Conversation with Senator Obama

Saturday night, Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson interviewed Senator Obama for an hour in front of a large crowd in the Benedict Music tent. Coming on the heels of the surprise announcement by Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that she was stepping down from the bench, Isaacson asked Obama what he thought would happen. Obama indicated that he did not believe a sufficient number of Republican Senators would break with the White House to prevent the nuclear option being either used or a sufficiently viable threat to allow the President to put on the court whomever he wanted. He went further to say that while various parliamentary maneuvers could slow down the appointment of ultra conservatives to the bench, ultimately the way for Democrats to influence the courts is to win elections.

That lead naturally to a discussion about ’08, and Obama was asked who he thought the likely candidate of the Democrats would be. He indicated that one would have to make Hillary Clinton the odds on favorite, but he went further in saying that he thought what the Democratic Party needed to do was to “stop looking for a Mesiah” and to focus our energies on creating thoughtful positions and compelling messages on the critical issues of our time which he defined as education, globalization, and national security.