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Obama Fever

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  • robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2004
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      50 Reasons Not to Vote for Bush
      Order at Amazon at:

      Can Barack Obama Be The First Black US President?
      By Rupert Cornwell
      The Independent - UK

      BOSTON -- Who is the smart bet for first black president of the
      United States? Less than a decade ago, Colin Powell was the man - and
      to this day, some believe the general might have beaten Bill Clinton
      back in 1996. Today the mantle has fallen on a somewhat more
      improbable figure - Barack Obama.

      American political junkies love nothing better than to plot White
      House match-ups down the line, and nothing brings out the habit like
      convention season, when vast amounts of hot air are expended, but
      nothing much happens. The match-up of the year, in this case George
      Bush and John Kerry, has long since been talked to death.

      The public topic here in Boston is whether Mr Kerry can galvanise
      swing voters and win back the White House. The unofficial one is more
      fun: what happens in 2008 if he doesn't, or in 2012 if he does? A
      Kerry win this year would obviously make his running mate, John
      Edwards, heir apparent. A loss would put Hillary Clinton squarely in
      the frame. But 2016, and Barack Obama - Barack who? The mystery only
      deepens when you learn the person in question is but a state senator
      in Illinois, who is a Democratic candidate, and it must be said,
      clear favourite in the contest for the open US Senate seat in the
      state in November's election.

      Yet this 42-year-old politician, all but unknown nine months ago and
      who has not yet set serious foot in Washington DC, has already been
      glowingly profiled in New Yorker magazine, and scrutinised by the
      most distinguished political columnists in the land. Last weekend, Mr
      Obama was the headline guest on the country's top-rated Sunday talk
      show, NBC's Meet the Press. Tonight he receives a rookie's crowning
      distinction - picked to deliver the keynote speech that will cap the
      convention's second day.

      One reason for this astonishing showcasing is simple: it can only
      boost the Democrats' chances of capturing the US Senate seat held by
      the retiring Republican incumbent, Peter Fitzgerald. Given the host
      of tricky seats the party must defend, a gain in Illinois is vital if
      the Democrats hope to regain control of the Senate they lost two
      years ago. If a little primetime exposure helps the cause, then so
      much the better.

      Also Mr Obama's background - exotic even by US melting pot standards -
      dovetails perfectly with the party's aim to appeal across class and

      His father was Kenyan, his mother came from Kansas. The couple met in
      Hawaii, and sealed a union appreciated neither in Africa nor on the
      Great Plains. She later married again, to an Indonesian oil
      executive, and the new family moved to Jakarta. Then life's winding
      road led Mr Obama back to the US - to California, Chicago and Harvard
      law school, where he was the first black president of the Law Review.
      But political calculation, and even that perfect CV are only the part
      of it.

      The keynote speaker is someone whom party elders reckon will be a big
      part of the Democratic future. Traditionally the speech, setting the
      party in the spirit of the times, is delivered by an especially
      bright rising star. In 1988 for instance, the keynoter was a young
      Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton - even though his memorably
      turgid speech was the biggest bomb of his otherwise illustrious
      oratorical career.

      Mr Obama, like the former president, has magnetism. He is slender,
      seemingly ever smiling, conveying the awareness that great honour has
      been heaped upon him, but serving notice that he will keep a very
      level head amid all the fuss.

      But he is considerably more than a pretty face.

      He is on the left of the party, not least on Iraq. Back in summer
      2002, he declared that Saddam Hussein's decrepit regime was no threat
      to anyone, its weapons' capability much exaggerated, and that the US
      had no business launching an invasion. John Kerry, among others,
      thought otherwise, but events have proved Mr Obama right.

      More important, he has a rare knack of making liberal positions sound
      reasonable. He can advocate a larger role for government in mapping
      national economic policy, without coming across as a tax-and-spend
      liberal. He also has long espoused what is now Democratic orthodoxy,
      that the party should keep its nerve and carry the battle of ideas to

      So the Barack boom continues. He has been helped by the shambolic
      Republican efforts to find a candidate to oppose him in Illinois.
      (Two have dropped out amid scandal, and a putative third, the former
      coach of the Chicago Bears NFL football team, decided that the
      venture wasn't worth the trouble.) Ahead by 20 points in the polls,
      he seems destined to win. And then who knows? By 2012, he will have
      been US senator for eight years (just like the John Kennedy in 1960)
      and by 2016, he will be a very presidential 54 years of age. Of such
      stuff are convention scenarios spun.


