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October 23, 2012

Barack Obama, Champion of Small Things and Master of the Trivial

John Ellis assailed Obama's small-minded "Trending on Twitter" campaign strategy a few days back:

Weirdly, the micro-marketing Obama campaign has so far failed to frame the choice to its natural advantage. Big Bird and Binders of Women trend on Twitter and off goes Chicago, chasing Wile E. Coyote. Then Morgan Freeman narrates “Morning in America,” Obama-style. Then the Romney plan is “sketchy,” perhaps chasing another Twitter trender from way back when: Etch-A-Sketch.

What they’re not doing (which is why Romney has a seven-point lead in the Gallup Poll tracking) is “getting it down there where the dogs can eat it,” as George Wallace used to say. If they keep running their “trending on Twitter” campaign, they will surely lose.

Ellis thinks that Obama will inevitably abandon that silly strategy and start talking about things that really matter, but so far, today, he's still talking about "Romnesia."

Meanwhile, over on the left, a writer at Gawker is similarly unamused by Obama's strategy of playing the fool.

One of the many little thrills of being a part of the Obama campaign four years ago was a deep and abiding sense that, finally, a political leader had come along who could live up to our highest aspirations. Yes, Obama was cool and played basketball and was conversant in ironical youth culture, but when it came down to it, he was overwhelmingly serious. The other guys were hauling unlicensed plumbers onstage and suspending their campaign at the drop of a hat, but Obama kept his eyes on the prize and played the grown-up. Now he's talking about "Romnesia."

If anything, Obama's 2008 campaign promised a president who would actively repudiate the frenetic, aggressively stupid cable-news culture that had engulfed political reporting.... His inaugural address—a deeply depressing read in light of the last four years—contained a stern admonition to those who insisted on sweating the small stuff: "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises.... [I]n the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."

That's the same guy who let loose last night, in the midst of a debate that was ostensibly about how many people we are going to kill over the next four years and under what circumstances, this little nugget: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back."

He calls the joke "middling" and says it has no business coming from a President of the United States, especially one supposedly as consequential as the Dictator of Sea Level.

I don't think it's even middling. The nineties just called, and they want their dumb played-in-three-weeks joke back.

This is a David Spade style joke for people who aren't as funny as David Spade.

Anyway, point made. Months ago Obama was proclaiming this to be the most consequential election of our lifetimes. Now he's desperately trying to distract people from that reality. He doesn't want people to treat the election as consequential anymore, perhaps because people have decided they fear the Consequences of Obama more than the Consequences of Romney.

You can win every stupid Twitter meme and daily newscycle and still lose the election. People will only be distracted by the Small Shiny Object for so long.

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posted by Ace at 02:06 PM

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