Posted by: David Kiley on February 5, 2008
How many political ads have we seen in the last 12 months? That’s when Mitt Romney’s first ads started showing up on my TV screen.
The experts say that over $1 billion will be spent on ads in this year’s Presidential campaign. That may be true, but I doubt that any single ad will come close to matching the power and inspiration of the viral video produced and released by Black Eyed Peas front-man Will.i.am for the Obama campaign.
In two days, the video, which shows Willi.i.am, and others setting Obama’s New Hampshire Primary speech to music, with the artists juxtaposed against actual footage of Obama’s speech, showed around two million hits on Youtube.com from multiple uploads.
The same day I watched the video I also watched a recording of yesterday’s Meet The Press and part of tonight’s Hannity & Colmes on Fox. In Meet The Press, Republican strategist Mary Matalin referred to “all this change hoo-ha” twice. On H&C, Republican water-carrier Sean Hannity queried a group of Democrats if they could describe just one of Obama’s accomplishments. Hannity, it is plain, would rather the Republican nominee run against Hillary Clinton than Obama. Having watched Obama now for months, I don’t think these “strategists” get Obama, or the situation. If they do, they aren’t letting on. Hannity was amazed and disgusted at once that none of the panel of Democrats could articulate an Obama accomplishment.
This viral video is, after all, just a video, produced by some very talented and artistic people. Call it propaganda if you like. But what it also shows is that Obama is gaining ground because he is playing a different game. McCain, Romney, Clinton, Thompson, Edwards, Giuliani were all told that they were going to be playing a game of smash-mouth football. Obama heard “football,” and came to play in his soccer togs. He is running around the field, capturing attention and attracting fans to his game. He is, in short, playing a different game.
What’s especially great about this video is that you can’t possibly imagine the same one being shot with Clinton, McCain, Romney or Huckabee. Most of the ads the other candidates run…you could swap out one candidate for another. I submit what voters are seeing in Obama is an original. And that’s what they find appealing. That’s why the “experience” thing Clinton is working isn’t getting much traction. People are simply drawn to Obama, what he says and what he sees.
Hannity’s question, though born from his own peculiar brand of political and social slag, is fair. Two terms in the State Senate and two years in the U.S. Senate doesn’t yield much in the way of listable accomplishments on a resume. But Obama knows how to lift people’s spirits and hearts. And in 2008, that may be enough to put him over. He has been pushed to the point he is, not so much by his own ambition, but by the recognition of people around him and those who have signed up for his program.
Obama scares people on both sides of the aisles, but he also plainly inspires many who are fed up with running in place. He seems to be lifting the hearts of people whose hearts need lifting. Pretty simple. He may not win. But it is a pleasure to watch him run….at his game.