Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama is not the "Hang in There" Kitten

I might have serious issues with the cover, but Ryan Lizza's piece in the New Yorker is quite good. I do have one issue with the story. Lizza seems to weave of theme throughout his piece of Obama as a calculating, sometimes cocky, ambitious pol. I don't get why this is news to anyone. Were we of the mistaken impression that the kitten from the "hang in there" poster was running as the Democratic nominee. What I personally like about Obama is that his penchant for cultural frame switching. Here's a passage that best charachterizes Obama's principal strength as I see it:

Chicago is still a city of villages, and Obama was adept at gliding back and forth between the South Side, where he campaigned for votes, and the wealthy Gold Coast, the lakefront neighborhood of high-rise condominiums and deluxe shopping, where he raised money.

This adaptability, I think, makes for a better overall learner. I'd like in a leader of the free world the ability to process vast amounts of information and adapt to changing circumstances. I don't know if anyone's ever tested this, but persons of a multicultural background, might have an edge in this regard because they are less bound to one set of cultural stereotypes. Their borderland status might encourage an affinity for and desire to connect with more than oune cultural group. Here's Lizza discussing his early efforts to connect with Black audiences.

Obama, who hadn’t shown any particular gift for oratory in the race, now learned to shed his stiff approach to campaigning—described by Preckwinkle as that of an “arrogant academic.” Mikva told me, “The first time I heard him talk to a black church, he was very professorial, more so even than he was in the white community. There was no joking, no self-deprecation, no style. It didn’t go over well at all.”

Personally, I think this is what excites many of the latte-sippers, of which I county myself proudly. We might be poised to elect our first multicultural president. it will test a lot of views that people have about the benefits of being cross-cultural in terms of policy outcomes. Time will tell.


Rush said...

i agree with you on this one Jose.I think firstly Obama as a person of mixed race has a broad perspective and he knows how to deal with both sides.Thats always been the case for me being south african but also being of mixed decent,i had to constantly change how i handle people of differant cultures and races cos people are very subjective to who THEY are

Jose Marichal said...

Being mixed-race or bi-cultural is a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing because you can interact with various groups but a curse in that it's difficult to feel "at home" in any one place. I feel that as a person of Hispanic descent in the United States