October 29, 2008


The Messiah and the Hockey Mom (Chidanand Rajghatta, 10/29/08, Times of India)

When the man some are jokingly calling the "messiah" arrived shortly after 5 p.m, the place erupted. Although the sound bites were familiar to anyone who'd switched on a TV lately, they cheered his every line with gusto. The passion that coursed through the multi-hued crowd had all the energy of an Indian crowd in the final moments of a Twenty20 game.

Hanging back some twenty paces from the lectern, collegiate Emily Jamison, majoring in social work at the university, listened intently. She wore a white t-shirt that said "NoBama" in red and blue letters, and cut an incongruously sullen figure in the largely rapturous crowd. "He's got no substance. All he says is change, change, change...but he doesn't mean it," she said, after half-an-hour of soaring eloquence had brought the crowd to its feet.

Amy Gwaltney, a second year media major shooting pictures of the event for the college yearbook, didn't think much of the crowd either. There's as much energy in Sarah Palin campaign meetings, she said. She'd just come from one at Roanoke across the state and Palin packed an equally energetic crowd. They wore red, blue, and white gear in three aisles so they could form the word USA.

White, Jamison and Gwaltney defy the pattern in the so-called "real America" -- shorthand for conservative strongholds -- where the young collegiate crowd is typically pro-Obama, while white moms are for Palin. Oh, did we mention that the messiah and the hockey mom are beginning to define this election to the exclusion of the two older white men who are their running mates? Barack Obama and Sarah Palin may face-off directly in 2012 on current form and fortitude of their respective constituencies.

It's likely that only a surprisingly robust President McCain or a belly-hungry Jeb Bush can deny Ms Palin the GOP's nomination in 2012, but the more interesting question is whether Barack Obama can defy the half-century trend of the Democratic Party and follow in Adlai's footsteps if he loses on Tuesday. Al Gore won in 2000 and he couldn't get a second bite at the apple, but the Unicorn Rider might be able to Mau-Mau his way to a second nomination.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2008 10:11 AM
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