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Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Barack America"
Posted by Jill | 7:43 AM
I'm somewhat surprised that the media haven't latched onto Joe Biden's flub of Barack Obama's name yesterday when he called Obama "Barack America." At the time it was a =gasp= moment, but I think done correctly, there's a campaign theme in there.

Biden's speech yesterday was heavy on "The American Story" -- that both he and Obama are American Stories, even if those stories are very different. But they're stories of hardworking, hardscrabble people raising their kids to do Great Things. The knock on Obama, and what Republicans are trying to hammer, is He's Not Like Us -- as if John McCain, the son and grandson of admirals whose military education and position in the military was because of his father and grandfather and whose political career has been largely bankrolled by his heiress trophy wife, WAS "one of us". The number of houses fracas is the first crack in the McCain "regular guy" armor, and I'm sure there will be more. But between Obama's unfamiliar name, his unusual, globe-trotting background, and his extraordinary level of achievement, the Republicans have been able to frame him as "the other."

There are pitfalls to the "Barack America" meme. Too much and it's too arch and cutesy -- and susceptible to people turning it into a superhero comic. Too much and the "low information voters" (you know....morons) won't associate "Barack Obama" with "Barack America." But done right, I think it could be a powerful tool to fight the "He's not really American" sense that too many voters still have about him.

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