      Bush & Kerry Vie For The Black Vote
      The Sunday Herald - UK

      With 100 days to go before the election, the candidates are targeting
      black voters who could hold the key to the White House. Ros Davidson
      reports from California

      On Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland, a young black man with a baggy red
      shirt and a "gangsta" headdress is doing brisk business signing up
      voters to get third-party candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot.

      The neighbourhood is mixed racially, but most joining his petition
      are young African-Americans. It's not a movement: blacks remain the
      most reliable voters for Democrats, an old fact of American politics.

      But the petitioner's success points to a problem for Democratic
      nominee John Kerry. Kerry, a white Boston blue-blood, is marginally
      less popular among blacks than most recent Democratic candidates. To
      oust President George Bush in a tight race, he must "get out" the
      black vote.

      With 100 days to the election and on the eve of the Democratic
      convention, Kerry and Bush are neck and neck, according to opinion
      polls. That is with or without Nader in the race, and despite Kerry's
      remarkable ability to raise money.

      A recent poll by Black Entertainment Television and CBS found that
      four in five blacks believe that Bush did not win the 2000 election
      legitimately. Blacks back Kerry - who can come across as stiff and
      elitist - overwhelmingly, by eight to one.

      Blacks comprised 10% of the vote in 2000 but backed the Democratic
      candidate Al Gore by a larger 9-1 margin. Bill Clinton, dubbed
      the "first black president" by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, had even
      more black support.

      This week, the convention keynote speech will be delivered by rising
      Democratic star Barack Obama, a senate candidate from Illinois who is
      half Kenyan and half white. A handsome lecturer and civil rights
      lawyer, his potential is considered so great that his campaign has
      attracted money from Hollywood activists such as Barbra Streisand and
      director Rob Reiner.

      The massively popular rapper Sean "P Diddy" Combs has unleashed a
      campaign to encourage minorities and young people to vote on November
      2. Among America's notoriously stay-at-home electorate, the most
      frequent voters are older whites.

      Diddy's group, Citizen Change, is seeking "sexy people" for his non-
      partisan initiative, he says. "Now, we're going to make voting cool,"
      said the hip hop mogul and fashion designer at the launch in New
      York. On his T-shirt was the slogan "Vote or Die!".

      "Over 40 million youth and minority voters will be the deciding
      factor of who will be the next president of the United States,"
      roared Combs. "Y'all in?"

      Bush's image among African-Americans still suffers from the botched
      election in 2000. According to the US Civil Rights Commission, more
      than half of the votes discarded in Florida because of counting
      problems were African-American. Indeed, the government agency found
      blacks were 10 times as likely to have had their votes tossed
      compared with whites or Latinos. Had they been counted, Gore would
      have won the election.

      The same team also found Florida is typical of the nation. As the
      statistician working on the data concluded: "About half of all the
      ballots spoiled in the USA - about a million votes - were cast by non-
      white voters."

      Bush has two African-Americans in his cabinet, National Security
      Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Even
      so, he is constantly fighting his own party as well as his record.

      A Republican lawmaker in Michigan, a battleground state and home of
      Detroit and the Motown record label, stoked resentment recently.
      Earlier this month state senator John Pappageorge, who is white, said
      Republicans would fare poorly this election year if they failed
      to "suppress the Detroit vote".

      Blacks are suspicious of Bush's stance on Iraq, his economic policies
      and his opposition to "affirmative action".

      "He'll tax the "working poor" and help the rich," said truck driver
      Curtis Howard, an African-American from Oakland, of the prospect of
      Bush's re-election. Although not enthusiastic about Kerry, he will
      back him.

      It's what strategists call the "sock puppet" vote - anything but
      Bush. Kerry's running mate John Edwards, a populist who is white but
      from a southern working-class background, is likely to appeal more to
      blacks, say analysts.

      The candidates are vying for black support. Kerry addressed the Urban
      League, a moderate African-American group, on Thursday, a day ahead
      of a long-planned appearance by Bush.

      "Simply giving a speech will not erase the fact that George Bush has
      pursued policies that have failed to provide economic opportunity to
      all Americans, especially African-Americans," said a Kerry spokesman.

