Election 2008

Obama Offers Presidential Leadership Among the Ruins

There are many reasons why the Barack Obama candidacy has achieved such startling success against great odds.
It is one thing to seek leadership of a nation at rest and at peace. It is quite another to seek the confidence of the people in a mass democracy of 300 million at war, in debt, and uncertain of its future.

There are many reasons why the Barack Obama candidacy has achieved such startling success against great odds. A forming majority of progressive Democrats, disgruntled independents, and disaffected Republicans is coming to understand that Senator Obama approaches the immense challenge of governing America from a different point of view.

Finally, we are approaching the close of an era characterized by the arrogance of power, a bizarre theory called the "unitary executive," and disdain for a Constitutional system of checks and balances. Great damage has been done to our carefully constructed system of government. The principal task of our next president will be to restore order to the House of Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson.

Equally important will be the need to restore accountability to the White House. Senator Obama makes it abundantly clear not only that he honors and respects the Constitution of the United States -- he was, after all, a Constitutional law professor -- but that he also is pledged to hold himself accountable to the people of this nation.

These commitments alone qualify him for the ultimate leadership position. But he goes beyond these core commitments. He sees over the horizon. "Leadership" is usually discussed in the abstract. But leadership is composed of three elements: a sense of strategy; the ability to inspire confidence; and seeing farther ahead than others -- trivialized by Bush I as "the vision thing."

The gifted Barack Obama has a comprehensive sense of how to apply America's powers to achieve its large purposes (strategy), sublime communications skills (inspiration), and a clear sense of where we must go (vision). The United States is blessed, once again, to have a leader like Obama running for president in the new century in which we find ourselves.

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Gary Hart is a former U.S. Senator for Colorado who twice ran for the Democratic nomination for president.