This weekend, the mood inside a Pleasantville, Iowa coffee shop was decidedly warmer than the frigid temperatures just outside. Barack Obama (a press entourage in tow) had stopped by to rub elbows with potential voters. Given his strengthening poll numbers of recent weeks, the candidate had reason to feel good about his prospects for winning the first two electoral contests, Iowa and New Hampshire, and he worked the room with what has been described as a newly-found authority. As CNN
describes it, Obama joined four women in their booth and was promptly asked how his "Muslim background" would influence decisions should he become president.
No, Obama didn't choke on a bite of pumpkin pie, or spit his hot tea out all over the Christmas sweaters of the good ladies of Pleasantville. Instead, he seemed happy to have an opportunity to set the record straight.
"This is something that keeps on being misreported, so I'm glad you asked me," Obama, who is Christian, said.
He told them his father had lived in a Muslim-dominated village in Kenya, but "didn't practice Islam."
"The truth is, he wasn't very religious," said Obama. "He met my mother. My Mother was a Christian from Kansas, and they married, and then divorced. I was raised by my mother. So I've always been a Christian."
Such is Obama's burden. To counter the misinformation campaign that has swept the country via e-mail
, erroneous television
and newspaper reports, and even from the surrogates
of his rivals, Obama has had to listen and respond to the Muslim rumor one voter at a time. As far as symbolic value goes, sharing a booth at a diner is as good a place as you'd want to set the record straight.
Tagged: Barack Obama
, president 2008