Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Barack Obama's liberation narrative

While the Super-Duper Tuesday jury is out, the brilliant American political columnist E.J. Dionne jr. assesses Barack Obama’s political narrative. Dionne finds Biblical archetypes in the rhetoric that Obama uses and suggests that his talk of salvation and liberation is precisely what Democrats are yearning for.

"Barack Obama has surged to rough parity with Hillary Clinton in the national polls not because Democrats reject her carefully thought-out solutions to the central public problems but because he has created in the party's rank and file a feeling of liberation -- from intimidation by Republicans, from old divisions, from history itself. "

Then there’s the Obama narrative of how to make change happen.

"The larger difference between Clinton and Obama is in their respective theories of change. Implicit in the Clinton narrative, as she put it on the stump last weekend, is the idea that "making change is hard." Only someone with carefully laid plans and the toughness to go toe-to-toe with the Republicans in the daily and weekly Washington slog can hope to achieve reform.

"Obama agrees to an extent. "I know how hard change is," he says. But he promises to transcend the old fights -- the liberation narrative again -- by building a "bottom-up" movement to create inexorable pressure for reform that would draw in even Republicans.

" "Good intentions are not enough," he said in his
Wilmington speech. They need to be "fortified with political will or political power." Obama marries a softer rhetorical line on Republicans with a more far-reaching and activist analysis of how change happens. He thus manages to go to Clinton's right and left at the same time.

"That's why Obama is on the move in a way that worries Clinton's lieutenants. She promises toughness, competence, clarity and experience in a year when many Democrats are seeking something closer to salvation. "

After all, every good story needs a happy ending.

Dionne concludes:

"One of the politicians who spoke before Obama at the rally, Delaware state Treasurer Jack Markell, cited the New Testament letter to the Hebrews in which Saint Paul spoke of "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It was a revealing moment: While Clinton wages a campaign, Obama is preaching a revival."

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Hillary Clinton's well thought out solutions?

Now /that/ is amusing.

Although, they may be well thought out to attract the Democrat vote... they are not based in reality however.
(not that anyone else has solutions which are based in reality either).

Interesting look at Obama though...