Generally speaking, incumbent Presidents who run for re-election either focus on their accomplishments in the first term or try to scare the hell out of voters about their challengers. LBJ did the latter to Barry Goldwater with his infamous “Daisy” ad, for instance. Barack Obama has a novel approach — nostalgia. Last week, his campaign released a four-and-half minute video called “The Story of Us,” which sounds like a bad romantic comedy. And in fact, Obama and his campaign want voters to focus on the romance rather than the marriage, as fully half of the video covers the 2007-8 campaign rather than Obama’s presidency:
Bloomberg editorial board member Michael Newman noticed this yesterday:
Anything that reduces five years to four minutes and 32 seconds, the length of “The Story of Us,” is going to leave some stuff out. As a campaign video, it can’t be expected to highlight Obama’s record on Guantanamo or his management of Congress. Even so, from watching “The Story of Us” it’s easy to get the impression that Barack Obama was better as a candidate than he’s been as president — which sounds a lot like one of the standard right-wing critiques of the 44th president.
The video starts on Feb. 10, 2007, when then-Senator Obama steps to a podium in front of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to announce his candidacy. He wins Iowa. He survives an attack of lip-synching singers and actors. Shepard Fairey makes a poster of him. He talks on his cellphone while smiling handsomely. He names Joe Biden his running mate. He accepts his party’s nomination for president of the United States. He brushes off insults from the Evil Villain Sarah Palin (actually, that clip is from a speech about Hillary Clinton, but — never mind). He dances with Ellen DeGeneres while smiling handsomely. He fist-bumps Michelle. Michelle fist-bumps hosts of “The View.” He votes for himself, after which he smiles handsomely.
Finally, at precisely two minutes and 13 seconds into the video, we reach Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama is sworn in, although he doesn’t really start working for another 10 seconds.
So what makes it into the final two minutes? Er … the Lily Ledbetter Act, and Obama doing his cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” I think for this to work, Obama’s going to need a quartet of Barry White, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Harry Connick, Jr. I’m not sure that even that all-star lineup would distract people enough to realize that it’s not 2008 any longer, and Obama’s record on the economy has been a disaster.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!