Obamarama!



    How Obama has made this the most riveting presidential race in decades.
    Also featured in this week's Maclean's: Fury in Bury - a Quebec town
    locked in a French/English war, and Grande trouble - Starbucks customers
    aren't as loyal as they used to be. For information on these stories and
    more, visit www.macleans.ca.

    TORONTO, Jan. 10 /CNW/ - There was a time when pundits rated Obama's
chances slim - too little, too soon, they said about his lack of experience.
Pollsters also placed him far behind Clinton. And yet here he is, having made
a Democratic nomination process that was to be a former first lady's
coronation into a true political horse race.
    "The spectacle that Obama serves up," reports Maclean's Washington
correspondent Luiza Savage, "is like nothing available anywhere else on the
campaign trail." Not in the trial lawyer appeals of John Edwards, not in the
folksy Biblical parables of Republican Mike Huckabee, nor in the "straight
talk" of maverick Republican John McCain. And certainly not in the earnest
policy wonkery served up at campaign stops by Clinton. Inside the Lebanon
Opera House, Obama takes the stage, relaxed in a crisp dark suit and tie. He
strikes the languid yet elegant pose that so often gets him compared to a jazz
musician. As he speaks, he begins informally, in an intimate, even
self-mocking tone, then moves seamlessly between the analytic discourse of the
University of Chicago law instructor he once was, and the occasional cadences
of a black preacher, which he's never been. By the end, as with each of his
performances, he winds up to a thundering appeal to national unity, idealism
and history-making that transports the mostly white middleclass voters to - at
least in their imaginations - the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, marching for
something greater than themselves.
    It is the magic touch that delivered the voters of Iowa, where fewer than
three per cent were African American, to Obama. And it is the same magic touch
that almost delivered New Hampshire to the upstart young politician. Yes, he
went on to lose - very narrowly - to Clinton and her political juggernaut.
"But," writes Savage, "there is little doubt that voters in Iowa, and now in
New Hampshire, have witnessed the making of a political superstar."

    A French vs. English fury, in Bury

    The town of Bury looks like any other sleepy, snow-quilted Eastern
Townships burg. "You could blink and miss it," writes Maclean's assistant
editor Martin Patriquin, "but then, you'd miss the show." Since June 2006,
every Bury town council meeting has been conducted under the watchful eyes of
several Sûreté du Québec officers who drive in from neighbouring Cookshire.
Their presence is required because bucolic little Bury is home to a caustic,
xenophobic, often absurd dispute between English and French, of the type not
seen in Quebec for decades. Strong words have been exchanged, threats uttered,
eggs thrown, and shoving matches have broken out in council meetings. Why? A
call to revamp the volunteer firefighting squad to include more French members
- or fewer English ones - has wound up pitching the town's linguistic groups
against one another.

    Grande trouble at Starbucks

    The coffee giant's step down-market has taken a turn for the worse.
Having traded in highbrow exclusivity for down-market dollars, coffee giant
Starbucks finds its customer base not as loyal as it used to be.

    About Maclean's:

    Maclean's is Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine.
Maclean's enlightens, engages and entertains 2.8 million readers with strong
investigative reporting and exclusive stories from leading journalists in the
fields of international affairs, social issues, national politics, business
and culture. Visit www.macleans.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Jacqueline Segal, (416) 764-4125,
jacqueline.segal@rci.rogers.com

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