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Shipp: Here’s the real trouble with Obama

POSTED: March 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Can Sen. Barack Obama be elected president? Are you talking to me?

Here's my answer: probably not. Barack has too little experience. He doesn't know his way around Washington. He has that dope-using issue in his background. He has a funny name for a president.

Did you say he's African-American? That never occurred to me. Do you think I'm racist? I'd never vote for or against someone because of race. I'm just telling you that Barack is not ready. His resume is too thin. Race is not a factor, not with me. You can quote me.

What about Hillary Clinton? She's OK, I guess, but Barack has got her pegged. She represents the status quo; she's the anti-change candidate, just like Barack and John Edwards said.

Who is Edwards? Don't you know anything? He's the third person in the race. And he's one of us, even if he is a hotshot trial lawyer. He's a Southern boy, and his daddy worked in the mills.

John is depending on us Southerners to bring him home in the Democratic primaries. I am afraid he is going to be disappointed. African-Americans control the voting among Democrats. Barack figures to win about 70 percent of the African-American primary vote in the Deep South. That won't be enough to give him the nomination, but it will take John out of the race. And it will make Barack a power broker at the convention.

Remember when Jesse Jackson ran for the Democratic nomination? He won several states, including Georgia, in the 1988 presidential primaries. Jackson ended the primary season controlling a bloc of delegates. The Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis was forced to deal with Jackson before he departed the Atlanta convention. Dukakis reportedly included several of Jesse's demands in his platform. Didn't matter much. Vice President George H.W. Bush skewered Dukakis in the election.

Same thing happened with Gary Hart, in 1984, and Ted Kennedy, in 1980, when they won just enough delegates in the primary to make themselves nuisances at the Democratic conventions.

Funny how everybody now attacks Hillary as the anti-change candidate. In 1992, the Clintons personified "change," and they certainly brought it to the White House. For many Americans the Clinton years were bountiful. Of course, many fine and pious Georgians objected loudly to President Bill's dalliance with a little kiss-and-tell intern just about his daughter's age. They joined in torch-waving demands that poor Bill be impeached and evicted from the White House. My pal, then-Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, even introduced one of the first impeachment bills.

Some people were so angry that you would have thought Clinton had screwed up a war or undercut the economy. I guess those folks finally understood how they embarrassed themselves over nothing. Now they commit Clinton-style hanky-panky all the time, even in the Georgia legislature. Nobody even thinks about it. You don't hear "impeach" much anymore. And Barr has given up Congress to become a thoughtful scribe.

The Clintons were not the only crusaders for change. Our own Jimmy Carter ran on a time-for-change platform in 1976, and so did Ronald Reagan when he ran against Carter four years later.

This year, Georgia won't have much say-so in the big Feb. 5 primary roundup, featuring 20-something states, including biggies like New York and California. I still wish Georgia had scheduled our primary on March 4 so the Peach State wouldn't get lost in the crowd and could get a little more camera time. I believe the Democratic nominee might be finally chosen March 4.

The GOP nominee ought to be known after Feb. 5. The Republicans have a more straightforward nominating process. I'm putting my money on Mitt Romney, the slick entrepreneur who is said to wear magic Mormon underwear. Democratic know-it-alls say they fear John McCain more in an election campaign.

Don't forget what I told you now: I won't be voting for Barack because ... well, he's just not up to it yet. Maybe four or eight years from now. My feelings have nothing to do with race, really. Millions of other Americans will tell you the same thing.

Bill Shipp's column on Georgia politics appears Wednesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can contact him at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30160.



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