2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

The dynamism and the danger of Obama

 

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Edward Luce
2/8/08 Fin. Times - FT.com

 

Some of Hillary Clinton's more optimistic supporters believe that Barack Obama's wave crested on Tuesday when they drew even honours in the mega-primary. But "Obamamania" could well resume as early as tonight when the results of the next three contests are declared (in Nebraska, Washington State and Louisiana).

Likewise at least two of the three "Potomac primaries" next Tuesday - Maryland and Washington DC - are slated to go in his favour. Not to mention the money race, in which Mr Obama's prowess at internet-based fundraising is putting Hillary Clinton - and previous records - increasingly into the shade. In January alone Mr Obama raised $32m, more than double the amount raised by Mrs Clinton. His advisers suggest that he is on track to match that fundraising record again this month.

What is driving Obamamania? Many answers are offered. Some emphasise Mr Obama's electrifying oratory. Others point to the symbolic antidote that an Obama presidency would offer a cynical world after eight years of President George W. Bush. Still others argue that a "post-racial" President Obama would draw the remaining poison from America's fraught racial history.

There is truth in all of these. It is also true - as Senator Edward Kennedy said when he bestowed the aura of Camelot on Mr Obama in his endorsement last month - that the freshman senator from Illinois is the candidate of tomorrow, of the young and of the previously apathetic. Mr Obama is like a giant political magnet who attracts new voters to the polls in droves.

But to argue, as Mr Obama does, that he offers something completely new may be to overstate his case a little. Each of his three central messages is as old as the Republic - the promise of bipartisanship ("to put an end to the bickering and the partisan ways of Washington"), an ethical foreign policy ("to restore America's moral place in the world") and delivering change through unity ("to stand up and say we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come").

Each of these themes also share two traits. First they are drawn from the school of "American exceptionalism" - the belief that America offers a uniquely moral beacon to the world. And second, they are virtually impossible to accomplish.

There is nothing inherently accident-prone about American exceptionalism - for every Iraq war there is a Marshall Plan. And there is nothing wrong with promising things you cannot fully deliver. It is better to get some of the way there than never to try at all.

But it may also be necessary to manage expectations a little if your supporters are as fired up as those of Mr Obama. At the moment, Mr Obama is doing the opposite. While often beautifully pitched, his words often veer close to the prophetic. Take Mr Obama's speech last Tuesday night to supporters in Chicago.

"We are the ones we have been waiting for," he said in a paraphrase of Oprah Winfrey's disclosure that Mr Obama was "the one, the one I have been waiting for".

Mr Obama continued: "We know that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored, that will not be deterred, that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, make this time different than all the rest."

Or take Mr Obama's victory speech after the caucuses in Iowa that kicked off the primary season: "On this January night - at this defining moment in history - you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do. In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and big cities, you came together to say that we are one nation, we are one people and change is coming to America."

It was a poetic speech that one commentator memorably described as a "goose-bump" moment. But if getting the votes of 95,000 mid-westerners is a defining moment in history, in what terms would Mr Obama describe his nomination?

As for Mrs Clinton, Mr Obama's campaign is on solid ground when it alleges that she and her husband have blatantly distorted his record. For example, the Clintons described Mr Obama's claim to have consistently opposed the Iraq war as a "fairy tale". And the Clinton campaign twisted Mr Obama's commonplace observation that Ronald Reagan had generated new ideas to make it appear that he was a devotee of Reaganomics.

Such tactics backfired not because they were unfair, which they were, but because they were unsubtle. Mr Obama, too, has indulged in negative politics but without obviously appearing to do so. To succeed, a moral campaign must depict the opposition as immoral. When Mr Obama said that Iowa's voters chose "hope over fear", "unity over division", and the "future over the past", everyone knew which nouns belonged to Mrs Clinton.

None of which is to predict that Mr Obama will end up with the Democratic nomination. It could go either way. Nor that he would make a worse president than Mrs Clinton - or indeed the likely Republican nominee, John McCain, who, at 72, would fit neatly into "the past" were Mr Obama and he to square off in a general election.

But it is safe to say that an Obama presidency would start off with much higher expectations. There would be magic in that. But also danger.
 

