Barack Obama wasn’t in the empty Senate chamber on Wednesday to watch Senator Kerry bow out of the 2008 presidential race, but perhaps he should’ve been. Had he been there, the senator from Illinois might have learned a valuable lesson.

John Kerry certainly can’t be accused of being an inspiring candidate, and much of the campaign he built in 2004 revolved around an Anybody But Bush sentiment. However, Kerry’s time in the Senate left him open to a litany of attacks, some valid, and some not so valid. The Bush campaign successfully pegged the senator as the most liberal member of the Senate, and often accused Kerry of voting against vital weaponry for our military.

Many of these accusations were ultimately proven to be exaggerated and false , but that’s neither here nor there. Kerry lost, and his twenty years of experience unfortunately played a role in it.

This is why Senator Obama should take heed, learn from his colleague, and run now for President of the United States. Political stars can burn out rather quickly, and candidates often run too early or too late. But when Republicans say Obama lacks experience, what they really mean is that he lacks conservatism (I see none of them rushing to embrace the record of a Governor Richardson or a General Clark). Of the latter he is certainly guilty, as was the American public this last November.

The brand of so-called experience these critics demand is the same kind that landed us in an unpopular war abroad, hampered our economy with record deficits and shamed our nation’s capital with ethics scandals.

Americans rejected this kind of experience in November, and they seem poised to do it again in 2008. Perhaps a community organizer from a broken home reflects more about us and our experiences than the wonks and the pundits will ever know. If Obama wants to run, now is the time to do it.

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