I've been working in Democratic politics on the local and national level a since the Olde Days when Middle School was called Jr. High, and the Age of Aquarius was a hope and not a song. I worked, mostly, for decent, inspiring and losing politicians. I now support Barack Obama, one of the most gifted and natural politicians I have ever seen, and for political junkies like me, it's been a delight to watch his campaign grow from a possibility to a juggernaut.
I'm telling you this so you know that it would have to take something really big for me to criticize a campaign I support, especially during its political convention. But there is something coming Thursday night that, to my mind, is a blunder big enough to warrant the criticism: the Greek columns on the stage of The Invesco Field where Obama is to give his acceptance speech.
Or are they Roman columns? Perhaps an art historian will join the Best Political Team on Television so CNN viewers can differentiate.
All I can say is, Uh oh.
The image of Barack Obama on stage amid those columns is all the Republicans need to reinforce their contention that he is elite. And foreign. And grandiose. And that image will become the visual equivalent of John McCain's not knowing how many houses he owns. Nothing says "out of touch with regular Americans" like Greek columns.
You're fooling yourself into thinking things like this don't matter. Since the campaign is having difficulty crafting a simple convention narrative so average Americans can relate to a black guy with a foreign name, everything counts. And pictures speak louder than words. Think John Kerry windsurfing. Or Dukakis in the tank.
These Corinthian/Doric/Ionic columns are a gift the Obama campaign is giving to the Republicans, a gift that will keep on giving. We'll be seeing endless clips of Barack Amid The Columns in a multitude of Republican attack ads. How do I know? Because if McCain's campaign did something this jugheaded, we'd be making attack ads of it, too. We're already hearing the drumbeat of wisecracks, even from liberal cable news voices.
Can't we do something to get those columns dismantled before it's too late? Leave the columns for the Emmy awards. Or "The Loretta Young Show." Whatever happened to the American flag as a backdrop for a great convention speech?
So much is at stake in this campaign -- the future of our country and perhaps the world, for example. It would be a shame to lose it all because of bad art direction or campaign leaders too busy trying to win an election to see what is right before their eyes.
You know you're in trouble when Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly agree your campaign has screwed up. Mr. Axelrod, tear down those columns!
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