Monday, August 4, 2008

McCain the Original Celebrity. But No One in the media Will Notice

Branding, framing and defining your opponent is the real name of the game. And since Barack Obama is fairly new to the national stage, he has yet to be defined. That’s why the McCain campaign is trying to do just that, with suggestions that he is like a messiah or a celebrity.

Having been in radio for 28 years, and a liberal talk host, I know all about advertising. The most important part of winning the war of public perception is to define your opponent first. That's what the McCain people are doing. They are succeeding. Obama, Daschle and others never respond directly when confronted, and always water their explanations down with praise of their opponants first and then gently take them to task. In advertising, it's called "wallpaper." No one will notice your message.

The original celebrity: John McCain.

According to

If Barack Obama gave new meaning to the term “political celebrity,” then John McCain helped define it. He emerged as the most popular Republican in Hollywood following his 2000 presidential primary defeat, winning more screen time than the rest of Congress combined. McCain made cameos in “Wedding Crashers” and “24,” saw his memoir turned into a popular biopic on A&E, and appeared more than 30 times on late night comedy shows.

The Republican National Committee piled on, launching a Web site Friday called Who Said It? Celebrity Edition that features a multiple-choice quiz in which people must identify whether Obama or a celebrity made certain, often vacuous, statements.

It’s a striking line of attack for McCain, who’s accepted without complaint the “celebrity” epithet from journalists for four decades. “John’s been a celebrity ever since he was shot down,” former McCain strategist John Weaver told The Atlantic earlier this week, “whatever that means.”

McCain started on the public stage with the pedigree of a family whose name graces a naval ship and a Mississippi National Guard training center. With his father serving as a top admiral, John McCain first became a household name when he was captured in Vietnam, and even more of one upon his release five years later. The New York Times featured him on its front page. He wrote an acclaimed 12,000-word, first person account for U.S. News and World Report. President Richard Nixon feted him.

The point is, regardless of ones past, if you can say first “I know you are but what am I” and make it stick, you win.

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