Barack’s Infomercial

-


I thought that the idea of a 30 minute infomercial on Barack Obama’s approach to policy and life had more downside than upside.
I think I was right overall — but Obama’s performance and the package as a whole hit the target — and despite the risk — they will get more upside from this.
For those who missed it or who want a replay, the video has been posted on YouTube just moments ago.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

31 comments on “Barack’s Infomercial

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Arthurdecco…teehee..Tintin..that line about the election not being about him but about us was lifted verbatim from Hillary’s speech in Denver…as a woman, I’m so totally turned off, I skipped the big infomercial and can’t hardly stand to watch the news anymore….if Obama is the most liberal Senator, I’m a beauty queen…true liberals didn’t support the Patirot Act, the Military Commissions Act, FISA…if Obama is the most liberal, we are in deep doodoo….
    While I am voting for Nader, I do defend Obama from false accusations…in fact, there were so many people applying for absentee ballots when I went down to City Hall to get mine, we had to wait in line…while there, a man struck up a “conversation” which included accusations of Obama being corrupt because of Acorn and being a socialist because he supported tax rebates for people who didn;t pay taxes…small detail this was Busholini’s idea and don’t even think about the bailout… our “conversation” soon became a shouting match and it’s just a good thing the clerk came out with my ballot or we might have come to blows…this is CT with the highest # of college grads, so I was blown away at the degree of disinformation…I’ve run into a number of life long Demz who say they are undecided and don’t know who they’ll support…when I press the question, I’ve run into the Bradley effect, which disappoints me.

    Reply

  2. roger says:

    I thought the half hour was very informative and inspiring.
    However, it didn’t change my mind, because I’d already voted last
    week…for Obama…

    Reply

  3. Linda says:

    It’s not a fairy tale, just the last season of “The West Wing.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/arts/television/30wing.html?_r=1&ref=television&oref=slogin

    Reply

  4. arthurdecco says:

    Tintin, I, too, love fairy tales still.

    Reply

  5. Tintin says:

    Being an Obama supporter, I was looking forward to the 30-minute
    piece. Then a friend suggested it might backfire for all the reasons
    Steve mentions. I had to admit there was this possibility.
    But what “saves” the piece from the this pitfall is that it doesn’t
    focus on Obama…it focuses on Americans and what Obama hopes
    to do for Americans.
    As Obama often says, the campaign is not about him; it’s about
    “you,” the American people. This is, of course, a cliche, but I think
    he really believes it.

    Reply

  6. ... says:

    Steve – keep up the great work… your site is really good and informative and that is a reflection on you…

    Reply

  7. Nobcentral says:

    Steve – I agree with you. I thought it was extremely risky. A half-hour infomercial just rings of Ross Perot and charts and graphs.
    That being said, I was blown away. As was CNN’s David Gergan who has pretty much seen everything.
    That being said, I don’t know if the video was necessary. Obama looks like he’s going to win going away. But it directly answered the biggest McCain complaint of who is Obama. So kudos to the campaign. They took a risk and won big. I liken it to throwing a 40 yard TD bomb with 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter when the other team has closed to within a TD. Most people wouldn’t do it because it’s wrought with risks, but when it works, pure genius.

    Reply

  8. Ajaz says:

    Steve
    As things are going well for Obama I thought the half hour infomercial was unnecessary. It was well done though.
    My prediction, Obama wins 353:185 delegates. The variable possible is Ohio. It is currently leaning Obama, but Ohio has a history of turning at the last minute. More on my blog:
    http://blameislam.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  9. Spunkmeyer says:

    More speech reactions can be found here:
    http://www.politico.com/arena/

    Reply

  10. Marcia says:

    Obama’s film is inviting the American people to write a new story about America, to become the actors of their lives instead of shadows.
    In fairy tales people are often lost or wandering in dark forests surrounded by wild things and fears, then there is the clearing, the house, generally with smoke rising from the chimney – the sign of work, order, civilisation.
    He is not appealing to the destructive side of human nature, even while showing the difficulties encountered but indicating a path to sanity, reason and human dignity. He is telling a story.
    Just as Bush and Cheney’s story was a danger filled nightmare in which we were to be reduced to tiny helpless children waiting to be delivered to a bloodthirsty ogre, Obama’s story invites us
    to leave the forest and look at facts in the light of day. He makes links with the past so as to open the future to deliver ourselves from being blocked in a fear-ridden present that paralyses action.
    McCain and Palin with their “A Face in the Crowd,” Bush/Cheney discourse do just the opposite; it is enclose and manipulate.
    This was not a sound bite. It was a new story.