      The next day, Bush acknowledged his party's lack of appeal. "Listen,
      the Republican party has a lot of work to do. I understand that," he
      said. But he also suggested the Democrats take the black vote for

      A week earlier he snubbed the oldest and largest black group, the
      National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. The
      group's chairman, Julian Bond, has characterised Bush as from
      the "Taliban wing" of American politics.


      Multipurpose star born for Democrats' effort
      Chicago Tribune
      By Michael Tackett Tribune senior correspondent

      Barack Obama's latest effort at rewriting the rules of political
      ascendancy raised an interesting question Tuesday night: Can a star
      be born before the election's been won?

      State legislators don't get the call to be keynote speaker at
      presidential nominating conventions. They get seats in the back rows
      of the delegation, if that. Incumbent senators and governors wait in
      line for years for time on the podium.

      But for Obama, a mere candidate for the U.S. Senate, there is no
      waiting. His time is now.

      It is now because he serves so many purposes for Sen. John Kerry, the
      presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. At 42, Obama is a
      generational bridge. As an African-American, he is a racial bridge.
      But those almost miss the point. Most important, Obama is a critical
      bridge to the suburbs, home to the crucial votes Kerry so clearly
      needs in the fall.

      As he demonstrated in the Democratic primary in Illinois, Obama
      possesses a crossover appeal that defies a ready label, an ability to
      energize the votes of both blacks and suburban whites. This is
      precisely the kind of coalition that propelled Bill Clinton and that
      Kerry must build in the fall if he is to win.

      Obama also represented a badly needed fresh look for the Democratic
      Party. That was evident in watching the parade of speakers who came
      before him, including the former headliner, Sen. Edward Kennedy of
      Massachusetts. Kennedy, first elected in 1962, might still be one of
      the few big-hall speakers in the party, but his uneven performance
      rendered weak an otherwise well-written speech. His time as a speaker
      was in 1980.

      The ovation for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, at one point the man
      Kerry was chasing for the nomination, was far greater than the cheers
      for the Democratic lion in winter speaking in his hometown.

      In Obama, Democrats have the face, voice and manner of a practiced
      anchorman. His style was not of the old-school stemwinder, but rather
      it was made for the television screen, where the impression for Kerry
      is most critical. It was measured, with just enough display of
      passion and just enough restraint of ego to be effective.

      In his speech, there were echoes of Clinton's third-way centrism
      about how to deal with crime and welfare. "The people I meet--in
      small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks --they don't
      expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to
      work hard to get ahead--and they want to. ... They don't want their
      tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or the Pentagon."

      And there were refrains that suggested Robert Kennedy's calls for
      social justice -- "a belief that we are connected as one people. If
      there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that
      matters to me, even if it's not my child" -- and Rev. Martin Luther
      King Jr.'s appeals to faith -- "the audacity of hope! In the end,
      that is God's greatest gift to us."

      Obama also recalled Bill Cosby's recent admonitions to black families
      about personal responsibility. "Go into any inner-city neighborhood,
      and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to
      learn -- they know that parents have to parent, that children can't
      achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the
      television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth
      with a book is acting white," he said.

      Perhaps it is Obama's own complex and complicated biography that adds
      to his appeal. The son of a black African father and a white Kansan
      mother, he talked about how his father was a striver in the mold of a
      take-nothing-for-granted immigrant, and how his mother's family lived
      by the Middle American ethic of hard work and benefited at times from
      government help.

      Obama also was an emblem for the future, for the Democratic Party and
      for an increasingly multiethnic country whose power will only grow.

      There was a nod to the World War II generation -- still a potent
      Democratic bloc -- and homage to non-threatening government programs
      a majority of Americans embrace, such as federally-backed loans for

      He showed he could deliver a well-crafted line, calling the true
      genius of America "a faith in the simple dreams of its people: the
      insistence on small miracles." And that he could stand in one of
      politics' more intense spotlights with a cool, slightly technocratic

      These speeches are never easy, especially in a Democratic Party where
      it is not uncommon to have to devote a paragraph to a laundry list of
      interest groups that provide its support. The words were not burdened
      by that duty, yet Obama touched most of the bases anyway.

      It was a lot to pack into a speech that he said the day before was
      about 2,100 words and would take 15 minutes to deliver.

      Obama had this 15 minutes, to applause spontaneous and contrived. It
      won't be his last.

      But before he gets the next chance, he actually has to win.
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