Star Parker

The news that Barack Obama raised nearly as much money in the first quarter as Hillary Rodham Clinton, and raised these funds from a broader and deeper base, is indeed impressive.

One of the real reasons to have questioned Obama's bona fides from the outset was his lack of experience. But running a national campaign itself says something about a candidate's management talent, and Obama, from this perspective, is proving himself.

In addition to reporting having raised some $25 million in the first quarter, other news of the last week that obviously made the Obama campaign happy was the Rev. Jesse Jackson's stepping out and formally blessing its candidate.

So, is the Illinois senator now both black enough and presidential enough?

Frankly, I think what Obama is, to recall the Sade hit of a number of years ago, a smooth operator.

American voters, Democratic as well as Republican, are simply unhappy with the Washington political establishment, and Obama's campaign is about using his personal qualities and outsider credentials as a new face to ride this sentiment.

We've just come out of a stunning electoral upset in the congressional elections; two houses of Congress flipped parties, and yet public sentiment has barely changed.

Seven out of 10 Americans polled said that the country is going in the wrong direction, and three out of 10 gave positive approval ratings to Congress.

This is exactly where these numbers were before the elections, and before Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took hold of the reins of congressional power.

Money is a big deal in politics, and a huge advantage in raising the cash is having the organization and relationships in place to do it. The fact that rookie Obama is going neck and neck with the New York senator, who has a massive organization advantage, stemming both from her own years in politics and from her husband's legacy, is nothing short of astounding.

The other related fund-raising story is how far Democrats in total are ahead of Republicans. The combined fund-raising of Democratic candidates in the first quarter exceeded combined Republican fund-raising by about $20 millions, about 20 percent more.

The well-publicized Pew Center analysis of several weeks ago showed a growing gap between pro-Democratic and pro-Republican sentiments _ now about 15 percentage points to the favor of Democrats.

The Obama phenomena is an outcome of all this.

Americans are unhappy with Republicans in particular and with the Washington establishment in general.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.