Monday, October 23, 2006

How did I miss this provocative Time cover, for Joe Klein's cover story on the possibility that Barack Obama might run in 2008?

My attention was to drawn to the piece by an AP article today, coverage of Obama's Sunday appearance on Meet the Press.

''Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility'' although not with the seriousness or depth required, he said. ''My main focus right now is in the '06. ... After November 7, I'll sit down, I'll sit down and consider, and if at some point I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me.''
I mentioned Obama in my post last week about the political viability (and problematic nature) of promoting candidates' marketable qualities--character, physical appearance, etc. The Time article isn't incredible, but there are interesting bits about Obama's "strategic" characteristics--his bipartisanship, his cross-racial appeal, his burgeoning cult of personality. Klein's analysis is particularly fascinating when he attempts to unpack the rationale for Obama's intense popularity.

In terms of "Obama as text" (sorry, sorry), I'm talking about Klein's reader-based criticism: analyzing the figure not by his own actions, but by the response. Might B.O be facing the "death of the author" dilemma--is his intention supplanted by its interpretation? Kind of a stretch, but check it:

"He's working a very dangerous high-wire act," Shelby Steele told me. "He's got to keep on pleasing white folks without offending black folks, and vice versa." Indeed, Obama faces a minefield on issues like the racial gerrymandering of congressional districts and affirmative action. "You're asking him to take policy risks? Just being who he is is taking an enormous risk."

2 comments:

stan said...

For another provocative Obama cover story, check out this month's Harper's (you can borrow my copy). I haven't read it yet, but the article ("Barack Obama Inc. - The Birth of a Washigton Machine") is by Ken Silverstein, an interesting journalist who's broken some stories about corruption that the mainstream media has later picked up (without giving him credit). The picture is of a mule wearing a muzzle made out of 100 dollar bills. Weird.

stan said...

For another provocative Obama cover story, check out this month's Harper's (you can borrow my copy). I haven't read it yet, but the article ("Barack Obama Inc. - The Birth of a Washigton Machine") is by Ken Silverstein, an interesting journalist who's broken some stories about corruption that the mainstream media has later picked up (without giving him credit). The picture is of a mule wearing a muzzle made out of 100 dollar bills. Weird.