Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Jake Tapper of ABC apparently accepts the premise that blondness, whiteness, and femaleness are the point of McCain's endless succession of anti-Obama ads -- this one, for instance.

How many young white women professing adoration for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, can you count in this anti-Obama web video that the campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, was sending out yesterday?

One...two...three...four...sure are a lot of young white women in this thing....

But I think Kevin Hayden nails the real meaning -- and the proper response:

...It's clear that -- while subtle racial exploits do play the Southern strategy out very softly -- the real aim of 'The One' campaign is to frame the inexperience charge (which failed for Hillary) in a new way.

Portraying him this way with constant use of the young, promotes the impression that young adults like him like a rock star. He's pretty. He talks cool. He's with it. Beyond that, there's no 'there' there.

And of course, what do celebrity-worshiping kids know?

... I now sense what they're drilling into the public consciousness: don't trust the judgment of young people AND nobody supports Obama BUT the young. For frivolous reasons.

Kevin continues:

Each ad also adds an extra: Obama's gonna cost you some money. So there's the two major messages: all the different ways Obama's gonna cost you. And nobody older than 25 is dumb enough to believe he has anything beneficial to anyone.

I think the money message is less damaging, simply because voters are cynical about all candidates' claims that they won't tax you and the other guy will. But interweaving the message that Obama enthusiasts are silly and young with the message that Obama is a taxer might plant the notion in older voters' minds that Obama himself is basically a school-age kid who doesn't know the value of a dollar.

In any case, Kevin's solution is the right one:

...The proper response, in addition to issue ads, are ads showing middle-aged and senior voters talking about why they're voting for Obama, how they relate to him, the things he shares in common with them. Counteract 'The Other' image McCain is projecting, especially the vapid 'Other' that only dumb kids can appreciate.

This isn't an either/or question -- the ads can be about miscegenation and resentment of "elitists" and the notion that only young, silly fanboys and fangirls support Obama. But I'm convinced that the last of these three is crucial, and needs to be countered directly by the Obama campaign.

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