There has been a lot of discussion about John McCain’s VP
pick. One of the best takes I’ve seen was by Winston Smith over at Philosoraptor.
Ham Sandwich McCain’s Actual Choice for Veep
John McCain has revealed that his
apparent choice of Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running-mate was, as
many observers predicted, a carefully-staged hoax. "Yeah, right,"
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said of Palin, laughing with reporters.
"As if! What do we look like, a bunch of complete lackwits? You guys will
McCain’s actual running mate will be a ham sandwich.
The sandwich, said by analysts to be "a little light on the ham," has
never held any public office and is incapable of speech or rational thought. It
is thought that the choice will solidify McCain’s credentials as a
"John McCain makes decisions with his gut," said Davis. "That’s
what Americans like, right?"
There is more and you can
click over to it here. And thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the heads up.
And if like me you are a big Samantha Bee fan, here is her and Jon Stewart’s take on it, also thanks to Mr. Sullivan: Completely worth the watch.
We said yesterday that Obama needed to come out swinging in
his acceptance speech. If you saw it – and shame on you if you’re interested in
story and didn’t – you know he did that in spades.
If you missed it – hey things happen – you can see it here.
It was a classic
five-element story line. The crowd was wildly PASSIONATE before he spoke,
having been fired up by Al Gore and Stevie Wonder so he wasted no time and moved
on to immediately accept the nomination, becoming the Dem official HERO. The
vast majority of his time he spent defining his ANTAGONIST by methodically
connecting McCain to Bush’s unpopular policies – specifically linking him to
the failure to catch Bin Ladin (“Don’t say you will follow Bin Ladin to the
gates of hell. You won’t even go to the cave where he lives!) and to higher gas
prices (“Senator McCain has voted 26 times against alternative energy sources…
More drilling is just a stop gap measure”). Then he went for the jugular,
bringing up the issue of “judgement and temperment” on a day when McCain’s
nasty side had surfaced in an interview with Time magazine, throwing the press some fresh meat and making “temperment”
a point in the upcoming debates.
At the same time Obama was laying out specific policy initiatives – that is, he was giving us clear
AWARENESS of how we as a nation can get back on the right track. And he ended
on his theme of Change – TRANSFORMATION. So the speeches storyline was
complete. He touched all the bases, and that is the very definition of a homerun.
I’m not usually a big fan of Chris Mathews, but as a
political speechwriter himself he did a great analysis of this speech. Check it
out here. I particularly like what he said about “attacking from a defensive position.”
But maybe Al Sharpton had
the best one-line summary, “Obama took the gloves off but never stopped
smiling, and that is a very dangerous opponent for John Mc Cain.”
Every story needs a Villain – an Antagonist that represents
the obstacles the Hero must overcome. If you don’t have one, other story tellers will
create one for you, and your story might get out of your control.
That is what has been happening with media coverage of the
Dem convention. Because Obama has not clearly defined McCain as a living,
breathing Antagonist – the personification of all that has gone wrong in the
last eight years – pundits of all political stripes are free to choose Obama’s antagonist for him. It might be the Pumas, it might be a petulant Bill, it
might be disgruntled big spenders, but it is going to have to be somebody,
because without an Antagonist there is no story, and story is the only way to
fill hours and hours of airtime.
It is possible that the Obamistas have been cleverly laying
back and Obama will come out swinging hard tonight. If that is the case Obama
can’t waste time being bipartisan. He needs to get his knuckles dirty from the
get go. We know he can float like a butterfly, now it is time for him to sting
like a bee. He doesn’t need to attack McCain directly. What he needs to
do is attack the Repub brand as a “failed extremist philosophy”. Bill Clinton
and John Kerry laid the groundwork, but it is up to the nominee to
start landing the hard body blows that will put McCain into the ropes.
You probably heard Bill’s speech. John Kerry’s was largely
lost so that pundits could preen for the camera. It is definitely worth a
listen. Check it out here.
At FirstVoice we’ve been waiting for Obama to transit from
being a motivator to being a hero. Motivators use rhetorical Passion – the
first of our Elements of Persuasion – to stir things up. Without fire we won’t
care about a story and it never even gets started. But if the story doesn’t
move to the next stage and develop a coherent point of view – personified in a hero – it dies on the vine.
Obama is so good at motivation we were starting to think he
might get stuck there. If a story doesn’t grow through the five elements, it gets stale and boring. That is really
what the Obama-fatigue talk was all about.. Luckily for the Dems Obama has now made the transition to
Hero. He did it a few days ago with this speech. It is worth listening to in full. His
team then came out with an attack ad version that has a very nice
tag to it, so the ad is worth a watch as well.
The specific line that makes Obama a hero? “If LIKE ME you
only have one house…”
Heroes embody equality. They walk on the
same earth as we do. Recent Repubs have mastered the black art of making the media see Dem candidates as aloof and out of touch. They did it with Gore, then Kerry, and they tried it
again with Obama by casting him as a “ditzy self-obsessed celebrity”.
problem for Obama was that when you counter that sort of attack directly you end up reinforcing it through repetition. So you need to ignore the jab,
wait for an opening and then hit your opponent hard with a meaningful counter punch that homes in on the core issue - in this case Obama’s "otherness". Obama’s line “If like me you only have one house” works gang busters because it flips the Repub storyline 180 degrees! Who is
more like the average American? McCain, a guy with so many houses he can’t
remember where he put them all, or Obama, a guy working hard to pay the
mortgage on his one house?
McCain’s counter attack ad has more than a whiff
of desperation about it. And the party line "Hey, they aren’t McCain’s houses, they belong to his wife" just digs him in deeper.