One of the current front-runners to become the next leader of the free world and Commander-In-Chief of the most powerful military in history is a guy who, just 25 months ago, was voting on how much to pay dogcatchers.

On Sept. 11, 2001, while Congress and the White House faced the deadliest terror attack in American history, Barack Obama was a local politician back in Illinois — still three years away from beginning his first term in the U.S. Senate.

Unlike Sen. John McCain (first elected in 1986), Obama has no military experience. Unlike Sen. Biden (elected in 1972), he has no foreign policy experience. Unlike Rudy Giuliani (two terms as mayor of America’s largest city), Obama has no law enforcement or security experience. Unlike Mitt Romney (hero of the Salt Lake City Olympics and governor of Massachusetts), he has no executive experience.

And unlike his most immediate challenger, Hillary Clinton, Barack has not already spent eight years actually running the country.

If Barack Obama has ever done anything in any arena of life qualifying him to be President of the United States during a time of war, it is better hidden than Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

It is hard to grasp how truly meteoric Sen. Obama’s political climb has been. John Kerry (elected 1984) came within one state (Ohio) of being elected president in 2004 — and he can’t even get in the race.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000, has been reduced to hanging out in art house theaters showing (largely fictional) horror flicks.

An entire crew of seasoned, political pros are running against Obama (Biden, Bill Richardson, Christopher Dodd), but not one of them has a chance of being elected president.

But this kid, this half-term senator from Illinois, does. He very well could be our next president, all thanks to his experience as … uh, well, that is, his political agenda to … er, ahem, because Barack Obama is the one man who will … uh …

Why are we supporting Barack Obama, again?

Actually, you know why. He’s black. Period. End of embarrassing, race-obsessed, irrational story.

As a candidate for the White House, Barack Obama’s qualifications begin and end with race. Change “Barack Obama” to “Bill O’Brien,” and he’s just another legislative hack back in Springfield that nobody’s ever heard of. A white guy with Obama’s resume would be a long-shot candidate for governor, much less president.

Give me a white Barack Obama running in ’08, and I’ll give you the one candidate who could lose to Dennis Kucinich.

Race is Barack Obama’s entire White House resume, and as such he protects it dearly. On CBS’s 60 Minutes, Steve Croft asked Sen. Obama about criticism that he doesn’t truly represent the black American experience, that he’s not “black enough.”

“I don’t get asked that question when I’m walking through the South Side of Chicago,” Obama answered. “When I’m down at the barber shop, when I’m out playing basketball.”

Got the message, whitey? South Side. Barber Shop. Basketball. Short of mentioning a fondness for Kentucky-fried poultry products, Barack Obama touched virtually every stereotype within reach.

Later in that same interview, Croft asked the senator’s wife, Michelle, if, like Colin Powell’s wife, she was afraid for her husband’s safety.

“You have to remember that, as a black man, he could be shot stopping at a gas station,” Mrs. Obama replied.

You gotta be kidding me.

Do the Obamas really believe that there are gangs of armed white supremacists hiding near the Hess station, waiting for unsuspecting black men to pull up to the pumps? Is their vision of America in 2007 the America of Mississippi Burning and “They call me SENATOR Obama?”

Sadly, it has to be. For, if America were not obsessed with race, if Americans weren’t desperate to prove something about themselves by voting for a candidate of color — no matter how unqualified — if we lived in an America where skin color didn’t matter, then we wouldn’t need Barack Obama.

Ah, but does Sen. Obama need or want us? The Chicago Tribune recently reported on Sen. Obama’s church, Trinity United Church: “The congregation posits what it terms a Black Value System, including calls to be “soldiers for black freedom” and a “disavowal of the pursuit of middle-class-ness.'”

One of the church leaders who crafted the anti-middle-class precepts that Sen. Obama has accepted defends them this way: “Any black person who identifies himself as middle-class psychologically withdraws from the group and becomes a proponent of strengthening and sustaining the [white] system.”

I won’t even ask what the political fate would be of a white candidate who was the member of a white-power church urging the rejection of black cultural values. We already know. His name was David Duke, and nobody took him seriously.

Everyone is taking Sen. Obama seriously. And again I ask: Why?

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