    Reply

  11. jonst says:

    Given the power of spin, combined with the fact that there are so many Dems, Progressives, and Independents afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome, anything assertive that Obama, or any other Dem candidate does, is likely to have a down side. Steve was correct.

    Reply

  12. annjell says:

    Bill Ayers should bring suit against McCain-Palin, and campaign for Slander, Defamation of character and Invasion of Privacy.
    Mr. Ayers has reestablished himself, and is now a prominent college professor. It has been 40 years ago, that he had these allegations brought up against him.
    I say invasion of privacy, because, he’s not running for political office. His face has been plaster on national news programs. I’m sure this has brought unwanted/unwarranted attention to him. In fact, I, myself, knew nothing about this man until McCain-Palin used his name and background in their televised campaigns, and television interviews with journalists.
    This could also cause damage to the reputation of the college. Which, in turn, could cause a drop in donations, scholarships, endowments to the college.

    Reply

  13. annjell says:

    It’s all good. Without, the senate, it could be retracted. That’s right null and void. Besides, all this is being done in case, they somehow steal the election again.
    Hopefully, all the republicans can be voted out. They believe they walk on water. Remember, Rove and his kind believe they don’t have to respond to subpoenas.
    So, for right now, we are not going to sweat the small stuff.

    Reply

  14. Don Bacon says:

    You guys apparently will fall for anything with “production values.”
    Senator Obama claims to be very concerned about the ten billion dollars being wasted every month in Iraq and claims to want to pull the US military out of Iraq. As we all know at the present time there is a US/Iraq treaty being negotiated which will define the relationship between the two countries and specifically the duration of the US military occupation that Senator Obama has made a campaign issue.
    We also know that Senator Obama (like other senators) has taken absolutely no interest in this treaty which according to the Constitution requires the advice and consent of the Senate. The senate has taken a bye which allows Bush alone to negotiate with Maliki and the Iraqi parliament. Where are the demands from the senator that the Constitution be observed? Are we to expect that the unitary executive model championed by Bush would continue under a President Obama while the Constitution is trashed? Is Obama comfortable with the obvious fact that Iraq enjoys more democracy than the US does?
    So much for production values.

    Reply

  15. FloryPatty says:

    They have a really weird video about this on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcpuDsQJfFo

    Reply

  16. DavidT says:

    Steve, sorry I missed a few of the details in your explanation of the risks. You are of course right that the video could have pushed the wrong buttons, seemed indulgent, and like overkill.
    However unless you feel that the Obama folks and Obama don’t have a sense of the pulse of the electorate, there’s no risk.
    To suggest there’s a risk is like suggesting that you’re taking a risk in posting a video of a speech you gave on your website. Its true that such a video might carry elements that would offend people and/or hurt your reputation. But I would assume that you have a good enough sense of your readership and of the speech you gave to know whether or not this is the case. If it does contain such material you can go ahead and post it anyway and take the risk. If you are confident it does not, there’s not risk.
    Or am I missing something?

    Reply

  17. JP Carter says:

    Steve,
    It was not coincidence the states the people were from: MO (toss up), OH(leaning), NM(leaning), KY(read South OH – leaning), and throw in views of PA (solid) when talking about Biden. Very savvy. I expect they had more states they could plug in.
    1) A white family from suburban Missouri, 2) A devout Christian African-American couple from Ohio, 3) A Hispanic family from New Mexico and 4) A white autoworker from Kentucky.
    Well played.

    Reply

  18. Beth in VA says:

    Like Steve, I was thinking this was a big risk. But this was good. They did not attack McCain–I imagine the temptation was great to rebut the many smears, but the Obama campaign had great discipline. They stuck with a positive message/vibe that was great. The man just has class and dignity over all the other major political characters.
    And as cheesy as this may seem to some, it seemed they actual toned it down: none of the characters were adorable shiny-blond 7-year old girls, for example. That’s kind of what I feared would happen, lol! (For the record, I’m a mom of little girls, so I don’t have anything against them!)

