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Why the Sound Bites Won’t Eventually Hurt Obama

April 14th, 2008

There has been a lot of talk about how the sound bites will hurt Obama, from the endless loop in the media about Wright and “God Damn America,” to Obama’s own words about Americans being bitter and taking refuge in guns and god. Somehow I never thought that these things would hurt Obama in the long run, but it was hard for me to put my finger on exactly why.

Having just watched Obama in the “Compassion Forum” on CNN, it hit me as to why Obama will survive these attacks against him: eventually people who hear these sound bites will hear Obama speak more at length, and that will burn away all the damage done by these attacks.

What it comes down to is this: the real Obama is not compatible with the version of Obama portrayed in these sound bites. They cannot be reconciled. McCain and Clinton can fall from their own actions and words because they are applicable. We hear McCain saying we could be in Iraq for 100 years, and it is believable. Despite his words and past actions on campaign finance, the fact that he is neck-deep in lobbyists and has violated campaign finance law can only hurt him more. We see Hillary and the lengths she will go to for her own sake at the expense of others, and it will stick.

But what the sound bites try to do to Obama is to make him out to be the kind of person which is contradicted by his manner and speech when you see him in action. The “bitter” comment idea is to try to make him out to be an elitist who sees the voters as hicks and rednecks–but listen to him at the compassion forum and that impression is so far from what you can clearly see him to be, it is impossible to maintain the idea that the sound bites were somehow accurate. The comments of Wright may be one thing, but you listen to Obama for more than a few minutes and you can clearly see that Wright’s speech is light-years from where Obama is.

An attack against an individual is only as effective as it is believable after having seen and heard the candidate yourself. Kerry was stodgy enough that you could maybe buy into the claims against him; Gore, with his debate sighs and wooden manner, was believable in the role of prevaricator. In contrast, Reagan didn’t seem like a liar or a front, which contributed to his “teflon” status. In each of these cases, the public image contradicted the reality, but the image stuck because people could witness the politicians and believe the images applied.

The Obama that people have seen and eventually will see simply is not consistent with the elitist, condescending, “Muslim” foreign snob his opponents have been trying to paint him as. Were they to try to paint him a slick huckster, that might possibly fit the image–“oh, he talks sweet, but he doesn’t mean any of it” could possibly sell to some people. But that’s not what is being sold. If you want to lie about someone and make people believe a good person is really bad, or that a bad person is really good, you have to come up with a lie that will not melt away as soon as people see and hear the person.

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  1. Tim Kane
    April 15th, 2008 at 01:33 | #1

    Excellent point.

    Everytime there’s been this claim or that claim about him, you look into it and it turns out to not only be the case, but often it’s the opposite (Nafta-gate).

    In regard to his manner, he hardly seems bitter, or demagogic, or elitist. He seems calm, rational and intelligent.

  2. Dora
    April 15th, 2008 at 06:08 | #2

    Hi, interesting site!

    I am afraid that the 2008 elections have already been stolen. Any comments on that type of concern?

    Have a nice day,


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