Cal  Thomas

That Sen. Barack Hussein Obama Jr. chose the day of "American Idol's" season premiere to launch his presidential exploratory committee is nicely symbolic.

Part of the attraction and seductiveness of Sen. Obama - perhaps the main attraction - is that he is mostly a blank slate on which others can write what they choose. Now that he's announced formation of an exploratory committee to help him decide whether he should run for president (is there any doubt?), the moving fingers will begin writing soon enough.

Much of what Obama says resonates with many people, including me. In his exploratory committee announcement, which he recorded on video and put on his Website, he notes, "how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics." There can be no question about that. He also says, "Sour leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions." Right again.

Then he says, "We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans."

Here is where things could get sticky. Obama is a liberal Democrat. He favors abortion rights, gun control and tax breaks for the middle class (though, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service, the top 1 percent of income earners pay nearly 35 percent of the income tax burden). On which of these contentious issues might he compromise in order to diminish the bitterness and partisanship in politics? Would the left be bitter and partisan were he to pursue consensus on these issues?

It could be argued that much of the bitterness in politics has been caused by liberal elitists who have used the courts to ram social change down our throats without regard to the democratic process. I see Obama as being a part of this ideological strain. Does he believe activist judges should interpret the Constitution through a left-wing prism and the people should have no say in such matters? Most liberals believe so.

If this were a contest about looks and style, Obama might have an edge. If it were a competition about which candidate is the best orator, he'd win. But it is neither. Regardless of party, a president must have the credentials and especially the worldview to be a credible leader. He (or she) must also be respected, even feared, by those who hate and want to destroy America. Whether a president wins personality and popularity contests is irrelevant. It only matters that a president pursues American interests first.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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