THE BLOG
06/11/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama: Limping Across the Finish Line

It will not exactly be a sprint across the finish line tonight after the final primaries in South Dakota and Montana for Senator Barack Obama.

The junior senator from Illinois will capture the Democratic presidential nomination after tonight's primary results and a rush of super-delegates will be moving to support his candidacy. It is, of course, an historic victory for Obama and for the Democratic Party and for the country. But he has lost by some lopsided margins to Senator Clinton in the last months of the primary and caucus season and ends the long campaign losing some key industrial states that he needs to win in the fall to capture the White House.

If the Democrats in their wisdom had not devised this ridiculous system of proportional vote counting and it had been a more sensible winner take all system then it could be argued that Obama would not now be the nominee. But that is now a moot point.

The question now is not whether or not the party will be unified in the fall -- it most likely will be -- but whether or not Obama can actually win in Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and other large industrial states.

There will be congratulations all around and Hillary will agree to campaign with all her heart and soul for Obama but the question does remain: Is he, after all, a strong general election candidate for the Democratic Party?

By limping across the finish line, he still retains his brilliant speaking skills and his appeal to certain segments of the party, but will he win over the working men and women and the labor vote that has been the backbone of the Democratic Party.

The question in the end is: Can he win in the fall over Senator John McCain? It should be a slam-dunk answer with such a low approval rating for our current president and the anger over the war in Iraq and frustration over the economy and staggering gasoline prices.

Yet, polls indicate that McCain and Obama are running almost even among potential American voters.

Now, the focus will begin to spotlight where Obama specifically stands on the issues and contrast them to McCain. As I have said, it should be a slam-dunk but I do not think it will be in the end and the general election will be extremely close. Dare I say, it could even be sent into overtime for the House of Representatives to decide.

Obama now needs to put some meat on all of his ideas and sell them to Democrats, Republicans and Independents. He definitely has the political skills to win the presidency but it will be a competitive and very negative general election campaign.

In the end it will boil down to voters feeling comfortable with Obama as president. He has shown he can excite the crowds and bring out new voters but can he convince people he has the gravitas to be president.

We all pretty much know John McCain's impressive military record and his record of public service but we need to learn more about Obama before we feel comfortable with him as our next president.

The senator from Illinois needs to start filling in the gaps and let people know who he is and where he stands on the issues before his opposition defines him.

It would have been better if he had sprinted across the finish line today instead of limping but a victory is a victory and the one who has the most delegates gets the prize so congratulations to the new Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama.

And a final note: What would be so wrong with a brokered convention? Why is everyone so concerned that a "messy" convention would upset the American voter? Look at the interest last weekend when the Democrats met and came up with a successful compromise solution to Michigan and Florida.

The American public does not need to have every event be stage managed like recent political conventions have all been. We could all actually benefit from seeing a convention where the delegates actually debate in prime time and we all watch it on television and learn more about our political process.

Democrats, quit worrying about everything being neat and tidy in Denver so the public won't get upset and quit talking about unity and unifying the party all the time. Does anyone know any family, relationship, company or organization that is always unified?

Of course not. Arguing and debating is natural and the Democrats should not be so quick to unify -- after all Hillary's supporters have issues they want to talk about where they differ with Obama significantly. It is fine for the American public to see these issues vigorously debated live on prime time television this August.

The American public can handle a lack of unity and debate over the issues. It is perfectly natural and will help the party and help Hillary's supporters feel like they are being listened to as Obama gets ready for the general election campaign.