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Could his two Grammy wins be lucky charms for Barack Obama?

August 17, 2008 | 12:14 pm

Could Grammys be tea leaves or otherwise reflective of political success?

Failed presidential aspirant Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has won only once ("It Takes a Village," best spoken word, 1996), while her hubby, former U.S. Prez Bill Clinton, has two Grammy statuettes ("My Life," best spoken word, 2004; "Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks"; best spoken word for children, 2003). I'm tempted to think that two Grammys = U.S. president, but alas, former White House occupant Jimmy Carter has only one ("Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis," best spoken word, 2006).

Sizing up the current U.S. presidential contest by this measurement, the Grammy vote count is Sen. Barack Obama two, Sen. John McCain zero. At the Grammys, in fact, Barack Obama is undefeated, going two for two. A good omen?

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Barack Obama won his first Grammy in 2005 for the audio version of his memoir "Dreams from My Father," which claimed the prize for best spoken word over "The Adventures of Guy Noir: Radio Private Eye" (Garrison Keillor), "The Al Franken Show Party" (Al Franken), "Chronicles: Volume One" (Bob Dylan) and "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?" (George Carlin).

"Dreams from My Father" was originally published in book form in 1995, but it was re-released in print with audio spinoff after he delivered the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

In 2007, as Barack Obama geared up to claim the nomination at the next Democratic National Convention, he won another Grammy for the audio version of his book "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream," this time beating two former U.S. presidents: Bill Clinton ("Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World") and Jimmy Carter ("Sunday Mornings in Plains: Bringing Peace to a Changing World"). The other contenders: Maya Angelou ("Celebrations") and Alan Alda ("Things I Overhead While Talking to Myself").

Obama was not present at the Grammys to accept either victory. When he won the first time, he had to be in Virginia that day to give a previously scheduled speech. I don't know why he missed the second ceremony. He didn't miss much, though, since both awards are bestowed off air early Grammy day before the prime-time telecast.

No Republican politician has won one of the spoken word categories since Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen prevailed in 1967 for "Gallant Men."

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(L.A. Times photo by Franchine Orr)


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