    Reply

  19. Bill R. says:

    What downside, Steve? thirty minutes of prime time to deliver an unfiltered message to the American people, five days before election day, with the highest use of production values and crafting. Obama sucked the air out of “Joe the Plumber” and turned attention to his vision of America’s future. And the low information voter had a chance to meet Barack Obama and learn his story. Most of all in the video Obama made an emotional connection with the American people and American mythology, that he is “one of us.” That’s all good stuff! No downside there. And Obama and his people delivered big time, followed by a rally with the Big Dog himself in Florida, where Bill Clinton rocked the house and passed the torch to Barack.

    Reply

  20. V says:

    I was also a bit dubious about how this infomercial might play out. But, in the end, it moved me. This was all about the American people, who Obama will serve well with his obvious compassion and intellect (first in his class at Harvard!). With this presentation tonight, he continues to foster what he has promised all along — unity. And that, more than anything else, is what will keep the people of the UNITED States of America strong and prosperous.
    And he didn’t mention the opposing party once.

    Reply

  21. DavidT says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for posting this video.
    You post this video and give it your kudos. To you there’s nothing controversial about that. Same for me. However you point out the risk involved in posting this pre-recorded message. You don’t explain this risk in the post nor in your response to the the commenters in your fray.
    It may be that some of those commentators have been unfair to you in the past. I don’t know. But that doesn’t explain why you call into question the wisdom of putting this video on television.
    I might understand your comment if the 1/2 hour was done live or included some comments that Republicans could use to hammer home their message. But neither is the case. I don’t know if it was necessarily the best use of their resources but the Obama campaign is not short on resources at the moment so why should that be a worry?
    Furthermore on the upside, many people believe (as do I) that we need more lengthy cases made for the candidates rather than 30 second and 60 second spots. I wish McCain had the resources to do this as well.
    Thanks for joining your own fray. Its generous of you. However just because some people have been unfair in their criticism / comments on your posts doesn’t mean all their comments are without merit.

    Reply

  22. Jason says:

    What I found notable about the infomercial is that
    the buildup and execution it followed the same
    pattern as previous notable events in the
    campaign, like his trip overseas or his convention
    speech at Invesco field.
    Pre-media chatter that Obama may be over-reaching.
    (Remember the Greek columns?) Republican opponent
    helps feed the narrative of risk and potential
    failure. Then the actual event happens, it goes
    off near flawlessly and exceeds most people’s
    expectations.
    The content of the infomercial wasn’t interesting
    to a news junkie like me. But the meta-message is
    strong and clear: the Obama campaign is good at
    navigating tricky situations.
    His speech on race, his overseas trip, the
    convention, the debates–this infomercial is just
    another data point for that narrative. That may be
    the most notable takeaway from the whole
    infomercial.
    Steve, your concerns about the infomercial were
    understandable and rational. The disconnect
    between you and your readers may be that they’ve
    seen the Obama campaign handle situations like
    these well so many times that they’re no longer as
    worried each time a potential pitfall comes up.

    Reply

  23. surfk9 says:

    I think it was a reminiscent of Reagan’s “Morning in America” theme only updated for present circumstances.

    Reply

  24. Steve Clemons says:

    I sometimes wonder if some of you are reading what I am really writing – or rather reading what you think you wish I had written…
    In any case, I appreciate the comments above. To be clear, I thought that the video was brilliant. It was much better than I expected.
    It didn’t matter whether I was the intended audience or not. What mattered is that for many Americans, a long, 30-minute video “could have” seemed like overkill, could have pushed the wrong buttons, might have seemed too indulgent. Those were the potential downsides.
    They risked it — and produced an outstanding video that moved people. It’s very hard to do this…and I’m impressed.
    But the downside risks were substantial. They gambled, produced a great product, and connected….but if you folks didn’t think that this was a gamble, then we aren’t on the same page.
    Seriously…when I praise something but also point to downside risk possibilities, that doesn’t translate into my not liking the production and isn’t relevant to whether I was the target audience or not.
    GEEZ….
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  25. Dan Kervick says:

