Obama and JFK: A Third Way

Can gift for oratory enable bring about change without partisan trench warfare?
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2008 5:42 PM CST
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., smiles with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., during a rally at American University in Washington Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. Kennedy endorsed Obama Monday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – On the now familiar territory of JFK-Obama comparisons, Obama shares Kennedy's weaknesses more than his strengths, Frank Rich points out in the New York Times.  Kennedy, too, was judged too glib and inexperienced, a purveyor of mere pretty words. But the dichotomy between Obama's inspirational speech and  Hilary Clinton's wonkiness is a false one, Rich insists.

The Kennedy example also shows that Obama's poetic gifts may in fact be a tool for getting practical things done. His charisma would help him "bring about change without relying on fist fighting as his primary modus operandi." The Clintons' combative incrementalism ekes out micro-initiatives; Obama could get Republicans and enthusiastic youth on board for larger changes.