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.