Last week saw some candidates in the eternal 2008 presidential campaign trotting out various personalities in order to form a more perfect union between themselves and voters. Now this is nothing new in American politics; glad-handing candidates have hobnobbed with celebrities at least since Woodrow Wilson allegedly kept company with silent film star Florence La Badie.
Apparently believing that certain qualities can be absorbed from others via osmosis — remember that George W. Bush supposedly needed Dick Cheney to attain “gravitas” — the two leading Democratic White House aspirants have campaigned with folks they hope may supply them with assets their handlers feel they lack. While Hillary Clinton sought to project an image of maternal warmth, Barack Obama hunkered after some genuine maternal “blackness.”
Senator Clinton, having experienced mixed results after sending her better half out on the hustings, staged a “you go, girl!” rally to counter Obama’s coup in attracting Oprah Winfrey to stump for him. She toured Iowa with her daughter Chelsea and mother Dorothy Rodham on the same weekend, saying that the timing was a “coincidence.”
Also accompanying Clinton in the Hawkeye hunt were such female notables as Madeleine Albright, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend who, you may remember, lost the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial race; the first Democrat to do so in 40 years. No matter; she is a Kennedy and thereby evokes sympathy. And when seeking the all important and often enigmatic “women’s vote,” issues seldom seem to matter, feelings do. (I hereby pledge that I will support repealing the 19th Amendment should all of my liberal sisters join me.)p>While it’s easy to see why Mrs. Clinton’s image needs an injection of maternal nurturing, why would Obama need a “soul” shot? A story told of the Clintons by Andrew Young after his “clowning” comments provides a clue: br> /p>
[W]hen they went to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration — there was a whole plane load of black folks who went down there. After the inauguration, there was a party. [Bill] Clinton was the one who said, “Let’s start a Soul Train line!” All these middle class, bourgie folks looked around … and Bill did the moon walk down the Soul Train line. And Hillary pulled her skirt up above her knees and she got down and went on through, too.br> Yes, many black Americans actually believe that Clinton’s shuck and jive act makes him one of them, and the fear in the Obama camp is that Hillary can “get down” with them too. Enter Oprah and her maternal, down-homey brand of feel-goodism; a perfect tonic for the dearth of any specific policy stances of Obama, a man whose personal appeal seems to constitute his entire campaign.
Plug in any touchy-feely, platitude like this from Oprah: “When you listen to Barack Obama, when you really hear him, you witness a very rare thing. You witness a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth…” Now, my preference would be for one who has an ear for truth and a tongue dipped in eloquence, but no one pays me $260 million a year for my opinions. But this mighty media magnate also brings to the campaign her special sort of nurturing strength that the sometimes boyish Obama lacks.p>But all is not peaceful in the land of the “Double O Show.” Some believe that the Clinton attack machine is now deployed against Ms. Winfrey and that the Senator’s myrmidons have been dispatched to the blogosphere to do their worst. It seems that Oprah has a little bit of a union problem:
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