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Obama is Not Kerry

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Michael Hirsh, writing for Newsweek, thinks Barack Obama is becoming another John Kerry.

Between the questions about Obama’s meager association with William Ayers, a former Weatherman, and the suspicions raised by his lack of a flag lapel pin, the likely nominee is slowly being turned into John Kerry. He is becoming, in other words, a candidate who may be mostly right about national security but who will lack the Red State street cred to carry his point—and the election.

Do note that Hirsh spends most of his column discussing why Obama is right about national security, so this isn’t a hatchet job. This is a Democrat concerned that the media and Hillary Clinton are systematically making Obama look unpatriotic. Nevertheless, I think Hirsh’s concerns are misplaced.

Obama has already proven that he’s no John Kerry. For one, Obama is far more charismatic than Kerry and is far better at sounding earnest when discussing important issues – these qualities help him weather attacks and regain trust. For another, Obama is much more aggressive in defending himself, taking every attack seriously where as Kerry allowed the swift boat matter to continue unchallenged for far too long. While there are certainly voters who will stay away from Obama because they question his patriotism, I tend to think those voters would stay away from any Democrat.

Obama, should he win his party’s nomination, will have many months to shore up any lingering concerns about his dedication to our nation and its safety. While Democratic supporters like Hirsh may be worried about how voters perceive Obama’s patriotism, I don’t think Republicans are going to win by focusing on the absence of a flag lapel pin and an association with a former Weatherman. Obama’s too talented a politician to allow such small matters derail his campaign.

No, defeating Obama will ultimately require a sound refutation of his policies and a convincing argument that John McCain, not Obama, is more likely to lead a bipartisan, unifying administration. Obama is not Kerry. It won’t be that easy for Republicans this time.