What exactly has “cool” gotten you?, asks the latest ad from American Crossroads of young Americans. Watch:
I don’t think efforts like these are completely wasted, but it’s an uphill battle to be sure. If there was ever any doubt that the media has the ability to conjure up an image for someone out of thin air, then the reinvention of Barack Obama should put this to rest. From mediocre law professor and unknown state senator, to pop culture phenom, to being elected “Preezy of the United Steezy” in a span of little more than 5 years. (I don’t know what’s more ridiculous, Fallon’s label for the President itself or the fact that apparently a lot of people thought this was funny.)
The only other Democratic president in the last
40 30 (corrected) years was a slick horndog from Arkansas, but he could play a few notes on the saxophone, and so he was cool too. Meanwhile we’ve had a genuine Hollywood icon and a WWII hero as Republican presidents, but the media found few opportunities to suggest, or even hint that there might be anything cool about them. Even George W. Bush was cool in his own way, as a rancher and skilled mountain biker well into his 50’s. (He may still be tearing up the trails.)
But even with the increasing power of new media this is a messaging battle we are unlikely to win. Fortunately, however, the underlying message of this video could very well impact this election given the particular challenge that millions of young adults are facing in this economy. If for no other reason than that their long-suffering parents are likely to drag them out of bed on November 6 and march them down to the local polling booth to vote for real change.