Monday, December 11, 2006

Obamamania Crosses the Atlantic

OMG, I looked at The Guardian this evening, and guess who I found on the front page?

"Race is still a powerful force in this country, and there are certain stereotypes I will have to deal with. But I find that when people get to know you they will judge you on your merits."

Yes, that is Barack Obama speaking!

My goodness, when Senator Obama goes to New Hampshire, even The Guardian feels obligated to do a story... I guess he's become that much of a celebrity! No, but really, The London paper offers its usual terrific insight into this story.

There's just something about Obama that sets him apart from the other Dem hopefuls. There's something about Obama that amazes us. Is it his biographical story? Is it the fact that he's an extraordinarily successful African-American politician? Is it the way that he reconciles his politics with his faith? Is it his relative youth? Is it his knack for public speaking? Perhaps can it be a combination of all of the above?

When the governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, introduced his guest of honour at a rally to celebrate the state's Democratic routing of the Republicans in the recent midterm elections, he shared with the large, boisterous crowd a secret.
"We originally scheduled the Rolling Stones," he said, "but we cancelled them when we realised Senator Obama would sell more tickets."

He was rewarded with an outbreak of ecstatic whooping. But behind his joke there was a truth. Barack Obama had indeed sold the tickets - the ballroom of the Radisson hotel in Manchester was packed, its 1,500 tickets sold out.

Even seasoned observers of New Hampshire politics were rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The state is the stomping ground of would-be American presidents: every four years it is the first to hold primary elections for the presidential candidates of both main parties - 2008 will be no exception - and as such carries an influence far greater than its diminutive size. Its residents have grown blasé about being ritually courted by national political figures.
But this was different. There was nothing blasé about Sunday night's reception for the Senator from Illinois. When Mr Lynch suggested that Mr Obama might run, someone shouted "Run Obama! Run!" and the crowd erupted again.

No matter where he goes, Obama causes a stir. Personally, I still haven't decided on whether I will support him in the primary. However, I am still amazed by all the buzz that he is creating... Who knew that one Junior Senator from Illinois could become such a shining star?

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