21 June 2008

Selling Brand Obama

(Photo credit: AP)

A picture can say so much. I normally like to rely on words to get a point across, but this picture of Sen. Obama and his self-propagandizing pseudo-presidential seal spoke to me. It told me an unsettling story.

His recent adoption and adaptation of the Presidential Seal is only the most recent and visible self-aggrandizing twists that Mr. Obama would sell to the public as the most immediate possibility of our political salvation. We are to believe, simply on the face value of his slogans, that he will change the country.

Notice that all of the aspects of candidate Obama over-stamp the traditional seal. There are no stars and stripes covering a shield in the center of the eagle, a position of importance. Instead, the Obama campaign logo serve as the centerpiece. The Obama campaign makes his person encompassing – his name and his website surround the eagle. The familiar and purposeful “e pluribus unum”, a truly unifying statement because it is based on diversity, is replaced with the Latin version of Obama’s “yes, we can” slogan. What "we" can do is not specified, and that is by design. As long as the pronoun is plural, "we" must assume it is something we would want to do. After all, candidate Obama is the "unifying" candidate.

The evolving Obama story is scary to me because of Mr. Obama’s ongoing process branding himself (as in name-brand) as the hope of America. He has made himself, with much help from the media, as the “post-racial” candidate of “change” and “hope”. Indeed, the name-brand that is Obama has been pushed forward as the candidate himself has receded into seclusion. What the electorate is left with is the image, the brand, of “change” and “hope”. That is calculated. And as the process goes forward, candidate Obama may very well be asked less and less formidable questions. Much as no one wonders what a Coca-Cola tastes like, much of the mainstream media will only assume that “change” and “hope” are at the core of everything he does.

Questioning candidate Obama, as can be read in his own words, equals “fear” of his youth, his inexperience and his racial background. The candidate, his brand-name, has been placed above all questioning. All of that questioning “just divides us.”

The resulting cult of personality may bring into the White House a new kind of president and a very, very different America – change undeniably.

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