Monday, June 16, 2008


This cat is smart.

Obama's father's day speech about absent fathers in the Black community may have been re-hashed Bill Cosby, and may have oversimplified the issue to some extent, but it was excellent politics.

This is Obama at his best: sensing the political timing and striking with just the right kind of rhetoric that speaks to the multiple audiences he's addressing. This is a true postmodern politician - not post-racial, but understanding how to chose and frames issues that resonate with multiple communities.

Timing and Rhetoric: coming off the hard-fought primaries, Obama has a lot of repair work to do. He has to demonstrate that he's not the same man as the characterized Reverend Wright of the blogosphere. He's got to remind people that he's able to reach across constituencies as well as able to talk about - and lead this country - on the issues of race (in a way that Clinton was rarely able to talk about gender), without them seeming like the "issues" of the campaign. What better time than father's day, when the speech will seem natural and not necessarily campaign motivated? What better rhetoric than to tackle the "dirty laundry" of the black community while also giving an inherently conservative speech about social responsibility? A speech that also reaches back to Obama's inherent campaign theme about this being a seminal political moment with "the people" in control of their destiny.

And he manages to tell his personal story - being raised by a single mother - to boot.

It seems that the speech has gone down well with independents - who may be starting to see Obama as the candidate least tied to his party's special interests. He's keeping positive stories about himself in the media, and doing it in unexpected ways that reinforce his core narrative. He's playing the game on multiple and reinforcing levels.

If you add in Obama's response to the flooding in Iowa, he's had a masterful week. Aside, perhaps, from the occasional debate letdown (which he's no doubt practicing as we speak), he plays this political game with all the rhythm and grace of a professional basketball player.

Compare this with McCain's traditional political lobbying of "tax and spend" and the forgettable Johnson flap - both of which Obama jabbed back at quickly and effectively negated- and you see why he's going to be the most formidable candidate against the Republicans that the Dem's have had in a while.

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