    I thought the TV spot did an incredible job connecting with the attitudes, feelings and values of middle class Americans. Obama showed he has a great feeling and understanding for what the lives and struggles of ordinary Americans in 2008 are all about. My wife and I were watching, and kept saying, “This all seems like it’s about us.” Obama comes across as a good listener.
    One personal note: My father is 77, and recently ended his retirement to go back to work part time to help supplement my parents’ rapidly dwindling retirement income. Of course, my siblings and I are helping out too. Like a lot of older people, my parents have a variety of health problems, and prescription bottles are much in evidence in their home. That segment on the older gent who was going back to work at Walmart to help support his ailing wife really struck close to home.
    Obama also does a great job fusing themes of hard work and personal responsibility with an understanding of the constructive role government can play. He always mixes a promise of government action with a reminder of individual responsibility. His vision of America is a place filled with responsible, hard-working people and devoted parents who have been ill-served by a bad government that is sapping their strength and threatening their way of life.
    The Republicans these days seem to have devolved into the defenders of a nearly insane form of Social Darwinism and fatalism. What they say to Americans is: “You know why you’re struggling? Because you suck! Because your lazy! Because you are inherently inferior to the successful! Because you are immoral! Because God hates you! And if you ask the government to do anything, that means you are a whining, subversive commie too!” I thought one of the more effective parts of the Obama presentation was when he reminded that retired man whose pension has disappeared that he had *earned* his pension, and doesn’t have to feel like a selfish bum asking for a handout just because he and others are asking the government to protect it.
    My wife also loved the fact that there was essentially no mention of McCain, other than the one shot of him in the debate, and that the focus was all on the positive message.

    Reply

  26. Ride303 says:

    What do you think the downside was/is/could have been?
    I think he (and has campaign) have done what Kerry and Gore were unable to do, and that is cut through the filter of the mainstream media (and even the non-mainstream media) and help to define the narrative in a way that is more charitable to his goals.
    One thing is clear (and your blog and the fact that I’m posting to this thread is a real world example of this), the playing field of presidential politics has undergone a seismic change. In much the same way that Fox News changed the landscape in 2000/2004, the Internet has had an even greater impact in 2008. But television still reaches millions, and airing a 30 minute campaign ad right around the time people are usually sitting down to watch TV is brilliant. It’s also expensive, which brings us back to the Internet and the way Obama has effectively utilized it to raise money.

    Reply

  27. carol says:

    Yes, McCain forgets many people he has had dealings with over the years and they have been some unsavoury characters!!!!
    The infomercial was great and it was done with such professionalism….it showed what a great President he will make and next Tuesday can’t come quick enough for me.
    OBAMA/BIDEN08

    Reply

  28. annjell says:

    This informercial was awesome. I decided a couple of months ago that I was voting for “that one.”
    I also see what the real problem is with the GOP. They don’t know how to handle a young black man of this caliber. I guess they wanted someone like Clarence Thomas, the black supreme court justice. Or someone like, Portuguese, Ward Connelly.
    Now they are tagging Obama with Khalidi of the PLO, which, they fail to mention John McCain sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Khalidi for research in Palestine.
    I guess that shows McCain’s judgement, and memory, he attacks, but fails to mention his involvement in the same or similar activities.

    Reply

  29. Spunkmeyer says:

    The production values of this video alone set a new standard for
    political campaigns. It makes my head spin to think how well
    coordinated the Obama campaign has been over the course of the
    last 2 years. He has shown, if nothing else, that he is capable of
    leading a large organization with impressive results. I agree with
    J. Stanton that you are not the ideal or intended audience of this
    video, Steve…

    Reply

  30. carsick says:

    I was concerned beforehand and assumed it had been planned initially with the expectation it would be used to counter an October surprise. The surprise never came so I then assumed it would look too self aggrandizing when he seems to have a lead in the polls.
    I was wrong.
    He laid out, with real examples, the challenges many of us face and gave concrete goals that can be quoted and referred to.
    I think he’ll be our next president.

    Reply

  31. J. Stanton says:

    I think you’re wrong, as you often are re: politics. (Not policy, at which you’re expert).
    This infomerical was for late-deciding women voters. It hit its target out of the park. You were not the target.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *