Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Heavyweight Undercard

In msnbc.com's "First Read" segment today, there is a report about former President Bill Clinton and talk show queen, Oprah Winfrey, and how they'll be stumping for Senators Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, respectively. The two will be in Iowa today doing their best to convince voters to support their candidate, and each bring a certain measure of star power doused with credibility. Clinton, a former Commander-in-Chief, can communicate like no other pol can, and not reek of hackery like the rest of them. Oprah reaches millions of women daily with her syndicated show, and has a well-round track record of endorsing products people believe she genuinely feels positive towards.

And it will be those same women, among other demographics, that Mr. Clinton will be gunning for. Oprah may have the cultural lock, speaking to them on a daily basis, but he may feel his good track record on women's rights will swing the ladies to the side of his wife. Each person carries considerable weight when it comes to influencing demographic opinions.
Let's not ignore the racial components that come into play. Oprah, despite her massive success and predominantly white audience, still holds considerable sway among Blacks as a woman of integrity and dignity who made it despite being handicapped by what still holds many Black folks behind. Meanwhile, President Clinton has the honor of being considered the first Black President of the U.S., something Obama has yet to address. Being a white man and considered a Black President has to be an elephant in the room for the Obama campaign, and the one person to remind folks that godly communication skills don't negate racial features and achievements is Ms. Winfrey, herself.

Still, there's something quite unauthentic about this Democratic primary, and leave it to the showdown between two of the greatest communicators of their generation to bring that point home. Obama has a message of hope and change, but is cast as an inexperienced politician. The Hill seems to bring a message of competence and also change, yet is cast as a calculating tactician who will do and say almost anything for power. Neither has really shown that they can shake off these labels, whether on the stump or in debates. Each candidate has their moments, but too often are seen exemplifying their caricatures. Getting big names to stump is almost like spraying potpourri in a putrid-smelling room. It may be nice for now, but the source of the problem still persists.


Chris Meehan said...

This is a great post...

women are the key here. hillary has based her campaign on attracting first-time and even traditionally conservative women who want to see one of their own as president. but oprah is such a huge name and influence among women it could really cut into her advantage.

as for race, did you see Jesse jackson's comment that Edwards is the only candidate addressing black issues? pretty interesting for reasons you point to, i thought.

maybe i'll post on it later.

Anonymous said...

What ARE Oprah's reasons for supporting Obama? I find her politics as airbrushed as that picture of her...