Today's Blogs

The Oprah Card

Oprah Winfrey will hit the campaign trail for Barack Obama, an English teacher in the Sudan might get 40 lashes for naming a teddy bear Mohammed, and football player Sean Taylor dies. Bloggers respond.

The Oprah card: Talk show host extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey endorsed Barack Obama in May, and starting Dec. 8 she’ll lend her star power on the campaign trail. She’ll visit Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to help the Democratic underdog beat Hillary Clinton in the early primaries.

“Can [Oprah] do for Barry what she did for Leo Tolstoy?” asksJezebel. Possibly: “Both women and black people said they’d be more likely to vote for her, because she is both black, and a woman. Oh, and also, she is Midwestern, and the Iowa caucuses are Midwestern.” (Weirdly, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson makes the same Tolstoy comparison.)

Call her a uniter, because Oprah’s move has righties and lefties agreeing on something. Erick from Red State thinks Clinton had better watch out: “American housewives the world over listen to every word The Oprah says and seize upon every recommendation made by The Oprah. That wavering mass of undecided American housewives that Mark Penn tells us will vote for Hillary because she’s a woman would sooner vote for The Oprah’s chosen than Bill’s wife.” And at Daily Kos, Tekel agrees: “Oprah took an idiot pop-psych charlatain, put him on her show a couple of times, and turned Dr. Phil into a household name. Her endorsement has the potential to give Barak Obama the same exponential growth in popularity, and she absolutely has enough time to exert a major influence on the election. … I firmly believe that Oprah’s endorsement will seal the nomination for Obama.”

Or not. “It’s one thing to take her advice for which book is going to sit on our nightstands or which shows she thinks will hit with American audiences,” writes Joanne Bamberger at Huffington Post, waxing skeptical. “But I have a feeling politics may be taking Oprah’s fiefdom a bit too far. This one has ‘backfire’ written all over it.” And the NPR News Blog notes: “A Gallup poll in late October showed that 81 percent of those surveyed said Winfrey’s endorsement of Obama doesn’t move them at all.”

Brett from No More Incumbents Blog goes out on a limb: He thinks Oprah on the stump is an “implied vice Presidential statement” and suggests that, together, the pair could take the presidency: “Oprah does have some baggage and lacks experience, but she definitely has goodwill, money and power.”

So what’ll Hillary do? At Tales from the Trail: 2008, Jeremy Pelofsky reports: “Stepping up her game in Iowa, she is sending her popular husband, former President Bill Clinton, to three events around the state on Tuesday.”

Read more about Oprah and Obama. Read what Slate’s “XX Factor” has to say.

What’s in a name? As part of a lesson on animal habitats, a British teacher asked her class of 7-year-olds at the Unity High School in Khartoum, Sudan, to name a teddy bear. The kids chose “Mohammed.” Cute, right? Not for the teacher: She’s facing a blasphemy charge and 40 lashes in a Sudanese jail, though the latest reports indicate she could be released soon.

Nice Deb quips: “I think this is what we call a ‘clash of civilizations.’ ” She links to Ace of Spades, who headlines his post: “Teddy Bear Named ‘Muhammad’ In Sudan; Murder, Chaos Scheduled For Later This Month.”And Dr. Rusty Shackleford of the Jawa Report thinks “it’s just sad and depressing.”

“Of course, I’m opposed to whipping as a punishment,” saysAnn Althouse, “but it seems to me that if you go to a foreign country to teach people’s children, you have a responsibility to learn the deep beliefs of the culture you’ve entered and to adapt to it. Think of a foreign teacher coming to the United States to teach in our public schools. We would expect her to refrain from leading the students in a prayer, and she would be sanctioned if she didn’t comply. People in other countries might think, what is wrong with these Americans? All the teacher did was say a harmless, voluntary nonsectarian prayer.”

Michelle Malkin, on the other hand, is having none of it: “If it isn’t cartoons or Western fast-food joints or Valentine’s day cards or beauty pageants or books or speeches or Playboy magazines or soccer balls that have the Religion of Perpetual Outrage up in arms, it’s something else. It’s always something. You can never assuage the unassuageable. You can never anticipate what pretext they’ll use next to claim ‘insult’ and demand submission.”

Newbie blogger Fretless Fascination throws a curve ball. He thinks the Sudanese authorities were more upset about the teacher letting the kids vote than about the name itself: “Islam is a religion of submission. Women are subjected to men, children to their mothers. All subject themselves to the will of their religious leaders. … And submissive people don’t vote.”

Read more about the teddy bear Mohammed.

Sean Taylor murdered: Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died Tuesday, a day after he was shot in his Miami home by an intruder. Taylor, a Pro Bowl pick in 2006, wasn’t always a model citizen—he was accused of brandishing a gun at a man in 2005—but obits note that he’d matured since the birth of his daughter last year.

James Joyner from Outside the Beltway calls the death “tragic” but notes: “Despite a middle class background (his father is a police chief and his mother a school official), Taylor somehow adopted the thug lifestyle so common to football players at ‘The U.’ [Miami University.] He’d apparently snapped out of it but continued to surround himself with the wrong element.”

The Assimilated Negro offers a more traditional farewell: “[F]or it to end like this you just have to shake your head, because there is no sadder story than someone just getting in position to give all he can to this world, only to have that opportunity snuffed out.”

Miami Herald columnist Ana Veciana-Suarez knew Taylor and decries any negative commentary: The Sean I met many times as a teenager was respectful, well-mannered and even soft-spoken. Yes, he was very intense on the field, but he was a good kid.”

Read more about Sean Taylor’s murder. Jason La Canfora at the Washington Post’s Redskins Insider has posted frequent updates, including an e-mail from Taylor’s father.