This blog has never hidden its preference for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries and the belief he was qualified to be president. It has always been my conviction that his time was now or never. He would not get a second chance. He was up against an outstanding crop of candidates–with Hillary Clinton undoubtedly the most formidable. Back then, I argued Obama had to be tested and had to win on merit. Hillary certainly made him earn it and, in so doing, made the Illinois senator a far better candidate. She bested him in most of the debates but he became a smarter and stronger debater in the process. We observed this as he won all three debates against McCain according to post debate polls.
All along I believed that McCain was by far the best Republican challenger because of his appeal to independents and the fact that he was so different from Bush. The fact that McCain’s campaign has been less than spectacular should not take away from Obama’s carefully executed campaign strategy. Through it all–highs and lows, victories and setbacks–Obama has shown a coolness and a grace under pressure that is now resonating with the electorate.
This has been a very long and arduous campaign. It is far from over and the votes still have not been counted. But Obama has probably conducted the best campaign in American history. It’s important to consider where he was when he first announced his intent to run back in February 2007 and the obstacles associated with being the first African-American to seriously challenge for the presidency. Obama also found himself running against the vaunted Clinton organization, as well as the Republican attack machine. And yet, he now finds himself leading in national polls and nearly all the battleground states. It is fair to conclude that Obama has been tested–and he passed it.