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Obama Video: It Could Be Morning in America.

Posted by: David Kiley on October 30, 2008

Barack Obama’s 30-minute infomercial was a bit of Kennedy blended with a smattering of Ronald Reagan. Despite even the candidate calling it an “infomercial” on Comedy Central, it was a long way from Ron Popeil.

There was anxiety in some Democratic quarters about whether Obama was again stepping into the Paris Hilton “celebrity” hole that John McCain, in one of his few effective strategems this year, ridiculed Obama drawing huge crowds in Germany in last July.

But after the pitch-perfect opening scene of actual amber waves of grain, I knew the 30-minute ad was going to be good. The scene of Obama in an office that looked somewhat like it might be the Presidential office of a summer White House he doesn’t yet have, huge flag in the background and a generally in-charge demeanor, created a feeling that was worthy of Reagan’s “Morning in America” team.

But in the spirit of the times, the ad focused on the challenges of today’s families who are living on the edge of foreclosure and despair. The stories were compelling, and the film work superior. Up until the seamless cut to Obama’s live rally in Florida, it was all about kitchen tables in America. It was hard to imagine that the film didn’t push Obama leaners a bit closer to the candidate.

Not surprisingly, those who hate the idea of an Obama presidency carped all over it. Fox’s Sean Hannity was in a rant about Obama’s former pastor Rev.Jeremiah Wright on his Hannity and Colmes show. And today, while I was in the car listening for news about GM on the radio, I had to endure remarks by Rush Limbaugh. The right-winger actually spent time on his radio show noting the weight of the people in the families featured in Obama’s video.—-yes, how much the people weigh. Limbaugh.

One of the Mothers in the film, Rebecca Johnston, talked about her husband who works at a tire retread factory with a torn ACL in his knee because he can’t afford to go on disability. These folks sit around the kitchen table every few days to count their money…how much is coming in and how much has to go out. It’s the razor’s edge between survival and homelessness in America. Limbaugh ridiculed Ms. Johnston’s measure to control food costs for her kids by giving them each their week’s worth of snacks on their own shelf in the fridge. Limbaugh, who has over a dozen cars, ridiculed her.

We know Limbaugh and Hannity hate Obama to the point of saying anything about him. So, why not limit their remarks to the candidates and spare the real people?

Here is an observation of the anti-Obama rhetoric that has been spewing from people like Hannity and Limbaugh and even from McCain surrogates like Florida Senator Mel Martinez who recently likened Obama to communists in Cuba:

It strikes me that the reason that charges of socialism, communism, “palling around with terrorists,” hasn’t stuck to Obama is that the charges are so outrageous, and come from people with no measure of credibility or objectivity about the Illinois Senator: Democrats and independents simply tune it out. It’s like getting an e-mail from a Nigerian prince who needs $1,000 to claim his $100k inheritance, which he will split with you.

Whatever legit question that might arise from Obama’s relationship with Wright is drowned out by the knowledge among independents and right-of-centers who may hear the charges that both men would be championing the candidacies of Dick Cheney or Tom Delay if they were running instead of John McCain.

These guys have been so uniformly wrong about everything they have boosted in the last eight years, that only the rightest of right wing listeners--what political strategists call “low information voters” (the far far left get the same tag)—are hanging in with them.

Hannity, for example, began his lucrative broadcasting run on the back of Bill Clinton’s scandal with Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment hearings. After that, Reagan Democrats and even independents began leaning right, especially on matters of culture. But people like Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk have plainly over-reached. Their arguments are as devoid of intellectual rigor as they are the slightest sliver of believability.

As the country probably enters a period of backlash against the over reach of neo-conservatives, is it a coincidence that Hannity, Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly recently cut new deals with their syndicators? That seems smart on their part, but perhaps not so smart by the ones writing their paychecks. I wonder how their ratings will track in the next four years if the Democrats actually solve some problems without being stymied by filibusters.

I know there is a lot of opinion here. It’s days before the election. I’m weary of the daily e-mails from the campaigns, the ads, the empty interviews. But I do actually take the time to check in with what these guys are saying. I want to know the day they actually say something fresh. I even read Bill O’Reilly’s “Culture Wars” cover to cover, so I could understand what his schtick was really about. But what shocks me every time I tune in to these guys is the complete lack of anything that cold be confused with intellectual rigor.

Even with “low information” voters, perhaps we are entering an era where the word “intellectual” isn’t associated with elitism, but with honest work to find a better solution to a problem. And if I’m correct….then where will they be.

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November 3, 2008 12:00 PM


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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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