Obama battles against taboos

Martes, septiembre 9, 2008


In 1960, Norman Mailer covered the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Back then conventions were smoky battles. In this one, junior senator from Massachusetts, John Kennedy, was forced to face last-minute challenges from the Senate Majority Leader, Lyndon Johnson and from the exnominee Adlai Stevenson. Overcoming oposition of the Party elders, Kennedy turned to Johnson and asked him to be his running mate against Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge. From this Mailer wrote “Superman Comes to the Supermarket”.

Kennedy, he wrote, “was unlike any politician who had ever run for President in the history of the land, and if elected he would come to power in a year when America was in danger of drifting into a profound decline.”

The Democratic Convention last week in Denver was not the battle Mailer saw. But the historic moment in Denver was far more profound than it was in Los Angeles 48 years ago. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did battle with taboos of Presidential politics. Obama is the first African-American to capture a major-party nomination; Clinton is the first woman to contend seriously for the Presidency. No banality of cable-news commentary, could eclipse the meaning of their prolonged race, the Party’s reconciliation, and Obama’s eloquence.

The Convention gave hope even with the Bush Administration, arguably the worst in history, still in power, and with the McCain’s poll ratings seeming to rise when he resorts to the tactics of Karl Rove. Obama was careful to keep the mood focussed on better days and not despair.

The success of Obama’s convention in Denver was of a piece of the Obama campaign. No one stepped out of line and there were only a few bombs. The battle with the Clintons was so inflated, that it allowed both Bill and Hillary to repaire their reputation. Edward Kennedy demanded the endurance of the Party by bravely displaying his own. Michelle Obama revealed the charms of her children and delivered a warm, genuine introduction to her husband.

Obama’s delivered his speech outdoors in a large field to “play big” in theatrical terms as well as lay down, for the history evoking the Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The imperative for historical change was Obamas theme in Denver, as it has been since he announced his candidacy.

Eight is enough

Obama did not follow the rhetorical leads of the Presidents he invoked. In Denver, Obama made a reference to a show of the 70s. Yet his homey frase and his rigorous attacks on the Republican shouted were he wants to lead the country: “We are a better country than this.”

Obama has never described himself and his political vision with more clarity. In order to win the votes of the unconvinced, he could not allow “change” to remain a mantra. Obama was surprisingly direct in his assault on McCain and even questioned his opponent’s “temperament and judgment.” His talent is to transform righteous anger into fervor.

For eight years, we’ve had a President who has a faith-based relationship with his own “gut”. Obama has demonstrated evidence of a first-class intelligence and a first-class temperament. That seemed to leave his short experience as a Republican angle of attack. But then John McCain selected as his running mate Sarah Palin, a social conservative who won the Alaska governorship only two years ago, and has zero experience in national politics and world affairs. This reassures the nomination of Joe Biden and the historic achievement of Barack Obama.

(El anterior texto es una adaptación para la web del artículo original Conventional Battle de David Remnick publicado el 8 de setiembre en The New Yorker. Esto es un ejercicio totalmente académico para el curso Periodismo electrónico de la UCR.)


One comment

  1. C/ Práctica A = 4%


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