At long last, Barack Obama is on the air with his first ad of the general election. Take a gander:

Like every Obama ad, this one features high production values and a crisply defined message. The script is all about this great land of ours, which you can hardly blame them for, given the sustained attempt by the right to characterize Obama as a flag-hating, terrorist-coddling, Al Qaeda Manchurian candidate. But this isn’t just a reaction to the smear campaign. It’s actually consistent with what Obama has been saying all along.

Let’s remember that Obama has been telling a story about America from the moment he emerged on the national scene at the 2004 Democratic convention. (I wrote about this back in October 2006 here. As a bonus, the article has a link to none other than Ezra Klein arguing that Obama should wait to run for president. Even the best among us can be wrong!) He has always presented himself as the embodiment of what we all want America to be: inclusive, future-oriented, moving beyond our differences to embrace what binds us together. So patriotic talk isn’t something he has recently embraced, it’s actually at the heart of his narrative, which has been consistent from day one. The Obama campaign has always known what their message is, and they have stuck to it (which just happens to be the hallmark of pretty much every winning campaign).

All that being said, the continued evolution of our media universe, not to mention what looks to be an absolutely epic organizing effort on Obama’s part, may make television ads less important in this election than any since they debuted in 1952.

--Paul Waldman

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