The Reverend Wright “issue” is still with us, amazingly. But one thing I’m still waiting to hear from anyone is exactly what it is supposed to tell us about Barack Obama that is so troubling. Does anyone believe that Obama holds the views for which Wright was criticized? Does someone expect Obama to cry out “God damn America”? Does anyone think Obama believes that the government created AIDS to destroy the black community? Does anyone think Obama is going to appoint Wright to be Secretary of Health and Human Services? Are there any real questions -- by which I don’t mean “questions Sean Hannity might ask” -- that Obama’s association with Wright actually raises, questions that bear on what an Obama presidency might look like?
John McCain is counting on the idea that the country is center-right at heart. The Democrats are going to have to convince Americans that bad government is the result of conservative contempt for basic institutions of governance.
John McCain faces a serious challenge in this election year -- a struggling economy, a war the public is eager to see ended, a deeply unpopular president, and perhaps most importantly, the natural swing of the pendulum after eight years of Republican rule (only once since the 1940s has a party won three consecutive presidential elections). Nonetheless, conservatives continue to assure themselves that in the end, they reside where the country sits ideologically.
A month ago, Andrew Romano of Newsweek wrote a fascinating examination of the design features of the Barack Obama campaign. “Obama’s marketing is much more cohesive and comprehensive than anything we’ve seen before,” Romano wrote, “involving fonts, logos and web design in a way that transcends the mere appropriation of commercial tactics to achieve the sort of seamless brand identity that the most up-to-date companies strive for.” A big part is the use of a sans-serif font called Gotham, which manages to be authoritative, strong, open, and comfortable all at the same time.
If this presidential campaign has been about anything, it has been about character -- which candidate has it, which candidate lacks it, and what we can learn from the extemporaneous remark, the slip of the tongue, the company they keep, or their wayward (or not-so-wayward) youths. Every four years, it seems, we forget that this is exactly what the last election was like, and the election before it. And every four years, advocates of better, cleaner, more nutritious elections lament that we're not talking enough about the issues.
For months, I've been predicting that conservatives would delicately prompt voters to see Barack Obama through the lens of race. They'd drop hints, they'd make roundabout arguments, they'd find a hundred subtle ways to encourage people to vote their prejudices, while denying vociferously that they were doing anything of the sort.