Good news today out of Iowa, and I’m not just referring to the fact that Barack Obama has pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton. That fact in itself would not be all that much to cheer over; in some ways, I’m about as likely to prefer Hillary as I am Obama.
The good news is the reason that "conventional wisdom," as codified by the WSJ today, gives for his ascendance — his anti-partisan message:
DES MOINES, Iowa — A month before Iowa holds the
first contest of the 2008 presidential campaign, a newly energized Sen.
Barack Obama has opened a narrow lead here, but many Iowans in both
parties say they could change their minds in the next 30 days about
which candidate to support.
Mr. Obama’s rising popularity was fueled by a fiery
speech three weeks ago in which he vowed to turn away from the partisan
battles of the Clinton-Bush years. That, plus the surprising strength
of his Iowa ground organization, is galvanizing his campaign.
That, as I’ve written before, speaks to my one great concern about Mrs. Clinton — that her nomination, much less her election, will doom us to more (if not an escalation) of the wasting Bush-Clinton Wars that have so polarized our nation. Mr. Obama, more than any other candidate in either party, has done the most to indicate his desire to be president of the whole country, not just partisan Democrats.
The WSJ traces Mr. Obama’s rise to the above-mentioned speech:
The night of the dinner, he delivered a call for unity that tweaked Sen. Clinton as a polarizing figure, without naming her. "America, our moment is now," Sen. Obama thundered. "I don’t want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s. I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America. I want to be the president of the United States of America."
Rival campaign operatives sat there stone-faced. But some attendees put down their signs and thunder sticks for other candidates, jumped to their feet to cheer him on and grabbed Obama campaign materials as they streamed out of the arena.
"Barack found his voice" that night, says Gordon Fischer, a longtime Iowa Democratic leader who recently decided to support Sen. Obama. "That’s when the man and the moment met."
This is promising.