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The Explainers

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How difficult is this to see or understand? The yakkers down in blow dry gulch are trying to help us little-brained people in the electorate understand the very thing we have spawned. Thank you, oh wise ones, but we get it; we get it because it is us. Now let us give you some pointers.

There is a movement in America and it is driving our country as far away as possible from where it presently sits. The most powerful force in all of this is young people who are sick of what the baby boomers have done to our country and the wider world. They despise our current president and the people who encircle him and feast on the carrion of his ignorance. Fortunately, these young voters are determined not to lie around and let the corpus of our democracy rot.

The symbol of this movement, which includes many of us who are not so young, is Barack Obama. He has stepped into a historical slipstream that is both circumstantial and generational. Obama comes along after too many years of the Bushes, too many years of the Clintons, and too many years of various unremarkable white guys in expensive suits running for president promising change and delivering stasis. His hopefulness is convincing us to reconnect to our democracy just when our cynicism has us on the verge of pulling the plug. His age and energy perfectly splits the seams between the boomers and generations that will be our successors.

While we may be uncertain of exactly what he is, we do know precisely what he is not and that is one of the other candidates. We know them all in varying degrees. Hillary Clinton's ambition has been on overt display since her days in Arkansas and the move to New York for the senate run was as calculated as her adopting a southern accent when speaking to African-American voters. We suspect we know what she will be like because we have already seen the male version of her administration.

Whomever the Republicans nominate is doomed, not just by the tsunami that Obama is surfing so well but by association with Mr. Bush. John McCain, who embraced the president after having his reputation trashed by him, has the scent of a warmonger on his lapels when he suggests he would have approved the Iraq invasion even without WMD. McCain, who would be the oldest president to ever take the oath of office, can hardly represent the generational tide that will flood the voting booths.

Mitt Romney looks and sounds like every Republican in the modern era. He has money, product-laden hair, good suits, and the ability to change his positions on issues to attract people he had previously alienated. Unfortunately, the evangelical Christian wing of his party privately and publicly disdains Romney's Mormon religion and they aren't about to send out their vanguard of spiritual warriors to get him elected.

Mike Huckabee is having his moment but it is not likely to be sustaining. He is far too much the goober from Arkansas, who once stood and stared seriously into a camera and congratulated Canada on saving its national igloo. He seems to have used his influence in Little Rock as a kind of ATM machine for his family and has made the kind of mistakes as a governor that will make him easy to disassemble in the general election. The evangelicals are attracted to Huckabee but the party apparatchiks are not. He's in trouble.

What's left? There's Rudy, of course, but his "noun, verb, 911" tactic was miscalculated and instead of elevating his bona fides it has only served to remind us of that which we do not want to confront. His grasp of facts and the truth has not exactly been tenacious, either. Fred Thompson, it turns out, is a better actor on television than on the campaign trail and ambivalence is not powerfully inspiring to the electorate.

The problem for everyone other than Obama is that they are all telling us how bad the world is and how much danger we face and how only they are qualified to protect us. This is a kind of K-Mart version of Bush's entire administration and Hillary sells it with as much fervor as does Rudy G.

Obama makes us think it is possible to solve problems without guns. He is giving boomers and their babies and the babies of their babies a reason to look forward with longing instead of backwards with fear. If he is elected, it will be, in part, a reaction that says to the rest of the planet that we are the exact opposite of what you have seen in the past eight years and that we let slip the grasp of our government and leadership but things have changed and we will now be the America everyone expects.

Karl Rove's dream was to establish a political hegemony. I think he is about to accomplish his goal.

But not for his party.