Obama Elected First Black President!

18 05 2008

Snook already blogged our politicians writing books about themselves, as power of story about power of story. Here and here for example.
Today’s New York Times adds even more power of story to Obama’s power of story-telling:

Mr. Obama’s story first surfaced publicly in February 1990, when he was elected as the first black president — of The Harvard Law Review.

. . .Written at a time when Mr. Obama says he was thinking less about a career in politics than about simply writing a good book, it leaves an impression of candidness and authenticity that gives it much of its power. . .“The book is so literary,” said Arnold Rampersad, a professor of English at Stanford University who teaches autobiography . . .“It is so full of clever tricks — inventions for literary effect — that I was taken aback, even astonished. But make no mistake, these are simply the tricks that art trades in, and out of these tricks is supposed to come our realization of truth.”

More here about Harvard Democrats like Obama and religion as power of story:

The great strength of the liberal ideal has been its capacity to encompass modern ambiguities by, to borrow Isaiah Berlin’s phrase, shifting foot to foot…. Acknowledging distance between God and humanity is not a denial of values or a cowardice about faith. Hesitation to say, “This is the truth, we have received it from Amos,” is not a failure of nerve; it is hard-won wisdom. This shifting from foot to foot has been the virtue of liberalism, and the left should be wary of abandoning it for conservative-style conviction.

WaPo’s David Broder channeling Shelby Steele last fall, described Obama’s story power as “iconic Negro” a la Sidney Poitier:

. . .a focus group of liberal, middle-aged and elderly , , , female voters, when shown a videotape of Obama speaking in his 2004 Senate campaign. Asked whom Obama reminded them of, the answer was “Sidney Poitier.”

(Yes! I vaguely sensed that Barack Obama reminded me of some appealing classic “teacher” movie role from my own childhood story, now I remember — Poitier and his shy grin peeling an orange for lunch in “To Sir With Love”)

Finally, iconic pictures have such power of story that one really can be worth thousands of words, thus thousands of votes.

Take this one for example, via Liza’s Culture Kitchen:

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7 responses

18 05 2008
JJ

From Joe Klein’s TIME cover story, about the power in Obama’s new story for media stories like his:

In the end, Obama’s challenge to the media is as significant as his challenge to McCain. All the evidence — and especially the selection of these two apparent nominees — suggests the public not only is taking this election very seriously but is also extremely concerned about the state of the nation and tired of politics as usual.

I suspect the public is also tired of media as usual, tired of journalists who put showmanship over substance … as I found myself doing in the days before the May 6 primaries. . .

Politics will always be propelled by grease, hot air and showmanship, but in the astonishing prosperity of the late 20th century, we allowed our public life to drift toward too much show biz, too little substance.

Yes, the low-information signals — the bowling and tamale-eating — are crucial; politicians have to show that they are in touch with the lives of average folks. But a balance needs to be struck between carnival populism and the higher demands of democracy, and as a nation, we haven’t been very good lately with the serious part of the program.

As a result, there is a festering sense — I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve traveled this year — that the country is in “the ditch,” as Clinton said. A general-election campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama doesn’t need any hype. It won’t be boring. The question is whether we, politicians and press alike, will grant this election — and electorate — the respect that it deserves.

19 05 2008
Dawn

I used to be a political junkie but left it behind when my political party got merged witha much more conservative one a few years back (sad day in Canadian politics). But damn, every time I see Obama speak the remote goes down and I’m glued to the TV. You guys have a complete and total gem in that man and you guys SOOOO need to have him as president.

19 05 2008
JJ

Hey Dawn, thanks for the sentiment and I agree — not because he’s a good Democrat but in spite of that! 🙂

I left politics and especially education politics a long time ago myself. Party, religion, race and sex all are really, truly irrelevant to me, shallow and unworthy (often scary!) reasons for anyone’s political principles and passing proclivities. Probably I’m one of the well-educated independent feminists the talking heads talk about —

Keenan herself is a somewhat unusual figure in the broader women’s and abortion rights community. A Catholic from Montana, she delivered an unorthodox speech on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

Talking openly about her experience as a pro-choice Catholic, Keenan also called on her pro-choice compatriots to recognize their own missteps in confronting the abortion issue.

“As positions on both sides of this debate have hardened the past three decades, they have also grown more distant from the lives of everyday people,” she told the audience [italics hers]. “The slogans and bumper stickers that paint this issue in black and white no longer touch the profound complexity most people feel on the issue of abortion.”

20 05 2008
JJ

COD found another iconic photograph. I think Daryl’s right, that this is shaping up to be a once-in-a-lifetime election.

20 05 2008
Nance Confer

It’ll be nice to have good-looking people back in the White House. It’s kind of startling but such an important reminder that this is about the next generation, not the last one.

Nance

21 05 2008
JJ

One of the cable channels today showed Mrs. John McCain’s spread in Vogue, barefoot in blue jeans, alone. Said she was trying to show the image of being “of the people” because she’s so rich and blonde and won’t release her tax return, which is all people know so far. Then to contrast that, they showed Mrs. Barack Obama in some similar mag shoot, in the classic little black dress, and pearls, and said she was showing the image of “Camelot with a tan.” Thought it was an apt quip but I didn’t get who quipped it. . . .

10 06 2008
What Can Homeschooling Learn from Our Present Political Stories? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] is the time, I think, for independently studying each candidate’s true-life story and coming to understand it within the context of ou…, not for collecting and comparing poll-driven, staff-written, dueling-demographic […]

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