Monday, May 28, 2012

The Current Political Sales Pitch - Mr. Ned Williams

Well, the latest email in my in-box as a foot soldier in the Obama Army made me grimace (note: I am one of the millions who are showing our support for his vision, his work and, well, his awesome coolness, by enlisting to receive multiple campaign solicitations, er, updates each week from the President’s Re-election campaign . . . even as I type that out, I am compelled to utter “heaven help us”).  Following on the apparent success of his fundraiser in the home of George Clooney, and earlier events where you could win a meal with Obama or whomever, the Obama campaign is now offering two new sweepstakes:  "An Evening with Two Presidents" with Clinton and Obama (airfare and hotel covered) or "A New York Night" with Sarah Jessica Parker here (airfare and hotel covered).”  How about the title "Socialism and the City" for the Parker sweepstakes?  The letter starts out,

“If you're wondering why we have so many contests to meet President Obama, I'll be honest.

Yeah, it's partly because they're really popular.  But it's also because we don't accept any money from Washington lobbyists or corporate-interest groups -- not a dime. We don't want them owning any piece of this campaign or expecting any special consideration.

So Barack Obama has only you. And the feedback from people like you is that they like chipping in a few dollars at a time -- and if there's a chance to meet President Obama as a result, all the better.”

Anyway, I say “grimace” because it shows that the Obama campaign has finally realized how crass their fundraising efforts have been over the past few months.  How so?  Because they have found that they can raise a lot of money by playing on celebrity with audaciously audacious audaciousness.  These emails target the youth of the American Left and the youth of the American Squishies, but they also target that large swath of people you could call “Those who should know better.”
In sum, the Obama folks have figured out what Starbucks discovered a while back:  a lot of young people have a lot of disposable income, and if you have some type of shiny object to dangle in front of them, you can separate these typically wisdom-challenged persons from their dollars.  Frankly, to most young people in America, ALL their money is disposable income; because if they run out of money to pay for really important stuff like auto insurance premium or the electric bill there is someone who will bail them out.
In all candor, a part of me wishes that this option was more available to the GOP and that more celebrities (note, I didn’t say “famous” or “successful” or “important” persons) were acknowledged Republicans or Conservatives.  But I have resigned myself to the fact that as long as there is almost near total overlap between the groups “celebrity” and “lazy thinker” my party and my political persuasion will suffer a disadvantage in this area.  That confession out in the open, however, this means of raising money has the same scent to it as the Clintons renting out the Lincoln bedroom (younger readers:  Google it).
Sure, I don’t deny that a big part of effective leadership is related to what we call “charisma” (a deep discussion of that will have to wait for another blog post).  But I think we should be troubled when a political campaign begins to openly and effectively tout or pitch intangibles (in the sense that cotton candy is an “intangible” food) for their candidate.  You know, what difference does it make if a president is “cool” (see here) or even humorous?  Granted, I don't doubt that many young persons would like for Obama to make taxpayers foot the bill for outstanding college debt, or that they would like to collect unemployment benefits for two years.  What's not to like (unless you're the one paying the taxes)?  But seriously, I think it is a good thing that people feel a little awkward reading the magazine covers at the grocery checkout.  And I think it is kind of a good thing that most responsible adults treat three hours watching the Oscars, or a subscription to People, as an indulgence and a wholly separate proposition from choosing a president.  Don't you?

     Mr. Ned Williams

Ned Williams is a husband, father and attorney specializing in adoption. He and his family live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Image by Leaping Lizard


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