Monday, August 4, 2008


Ok, the first sharp, sustained attack against Obama by the McCain campaign is coming into focus and I'm starting to think that it might be effective. This latest ad mocks the "Obama as a the messiah" theme. I originally thought that this criticism had no legs. The public thinks all politicians are arrogant and that first ad with images of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton was not effective. But if you see that ad as setting the table for what's to come, it looks much more intriguing.

This "Obama as Messiah/celebrity" opens the door for a whole host of other criticisms. Take the shift in rhetoric towards calling Obama "fussy" as an example. This line of attack is deviously brilliant. It links him to a "culture of celebrity" that most voters find troubling and a preening petulance that celebrities on reality shows seem to exhibit. It is also a perfect word that can conjure up all sorts of homophobia without directly attacking him on those grounds. Now Obama is Oscar Wilde! This I find morally offensive, but of course I'm not the target market for this ad.

The Republicans are using the snarky tone of the Daily Show and Colbert Report against the Democrats. I find this fascinating. You can argue that satire and sarcasm have been instrumental in the re-emergence of the Democrats in the past few years. The ability to effectively poke fun at the president and the Right wing media apparatus through satire has provided the Democrats the window they now hope to pass through into the White House.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The stereotype is that "Red America" doesn't do satire (just listen to when the audience applauds at the Daily Show). If I were Obama, I might try to respond by taking the McCain team to task for trivializing the serious issues facing the country and world. But the McCain people are setting up a framing where such chiding can be seen as "elitist" and of course "whiny" and any other terms you can use that reinforces the idea of Obama as an effete (read: possible gay), elitist with a "God" complex. At least they're not calling him a "Muslim Manchurian Canddiate."

Think it won't work? McCain has closed a nine point gap to one point in the Gallup tracking poll and has taken the lead in the Rasmussen tracking poll. Some might think this is too early to be concerned, but campaigns are won and lost in the August framing wars. I'll be curious to see how the Obama campaign hits back in the coming weeks.


Black Political Analysis said...

It's definitely part of the framing wars and an elegant tact. The GOP must avoid race, but this can combine inexperience and "fussiness." The inexperience line didn't work for Clinton, but it certainly weakened Obama. Now, it seems Team McCain has modified the attack. We'll likely hear how "popular" Obama is at the GOP Convention - like it's a bad thing to be liked.

Jose Marichal said...

I like how Obama has hit back with an ad that mocks McCain own celebrity. It's not like McCain hasn't hosted Saturday Night Live. He's more of an attention seeker than Obama.