Sunday, January 6, 2008
Obama Picks Up Steam-February 1, 2008 (Dejourmagazine.com)
Friday January 4th, 2008, the day after the Iowa caucus, every news channel on television is talking about Barack Obama. Commentators on Fox News are debating whether or not Oprah won the election over the other candidates, Chuck Norris is on screen with Mike Huckabee, and everyone is showering Barack Obama with praise. What his supporters have been waiting for all along is finally happening, people are starting to believe in Barack Obama.
He's been there all along, nipping at the heels of Hillary Clinton, narrowly edging Jon Edwards and the rest of the democratic field, but in the weeks approaching the nation's first primary, he caught fire. His relentlessly hopeful message of "change" resonated with the people of Iowa, something the whole country eagerly awaits.
The Democratic Party has been waiting for a candidate like Barack Obama and so has the media. Ever since his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention as a newly elected senator from Illinois, his name was connected to this election. After John Kerry and Al Gore, the democrats felt the same "urgency of now" Martin Luther King channelled into Barack Obama and decided they couldn't trot out another boring, bland candidate even though Obama was short on experience. Doubters cared less about experience every day Obama's camp preached their idealist message, and Iowa bought it hook line and sinker.
On the news hour with Jim Lehr, the sound cut out during a round table discussion, and the producers cut to Barack Obama's victory speech. He talked about kids, senior citizens, and republicans who have all taken a new interest in politics because of him. His powerful, passionate, eloquent delivery stood in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton's distressed, worried, nagging voice trying to fend off the effects of a crushing defeat, and Jon Edwards' glowing ebullience after finishing second.
Obama's timing couldn't have been better. The media went from doubting him and questioning his experience to praising him lavishly. Now Obama is taking the lead in New Hampshire, and America is inching closer and closer to its first African-American President. With every poll that shows his lead is growing, to every talking head gushing over him, Obama picks up more and more steam. All he needs to do now is not screw it up.
The media would be more than happy to rain on his parade much of the same way they pounced on Howard Dean's mishap in 2004. Every channel on television might be singing his praises for the next two weeks, but the nomination is far from his. Any number of things could happen to derail his hopes, but Obama doesn't appear to be worried. It's almost as if he's been expecting it all along. His genuine, calm, level-headed, self-posessed demeanor hasn't wavered, and it doesn't look like it will be tested anytime soon.