Its not that I don't understand the appeal of Barack Obama. He's a bright and good looking guy. He's articulate and he has a nice "origins" story. He's African-American and the day is coming when that will be, at least for a while, a political asset just as being female was during the "year of the woman".
Here's the most important thing, he's a blank slate. Not in the sense that he doesn't have his own ideas and aspirations, but he is so new that every one else can project their own upon him. Both Greg Borowski and Eugene Kane make much of his catch phrase and book title, the "audacity of hope" meaning, according to Obama, that "the world that is not the world that has to be."
It is a nice phrase. So nice that it has been a pretty standard concept for politicians. Bobby Kennedy, at least posthumously, "did not look at the things the way they are and ask why" but dreamt "of things that never were and ask[ed] why not." Ronald Reagan, channelling John Winthrop, said we could be as a shining city on a hill. Bob Dole was "the better man for a better America," Richard Nixon was "for the future," and Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." At least the last one eventually came true.
I know platitudes are part of the political game, but they are not profound. Obama cleans up well, but what is he about?