Rich Lowry

The unusual thing about the biographical basis of Obama's candidacy is how much of what makes it so compelling happened before about age 10 and was none of his doing. If his mother hadn't married a Kenyan and then an Indonesian man, if his background weren't so intriguing, he'd probably be just another ambitious senator.

A sympathetic questioner here asks what qualifies him to be president. Obama ticks off everything he's done since college, including his work as a community organizer in Chicago. This is faintly ridiculous, but the thrust of Obama's campaign can indeed be traced to Chicago. There he was dealing with desperate people genuinely in need of a glimmer of hope. He seems to think that America is the South Side of Chicago writ large, just as hope-deprived. Obama has taken a sermon he heard 20 years ago in Chicago on the "audacity of hope" and made it the theme of a presidential campaign.

Obama has strengths — he's winsome, a fresh face and has always been against the Iraq War. In his parting remark here, Obama says, "My rival in this race is not other candidates, it's cynicism." But cynicism is not on the ballot. Other, formidable candidates are, whom Obama will not vanquish merely by the audaciousness of his audacity or the hopefulness of his hope.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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