Friday, January 25

:: That Ol' Time Religion

In Nevada he channeled Reagan; in South Carolina, he was Huckabee...
Be all things to all people - that's how you win a race. Or head up a cult. One of those. Lately, in this environment, its getting hard to tell the difference.

Obama - our smooth, cosmopolitan Cool Black Friend took on a very different aspect in South Carolina. Out was the grade-school-in-Indonesia / high-school in Hawaii / Harvard Law Obama; in was the Ol' Timey / Son of the South / Baptist Obama.

I give you the following:

He has adapted his stump speech to reflect the familiarity his audience feels. He makes more references than usual to his church-going -- "I praise an awesome God" -- and places more emphasis on having been raised "without privilege," by a single mother…

He loosens up his lingo as well, with just enough irony and self-awareness to avoid accusations of pandering. In Dillon Wednesday night, he smiled when an audience member cried out "That ain't right" in response to a disingenuous claim he said Hillary Clinton had made, and then he ran with it, telling the speaker that she had nailed it.

"That is not just 'isn't right.' That 'ain't right,'" he said with a grin. "There are some things that 'isn't right' but then there are some that 'ain't right.'" The crowd roared. "You know what I'm talking about," he added. Mocking a Clinton answer that, he said, smacked of Beltway-speak a moment later, he said, "In Washington, that's how they do." That got a big laugh, and he said it again with a grin. "That's how they do!" In Kingstree, he urged his audience to help with voter turnout Saturday by saying, with a smile, "I not only need you to vote, I need Cousin Pookie to vote. I need Ray-Ray. We need to get some folks to show up that haven't been voting."

And this:

But they are stepping up the effort now that the campaign has hit South Carolina and soon turns to other southern states where religion is so important to voters... campaign representatives blanketed South Carolina churches Sunday with literature that touted Obama's Christian faith.

One piece features photos of Obama praying with the words "COMMITTED CHRISTIAN" in large letters across the middle. It says Obama will be a president "guided by his Christian faith" and includes a quote from him saying, "I believe in the power of prayer."

A second piece, which like the first doesn't mention the Muslim rumor, includes photos of Obama with his family and a caption that says they are active members of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. It explains how as a young man Obama "felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life."

And this:

The community gymnasium here on this town's dilapidated south side was jammed with locals. Barack Obama kept them waiting three-quarters of an hour, but there was other entertainment.

The candidate, when he finally arrived, carried with him a message of racial pride to the largely black audience. "Some people say . . . African Americans can't do it," he observed. "I'm one of those people who, when you tell me I can't do something, that's when I decide I'm going to do that." The audience thundered and called back with shouts of "Yes!" and "That's right!"

The scene -- a celebration of African American culture and achievement -- highlights the extraordinary revision of Obama's image here as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination...

Immediately before Obama took the stage, the woman introducing him made an explicit case for racial pride. "Our Latino brothers have integrity, our Indian brothers have integrity, our Caucasian brothers and sisters have integrity," she said. "God didn't anoint one set of people to have standards and not everybody else. This is why we are attracted and drawn to Senator Obama."

When Obama spoke, many of his lines were the same -- "I decided to run because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now" -- but this time audience members cheered his every sentence with shouts of "yes." As he went along, Obama made some slight adjustments to his usual speech....

The homey phrases poured forth: "No, Lord! . . . It's the same old okey-doke. . . . Prayin' to Jesus with my Bible." He then took the audience on a tour from the American Revolution to slavery's abolition to the civil rights movement. "They marched in the streets, they sat in at the lunch counters, they suffered fire hoses, they suffered beatings, dogs were put on them, but they didn't turn back," he said, to thunderous cheers.

The tour through history led, of course, to Obama's candidacy. When he decided to run, "I believed that the American people . . . weren't as divided as our politics suggest, that black and white, Latino, Asian -- everybody wanted to move forward," he said. "If we could just join our voices together," he continued, "there was not a problem that we could not solve and no destiny that we could not fulfill."

And this - check out the photo:

Maybe for California he'll transform into Cesar Chavez. Or back into Reagan. Hey! Maybe for New York he can try on LaGuardia.

I CANNOT WAIT for Super Tuesday.

No comments: