Tonight’s Obama Infomercial

Ken AshfordElection 2008Leave a Comment

It'll be on CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, and a few others (not, however, ABC)

I guess I'll watch it, seeing as how my show was cancelled. 

But the infomercial, taped last week, sounds kind of dry and dull, the kind of pablum that they play at the national party conventions.  It'll focus on the stories of four American families, with Obama's narration, and him speaking driectly to the camera.

Listen, I'm the one who decries "politics as entertainment", but — man, if you're going to soak up the TV for half an hour?  In this era of short attention spans?  You just gotta have more pizazz than that.  I mean, even a really good Powerpoint presentation sounds more exciting (and probably more informative, too).

But far be it for me to give advice to the Obama campain.  They seem to know what they're doing.

Here, by the way, is McCain's "response ad" to the half-hour Obama infomericial

I can't, for the life of me, think why the McCain campaign figures this ad will help. McCain is harkening back to an old theme he tried back in September — i.e., that Obama is a "celebrity". Then, as now, the meme seems to acknowledge — even embrace — the fact that the majority of Americans have warmed up to Obama.  It reinforces that notion.

Oh sure, the main message of the ad is that Obama needs more experience, but that hasn't worked for McCain in the past either.  (Pssst — didn't work when it was tried on Bush in 2000 or Clinton in 1992 either).  Americans DO want change, and McCain's "experience" in Washington hasn't brought it about.  To the extent that Obama is wet behind the ears, some might even see that as a GOOD thing.

Most importantly, the ad says nothing about McCain will do if he were President.  A bad counterpunch to an Obama informercial which, I assume, will talk specifics about what Obama will do.  I suspect more people would prefer a presidential candidate, even an "inexperienced" one, who has a clear plan for change, than an "experienced" presidential candidate who offers no plan but merely retorts, "But he doesn't have experience".

At least Obama has the experience to know that the American people want solutions, and the experience to lay out his ideas.

Perhaps the most curious part of the ad is the tag line — the final statement saying that Obama is "not ready…. yet".  It's the "yet" that makes me tilt my head aside like a dog hearing a high-pitched whistle.  Who stuck that word in there?  It's almost like McCain is saying, "Yeah, Obama is great — really he is — but vote for him in 2012.  Not now." 

Not exactly the strongest response ad.

Very odd.

POST-INFOMERCIAL THOUGHTS:  A little too pre-packaged and heavy-handed for my taste, and he name-dropping of battleground states (state-dropping?) was none too subtle.  But he hit a lot of right notes, especially the parts where he called on Americans to do things for themselves a little (i.e., energy conservation, "government doesn't have all the answers").  The humility ("I'll make mistakes as President") and the biographical stuff should help, too.  

ONE FURTHER THOUGHT:  In retrospect, after seeing the Obama informercial, the McCain response ad (above, which aired on MSNBC eight minutes later as a commercial, and then on the Olbermann's show at 8:42) looks petty and ugly and just too negative.  And perhaps worst of all, really devoid of McCain's idea.  Ironic, in that after seeing both, one is left with the impression that we don't know where McCain really stands.