don't underestimate how intoxicated Obama is becoming with the celebrity. I've been watching him in hearings and in his showboating on the floor during the electoral vote counting event, and his head is growing larger. Keep an eye on it.

Jeff Wegerson said...

I like your approach to building a federal base. There is a lot Obama can do in the next two years that would support a run for the president in 2008 without actually running or declaring. If he does those things then he can put off an "actual" decison until after the 2006 mid-terms. Others, without his charisma, must begin now, or like Clinton (H) had to begin years ago just to mitigate negatives.

Now here's a question. What should his relationship be with the blog-world? Does he build and maintain a web-base like Dean has so far (what Dean will do if he's elected DNC chair will be interesting, either way).

He clearly has a lot of money attraction power. How will he handle the decision-making process around that money?

Just some random thoughts.

Phocion said...

Sorry Dan. You are off on this one - Zorn got it right. Check out my particular spin on this one at
Let me know what you think.

Nuisance Industry said...

I have no idea where I'll be in 2008, but I'll wager dinner (or the cash equivalent). I think Obama will throw his hat in the ring, though not for the same reasons Zorn argues.

FightforJustice said...

I won't bet because gambling is illegal, unless the state licenses it. But I agree with Dan. I doubt BO will run for president in '08, unless his celebrity goes to his head. He needs to establish a record of substance in the Senate, and that's tough to do in two years. He'd have to begin running by late '06.

Anonymous said...

My money is with Dan and against Zorn: Obama will not run for President (or VP even) in 2008.

He knows he's a young guy, and he can wait. Obma will be the first serious African American candidate for President, regardless of whether he runs in 2008, 2012, or even 2016. When (and if) Barack decides to run for President, it will be historic. (The quick asterisk here is that Ohio might elect an African-American Governor in 2006. Democrat Michael Coleman and Republican Ken Blackwell are both considering running. An African American Governor from Ohio --the ultimate swing state -- automatically would be considered presidential timbre.)

Moreover, Obama is absolutely committed to his daughters. I don't think he will put them through a presidential campaign until they are college-age or older. Even if he'd like to run in 2008, I doubt Michelle will let him.

Vasyl (too lazy for blogger registration)

Anonymous said...

FYI, the U.S. has troops in 135 countries.

-N. Y. Krause

Anonymous said...

D, how could Obama vote for Rice. So much for taking the place of Paul Wellstone in my favorite senator list. I guess B Boxer is the only senator with some backbone left. The woman lied to everyone to justify a needless invasion. Now she is going to represent the US as our primary diplomat?

Dan Johnson said...

Duff, I don't buy it. Barack's too smart to get sucked into the celebrity game. Phocion, you're wrong too. If your thesis is that timing compels Obama to run in '08, then you've got a better chrystal ball than anyone else in politics. Who knows what 2005 or 2006 will be like? As Barack said on Oprah, there are way too many variables to make predictions based on timing. NuisanceIndustry, send me your name and I'll take your bet. FightingforJustice, you are right. Vasyl, excellent point about the family. And anonymous, I think it is a downer that Obama voted for Rice. The loyal opposition is supposed to oppose the Administration. I don't care how smart or talented Rice is. I don't like her dangerously hawkish policies, so I don't want my representatives to vote to confirm her. And thanks to Zorn for the link -- traffic quadrupled yesterday.

Anonymous said...


Dan -- In the same post where you say that Obama is "too smart" to get sucked into the "celebrity game," you cited his appearance on Oprah. Enough said. The man is human, and everyone has weaknesses. Anybody who writes an autobiography when he's 30-odd years old has got a bit of the ol' love-of-the-lights about him. and like I said a few weeks ago, I was in the Senate chamber when he burst into the room and insisted on speaking on the Electoral College challenge -- it was just obvious to everyone there, esp. his Dem colleagues, that he craved the spotlight. This is going to be a problem for him. One he can perhaps manage, but a problem nonetheless. Oprah! QED. -- Duff

FightforJustice said...

St. Barack wasn't popular among some of his colleagues in the Black Caucus.

Anonymous said...

the saddest part about it is that obama truly is the best candidate the democrats have.

so if he chooses not to run, which will probably be the case, the democrats are at a loss.

an eloquent, charismatic, diplomatic man like obama could be just what the democrats need

Dan Johnson said...

I was wrong. Wrong! But I will take some solace in the fact that Senator Obama clearly did not anticipate the surge of support for his campaign (at least not in January of 2005....). So if *he* didn't see it coming, how could I?