Obama on Roth, and vice versa

May 25, 2008 at 9:56 am (Democratic Party, Democrats, elections, Jim D, literature, Obama, politics, United States)

Unlike my comrade Volty, I do not advocate support for Barak Obama, either for the Democratic Party nomination or for the Presidency itself.

However, I have to agree with Philip Roth’s comments in an interview with Der Spiegel:

“He’s an attractive man, he’s smart, tremendously articulate. And I think it would be tremendously important to American blacks if he became president. It would say something about this country, and be a marvellous thing.”

Roth then goes on to issue a word of warning about the possible downside of recieving his endorsement:

“I don’t know whether it’s going to happen, I rarely vote for anyone who wins. It’s going to be the kiss of death if you write that I’m going to vote for Barak Obama. Then he’s finished!”

Philip Roth, I should add, is one of my favourite writers (even if some of his more recent work hasn’t been quite up to scratch), so his opinion carries a lot of weight with me. Emotionally, I share his opinion of Obama; even so I still wouldn’t advocate a vote for him. But I have to admit that an Obama victory would, indeed, be “tremendously important” -and good- not just for American blacks, but for America as a whole and for the world.

Quite independently, Obama (in an Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg (that for some reason I don’t seem to be able to link to: http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/obama_on_zionism_and_hamas.php ) said:

“I always joke that my intellectual formation was through Jewish scholars and  writers, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Whether it was theologians or Philip Roth who helped shape my sensibility, or some more popular writers like Leon Uris.”

NB: Acknowledgements to yesterday’s Graun for most of the above.

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