Magazine article Newsweek

The Editor's Desk

Magazine article Newsweek

The Editor's Desk

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Meacham

It was 1988, and the governor of Arkansas and his wife were in Atlanta for the Democratic National Convention that nominated Michael Dukakis. One day that week, Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton came to lunch with NEWSWEEK reporters and editors, and Jonathan Alter met her for the first time. "She was already a formidable political player," Jon recalls, "and even then people were saying that maybe the governor's wife would go into politics herself." Beginning in 1992, Jon got to know her better--they are both from Chicago, which always gives them something to talk about--and he happened to speak with her on one of the most embarrassing days in the history of the American presidency, when her husband's videotaped deposition about sex and the definition of "is" was playing on television.

Around the same time, in the late 1990s, Jon met a young Illinois state senator, Barack Obama, while visiting a cousin in Chicago. "Even then he was obviously someone with a big future if he could somehow work his way through the byzantine world of Chicago politics without any money or family connections," Jon says. Obama pulled it off, winning a U.S. Senate seat in 2004, and Jon profiled the young star for our year-ender cover two years ago.

Even the most enthusiastic of Hillary and Obama watchers, however, would have been hard-pressed to predict the subject of our cover this week: an emerging race between the two for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

As Jon writes, Americans are grappling with the question of whether they are ready for a female president or a black president, both in the abstract and in particular. It is possible, of course, to be in favor of a woman or a minority for president but to be against Senators Clinton and Obama; many Republicans will soon find themselves in that position. …

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