Sen. Barack Obama called into sports radio 610 WIP this morning, charming the usually rambuctious morning talk show hosts and winning their endorsements.
"People are really swept up [by this candidate]," said host Al Morganti. "It's almost like teenaged girls at a concert. It's goofy"
Before Obama's interview even began at 8 a.m., jocks Angelo Cataldi and Morganti greeted the Democratic presidential hopeful with a scatted, and offkey, rendition of "Hail to the Chief."
Obama's five-minute appearance didn't even touch on sports. The hosts, both entralled by the candidate's charisma, addressed him as if he were a rock star. It was more love fest than Meet The Press. ...
They zeroed in on comments he made about his white grandmother and her racial phobias.
"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity," he said. "But she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know. . .there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away and it comes out in the wrong way."
"What makes me optimistic is that every generation is feeling less like that," Obama said.
Swept up by Obama's words, the hosts bid him goodbye. ...
"If there's anything we can do to help you carry Pennsylvania, let us know," said one jock.
Said Obama: "Maybe I can stop by the studio some time." "Could you stop by after you're President?" one responded.
Ben says appearances like this give Obama a useful pipeline to white working-class voters. I agree. It actually reminds me of a half-cocked theory I've been toying with, which is that younger, edgier sports chatter--most prominently on ESPN, but also on talk-radio stations across the country--seems to be injecting elements of African-American culture into white working-class minds, and in a pretty favorable light. (Who doesn't love Stuart Scott?) I'm guessing it's among the long-term trends that help Obama, if only at the margins.
Update: A friend e-mails:
There might be a small impact around the edges. But I'd guess that
whatever amount of African-American culture is seeping into the white
working class through sports talk is overwhelmed the African-American
culture seeping in through, say, sneaker commercials. Not to mention
hip-hop music, music videos, etc., etc.
Just my opinion, but sports talk—especially sports talk radio—is still
pretty monochromatic (Al Morganti and Angelo Cataldi are both white.)
P.S. You're onto something if you say that sports more generally is a
very smart way for Obama to court the white working class. He tried
it in Texas when he hung around with Mack Brown and the Texas
Longhorns. It's not something Hillary can credibly do, and if there's
any part of society where working-class whites are used to making
common cause with African-Americans…
For what it's worth, I was thinking of both black and white sports chatterers (so long as they're young-ish and edgy), both of whom have nudged along the acculturation process. But the point is well taken...