Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Barack Taste Challenge

Atrios has a post showing Hillary's new attack ad, which chastises Obama for not wanting a debate in Wisconsin; and it just reeks of desperation. I don't know how many debates we've seen so far, but I fail to see how any more could help; beyond helping Hillary get free publicity to make up for the fact that she's broke.

And as I suggested at Atrios', her theory is just mistaken. Sure, she might debate better than he does, something I don't necessarily agree with, but that's beside the point. Because she was the name-recognition default candidate and her biggest advantage was that people knew who she was and would be sympathetic. So his biggest goal was to get as many people as possible to watch him, in order to put a face to that name. Any marketer can tell you that. As long as you've got a good product, the biggest challenge is getting people to experience it. That's the whole point of free samples and coupons: They feel that if you try their product, you'll continue to buy. And that's been Obama's strategy the whole time.

I mean, "Barack Obama" is a pretty weird name, and if you didn't know who he was, you might reject him by default. But once you've seen him, his name actually becomes cool. It's like Ikea. That word means nothing to you unless you've been to the store or seen the catalogue, and if someone asked you if you liked it, you wouldn't have a clue. But once you've been there, the name seems perfect. It becomes part of the cool, hip image and you're more likely to like the store than if it was called The Furniture Place or Walmart. Hell, Apple has made a fortune inventing words like iMac and iPod. And a name that once would have sounded silly is now the coolest thing around. It's all about having the right name with the right product; and Obama has it.

And so by debating Hillary, Obama wins, even if she "beats" him. Because she's lending her name recognition to get people to watch him. It'd be like if Coke decided to do a national taste test against No-Name Soda. People might not even try No-Name on their own, but if Coke is being challenged by it...there must be something to it. It doesn't matter if people like Coke better, unless the product sucks, No-Name's sales will go up. And so while she might win the debate, he wins the war.

Going Negative

Beyond that, going negative on this kind of issue was just silly. The ad contained a few policy jabs at Barack, but for the most part, I can't imagine voters in Wisconsin getting outraged that Obama won't debate there. If anything, they won't care. And most likely, they'll dislike Hillary more for the attack ad. A good attack ad is a hard thing to get right, especially against a someone in your own party, and if you're not trying to get viewers to feel outrage towards your opponent, there's no point to it and it might just backfire.

Plus, it just reeks of desperation. If she had bad things to say about him, she would. But running an attack ad that lacks an actual attack looks bad. And she wouldn't be so worried about debating him if she thought she was ahead. So I chalk this up to yet another blunder by the Clinton campaign. Their big mistake is that they waste all their time fighting each battle and continually fail to see the big picture and end up losing the war. And I don't see how this is any different. I'm not sure if it was possible for her to beat Barack, but her campaign has made it all the harder.

And as I've suggested before, this is bigger than just the campaign. This is pretty much how things went during the Clinton presidency and I really didn't expect much different the second time around. Fortunately, we have a candidate who was able to beat the Clinton machine by running an excellent campaign while focusing on the big picture. And in the election so far, it's made all the difference.


Doctor Biobrain said...

I'd just like to add that I'm convinced this wasn't a real attack ad. This is just the Clinton campaign's dumb idea to taunt Barack into debating. And yes, I do believe they're so short-sighted that they'd risk having an attack ad backfire on them in order to get a debate that will probably help his campaign.

I mean, we're talking about the same kind of people who thought "I didn't inhale" was a plausible excuse, rather than something that would get them laughed at for years while convincing exactly zero people that he didn't smoke pot. That phrase was used to epitomize the Clinton presidency until "the meaning of the word 'is'" came along.

But all the same, at this point, Barack shouldn't accept the bait. Like I said, I think it would help him. But at this point, I don't see why he'd need it. News headlines showing his winning streak do that so much better, and his time is better spent talking to the people; not Hillary.

mroberts said...


Why do you support Obama exactly? What is it that makes him uniquely qualified to be President? I'm really asking, so don't try to turn this around on me and ask about the qualifications of some other candidate. For the record, I think Obama, Hillary, and McCain are ALL lousy candidates. Huckabee, Giuliani, and Romney suck too, and good riddance to the two who have already dropped out. Tell me though, why is Obama so great? Give me specifics.

