Barack Has To Talk Much About His Mother
This is a great move. This humanizes the candidate. Obama campaign staffers and volunteers might not realize this, but most of America does not know Barack Obama. A few months into 1992, most Americans thought Bill Clinton had a rich father. They confused him with Jack Kennedy in more ways than one.
I would not be surprised if many voters start out by confusing Obama with Jesse Jackson. They might not realize he is biracial. They might think he is from the South.
Most of America does not know the basic facts about Barack Obama's life. That just is the fact the campaign has to deal with. That does not have to be our end point, but that is the starting point, we like it or not.
The American people have got to know you as a person before they will vote for you.
After Howard Dean's I Have A Scream speech in Iowa, his wife was out on television saying how Howard Dean simply never, never gets angry. She did not remember the last time he got angry. That was the truth about Howard Dean. But to this day a large chunk of America thinks Howard Dean is some crazed guy, if not wholly, then partly, if not all the time, then part of the time.
They might not be able to demonize you, but curious things can work against you. You can end up looking too bookish and smart. The guy went to Harvard, after all. That is not necessarily a good thing in everyone's book. He went to Harvard, and he taught at Chicago. That can be a double negative.
Why is Hillary beating Obama in the lower income brackets? You got to think. His Columbia, Harvard, Chicago stuff - glad that we are that they are there - has to be balanced out with Indonesia and the South Side.
Life story and policy have to go hand in hand.
Barack Obama can better tackle the war on terror because he has spent some years of childhood in Indonesia. Anti-terror policy is good, but spicing it up with his life story makes it more palatable.
Frankly it is also about race. Barack's mother was white. He is biracial. He can not be anything else. He can not be only white, or only black. The reason I know my first language so well is because that is what I grew up around. Similarly Barack grew up around his white mother and white grandparents. His biologically defining experiences have been white.
The politics of race is there. And Barack transcends that with his political style.
Barack's mother has to be talked about not because she is white, but because she is the mother Barack knew. That mother impressioned him more than anyone else. And that story has to be told.
In telling the story of that mother, you make the candidate come alive.
Stories have to be told. Stories from Barack's life. But also other stories. Like the story from South Carolina of "Fired Up!" and "Ready To Go!" The people need narratives to better understand the policy.
The weaving of story with policy has to be constant.
You tell stories, you talk policy. The two go together.
In The News
Obama uses mom's image in new ad Chicago Tribune Debuting his second new television ad in Iowa this week, Sen. Barack Obama is using an image of his deceased mother to try to make the case that he is the best qualified to bring change to the way the nation delivers health care. Called "Mother," the 30-second ad briefly shows a picture of Stanley Ann Dunham, who died at 53 of ovarian cancer in 1995. In her arms is a young Obama. Scheduled to start Friday, the ad arrives during a week in which Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has received extensive coverage for unveiling her health-care proposal. "To fix health care, we have to fix Washington," Obama says in the ad, after explaining that his mother spent her final months "more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well." It's an anecdote Obama had been recently field-testing on the campaign trail. "She wasn't thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality," he said in Santa Barbara, Calif. "She had been diagnosed just as she was transitioning between jobs. And she wasn't sure whether insurance was going to cover the medical expenses because they might consider this a pre-existing condition. I remember just being heartbroken, seeing her struggle through the paperwork and the medical bills and the insurance forms. So, I have seen what it's like when somebody you love is suffering because of a broken health-care system. And it's wrong. It's not who we are as a people." In the ad, Obama promises a health-care plan that will "cover everyone."
Obama Cites Mother's Illness in New Ad
Obama's mother in new ad Baltimore Sun, United States