E. J. Dionne, Jr. puts his finger on the stylistic differences between the Clinton and Obama campaigns. A snippet:
The larger difference between Clinton and Obama is in their respective theories of change. Implicit in the Clinton narrative, as she put it on the stump last weekend, is the idea that "making change is hard." Only someone with carefully laid plans and the toughness to go toe-to-toe with the Republicans in the daily and weekly Washington slog can hope to achieve reform.
Obama agrees to an extent. "I know how hard change is," he says. But he promises to transcend the old fights -- the liberation narrative again -- by building a "bottom-up" movement to create inexorable pressure for reform that would draw in even Republicans.
"Good intentions are not enough," he said in his Wilmington speech. They need to be "fortified with political will or political power." Obama marries a softer rhetorical line on Republicans with a more far-reaching and activist analysis of how change happens. He thus manages to go to Clinton’s right and left at the same time.
That’s why Obama is on the move in a way that worries Clinton’s lieutenants. She promises toughness, competence, clarity and experience in a year when many Democrats are seeking something closer to salvation.
One of the politicians who spoke before Obama at the rally, Delaware state Treasurer Jack Markell, cited the New Testament letter to the Hebrews in which Saint Paul spoke of "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It was a revealing moment: While Clinton wages a campaign, Obama is preaching a revival.
Here, for what it’s worth, is the introductory speech Dionne cited in his last paragraph--a fine and "stirring" example of the religion of humanity Obama’s presence incites people to preach.
And here is yet another example of the pseudo-religious sentiment Obama inspires:
To support Obama, we must permit ourselves to feel hope, to acknowledge the possibility that we can aspire as a nation to be more than merely secure or predominant. We must allow ourselves to believe in Obama, not blindly or unquestioningly as we might believe in some demagogue or figurehead but as we believe in the comfort we take in our families, in the pleasure of good company, in the blessings of peace and liberty, in any thing that requires us to put our trust in the best part of ourselves and others. That kind of belief is a revolutionary act. It holds the power, in time, to overturn and repair all the damage that our fear has driven us to inflict on ourselves and the world.
Perhaps the election of Obama would be a good thing, because no one could live up to the worldly messianic hopes people have attached to him (which he’s done nothing to discourage). Boy, what a hangover that would be!