Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parsing the Ridiculous

“America, this is our moment. This is our time” – Obama, speaking in MN the night he officially won the Dem nomination (6/3).

“People of Berlin -- people of the world -- this is our moment. This is our time” – Obama, in his first formal speech of his foreign tour (7/24).

What ad guru won’t be tempted to play the clips back-to-back, only one to a widely ecstatic cheering crowd of Europeans? Insert announcer with an appropriately unnerving, deep voice, asking: “Which is it, Obama? Who’s moment? Who’s time?”

On 6/3, Obama addressed a crowd in the packed arena where John McCain will accept his party's nomination--the context of his speech was to that specific crowd and the Democratic Party that nominated him, and a broader appeal to voters that he hoped would support him this fall.

[Barack Obama, Berlin]

Today, Obama spoke on German soil to a foreign crowd, but addressed his remarks to a US audience and to the world at large, in a speech with broader context that addressed a broader audience. I think people are smart enough to figure out the context here--Obama is going to give a lot more speeches to a lot more audiences, including a speech at the Democratic Convention soon--and they get who he's addressing and including and talking to. Obama's popularity is the terrifying development that has the Republicans scrambling. They're used to, and were counting on, a figure that just about less than half of all Americans would like and accept. Obama has skated past that dynamic and entered Ronald Reagan territory.

The arrival of a Democratic Ronald Reagan has them shitting themselves with fear. Kennedy wasn't as popular as Obama and won no landslide in 1960. If current trends continue, and if McCain's gaffes and his amped-up Cotton Hill routine continues, he might win a dozen states, if that. If it gets any worse, he'll lose his home state and win seven southern states and perhaps Utah. Not quite winning everything but Minnesota and the District of Columbia, but close enough to frighten a Republican consultant. Hopefully, Obama won't have Reagan's policies or daftness but be similar in his ability to inspire his followers--the Democratic Party--and communicate with voters. Substance would definitely be an improvement. This is an important distinction--we may have a Democrat with actual charisma and appeal beyond the usual level we've seen in our lifetimes. I know--I can't get used to that idea, either.

[John F. Kennedy, Berlin]

Of course, if you're a fucking idiot, it all looks sinister and un-American to you. As in, how did the man with dark skin get to be liked by so many people? What the Republicans should really fear is the fact that Germany, a country known for a certain strain of xenophobia, has embraced Obama in a way that means Obama is likely to be embraced by the American people.

Hopefully, that will be as a, as the, as our President.


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