Barack Obama: An Empty Suit?

Senator Barack ObamaA friend of mine recently said to me that he thought Senator Barack Obama was an empty suit. Peggy Noonan agrees with this assessment in her column “‘The Man From Nowhere’: What does Barack Obama believe in?

Noonan’s critique of Obama as a politician is withering:

He is uncompromised by a past, it is true. He is also unburdened by a record, unworn by achievement, unwearied by long labors. What does he believe? What does he stand for? This is, after all, the central question. . . He doesn’t have an issue, he has a thousand issues, which is the same as having none, in the sense that a speech about everything is a speech about nothing. And on those issues he seems not so much to be guided by philosophy as by impulses, sentiments. . .

Sen. Obama spent his short lifetime breathing in the common liberal/leftist wisdom, which he exhales at length. This is not something new–it’s something old in a new package. And it is something that wins you what he has, a series of 100% ratings from left-liberal interest groups. . .

But again, what does he believe? From reading his book, I would say he believes in his destiny. He believes in his charisma. He has the confidence of the anointed. He has faith in the magic of the man who meets his moment.

He also believes in the power of good nature, the need for compromise, and the possibility of comprehensive, multitiered, sensible solutions achieved through good-faith negotiations.

But mostly it seems to be about him, his sense of destiny, and his appreciation of his own particular gifts. Which leaves me thinking ‘Oh dear, we have been here before.’ It’s not as if we haven’t already had a few of the destiny boys. It’s not as if we don’t have a few more in the wings (source).

Whether Noonan proves to be right in her estimation of Obama, we’ll just have to wait and see. What is certain, however, is that Obama’s star is shining much brighter than the woman who had been considered the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton. This will be a race to watch.


  • Paul


    it certainly isn’t wrong. Harold Ford was the better candidate, taken down by a racist ad paid for by the RNC two weeks before the election.

    You can talk all you want about basest insinuations, but you had a candidate that was pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and essentially a blue dog democrat, who was personable and has long political ties in Tennessee. Yet he lost. On qualifications? Probably not. On experience? Probably not. That only leaves race, and in Tennessee, that’s a deal breaker, even in 2006.

  • William

    Gee, if Peggy Noonan thinks he’s an empty suit with a destiny complex, then it must be true! Clinton was so bad for this country, but now with six years of solid Republican rule, everything is so much better. Limited government, no nation building, lower taxes, term limits (oops! sorry!). Anyway, thanks, Denny, for raising the question. No doubt, he’s empty and vacuous.

  • dennyrburk


    I’m sure most people did not pick up on this, but I am after all a pretty keen observer of language. Given my skill set at apprehending meaning and being able to read between the lines, I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb here. I think maybe I detected some sarcasm in your last comment.


  • Kris Weinschenker

    Obama is being set-up for Hillary.

    By the time Super Tuesday rolls around in 2008 it will only be Hillary and Obama. The South will look at the two and figure it is better to have a liberal woman as president than a liberal black, and Hillary will get the nomination.

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