Sunday, February 24, 2008

Baracka Obama, Every Woman?

Daily Mail

IF YOU LISTEN to the Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman, well, then yes:

On Tuesday, I got a sarcastic e-mail from a Hillary supporter. She forwarded a crack made by Howard Wolfson, Clinton's media man, about Obama. "Senator Clinton," he scoffed, "is not running on the strength of her rhetoric." To which my friend added: "Unfortunately."

By evening, the Wisconsin blowout was serious enough that the posters in last-chance Ohio read: "We've Got Your Back Hillary." Clinton's speech sounded ominously shopworn: "One of us is ready to be commander in chief . . . One of us has faced serious Republican opposition in the past."

These are disheartening days for Hillary supporters. Not just because of the string of losses but because of the kind of loss.

This was nothing if not a careful campaign. Neither the strategists nor the candidate had illusions about the hurdles that would face the first woman president in American history. They knew women have to prove and prove again their toughness. They knew women have to prove and prove again their experience.

They began as well by framing Clinton as the establishment candidate. But then the establishment became "the status quo" and the historic candidacy became "old politics." She even got demerits for experience.

Something else happened along the way. If Hillary Clinton was the tough guy in the race, Barack Obama became the Oprah candidate. He was the quality circle man, the uniter-not-divider, the person who believes we can talk to anyone, even our enemies. He finely honed a language usually associated with women's voices.

I found this editorial only after I penned my recent rant and it puts some of my feelings about Senator Clinton in perspective.

And so does Derrick Z. Jackson:

It was not just Hillary Clinton's welling up in New Hampshire, and Bill Clinton's racial put-down of Obama in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton has displayed a periodic reliance on white women as her safety net in town halls, saying things like "being the first woman president is a very big change."

That would be no big thing, except that the nation's demographics and racial history dictate that Obama dare not employ a parallel tactic by saying "being the first black president is a very big change." Obama has automatically had to run as a more universal representative of the people, with one fruit being his current 10-state streak.

When I toured the country presenting my solo performance art, I often wondered why women seemed to connect with me more than any other demographic. My work was intensely personal, relentlessly spiritual. But no matter where I performed, from Seattle to Atlanta, Providence to San Francisco, no matter who came to see my work, it was women who approached me and shared some of their most vulnerable moments with me.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the middle of middle America, I came to believe I was in the incest capitol of the nation. At the artist reception after my show, woman after woman told me about the uncle or the father or the older cousin or the brother who had stolen their innocence in a way no innocence should be stolen.

I stood speechless.

I've always embraced my female energy. The voice of my creativity is female. Literally. When I write, the voice I hear is that of an elderly woman. Before I found her, my birth mother came to me as one of my theatrical alter egos, a wise Black woman who would counsel your soul while weaving your hair.

I'm certainly not trying to suggest that I'm Barack Obama but I connect with him in a way that makes me feel as though I am. I sense that many of the women who told me their secrets connected with me in much the same way.

That is divinity. We are all divine and when we connect with one another so much so that we become one another, we experience our shared divinity.

It's no wonder why some have taken to calling Senator Obama "The One" while others express outright disgust at the religious fervor some of his supporters convey. Shared divinity will do that to you. That's why it's called inspiration.

Sometimes I wonder if Senator Clinton exists in some kind of no-space as she relates to Senator Obama. She has to be inspired by him doesn't she? Or is she as cold and rigid as people think? In the Austin debate, there was a moment where she laughed like I've never seen her laugh and it came after Obama masterfully countered her own rhetoric that he isn't real.

She's going to fight to the bitter end because that's how she gets down. But I'm convinced she has to see who he is even if she doesn't want to accept it. And even if she doesn't scores of women certainly do proving once and for all that words do indeed matter.

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