In an interview Monday with the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board, Sen. Barack Obama riffed on a range of political topics ranging from Katrina, the home mortgage crisis and, of course, fodder from the campaign trail.
But perhaps the most interesting offering was when he tried to place his candidacy into a historical context. Which elections does Obama see as analogous to 2008? And with which presidents does he share personal similarities? That would be John Kennedy in 1960 (hardly surprising) and Ronald Reagan in 1980 (more daring). But not, it should be noted, Bill Clinton in 1992.
In fact, Obama offered praise for the Gipper, lauding him for tapping into the country's concern with the growth and "excesses" of the federal government, and its desire to "return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship" -- hardly a welcomed interpretation within progressive circles. Said the Illinois Democrat:
"I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what is different is the times. I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."