I’ve been watching the presidential race unfold, and just had to comment about how different things are today, than they were just four years ago. The Barack infomercial was a game changer for me (even moreso than the announcement of Joe Biden as his Veep via SMS) because it showed just how far one can take a brand.
The equivalent of Barack’s 30 minute spot on prime time TV, was the full page ad in the New York Times of years ago. If you wanted to make a statement, you bought the entire page in a prestigious newspaper, and made your case to the public. It was a ground breaking and effective strategy, turning the pages of a reputable and widely circulated newspaper into a launchpad for your platform.
Barack brought that strategy into the 21st century, by launching his platform directly into the homes of millions of Americans simultaneously. I don’t have the numbers, but I’m sure Nielsen can tell you that a butt-load of people watched what Barack had to say carefully the day before yesterday, and were inevitably swayed by the quality production, the heartfelt stories, the message and its clarity, and the singular intent of the man of the hour.
Unlike a commercial, which is fleeting, and whose message is invariably countered by a commercial of the opponent, the infomercial can only be countered by another infomercial. McCain has neither the prediliction, cash or first mover’s advantage to pull that off. Moreover, if the McCain camp were to try to cobble something together to blunt the effectiveness of that move, it would be too-little too-late. With only four days before the election, there is little likelihood of mounting any significant counter-attack.
McCain is left to send his storm trooper in lipstick out to do his dirty work. All the Republican party has left, is that attack instinct, and they’re frothing like rabid dogs, at the prospect of forging a comeback. They’re just so all over the place, that they look like rank amateurs, especially when juxtaposed against Barack’s unflappable cool demeanor and expert use of the media, at all turns.
Its like Barack has moved from a presidential candidate, to an awe-inspiring figure and every-man, simultaneously. He appears to be one of the most approachable people in the world, yet he still portrays an air of greatness. Now I’m no Obama jock-rider, caught up in the groundswell, but from an objective standpoint, it is clear to the most casual observer who our next president SHOULD be.
McCain is no slouch, but I’d never put a man in office who states (without hesitation) not to know ‘too much’ about the about the economy. I would also not put a man in office who so thoroughly fails to vet his VP selection, to the point that her selection has become the punchline for SNL jokes for weeks.
As a Black man in America, I hold no disillusions about the capacity of my fellow Americans to disappoint. When GW won in 2000, I wasn’t surprised. When Kerry gave it away in 2004, I wasn’t surprised. If the Bradley effect kicks in, and the GOP steals yet another election, I won’t be surprised. I am surpsied, however, that Barack has gotten this far (and is still alive) considering the magnitude of what could realistically be a defining point in American history.
Win or lose, I take solace in the fact, that this moment in time is actually happening. It has opened up the minds of millions of children of color, whose realm of possibilities include one day being president of the United States of America. Its one thing to hear it (as a general aspirational statement of possibility), its another thing entirely to witness it, and create a firm basis for belief in that (for Black people) once abstract thought.
We’ve come a long way. We’ve got a great distance to cover yet, but we’ve come a long way. And for that, I’m glad.