Barack Obama is becoming a statesman.
The great thing that the Clintons did for him this past week was to put him through the cliched crucible.
People started calling him the next RFK far too early because what people forget about RFK in the 1968 campaign was that he fell, he was beaten, his path to the nomination was not certain. He was tested and tried and as that campaign developed he became a stronger and stronger candidate and leader.
For instance, it was three days after Eugene McCarthy won the Oregon primary that Kennedy released a comprehensive and dramatic urban policy proposal – a proposal that dealt with unemployment and health care and housing, education, and crime. It was a policy proposal with ideas still relevant for today – his call for neighborhood “satellite clinics” in poor areas is still a good idea; his suggestion that such clinics might also be a model for affluent suburbs “where health care is increasingly difficult to find” is something the entrepreneurs of today are doing.
That now is Sen. Obama’s test. Will he come forward and start talking about the nitty gritty stuff of running the government? Will he come forward with truly innovative proposals? Will he express a passionate commitment to fight for existing programs? Will he deliver the beef – to borrow Walter Mondale’s query of Gary Hart in the 1984 Democratic campaign. If he does and if he stays above the Clinton’s fray then American might have a chance to see what kind of president he will be.