Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oprah stumps for Obama

Am watching Oprah in Iowa at an Obama rally, reportedly the largest campaign gathering in Iowa ever. (Part 1 and Part 2.)

I wasn't there but based upon the CSPAN youtube footage, Oprah isn't blowing my mind. Of course, I can't say that I'm one of those millions of people who are Oprah fanatics, hanging on her every word, so I'm definitely not her target audience.

But Oprah does have the undeniable ability to connect with regular people and to deftly incorporate religious imagery into her speech. Nonetheless, you can tell that despite her unlimited poise on tv, she's not used to the campaign stump. She's visibly shuffling papers, and looking down at them for cues during her roughly 20 minutes (the first half is definitely less compelling.) Here's where she begins to pick up steam:
We the people, we the people can see through all that rhetoric. We recognize that the amount of time you've spent in Washington means nothingunless you;re accountable for the judgement you made for the time you had. [applause] We need good judgement, we need Barack Obama. [Oprah then goes off on weird tangent about some parents have lost their children]
I think she goes through the issues too quickly, but she does however slow down to make the crucial point that "Looooong before it was the popular thing to do, he stood with clarity and conviction against. this. war. in. Iraq! [applause] We need a president with clarity and conviction who knows how to consult his own conscience and moral authority. We need Barack Obama."

She also grabs my attention and that of the crowd again when she says the following:
We need a president who cares about our relationships with our friends, and our enemies. . . In order for humanity to evolve, and that's really the reason why we're all here on the Planet Earth, to evolve, we have to learn to treasure our uniqueness and our diversity. . . We need a president who can bring us all together. We need a president who can overcome our racial divides, our religious dvidies, and divisions between those who have and those who need a chance to have. [Why can't our populist candidates learn to speak like this?] These are dangerous times.

I know you know it, I know you're watching American Idol to forget about it. These are dangerous times. You can feel it, sense it in the air. We are facing a lot of explosive issues, complicated situations that are easily muddied. We need a leader who shows us how to hope again, and have faith again in America as a force for peace. Just as Barack Obama has seized htis moment, and it's a beautiful thing to see. We must also seize this opportunity to support a man, who as the Bible says, "loves mercy and does justice." [applause]
So Oprah knows her audience and is speaking to the undecideds and Republicans who have turned out not necessarily for Obama, but for her. She is also wisely reaching out to religious voters with the correct language. We'll see how long the Oprah bounce lasts for - and yes, I do believe there will be an Oprah bounce. Whether it survives the onslaught of the holiday shopping season and frenzy will remain TBD.

And it's true that in comparison, Hillary rolling out Chelsea and her mother pales in comparison. On any other day, she would have dominated the news cycle with that, but well, who can deny Oprah's star power? Not even Bill Clinton appeals to such a wide swath of the general public, especially women. As Obama said in response to a fan: "Vice President? That would be a demotion."

Obama did well to roll out Oprah during one of the last weeks that voters will be paying attention - even folks in Iowa and New Hampshire are going to be caught up in family drama, cooking and shopping. Basically, this means that Hillary's week in media has been: Clinton staffer gets fired for circulating false Obama Muslim smear email, and then she has gotten overshadowed by Oprah-Obama mania. Kinda crappy, if you ask me.

Well, feel the Oprah love.

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