Friday, June 20, 2008

The Great Seal Of Obamaland?

I just saw this and wanted to post it. Obama was in Chicago this morning to discuss economic matters with some Democratic governors and his podium bore a new campaign logo:

It is emblazoned with a fierce-looking eagle clutching an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other and is deliberately reminiscent of the official seal of the president of the United States. Around the top border are the words “Obama for America;” across the bottom is the campaign’s Web address. It also contains the logo of the Obama campaign, variously interpreted as a sunrise or a view down an open road.

Just above the eagle’s head are the words “Vero Possumus,” roughly translated “Yes we can.” Not exactly E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), the motto on the presidential seal and the dollar bill. Then again, Mr. Obama is not the president.

Not yet. Obvious? Yes. Pretentious? Sure. Clever? Definitely. The presidential race has become about marketing a product, as much as I hate it and Obama and his people are very good at this. So much so that individual viral campaigns waged by everyday people have been the norm this election cycle, facilitated by the Internet and other do-it-yourself technologies, and are very much desired and encouraged by the candidates as free, non-corporate marketing. The campaign comes up with memes and symbols to make him look more presidential and then just puts them out there, letting the volunteers do their work; I expect to see this logo in a viral video ad in the very near future. Smart, and effective. Isn't this guy supposed to be naive?


Anonymous said...

You should read David Brooks' new column in The Times. It's titled "The Two Obamas." Pretty interesting view. James, can you put the following paragraph into the spinner and made this come out positive? :)

"And Fast Eddie Obama didn’t just sell out the primary cause of his life. He did it with style. He did it with a video so risibly insincere that somewhere down in the shadow world, Lee Atwater is gaping and applauding. Obama blamed the (so far marginal) Republican 527s. He claimed that private donations are really public financing. He made a cut-throat political calculation seem like Mother Teresa’s final steps to sainthood."

JBW said...

I have read that article and got a lot out of it. And hey, I don't spin, pal. He went back on a campaign promise, plain and simple; I can't defend that and I won't try. If I tried to dishonestly spin that then why would I expect anyone to take what I have to say seriously?

But what's he going to do, handicap himself because John McCain can't raise any cash? Trust me, if Mr. Straight-talk and No-earmarks had the fundraising apparatus that Obama has built, he wouldn't be taking public funds either. In fact, read about his flip-flopping on the issue in order to secure loans for his campaign...

I like Obama, and I want him to win; I won't lie. And I never claimed or believed that he was anything approaching a saint; he's a savvy, ambitious politician who ran a hell of a primary campaign and he's going to do the same in the general. He's a cunning strategist and a formidable executive with a talent for choosing good people for his team. He's everything the other side has been saying he's not for the last year and a half, and they know it and they're scared. Like Brooks said, he's not some Ivy league pushover dreamer; he's a competitor and he wants to win.

Good. The gods know I don't like the Republicans but the Democrats too have done nothing but piss me off for the last two years (the FISA cave-in today is just the latest sellout move on their part, which I plan to address in a post very soon).

And watching John Kerry flounder around out there in '04, desperately trying to show that he's a regular guy and running from the right wing attack machine was extraordinarily painful to watch. I'm tired of left wing pussies; I want someone who brings the fight to the other side. I'm not saying dirty pool, I'm just saying that there's a difference between holding your hands up and leaning against the ropes and trying to deliver a clean knock-out blow while playing by the rules of the system.

And I know, I know: what about all this bipartisanship we keep hearing about? I thought he was going to mend the nation and bring people together. He will, and he is. But you know as well as I do that there are legions of people out there who will never reach back if Obama extends a hand across the aisle; they don't want to mend this nation, they just want their side to win no matter the cost. He could be the most conciliatory, moderate candidate in decades and the Hannity's and the Limbaugh's and their ilk would still vilify him as if he were Satan himself; Brooks says that the 527s are so far marginal but just wait. John Kerry was a legitimate war hero who volunteered to fight for his country and look what happened to him.

So yeah, Obama's going to do and say some things that you have to do and say to be elected president in 2008. Believe me, I wish there was a magic e-meter or something that we could just hook the candidates up to and assess their presidential abilities on some quantifiable scale, giving us the best man for the job without all this play acting and over the top spending. But we don't have that option, which is probably why a saint has never become president of the United States; the process itself precludes that kind of person from advancing in today's political system.

But as I said, the other side can't have it both ways, so which is it? Is he an inexperienced, naive pushover that's going to let us be walked all over by our enemies, or is he this devious, ambitious politician looking to sacrifice whoever and whatever he has to in order to win? Brooks tries to bisect him in this way and does a fairly good job with his characterization but as with all political observances, his is a little simplistic.

I'll posit a third option: maybe Obama is neither Jeckyl and Hyde nor Tyler Durden and Jack; maybe he's a good man with amazing abilities, talents and intellect (and as he readily admits, human failings and shortcomings) who just wants to do the right thing by his country and in order for that to happen, he knows that he must at least tacitly play the game, for now. And I don't begrudge him that; moral victories are great but they rarely have the same power and ability to change the world that the victors do. And if the last eight years have taught me anything, it's that what the president does once he's in office is infinitely more important than how he got there. The choices this year are clear, and I've made mine.

Anonymous said...

He's not only a cunning strategist, but a cunning linguist as well.

I had read here and there about various issues Obama had voted "present" for, but not seen that tally. Interesting. Touching on the subject of your post, he does have an incredible marketing division. His graphic design has been far superior to anything I remember in my brief, adult lifetime.

Furthermore, only Democrats flip-flop, James. You know this. Republicans change their minds. I'm not sure what Libertarians do since they've not had a podium to do it from.

Anonymous said...

Not really about Obama, but you should read Friedman's latest op-ed in The Times about Bush's crap of an energy plan. How many days until January 20, 2009?