The Rant 

Well, it appears to be all but official: Senator Barack Obama is the anointed Big Media Democratic presidential nominee. From the way journalists gush at his every stride and put a happy face on everything he does, it is clear to even the most biased observer that he will be the man in 2008.

No doubt Hillary Clinton is going to "strap it on" (I apologize to certain of my readers for that visual) and give him a race. But once you have the media behind you, as Obama does, the outcome may be predetermined. Sadly, Big Media's backing of Obama may dash Hillary's goal of someday actually sleeping in the president's bedroom at the White House.

Both Hillary and Obama are trying to move to the center on issues. It has even been rumored that Hillary and GOP presidential hopeful John McCain went out drinking together in Washington, D.C. I do not know whether this is true or not, but it is certainly plausible, since McCain did prove that he can endure immense pain and degradation, having spent almost six years in a Vietcong prison.

If Hillary and Obama agree on anything, it is that they do not have a solution on Iraq. They will not even say if it should be a united country or divided among the Shiites and Sunnis into two parts: the ungrateful and the really ungrateful, with bombs.

When pressed, neither will even say that we are losing in Iraq. I have news for them: We are not only losing in Iraq, we aren't even covering the spread. We are creating enemies faster than we can kill them. You'd think, given this ammunition, simple truths would be easy to come by for these two, but all you get is watered-down platitudes. I expect one of them, after careful consideration, to come out in favor of puppies.

No one is more upset with Obama's sudden rise than Hillary. She is about ready to call it a "vast left-wing conspiracy." But instead, like most of those running for president, she will say nothing of substance. My hunch is that the more we know about Hillary the less we are going to like. My sense is that the opposite will be true with Obama.

The good thing about a campaign is that if the media do their job we should find out more about all the candidates. It was revealed by Al Gore only recently that Bill Clinton does not drink. (This is troubling to me, as it means he was stone sober when he hit on Paula Jones.) But it also may indicate a trend. Here are some leaders who do not (or did not, when they were alive) drink: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, all al-Qaeda leaders, Adolf Hitler, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

By contrast, here are some leaders known to drink: Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jeb Bush, and Jesus. So I am not too concerned about Obama's past drinking or drug use. The key to this, and anything else in life and politics, is moderation. If you are a hard left- or a hard right-winger, you should heed this advice.

But we never really know what we'll get when we elect a president. Back when "W" won, he seemed like a decent Southern governor who was going to go to Washington to tame deficit spending and the bloated bureaucracy. As it turns out, he has become an increasingly closed-off president, an evangelical who says that he speaks to God each day. (This is, of course, helpful to him as he fights religious extremism around the world.)

Bush is not worried about polls, focus groups, facts, or the majority of Americans. His singular quest is to create a democratic Iraq, where the majority rules. He's so determined to do this that he is willing to go against the will of the majority of Americans. That's irony, folks.

Ron Hart is a columnist and investor in Atlanta. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander. His E-mail:

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