Prime time Obama

The blogosphere isn’t showing much interest in Obama’s thirty-minute, prime time commercial. For example, Andrew Sullivan hasn’t reviewed it. And Talking Points Memo mocks it as a way to spend all the money the campaign has raised, before the election is over.

Obama’s supporters are now holding their breath, wanting this thing to be over. Obama is ahead in the polls:  he doesn’t need to change the dynamic of this campaign. He took a risk running the commercial:  what if he misstepped, and gave John McCain an opening to turn his campaign around at the eleventh hour?

Publius worried about it all day yesterday … and so did I.

But then I actually watched the commercial. Like Publius, I thought it was pitch-perfect.

I think it will play to its intended audience:  voters. Obama doesn’t care what the talking heads think of it. Not even the Talking Points Memo heads.

The ad responded, indirectly, to McCain’s attack ads and ubiquitous robocalls. For example, the opening sequence was movingly patriotic, from a candidate who has been accused of palling around with domestic terrorists. And Obama responded to McCain’s “socialist” charge when he explained how he will use the presidency to address the economic crisis. He said (I paraphrase from memory), “These measures won’t grow the size of government” — i.e., “I’m not a socialist.” But, as Obama explained, those measures will help small businesses, for example, to create jobs.

Obama sidestepped the “celebrity” tag by making the commercial about everyday Americans. Over and over again, we heard true life stories:  e.g. of a retiree whose pension is less than half of what he expected; and of a 72-year-old man who has come out of retirement to work at Walmart, in order to cover his wife’s health care expenses.

Moreover, the ad presents the Obama campaign in a favourable light, by comparison to the McCain campaign. Senator McCain was on Larry King Live last night, performing his usual schtick:  “If Mr. Obama had agreed to a series of town hall meetings, the tone of this campaign would be very different.” In other words, it’s Obama’s fault that McCain has steered his campaign into the gutter.

Meanwhile, Obama was reminding voters, six days before the election, that he’s all about the issues. Education, health care, the mortgage crisis, lost jobs. And his original message of bi-partisan cooperation:  “We must all work together to solve the problems Americans care about” (again, a loose paraphrase from memory).

In my view, the ad was another noteable success in a campaign that has been nearly flawless. If Obama governs half as well as he campaigns, Americans are going to experience a remarkable turn around in the next four years.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JewishAtheist
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 13:26:08

    I was just talking to a friend over lunch, saying that this is the best campaign I can remember. Clinton, Gore, and Kerry were constantly reactive. Obama almost completely ignores McCain’s campaign — except every now and then deflating an attack extremely efficiently.

    He has the potential to be a great president. Imagine Clinton but more popular and not an adulterer.


  2. Bridgett
    Oct 30, 2008 @ 13:48:20

    I blame you, Stephen, for making me political. Just kidding. But I will point out that before reading your blog back when I started, I never would have commented on anything political.

    I guess it was just coincidental timing.

    I am baffled by the McCain campaign. All of it. Like I said recently on my own blog, I would have voted for a can of Pepsi if that’s the candidate the Democratic Party put forward–but the longer I listen to Obama and watch him, the more I realize I’m actually voting FOR him–not just against McCain. It’s a good thing to realize.


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