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“Why Obama Matters”

Not to be outdone by the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic’s put Andrew Sullivan’s new Barack Obama cover story up for free online. Andrew focuses on something that I think had largely dropped out of view as the campaign proceeds, the meaning of Obama’s relative youth and freshness:

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war — not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade — but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war — and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama — and Obama alone — offers the possibility of a truce.

I think that’s very true. In the course of highlight this difference between Obama and the others I think Andrew does wind up underplaying the systematic factors separating all the Republicans from all of the Democrats, but it is an important point. I would also add that while I think Andrew’s approach to politician-evaluating is a bit more personality-driven than is wise, his approach is by far the most common one among swing voter types and the fact that independent-minded conservatives can find Obama compelling in a way they don’t feel compelled by Clinton reflects a real virtue of his candidacy.

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