Discussion Forum


 

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Same level:
The Obama Bargain ] Barack Obama’s Speech on Race ] What Made Obama's Speech Great ] The Obama version of 'we shall overcome' ] Obama, Imperialism and the Paradox of Plenty amid Poverty ] Bringing race to the forefront ] If President, What Do White People Think Obama Will Do To Them? ] Obama's racing the wrong way ] Obama: The Attacks Have Only Just Begun ] Obama Race Speech Analysis by 14 Blackcommentator.com ] Can Obama avoid being the 'black candidate'? ] Defying Conventional Wisdom on Race and Politics ] Obama's rhetoric, American realities ] Barack Obama: Can he deliver? ] Obama Beer  (VIDEO) ] Obama: An Emotional Escape Hatch from the Bush Era ] And Now Obama? Critical support ] Obama's real fairy tale ] The Obama Effect: challenging the rules of race and politics ] Obama should be a colour-blind president ] Holding Barack Obama Accountable ] The Obama Messiah Watch ] Barack Obama's Messiah Complex ] Obama the Magic Negro! ] Gay Inclusion - Obama Playing Us Stupid ] Obama’s Identity Crisis ] Barack the Magic Negro ] Even to a conservative, there's hope for a President Obama ] O'Reilly: "I don't want to go on a lynching party * *  * unless * *  * ] Presidental Racism (VIDEO) ] Seismic Shift in Racial Politics ] Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide ] Where is the Critical Thinking in this Campaign 2008? ] Race affects politics ] Obama’s White Male Voters ] Capitulation is the order of the day ] Obamarama: Is it a Movement? Or is it Marketing? ] Obama: "Wall Street's Presidential Brand" ] Obama Chastise Blacks to Allay Jewish Concerns ] Obama denounces pastor's comments ] Obama's Backpeddling is Just Starting ] Obama, Fractals and Momentum Politics ] Obama Played the Race Card ] Deeply troubled by Obama  racial politics ] The Political Wonder That Is Obama ] Barack: Back and Forth Voter ] What Obama Means By Unity ] Pundits blind to Obamas America ] Which bias runs deeper in the American psyche? ] Obama offers U.S. a chance to do its racial laundry ] Obama as "Honorary White Man" ] David Brooks on Republican Support of Obama ] West, Bennet, Ogletree on Obama (VIDEO) ] Seeking Unity, Obama Feels Pull of Racial Divide ] Do some people think Obama is an honorary white man? ] [ The dynamism and the danger of Obama ] Barack Obama and the Euphoria of Madness ] Jewish Leader  to Obama : ‘Confront Your Pastor’ ] Obama Photos Album ] Community Activist, Obama and the Few Bad Apples ] Analysis: Obama's Health Care Plan (VIDEO) ] Obama: Bamboozling America ] Obama a Contemporary Don Quixote? ] Obama, Fat Tuesday and the Big Hangover ] Obama vs. the Phobocracy. ] VIDEO - Obama Speech in Kenya ] Playing the Race Card ] Putting faith in Obama ] SubPrime Obama ] VIDEO - Yes We Can! ] What to Expect from an Obama White House ] Why Republicans Like Obama ] Fox Attacks Obama! ] Obama And The Bigots ] Let's face the music: there is an Obama in the GOP's future ] Obama's black support shows its limits ] Obama: Black president or “irrational exuberance”? ] IS endorsing Barack Obama the new cool? ] Tennesee GOP Backs off statement ]
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Always Under Construction!

Always Under Construction!

Copyright @ 2008
Vernellia Randall. All Rights Reserved

 
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, some material on this website is provided for comment, background information, research and/or educational purposes only, without permission from the copyright owner(s), under the "fair use" provisions of the federal copyright laws. These materials may not be distributed for other purposes without permission of the copyright owner(s).

