The Democrats Have Found Their Reagan.. Almost
Reagan was a strong, idealogical, articulate candidate who was elected in two land slide victories. He was swept in to office on a wave of anti-Carter, but also because he had a strong, simple message. Fix the economy and peace by strengthening our military. Once in office, he worked to do both. But there have been many idealogical candidates over the years who, I'm sure, would work just as tirelessly to achieve their goals. The difference was that Reagan was a masterful orator. You can attribute it to his time as an actor, his time traveling the country, honing his skills as a speaker, or to his time calling play-by-play baseball broadcasts, but whatever the reason, it worked.
Obama is also a masterful orator. He is intelligent, good looking, has a great presence when delivering a speech, and on top of all of that, he has a great delivery. He sprang on to the national scene when he spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His campaign stops this year have drawn enormous crowds of cheering supporters. It doesn't hurt that the liberal media is also enamored with him, presenting him in as much favorable light as possible for as long as possible.
But this is where the likeness stops. Most politicians say they want the exact same things; economic prosperity for America, peace in the world, help third world nations to realize their potential, etc. What differs is the path they want to take to reach those goals.
When Reagan spoke, he portrayed America as a "Shining city on a hill". He spoke of her goodness, her greatness, and that he wanted everyone in America to be allowed the freedom to reach their maximum potential. People wanted to hear a positive message, and they responded to it.
When Barack Obama speaks, he speaks of potential good of America. His main themes have been changing the status quo and hope for tomorrow. This is also a message people want to hear, and they are responding to it. However, when Reagan spoke about the change he wanted to make, he started with the overall theme, say economic recovery, and then laid out the plan for exactly how he wanted to get there. For the vast majority of Obama's campaign, he was talked about change, but he has stead fastly avoided having to articulate exactly what that change would mean.
Obama has also very carefully avoided any and all situation which would allow him to come under hard questioning. He has appeared on such hard-hitting journalistic shows as "The View", "Ellen", and "Oprah", but avoids the Sunday morning shows. He gives speeches instead of press conferences. And when he does allow questions, he cuts them short when something difficult comes up. Like when he was asked about Rezko.
Now that the media has been forced into looking deeper at what Obama really believes, his star has been tarnished. The constant barrage of clips of his pastor of 20 years blaming whites in America for every bad thing that has ever happened in America hasn't helped his claim to want to represent all people in America. That coupled with the comments from Michelle have made him look like a closet racist, and that doesn't play well with the white men he is going to need to be elected.
In the last few weeks we've also finally be treated to some actual specifics of what he thinks will bring prosperity to America. His plan includes raising taxes (or in his words, allowing Bush's tax cuts to expire. Same thing, taxes go up.), raising capital gains taxes, pulling out of Iraq, lowering funding for defense and r&d for new weapons, and a few other equally fun ideas. All things, of course, that I am completely against. YMMV
In the end, the Obama candidacy has had an impact on American politics which will last for decades. On the one hand, we have the first viable black candidate for the presidency, and that is a good thing. I believe America has been ready for that for some time, there were just no good, black candidates running.
On the other hand, I think Obama's willingness to associate with an openly racist church for more than two decades just to prove he was black enough so he could be elected in Chicago has hurt the chances of another black candidate gaining any traction for at least a dozen years. Obama has squandered all the good will he gained with his talk of transcending race by claiming a mentor that is as racist as any white supremacist you ever met. But more than that, it's Obama's unwillingness to distance himself from these bigots (Wright and Farrakhan) that will hurt him. He has claimed to transcend race, but then puts someone into an advisory position in his campaing, someone he claims to consult before every major political decision, that openly hates whites, Jews, and America.
We live in a great country that was ready for that change. Obama has taken that openness and has shattered it. I don't think there will be another viable, black presidential candidate for quite some time, and all the black candidates who may have had a shot can thank Obama for that.