Does the best candidate win? Sometimes--but raw political sex appeal is not everything.

Slate's John Dickerson is doing splendid work covering Campaign 2008. This week he reports from Iowa:

Barack Obama is "funny and passionate," regularly "connecting with his big audiences," leaving them on their "feet...chanting with [for] him." In contrast, Hillary Clinton continues to deliver "solid performances in front of enthusiastic audiences," but her outings don't enliven, empower, and inspire the way they do with Obama.

Dickerson relays this question he found to be increasingly prevalent in Iowa: "Why isn't he killing her?"

The Slate article in full here (and an NPR segment from Friday featuring Dickerson's observation here).

The Power of Obama: more personally.

A few weeks ago, my five-year-old and I were watching (via C-SPAN) an Obama campaign appearance in Boston (video archives here). My young son is a fairly astute political observer (see his previous assessment of George Bush here). His reaction? By the end of the speech, he was jumping up and down on the bed, pumping his arms in the air, and screaming: "I want to be an American." Intermittently he would ask, "What's his name, Daddy?" And then: "I want him to be president."

Fire it Up! Ready to Go!

Let's go change the world.

Can this guy win a national presidential election? You bet!

Obama is still relatively unknown and a rookie, but those who see him as the most dynamic young face in American politics since John Kennedy have it exactly right.

Now for a dose of reality. Does the best candidate always get the job? No. Can this man be stopped? Yes.

In some important aspects that transcend natural talent, Barack Obama is no Jack Kennedy. JFK had the backing of his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who was a very rich and powerful person with plenty of political experience and connections. The Kennedy organization attracted the best people money could buy and employed a dedicated, energetic, and skilled immediate family. JFK's main obstacle for the nomination in 1960 was Hubert Humphrey, who was a Democratic Party stalwart and a nice fellow. Nevertheless, he proved relatively easy to steamroll in West Virginia (the "Super Tuesday" of that campaign).

Obama? He has Dick Durbin and Oprah Winfrey. And Hillary Clinton is no Hubert Humphrey. Hill has Bill, an asset of mythic proportions, and, more importantly, the incredibly experienced, talented, savvy, and ruthless Clinton brain trust.

John Dickerson answers his own question with great insight. When it comes to the complicated Iowa caucus system (as well as the daunting national primary campaign), the Clintons are pros while the Obama team looks comparatively amateurish.

In other words, organization, name recognition, and money, more often than not, determine the difference between winning and losing in the primaries. Clinton holds the advantage in all three of these categories.

Can Obama still catch fire? Yes. But he needs to do it quickly. Remember, this fellow has been running for president for more than ten months. However, as I have said before, Republicans looking toward November should not indulge in too much schadenfreude at the expense of Hillary Clinton. If nominated, Hillary can (and probably will) win in November. But Obama is a juggernaut, who can not only win--but also bring about a massive realignment of American politics.

Another question for another time: Why doesn't Obama try harder? That is, what is holding Obama back from a launching into a full-out assault on Hillary Clinton? Stay tuned…