Barack Obama spoke in New York yesterday, taking the opportunity also to meet with big potential donors. Assuming that he runs, there’s really little or no room for anyone other than HRC in the Democratic field. I suppose that someone could pick up the pieces after a "Mutually Assured Destruction" nuclear exchange between Obama and Clinton, but thus far they’ve been careful not to confront one another directly.
In any event, both can’t occupy the "center" of the Democratic Party; it will be interesting to see who will be first in attacking the other’s left flank.
Update: Here’s Obama’s disarming World AIDS Day speech, delivered at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. A representative passage:
Like no other illness, AIDS tests our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes - to empathize with the plight of our fellow man. While most would agree that the AIDS orphan or the transfusion victim or the wronged wife contracted the disease through no fault of their own, it has too often been easy for some to point to the unfaithful husband or the promiscuous youth or the gay man and say "This is your fault. You have sinned."
I don’t think that’s a satisfactory response. My faith reminds me that we all are sinners.
My faith also tells me that - as Pastor Rick has said - it is not a sin to be sick. My Bible tells me that when God sent his only Son to Earth, it was to heal the sick and comfort the weary; to feed the hungry and clothe the naked; to befriend the outcast and redeem those who strayed from righteousness.
Living His example is the hardest kind of faith - but it is surely the most rewarding. It is a way of life that can not only light our way as people of faith, but guide us to a new and better politics as Americans.
For in the end, we must realize that the AIDS orphan in Africa presents us with the same challenge as the gang member in South Central, or the Katrina victim in New Orleans, or the uninsured mother in North Dakota.
We can turn away from these Americans, and blame their problems on themselves, and embrace a politics that’s punitive and petty, divisive and small.
Or we can embrace another tradition of politics - a tradition that has stretched from the days of our founding to the glory of the civil rights movement, a tradition based on the simple idea that we have a stake in one another - and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth.
Note the way he blends the spiritual and the pragmatic, the philanthropic and the governmental. Someone is going to have to make an extraordinary effort to pin him down.
Update #2: E.J. Dionne, Jr., predictably,
gushes all over the AIDS speech, but doesnt seem to see how its possible to work with a politician on one issue, but not vote for him. Evangelicals, even conservative ones, dont have to be single-issue voters, but being pro-choice and voting down distinguished Supreme Court nominees, most likely largely for abortion-related reasons (are there any others in judicial nominations these days?), are rather substantial barriers to support.