Commentary by Don Rose
A: Audacity of Hope. Not just a Barack book, but a brand, a message, that millions believed in. After eight years of fear, hope prevailed. Yet think back to early 2007. Imagine the audacity of a young relatively unknown first-term Senator of African-American descent to hope he can beat the odds and become leader of the free world. Yes he can.
B: Bush. Yes, baby, Bush begat Barack. Yin begat Yang. One can argue that Bush devolved so deeply into a fear-mongering Constitution-shredding neo-Conning rightwing idealogue that the nation snapped back with a vengeance to the intelligent, erudite, anti-Iraq pragmatist candidate -- Obama -- who seems to be above ideology. Out of fear, hope.
C: Clinton. Hillary's hard fought battle against Obama made Barack a tougher, wiser candidate, and got almost all the dirty laundry out in the open early. Remember when Rocky and arch rival Apollo Creed team up to beat Mr T? Okay, not a perfect analogy, but I still love that movie.
D: Dean. Howard Dean was Net Candidate 1.0 way back in 2004. Smart and tech savvy, the first true Internet grassroots candidate. While Obama's version 2.0 was superior to the original Dean model, the Vermont visionary and his network guru Joe Trippi pointed the way. Howard's other influence on Obama's win came as DNC head. In that role, Dr. Dean championed the "50 State Strategy" that kept GOP strategists scrambling and helped Obama expand his base to "traditionally non-Democratic states" -- even win several of them.
E: Economy. No con on me! That's how many felt, and still feel -- like the $700 billion bailout revealed a con going on, causing collapse of a broken system and then, like poisonous icing on a stale cake, using gobs of taxpayer money to bail out fat cats. Yes, it is always "the economy, stupid". Voters vote their pocketbook if it's getting lean. Bad economy helped Obama, big time. But it wasn't just that, it was Bad Men. Constant bailout news made it look like those in power (GOP) had taken advantage, then wanted to do even more damage (taxpayer bailouts) that might not even work (wanna buy some toxic financial instruments?). Also helping Obama, ironically, was that his relatively light experience made him look even more like an outsider, hence one who could come in and clean house.
F: Fairey. Shepard Fairey's graphics gave the Barack brand its ubiquitous face. His iconic HOPE posters were copied, mimicked and parodied ad infinitum, which only helped spread the brand further.
G: Gore. When Al didnt run, the best non-Barack brand in the bunch went bye-bye, leaving Obama as the leading "CHANGE" agent.
H: History. Millions wanted to make it, and they did. In fact, I think history's call led to a kind of "reverse Tom Bradley Effect", where voters on the fence jumped more to Obama in order to be part of history. Also, African Americans voted in record numbers. Call it the "being black bump". It helped the Change wind grow to gale force.
I: Iowa. First Obama victory, surprising Clinton and the pundits, foretold the future. Most momentum-al moment. I know Obama must be thinking, "I owe a lot to Iowa." (Okay, maybe not Obama, but Iowans.)
J: JFK. The similarities between Obama and John Kennedy are many. Even JFK brother Ted acknowledged it. Both men: young in age, two young kids, young attractive wife, picked experienced Senator as running mate, and broke barriers (JFK was first Roman Catholic President, and of course Obama is first President to check email regularly).
K: Kerry. Democrats learned from the mistakes of 2004. GOPers tried to Swift Boat Obama like they did Kerry, but the Obama camp was ready. Every attack was immediately and strongly rebuked or counterattacked. It worked.
L: Love. Young people were definitely showing the love for Obama, in droves, and were relentless in getting out the vote, calling people in swing states, holding rallies and parties in support of Obama, and more. With Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, Democrats may have been satisfied with their candidate, even admired them, but twasn't love.
M: Moveon.org. Their more-than-daily emails kept Obama on the brain, whether you liked it or not. They relentlessly informed of urgent needs for funds and house parties/events where one could help the cause. Kept essential info coming to an ever expanding base of net-savvy supporters. Got the word out, kept the brand afire. (But be honest, aren't you kinda glad the flood of messages is finally over? Even The Onion acknowledged how often these emails were flying round the net with their headline, "Obama Deletes Yet Another Unread Moveon.org Email").
N: Negativity. McCain seemed negative in the debates, and his ads were overly negative. This turned off many, even his longtime friend and GOP honcho Colin Powell, who cited this negative tone as one reason he backed Obama. Plus, McCain's negativity was in such stark contrast to Obama's endless optimism.
O: Oratory. Obama's oral outpourings? Outstanding.
P: Palin. Pitifully poor pick. Pretty person. Petty prattle.
Q: Questioning assumptions. Who says a Dem can't win red states? Who says a black Dem can't win GOP voters and endorsements? Who says record dollars can't be raised via millions of small donations averaging under $100? Not he.
R: Republican Right. The GOP keeps assuming you must appease or energize the rightwing and/or religious wing and/or nutjob wing. Here's a maverick idea: why not cow tow to the needs of millions of MODERATE Republicans? Nixon used to talk about the "Silent Majority" and my guess is there is now a new generation of Silent Majority folks who are GOP but in the middle of the political spectrum. In 2008, McCain tried so hard to court the right, Obama could go full court press in the middle and win lots of GOP moderates (Colin Powell), even some conservatives (Bush's former press secretary and even the son of William Buckley). Obama, post-Hillary, moved right to win over middle ground -- and, amazingly, McCain gave it up as he slid right. Huge tactical mistake by McCain. He handicapped himself. With Republicans reeling, rife with rifts and ripped apart riffs, this seems like RIP GOP (at least for two terms). With the new powerful left, there' s not much left of the right that's right. Right?
S: Stephen Colbert. His performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner was a warning shot across the neo-Con bow that a mighty wind of change was coming. It got people thinking. And talking. And it was funny as hell. Blistering satire is one thing, but to do it right in front of all the people you are mocking, who also happen to be the most powerful people on the planet, is quite another. Yet Colbert pulls it off masterfully. The room didn't roar with laughter (for fear of firing, perhaps), but millions streaming on the Web did. I think it was an Emperor's New Clothes moment, which set the stage for millions to accept a new brand like Hope-Change-Obama. See Colbert's redhot roasting of Bush here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-869183917758574879.
T: Texting Obama's VP pick. The text message announcing VP Biden was another brilliant stroke, not only giving mass attention to Obama's "Change" brand again (e.g., this guy is with it, tech savvy, etc), but brings in tons of funds and emails and cell numbers in order to be part of the early select millions getting the early word (which leaked big time anyway, but who cared, the point was to expand further the huge Obama network, who then kept getting constant emails and texts about Obama events, donating reminders, pleas to phone swing states, reminders to vote, chances to win things like "be backstage with Barack" -- if you donate, of course, and so on).
U: Unflappable. Obama always kept things on an even keel, especially during the debates. The people liked that.
V: Vice President Biden. First major decision for Obama, he hits a home run. Showed superior judgment to McCain, who chose a much inferior VP when it was his turn. Veep is crucial in a tight race; Barack knew it, McCain blew it.
W: Winfrey. Oprah's Obama endorsement certainly didn't hurt. Especially in the campaign's earlier days.
X: X-Factor. The late George Plimpton wrote a book on it. That certain something. Surely Obama has it.
Y. Yes We Can. The 3 most empowering words since I Love You and We Shall Overcome.
Z. Zebra. Half black and half white, like Obama, and symbolizes... ...oh, forget it. Isn't 25 reasons enough, people?
November 16, 2008
Commentary by Don Rose