West predicts Obama is the next president

Charlie Bakst has an engaging farewell today to Darrell West, who, as we know, is leaving Brown to take a post with the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. West's status as perhaps the top pundit in Rhode Island stems not just from his knowledge and ability to offer concise quotes, but also how he quickly returns calls from reporters. Anyway, this is the part I found most interesting in today's article:

In West’s office there are photos showing the professor with Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during visits to Brown.

He says Obama will be the next president of the United States.

“She’s not going to be the Democratic nominee,” West says. “She seems to be the only one who doesn’t recognize that fact.”

He also says Clinton has too much baggage for Obama to offer her the vice presidency.

Obama spoke at Brown in October 2006. “He gave one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard,” West recalls. “Very smart. Very charismatic. People love him. I think he needs to fine tune his message. Primary after primary, he’s lost the blue-collar vote to Hillary Clinton, and I think he really needs to focus more on economics and focus on working people and what he would do for them. I think they’re a little suspicious of all the lofty rhetoric that he uses. They want to know what he’s going to do about bread and butter issues.”

In John McCain, West says, Republicans are putting up their strongest candidate, but it’s not enough.

“McCain does well among independents, and that’s going to be a plus. People like him personally. They think he’s honest and ethical. But I think the big albatross around his neck is George Bush.”

With the unpopularity of the war, with worry over the economy, and with people’s “hate” of the incumbent, West says the Democrats’ chant that McCain is running for Bush’s third term will be lethal.

In calling Bush the worst president he has ever seen, West asserts, “He doesn’t learn from past failures.”

Most politicians make adjustments, West says, noting, for example, that Ronald Reagan was rocked by the Iran-Contra scandal but made personnel and policy changes. “By the time he left office, he had regained a fair amount of his popularity. Bush is going down with the ship. He refuses to admit any mistakes, hasn’t made any significant policy changes, hasn’t really made major changes in personnel. He’s not a real politician in the good sense of the word.”

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