There's a massive mess going on over at www.dailykos.com tonight about a campaign video that the Clinton camp put out. Many on the Obama side of the feud say that the video is playing the race card by darkening and stretching Obama's face, making his nose wider. Those on the Clinton side are shouting that the accusation is ludicrous and that any criticism of Obama is unrealistically being called racist.
I watched a BBC documentary a few weeks ago when I was staying in Rosendale with my friends Fred and Heige. It does the best job I've seen of pointing out what goes on in campaigning. The Century of the Self series gives a good look at how the Public Relations field of Edward Barnays (he invented the term and the field, a predecessor to modern marketing) have not only fed the coffers of national and international corporations but have, since before Ronald Reagan, been used to hoodwink the public. The documentary walks you through how Bill Clinton perfected the skills necessary to appeal to voters with subtle actions, words, and gestures in a real time media environment.
I am not at all willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to marketing a product, even the Obama and Hillary products. Look at the candidates' use of religion, as noted here on Religion Dispatches by Jeff Sharlet. JoAnn Wypijewski's article Postcards from Ohio at thenation.com shows how rampant racism still is in parts of our country. If Wypijewski knows this and I know this, Clinton's campaign knows that there are white men sitting up to bars all over the country saying, "I'm not going to vote for that nigger". These are men who could probably list the virtues of Condoleezza Rice.
Strange how marketing can pull out these fine preferences: When cake mixes were introduced in the 50s, women were resistant to them. Marketers found that requiring a woman to add an egg made her feel better about cutting corners, about not making a cake from scratch.
I'm rooting for Obama in this campaign. Yes, I could be out there making a vote for women all over the globe but I'm trying to look at the candidates as individuals. Obama doesn't really thrill me either; he doesn't even look like a liberal to me. But he is articulate and he does give me hope, something I need after the past few presidents. I have no illusions about his tactics, Canadians or no.
The Century of the Self series is four parts and you can watch them all online at the link above. I highly recommend them.
The only way around this great tailoring of a product to suit voters is a more responsible, educating media. I really wish they were out there asking the right questions, but they have their own products to market.