Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Obama Roused The Crowd In Carolina

A lot has been blogged about Obama's speaking style, or lack thereof. Critics take note: He appears to be firing them up with cadence, words and message -- if not substance -- moving out of Springfield's campaign launch and picking up steam.

John Dickerson tells the story of Obama's recent South Carolina visit in Slate:
Obama was regularly interrupted by cheers and applause, but he delivered the evening's rhetorical high point when he responded to a local politician. Earlier in the week, African-American state Sen. Robert Ford announced he was backing Hillary Clinton.

"Everybody else on the ballot is doomed," Ford said, explaining what would happen if Obama were nominated. "Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he's black and he's at the top of the ticket—we'd lose the House, the Senate, and the governors and everything."

Ford's endorsement, along with that of another prominent African-American official, was timed to steal a little of Obama's thunder and presumably contribute to another round of stories about whether he could appeal to black voters. Instead, it was a gift.

"I've been reading the papers in South Carolina," Obama said before using a preacher's cadence to paraphrase Ford's remarks. "Can't have a black man at the top of the ticket." The crowd booed. "But I know this: that when folks were saying, We're going to march for our freedom, they said, You can't do that." The audience roared. "When somebody said, You can't sit at the lunch counter. … You can't do that. We did. And when somebody said, Women belong in the kitchen not in the board room. You can't do that. Yes we can."

(At this point I can't reconstruct the remarks from my tape recorder because the screaming was too loud.) The crowd responded by chanting: "Yes, we can."
Again, the speech lacked substance. It wasn't a "We shall never give up, never" moment rhetorically, either. But it sufficed before one crowd in South Carolina -- a mixed crowd in the American South that was on its feet, cheering this candidate.

Who else among the Dem candidates can do that? Not a one.

There's a lot to dissect in his style and substance, but do we dissect too much? Isn't it more productive to look at the ranks of GOP contenders and start praying that their campaign staffs are setting aside their Hillary strategies for the moment and working full-time on their Obama plans?

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

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