11/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack Obama Dominated the Medium and the Message

Wednesday night was a turning point in American politics: for the first time since the 24-hour media cycle sensationalized the race for the White House, a candidate for president cut through the clutter and reclaimed his -- and our -- national purpose. We have seen this medium and message domination before by two great communicators -- John Kennedy commanded TV's imagery with his debate performance in 1960 and Ronald Reagan commanded TV's advertising with his "Morning in America" montages in 1984. Wednesday night, for 30 minutes, Barack Obama commanded TV's 24-hour news cycle, transcending soundbites to deliver what he promised 20 months ago: a substantive campaign offering hope and change to we the people.

For Americans craving values-based leadership with humanity and humility, Barack Obama delivered. He cut through the clutter of sensationalist headlines and connected directly with the American people. He told his own story in his own words -- but spent more time telling an American story about the challenges all of us are facing. Now most politicians would not be able to resist talking about themselves for 30 minutes; others would be tempted to demonize the opposition; still others might place blame for intractable problems. Obama resisted each of these: he told his story in the context of the larger American story; presented his family as part of the larger American family; spent zero time on McCain-Palin's shortcomings; and pledged to listen to everyone while trying to solve problems. He treated us like grown-ups, not consumers, with substantive ideas and -- yes -- hope that we can work together for the common good.

As a result, Barack Obama looked more human and presidential -- which is the ultimate test of any campaign ad. Rather than bemoan the ad out of jealousy or pique, Team McCain should ditch their incessant terrorist plumber ads and spend that money on a more inspiring presentation -- such as the GOP convention video -- that will show us who McCain is, not what he thinks he needs to do to win. Till then, once again, Barack Obama dominated the medium and the message.

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