If Indiana is a toss-up between the two contenders for the nomination to the Democratic Party, then Sen. Obama's appearance on Meet The Press on Sunday should give him the much needed boost he needs to narrow the gap in the primary. In a rather confident and forthright manner, Sen. Obama addressed the controversy surrounding his former pastor, then moved on to discuss more pressing issues at hand -- the gas tax, the economy, and relations with Iran.
About ten days ago, my undergrad alumni association hosted a reception and dinner at the National Press Club, which also happens to be celebrating its centennial this year. Given that it was my first visit to the National Press Club, I wandered the halls with a certain degree of awe and amazement. The journalist's creed greeted me as I got off the elevator; portraits of Nelson Mandela, Stokely Carmichael, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, among others, hung on the wall; and various plaques and awards graced the hallways.
A mere forty-eight hours later, an event of a different nature was taking place at the National Press Club. At 8:30 a.m. last Monday, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright held a press conference and delivered a speech about the history, traditions and theology of the African-American church in America. In the question-and-answer session that ensued, Rev. Wright said the controversy over him was an attack on the black church, then asserted that Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, was "one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century."
On Meet The Press this past Sunday, Sen. Obama was correct when he declared the Wright debacle an unwelcome distraction which only served to divert attention away from issues voters deems important -- such as the economy and rising gas prices. (Having distanced himself from Rev. Wright's 'words" but not Rev. Wright 'the man' in his speech on race last month, Sen. Obama effectively denounced his former pastor last Tuesday following the press conference). According to Sen. Obama, at the press conference last Monday, Rev. Wright's tone and attitude "poured gasoline on the fire".
But it was Sen. Obama's tone, attitude and the substance of his responses to Tim Russert's questions which can serve to give voters the requisite reassurance that he possesses the wherewithal to surmount this challenge and bring his campaign back on track, at a time when some pundits have judged it derailed. Sen. Obama appeared not only poised but self-assured; constantly reminding the host that he is confident he will be the nominee.
Sen. Obama addressed challenges to his patriotism (he referred to the United States as a 'beacon of good'); strategy for connecting with white college voters without college degrees (it is important for American people to understand his story and how it relates to them); his position on the 'gas tax'; and his approach to relations with Iran (he proposes to engage in 'direct talks' with Iran and move away from the 'cowboy diplomacy' we saw under George Bush). Moreover, Sen. Obama maintains his delegate momentum. Just last week, former Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrew switched allegiance from Sen. Hillary Clinton and became an Obama backer.
As we tally the votes in Indiana, it is only a matter of time before we learn who wins the toss up.