Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Barack & Bayrou
A few months ago I was struck by the parallels between the political arc of Barack Obama and Ségolène Royal, the French Socialist candidate for President. Both were relative unknowns a short while ago. Both capitalized on personal charisma and dissatisfaction with familiar faces to rise quickly in public opinion polls. And both emphasized governing philosophy while remaining vague about policy details.
But I'm struck now by the parallels between Obama and François Bayrou, the French centrist candidate. Like Bayrou, Obama emphasizes consensus and bi-partisanship. Like Bayrou, Obama is both a "fresh face" and a party insider. And like Bayrou, he's been accused of being out of step with voters' polarized, militant mood.
There's no doubting that Obama is a true Democrat, yet he insists on running on a platform of conciliation and consensus. The question he, like Bayrou, seems to be posing comes down to, "Can't we all just get along?" In France, the answer was, "Not yet." I wonder what America will respond.