Man, you'd have to have a thick hide not to empathize with the folks in Obama's half-hour last night. The lady with the arthritic fingers who can't pay for her drugs, her husband in his 70s who now works at Wal-Mart...I coughed all manly-like a number of times to clear the scratching creeping up my throat.
But I wasn't the target of that video. Nor was affecting me the purpose of that $4-5 million dollar half-hour.
What do I think the target was? White, rural Americans. People who have heard a lot of the fear-tactics/racially-tinged crap coming from the McCain camp and the people attracted to (or settling for) McCain based on those things (and not policy or die-hard Republicaness). This Obamumentary was meant to show that Barack Obama is an American and a good one who is like you or understands people like you. Part of it was to counteract any possible "Bradley affect" (how many times did he seem surrounded only by white folks?) and another part was to answer McCain's question:
"Who is Barack Obama?"
And he answered it without mentioning John McCain's name. The entire 30 minutes, Obama never said "McCain". Think about that. That was likely the most expensive single thing Obama's campaign has done and it was totally positive, for an entire half-hour. McCain might say Obama's spent more money than any candidate in US election history on negative ads, but he ignores the fact that Obama has probably (I don't know where to confirm this) spent more than any candidate in US election history on positive ads as well.
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtREqAmLsoA 350 285]
What the Obamumentary will accomplish is controlling the narrative on TV for Thursday (which is a good thing for Obama after this week). It ended too late for most of the nightly news and even cable networks to really finish discussing it, and so the buzz tomorrow on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX is going to be "what did you think about the Obama informercial?" Reviews tonight comment a lot on the production value, and people on the blogs talk a lot about the cut from tape-to-live and how well it was executed. Someone on Yglesias commented that it reminded him of an ESPN documentary, and I agree (they always get you in the end). Whatever, that will be a 10-second conversation on the cable news. But people's reactions and pundit's reactions will carry the day. And then, the next day, it's Friday, and who gives a crap about politics on Friday? That's why corporations schedule lay-offs for Friday, and why people in the Bush administration resign on Fridays. Then there's a weekend (college football, and generally a lot of stuff that doesn't involve watching nightly news and cable news), and Monday, the Day Before The Election, when new polls are out.
It just might be a great move on Obama's part.
And tomorrow, McCain will say what McCain has to say. I think there's a good shot for him to slow the pro-Obama spin on this if he goes back to the "Celebrity"-ad mode of thinking. Call him "infomercial Obama," say things like "If you think it's too good to be true, it is." It won't stop the top, but it might throw it off-kilter, reassure his base, and remind voters about the "Celebrity" ad which struck a nerve with some folks.
But I think that Obama's talk about positives (and almost no negatives, though there were some offhand comparisons) tonight may overcome all that. Chris Matthews, no fan of pretending to be balanced (though he is a protector and pusher of facts and truth, but he expresses some opinion for sure), seemed almost too taken with the Obamumentary to comment afterwards. I thought he might break down.
I flipped over to FOXNews, but they were talking about Ayers or some crap. So I went back to MSNBC.
I think that was a good move for me, and Obama's $4-5 million ad-buy was a good move for him. The Obamumentary's gross effect is yet to register. Tomorrow's news coverage will reveal and dictate some of that, and polls 2 days from now will reveal more. On the net, he appeared positive, and definitely presidential, and likely inspired thousands to GET OUT THE VOTE for him.
By the way, if I get another gosh darn f*$#ing request from the Obama campaign to spend my weekend and election day in Florida, I'm seriously going to start campaigning for the other guy. Step off. Seriously. I've got shit to do this weekend, and I'm not getting on a bus that will take 12 hours to get to Miami and staying until Nov. 5.
Instead, I and columnist Kyle Whitmire are going to Chicago for November 4, election day. We're going to Grant Park. We're going to get press passes. And hopefully we'll live blog on what it's like at Obama ground zero (depending on the kind of internet access we're able to get).
So stay tuned, folks.
And please, leave comments. And check out Shep Smith spitting some hard truth at "Joe" "the" "Plumber" about Obama's position on Israel. It gave me hope for America. If Shep's not careful, CNN might recruit him to split an hour with Campbell Brown, the breakout news personality of this election (unless you count Katie Couric nearly saving her career by asking Sarah Palin simple questions).