ObamaMedia: Is Obama now the frontrunner?

Have we come to a tipping point this week, in which Obama is now the frontrunner? Newsweek’s Howard Fineman (via Mark Kleiman) thinks so:

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is teetering on the brink, no matter what the meaningless national horserace numbers say. The notion that she has a post-Iowa “firewall” in New Hampshire is a fantasy, and she is in danger of losing all four early contests, including Nevada and South Carolina – probably to Sen. Barack Obama, who is now, in momentum terms, the Democratic frontrunner.…If he can win Iowa – and it remains a big if – Hillary’s campaign could collapse. New Hampshire would almost surely go his way.

[Update: Chris Cillizza thinks so, too— he elevates Obama into co-frontrunner status in his Line.]

Adding to the Obama-entum, the Wall Street Journal reports tonight that Black voters in South Carolina are beginning to break for the Chicagoan in part on the basis of his ability to draw white support:

A big factor behind the rise in black support for Mr. Obama in South Carolina appears to be his popularity among white voters, though he is also expanding his outreach to black voters, and many of his views, especially his opposition to the Iraq war and support of social programs, resonate strongly with them.

“I see how [Obama’s] charisma is among other races,” says Ed Robinson, owner of Posh soul-food restaurant in downtown Florence, S.C. “He has been able to attract people from all races.”

Meanwhile, Matt Bai drops some love in Obama’s Moment in Rolling Stone today:

this is the moment that Barack Hussein Obama was born for, and it really is happening before our very eyes. Like Kennedy or Reagan or even Bill Clinton [ed.: ??], Obama is a politician whose best chance for success has always been on the level of myth and hero worship; to win the Democratic nomination, he must successfully sell himself not just as a candidate but as an icon, a symbol of the best possible future for twenty-first-century multicultural America and an antidote to both the callous reactionary idiocy of the Bush administration and the shrewd but soulless corporatism of the Clinton machine.

With just weeks to go before Iowa, Obama is succeeding at that sales job, thanks in part to an unexpected avalanche of positive press and in even greater part to Hillary Clinton’s recent performance as a creaky, suddenly vulnerable establishment villain….[T]he Powers That Be may find that they waited too long to get the real show started — that the long wait gave America just enough time to decide that it’s ready to move on to something new.

For most of this campaign season, I doubted that Obama really was that new something. Now I’m not so sure he isn’t….[There is a] whiff of destiny that lately seems to surround Obama. At the outset of the campaign season, he was treated as a not-ready-for-prime-time sideshow, with media pundits all in one voice bitching about his “rookie mistakes” and “lack of aggressiveness.” But now that he’s got the numbers and the momentum, even the most hardened political cynic has to ask — why not this guy?…The very fact that the public, mostly on its own, has lifted Obama past an arrogant establishment consensus adds to his appeal as a symbol of the idea that not everything in our politics is rigged, that not everything that they tell us is impossible really is. So maybe it’s OK to let the grandiose things that an Obama presidency could represent overwhelm the less-stirring reality — i.e., Obama as more or less a typical middle-of-the-road Democrat with a lot of money and a well-run campaign. Maybe it’s OK because it’s not always about the candidates; sometimes it’s about us, what we want and what we want to believe. And if Barack Obama can carry that burden for us, why not let him? Seriously, why not? The happy ending doesn’t always have to ring false.

The Washington Post turns to Obama for the latest in its “The Front-runners” series. The story focuses on Obama’s father-less childhood and includes a (as far as I can tell newly revealed) touching photo of 10 Year-old Barry apparently saying good-bye to his father, for the last time, at the airport. An accompanying Post piece credits Team Obama’s surge to his address at last month’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa. I doubt it had any real world effects, but I’m struck by the fact that the Obama wave coincided with Andrew Sullivan’s Goodbye to All That, his artful paean in this month’s Atlantic Monthly.

For what it’s worth, here’s the takeaway moment from today’s Iowa debate, wherein both Obama and Clinton come off well; followed by Chris Rock’s introduction of Obama last month at the Apollo– replete with some Jackie Wilson.


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