Column/Is Barack the man?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 18, 2007

This week, Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, announced his intention to form an exploratory committee – opening the door to a bid for president in 2008.

Our own representative, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, had this to say about Obama’s announcement:

“I am pleased that Sen. Barack Obama has taken a significant step toward entering the 2008 presidential race, and I will support his candidacy.

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As much regard as I have for the other candidates who are seeking the Democratic nomination, Sen. Obama is the kind of unique transformational candidate who surfaces once in a generation.

I am hopeful and confident that an Obama presidency would ignite a feeling of national purpose and renewal that our country has not witnessed in my lifetime.

“Finally, Obama’s victory would crystallize this country’s movement beyond race and ethnicity as political impediments.

That promise is too powerful for me to equivocate, maneuver or sit on the sidelines.”

Let’s face it. Obama is likable. He’s charismatic. He makes us want to believe again.

His message is one of inclusion. Of pulling yourself up by the boot straps.

That hard-work ethic, combined with his message of hope is what our nation was founded on, making him the All-American candidate.

Even Hillary won’t be able to bring that level of optimism to the race.

Rudy Guiliani, the former mayor of New York, on the other hand, might be able to do so. Guiliani’s plans, however, are unknown at this point.

But the race I’d really like to see will never happen.

There’s been a lot of speculation in the press about Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

He will no doubt make a run for the White House, but the state-wide rumor mill has him asking our governor, Bob Riley, to be his running mate.

Riley has said he would turn it down if asked, opting to complete his four-year term, then stay home with the grandkids.

But, really, what politician, given the opportunity, wouldn’t run on a national ticket?

The campaign alone would raise Riley’s profile, preparing him for his own bid for president in 2012.

But, back to the race I’d like to see. It’s McCain vs. Howard Dean.

These two are mavericks within their own parties.

They don’t just go along with the party agenda. McCain and Dean take their own stands – issue by issue.

You never know what they’ll say, and that would make it perhaps the most exciting presidential campaign of my lifetime.

We have moved into an era where candidates spout the party line, and Democrat or Republican, they sound pretty much the same.

I’m ready for someone to stand up and say, “We’re not doing a good job for the American people. We need to do something different.”

Someone needs to take a stand against the bureaucracy of Washington, no matter the political cost.

Our elected officials should serve their time, do what they believe is right, and quit playing politics with big business, and the big boys on the hill.

Then, after four years, they can go home to play with the grandkids, and feel better for the time they served their constituents.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.