How Much Does Timing Help Obama?

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There’s no doubt in our virtual mind that Barack Obama‘s a smart, courageous and inspiring man. That’s evident.

Reading through Ryan Lizza’s under-covered New Yorker article, however, we’re struck by the cultural similarities between the current presidential election and Obama’s 1995 Senatorial race…

Obama’s talk of a “renewal of morality in politics,” which previewed themes that emerged in this year’s campaign, also tapped into a desire for generational change–similarly consistent with his current rhetoric. He was able to capture the imagination of some young African-Americans frustrated by their local leadership. [Former aide Will] Burns said, “You have to understand, it’s 1995. It’s the year after the Republicans have taken over control of Congress, and in Illinois all three branches of government were also controlled by the Republicans. So it was a really dark point. I was looking to be engaged in something that would mean something, that would actually get something done and that was beyond symbols. Around the same time that I started up with Barack, volunteering on his campaign, I had gone to some of the old community groups and nationalist organizations. I respected what they had done, but I didn’t feel like that was really where I wanted to be.”

Yes, the current round of Republican domination began to crumble during the 2006 elections, but the darkness of the past eight years resembles the zeitgeist Burns evokes. We wonder, then, if Obama could have risen so quickly had it not been for Republican power-grabbing and their subsequent screw-ups. Anyway, just throwing that out there.

Meanwhile, Salon editor Joan Walsh commented on MSNBC last night that Obama should be happy with the New Yorker cover controversy: it takes some of the attention away from Lizza’s article, which isn’t the most flattering portrait of Obama, who, thus far into the mammoth piece, reads like more of a shrewd politician than a messiah.