Mark Kleiman comes back wowed from hearing Cory Booker speak, and says he’d already heard that Booker was “Newark’s Barack Obama”. But I remember a NYT Magazine profile of Booker in the late ’90s, I believe, that said people were saying he could be America’s first black president — well before anybody outside Chicago had ever heard of Barack Obama. Which is interesting because it reminds us that there was a wellspring of interest in that project that wasn’t yet attached to a particular personality. Obama is a political giant, but the place he moved into in the national conscious — like the place of the smart liberal good ol’ boy that Bill Clinton and later John Edwards moved into — was a place people were looking for someone to fill.
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