This week, to coincide with the release of his new book, The Audacity of Hope, Illinois Senator Barack Obama made his rounds in television and on newsstands, leaving many pundits salivating at the idea of a possible run for the presidency in 2008. Time Magazine proposed, “Why Barack Obama could be the next president” on their cover.

What is most perplexing about this coverage is how Obama has been built up as a political powerhouse and as the great hope of the Democratic Party. In actuality, as far as politicians and their reputations go, Obama is quite bland and neutral. His calm demeanor contradicts many modern-day politicians who possess, or at least appear to possess, the “fire in the gut” approach when speaking. It is his demeanor of calm discourse that also aids his image by separating himself from the polarizing primary players in the Democratic Party, such as Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean.

Perhaps this is why many in the political bubble seem to gravitate toward Obama. They view him as a hero to President George W. Bush’s anti-hero. Obama is a politician who possesses qualities that President Bush lacks: eloquence, tact, and intelligence-or at least that is how supporters characterize Obama.

Many columnists, political analysts, and bloggers have been giving their opinion on this subject with commentary ranging from praise for his actions to criticism for his lack of experience.

His lack of experience is a huge weakness. Only two years into his U.S. Senate term, it is still too early to tell if Obama has the leadership skills necessary to take on difficult issues. According to the Washington Post’s Votes Database available on its Web site, projects.washingtonpost.com/congress. Obama has voted the Democratic Party line on most key issues before congress.

He has failed to step out of the shadow of the Democratic Party and show what he truly believes in. One of the aspects of a leader is the ability to make the right decisions, and often those decisions, while they are for the benefit of the nation, are not popular.

Why has the media become so wrapped up in the story of Barack Obama? Essentially he makes for a good story and there is an attempt to build the Obama political empire before the foundation has been set. In reality, Obama, the man, not the mystique, is just the blueprint for strong political prowess.

Voters should examine Obama’s true stances through solid information, such as his voting patterns, and not the character portrayals that the media drums up to sell papers and attract viewers.