 


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 CANDIDATES
DEMOCRATIC                   x
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This website is always under construction please email me  relevant links related to any of the candidates or to race and racism and the election.
SELECT A CANDIDATE SURVEYS
Minnesota Public Radio                        x
WQAD  TV                             x
Australia - US Survey                                 X

 


Same level:
The Obama Bargain ] Barack Obama’s Speech on Race ] What Made Obama's Speech Great ] The Obama version of 'we shall overcome' ] Obama, Imperialism and the Paradox of Plenty amid Poverty ] Bringing race to the forefront ] If President, What Do White People Think Obama Will Do To Them? ] Obama's racing the wrong way ] Obama: The Attacks Have Only Just Begun ] Obama Race Speech Analysis by 14 Blackcommentator.com ] Can Obama avoid being the 'black candidate'? ] Defying Conventional Wisdom on Race and Politics ] Obama's rhetoric, American realities ] Barack Obama: Can he deliver? ] Obama Beer  (VIDEO) ] Obama: An Emotional Escape Hatch from the Bush Era ] And Now Obama? Critical support ] Obama's real fairy tale ] The Obama Effect: challenging the rules of race and politics ] Obama should be a colour-blind president ] Holding Barack Obama Accountable ] The Obama Messiah Watch ] Barack Obama's Messiah Complex ] Obama the Magic Negro! ] Gay Inclusion - Obama Playing Us Stupid ] Obama’s Identity Crisis ] Barack the Magic Negro ] Even to a conservative, there's hope for a President Obama ] O'Reilly: "I don't want to go on a lynching party * *  * unless * *  * ] Presidental Racism (VIDEO) ] Seismic Shift in Racial Politics ] Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide ] Where is the Critical Thinking in this Campaign 2008? ] Race affects politics ] Obama’s White Male Voters ] Capitulation is the order of the day ] Obamarama: Is it a Movement? Or is it Marketing? ] Obama: "Wall Street's Presidential Brand" ] Obama Chastise Blacks to Allay Jewish Concerns ] Obama denounces pastor's comments ] Obama's Backpeddling is Just Starting ] Obama, Fractals and Momentum Politics ] Obama Played the Race Card ] Deeply troubled by Obama  racial politics ] The Political Wonder That Is Obama ] Barack: Back and Forth Voter ] What Obama Means By Unity ] Pundits blind to Obamas America ] Which bias runs deeper in the American psyche? ] Obama offers U.S. a chance to do its racial laundry ] Obama as "Honorary White Man" ] David Brooks on Republican Support of Obama ] West, Bennet, Ogletree on Obama (VIDEO) ] Seeking Unity, Obama Feels Pull of Racial Divide ] Do some people think Obama is an honorary white man? ] [ The dynamism and the danger of Obama ] Barack Obama and the Euphoria of Madness ] Jewish Leader  to Obama : ‘Confront Your Pastor’ ] Obama Photos Album ] Community Activist, Obama and the Few Bad Apples ] Analysis: Obama's Health Care Plan (VIDEO) ] Obama: Bamboozling America ] Obama a Contemporary Don Quixote? ] Obama, Fat Tuesday and the Big Hangover ] Obama vs. the Phobocracy. ] VIDEO - Obama Speech in Kenya ] Playing the Race Card ] Putting faith in Obama ] SubPrime Obama ] VIDEO - Yes We Can! ] What to Expect from an Obama White House ] Why Republicans Like Obama ] Fox Attacks Obama! ] Obama And The Bigots ] Let's face the music: there is an Obama in the GOP's future ] Obama's black support shows its limits ] Obama: Black president or “irrational exuberance”? ] IS endorsing Barack Obama the new cool? ] Tennesee GOP Backs off statement ]
Child Level:
Home ] Up ]
Parent Level:
January 2008 ] February 2008 ] August 2008 Updates ]
Units:
[Race and Racial Groups] [Citizenship Rights]  [Justice and Race] [Patterns of Basic Needs] [Intersectionality Issues] [Human Rights]

Always Under Construction!

Always Under Construction!

Copyright @ 2008
Vernellia Randall. All Rights Reserved

 
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, some material on this website is provided for comment, background information, research and/or educational purposes only, without permission from the copyright owner(s), under the "fair use" provisions of the federal copyright laws. These materials may not be distributed for other purposes without permission of the copyright owner(s).

 


Last Updated:
Tuesday, April 07, 2009  

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