January 1, 2008


Barack Obama's nouvelle vague: We know he's a "hope monger," but the rest of Obama's unconventional message is elusive. (Walter Shapiro, 12/31/07, Salon)

As Barack Obama hit the familiar chords of his stump speech in a gym here Tuesday morning, I sidled over to admaker Jim Margolis to ask in a whisper what he believed was the essence of his candidate's campaign. Margolis, who created the only memorable TV spots in the 2004 John Kerry campaign, replied, "The fundamental core message is that we're one country -- and we don't have to be divided." Just then, as if on cue, Obama hit the point in the speech when he decries the fractious politics of "tearing your opponents down instead of lifting the country up." As a small roll of applause swept across the room, Margolis smiled with the satisfaction of a mathematician who had just proved an obscure theorem and said, "You see?"

Nothing in politics is ever that simple, and Margolis did not claim that it was. But there remains, at least in my mind, something elusive about Obama's political appeal.

There's not enough to him for a Seinfeld script. Thus, he reverts to default positions, Reconciling the realist with the rhetorician (John Vinocur, January 1, 2008, IHT)
Barack Obama's run for the Democratic presidential nomination illustrates the limits of novelty in talking about, as he does, a new leadership role for the United States in the world.

Quintessentially, Obama is an American.

And although many Americans find the man and his chance at becoming the country's first black president a unique occasion for the nation to close some of its deepest wounds, when the subject is foreign and security policy, Obama's Americanness defines him, not vice versa.

While arguing he is the candidate who represents the greatest possibilities for change in international affairs - "I'm the best equipped to chart that new direction" - Obama, much more quietly, has recognized the permanence of the deeply drawn lines of American interest he equates with American global responsibility:

The United States must remain the world's sheriff. It has the right to take unilateral military action. The United Nations Security Council should not have veto power over American options.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2008 9:38 AM
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