Doctor Biobrain said...

I think Obama will make a great president because he has a positive vision of where America should be heading into the future and the abilities to enact that vision. People find him exciting and are willing to work together to help him put America back on the right path and fix the problems we're facing today. And with his great communication skills and his ability to stay on message and focus on the big picture, I think he'll be able to see this through.

I know all this sounds vague, but I really don't know where else to start. And if none of these candidates sound satisfactory to you, I wouldn't mind hearing your idea of what it takes to be president. Because for me, at the end of it all, I look at Barack and say "Yes." And that's really what it takes. He's the first presidential contender I've really felt satisfied about and I think we're at the beginning of something big.

goldkngt55 said...

Obama has spelled out his detailed plan on multiple subjects on excruiciating detail. I, for one, am tired of supporters of the Hope Slayer telling me I must provide specific details.

I know specific details, but why can't Clinton supporters use Google just like anyone else in the internet age?

Attack his positions not his 'vagueness' because your ATTACK is vague not his policies. Just because you're too lazy to look it up doesn't mean he isn't specific.

Obama understands that on TV, its about how you feel not how you think but that DOES NOT MEAN that he does not have specific (in some cases VERY specific) plans.

Come back when you have something worth attacking about.

mroberts said...


Where was I "attacking"? I didn't attack anybody. I just want to know what it is about Obama that people really like? What are the specific qualifications that he has that will make him a good president? He has great communication skills definitely - he is an excellent speaker - but is that all that would make him a great executive? If you have a guy sit down and interview to run your company, wouldn't you want to know that he has some specific qualifications? How much more important are qualifications when running the most powerful nation in the world? I honestly don't understand why people are so into Obama. I don't see how he is that qualified for the job. He has no experience at all.

Biobrain, my idea of an excellent candidate is as follows:
1) A LONG voting record proving that he understands and believes in the classical liberal principles of limited, republican government as framed by the Constitution.
2) Evidence of personal character (you wouldn't hire a scumbag to run your business would you?)
3) Proven knowledge of economics and a track record demonstrating adherence to free market principles.
4) A proven understanding of foreign policy and a commitment to non-interference in the affairs of foreign nations, yet a commitment to a strong national defense.
5) Proven socially conservative values.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Ok, mroberts. At least now I see where you're coming from. And it's no wonder you don't understand Obama, as he's not what you're looking for in a candidate. Nor will you ever find a viable candidate who is those things, as Republicans don't care about any of those things either. Republicans care about money and power, and that's it. And they just want it for themselves, and use conservatives like you to get that. They'll talk about all that stuff when they're wanting your vote, but once they're in power, all of those things will fly right out the window. But you probably already know that by now.

Unfortunately, they're the only game in town for you guys. At least as far as the Whitehouse is concerned. Because a strong majority of the people in this country want a government that works for them and takes care of the things they need taken care of. And that just can't happen with the guidelines you've set out. The Founding Fathers weren't psychics and a lot has changed since the late 1700's. They couldn't have imagined the society we live in or the problems we face. In particular, there are entire areas of economics that they would have found inconceivable. Were we to somehow bring the Founding Fathers to this day and age, they would be entirely lost on your #3 and #4 wishes; as they didn't have a real understanding of economics and wouldn't understand the foreign policy issues we face. Yet you want us to limit our government to what those guys understood at the time. Good luck with that.

In the meantime, we've got a candidate who supports what we believe in. He worked for several years as a State Senator, sponsoring and passing bills we believe in; and his U.S. Senate career shows much of the same. And as I said, best of all is that he has a positive vision for where we need to go and we believe that he has what it takes to implement that vision. It may not be the vision you want, but it's the one we want and what we think America needs.

Hope that answers your question.

A said...

You missed the point, which I helpfully explained in this much more charitable post on the issue.

In a brilliant reverse double judo move, Hillary is showing people just how little Obama knows -- any experienced Democrat would leap at an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot like this.

Barack's failure to throw Hillary Clinton into the Briar Patch shows that he has no idea how real politicians work. What a naif.