Why Oprah Gives Obama Political Leeway

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Oprah has rolled out the "Oprah machine" for Barack Obama, the first time ever that she has taken a public stand on who is the best candidate for president. She packed them in at a big Obama rally in Iowa this weekend and then went on to South Carolina and New Hampshire to work her magic there as well.

This Oprah-palooza is a big test for her famous power to bring in women, particularly white women. White women are, of course, the basis of her great success.

She is also, obviously, a black woman and she is also trying to pry black votes from Hillary Clinton. So she is telling her female audience don't buy that solidarity thing and vote for a woman ā€” Hillary ā€” but telling black people do buy the solidarity thing and vote for the black man.

It's tricky, but I predict she'll get away with it, and here's why.

What's amazing to me is the extent to which the Obama and Oprah tour sounds like a tent revival meeting. While Republican candidate Mike Huckabee is being raked over the coals for his faith-based answers to pressing social questions a few years ago, the Oprah-Obama tour is striking some very religious tones and getting away with it because, well, Oprah is flying cover.

It's odd listening to her appearance before church people. She slipped easily into a slower and more sing-songy Southern cadence, and we know when Hillary tried the same thing she got slammed for it. Oprah won't be criticized. She can affect a "Color Purple" voice and get away with it.

However, what I do wonder about is the messianic tone of her introduction to Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama's pointedly religious tone in her own introduction to her husband, and Obama's own faith-based opening lines about giving all praise to God. No question that works in South Carolina, but isn't that the same stuff for which Huckabee is now being roundly criticized?

So why is Obama getting away with the overtly religious pitch these days? Because he's got Oprah for cover, and when she's around, nobody notices anything else but Oprah.

That's My Word.

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