The Selling Of Barack Obama

Posted by: Jon Fine on January 18, 2007

Good Jeff Zeleny piece in the New York Times today, which without coming right out and saying it nevertheless neatly encapsulates the (very bad phrase alert) marketing pitch behind Barack Obama:

A long line of Democrats, Republicans and independents have gone before him, casting themselves as the sparkling candidate of the new politics only to find that their freshness withers well before the balloting begins. Think John Anderson, Gary Hart, Ross Perot.

How can Mr. Obama avoid a similar fate?

“Novelty alone is not a criteria for success, nor should it be,” he said in an interview on Wednesday as he walked through the hallways of the Senate. “I do think there are moments in American history where there are opportunities to change the language of politics or set the country’s sights in a different place, and I think we’re in one of those moments.”

Then, after pausing for a moment, he added: “Whether I’m the person to help move that forward or somebody else is, is not for me to determine.”

Thus, the sell is a perfect inversion of classic break-up logic:

It’s not me, it’s you.

This is powerful message, and a very au courant message, if you are in the minority of those who thought Time magazine naming “you” as person of the year was dead-on. (As for me, I thought Time’s move was brilliant.)



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