Friday, June 15, 2007

The Economist on Obama in Reno

The Economist has been profiling the major presidential candidates in recent weeks. This week, it's Obama's turn. As it happens, an Economist reporter was at his first event in Reno. You'll find a couple of paragraphs which include Reno references below. Read the whole profile here.

LIKE a movie star, he is late, but that only whets his fans' appetite to see him. Thousands stand under the vicious mid-day sun in a park in Reno, Nevada. No other presidential candidate could pull such a large, passionate or politically diverse crowd. Reggie Willis, a medical student, voted for George Bush in 2004 but now says Barack Obama is “the guy America is waiting for”. Eileen Larsen, from California, thinks he is “one of the best I've seen”, but worries that her vote will make no difference because Mr Bush is planning a coup.

Mr Obama eventually moseys onto the stage and starts massaging the crowd with his seductive baritone. The current philosophy in Washington, he says, is that “if you are a child that didn't have the wisdom to choose the right parents”—he pauses—“you're on your own.” Everyone cheers. He calls for a new, less selfish, less timid politics that “reflects the core decency of the American people”. The crowd is too wound up in loving him to wonder what, in practice, that might actually involve.

Of all those running for president, Mr Obama is by far the best orator. People feel that he is addressing them individually. Michelle, a fan in Reno who works with the mentally ill, says she posted a suggestion on his website urging steps to make it harder for crazy people to buy guns. Later, to her delight, Mr Obama made precisely that suggestion. Michelle thinks she prompted him. Others suspect that the distinction belongs to the crazy gunman who murdered 32 people in Virginia that week.


It probably helps that he is black (or, at least, mixed-race). A generation ago, this would have been a fatal disadvantage. But now many white Americans have what Mr Obama calls a “hunger for any optimistic sign from the racial front”. Many would love to elect a black president, to demonstrate to the world and themselves that they are not bigots. Other things being equal, Mr Obama's blackness “might tip the scales,” says Lisa Rabinowitz, a white social worker in Reno. “It's time. So far it's been all upper-class white males.”

The profile's very long and interesting, depicting, from the Economist's view, the pros and cons of Obama's ability to lead and win. You can read it in its entirety here.


Do you live in Nevada and are a supporter of Barack Obama? Then join the Nevada for Barack Obama group at the Democratic Party's PartyBuilder social networking site.

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