Well, it's been a while since I've blogged about politics, and so I thought I'd share with you what has been knocking around my head lately as I've observed the presidential campaigns. There is still a long way to go until November, and all sorts of things are possible. But if you asked me today who I think will win in November, my answer as of today is Senator Barack Obama.
Winning presidential campaigns have a metanarrative, a transcending story that can be remembered and recited. Winning candidates are branded well. Losing campaigns muddle along without telling an overarching story, seemingly changing themes every week. Losing candidates get caricatured.
Think though modern presidential campaign history:
2000 - George W Bush: restore honor and dignity to the oval office
1992 - Bill Clinton: build a bridge to the 21st century
1988 - George HW Bush: a kinder, gentler America
1980 - Ronald Reagan: it's morning in America again
What's important here is not that you agreed with the story or the policies of the candidate. It's that the candidate had something to say and said it in a way that drew the majority (or at least plurality) of Americans in.
The losers simply didn't. What comes to mind when you think of losing candidates? It's the caricatures not the metanarrative of their campaigns:
2004 - John Kerry: swiftboat
2000 - Al Gore: Sore Loserman
1996 - Bob Dole: ED
1992 - George HW Bush: it's the economy, stupid
1988 - Michael Dukakis: the tank and Willie Horton
1984 - Walter Mondale: a 49 state landslide
1980 - Jimmy Carter: the misery index
Come back to today. Which campaign is telling a story? Which has a brand that is compelling to Americans? And which is being caricatured? Which has an integrative motif for its campaign and is staying on message? And which seems like it is muddling along?
2008 - Barack Obama: change you can believe in
2008 - John McCain: old