Friday, July 25, 2008
Obama: the Trip is the Text
During his world trip, Obama's prepared texts -- like the trip itself -- have been meticulously designed for stateside nightly news consumption -- not for those in attendance in Berlin and his other stops. This trip is a massive Mike Deaver style masterpiece of photo op, framing and message control. Like it or not, U.S. political campaigns operate in a visual medium and rely greatly on the perceived meaning of various visual symbols and settings. The challenge is to pull it off gaffe free, to get the news media to pay attention, and to get the news media to communicate the desired symbolism intact. This is all happening.
Show, Don't Tell. By making this trip, Obama has made a headlong attack at McCain's perceived strong point and his weakest: foreign policy, military matters and the elusively defined quality of "experience" and its antonym. This trip is giving the press and the public a chance to test drive the car before they decide to buy. That the one criticism of the trip is that it might be too successful and European audiences might like him too much speaks for itself.