THE BLOG
09/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Self-Defeating Obama VP Text Stunt

At some point or another, every political campaign digs itself a hole, trips over its own feet and falls face-first into it.

In hyping its 'learn who the VP is via text message' stunt, the Obama camp has done just that.

"No other campaign has done this before. You can be part of this important moment," campaign manager David Plouffe breathlessly intones on the Obama for President site. Yes, and no other campaign has announced by semaphore either. And even if the delivery method is not his point, even if he is touting a "you are there" sort of reality TV vibe, turning the VP selection process into an "American Idol" moment is not what you want to do when the press and opposition are accusing you of being all flash and no substance.

Fine, send a text message. However, by overhyping the fact that you're doing so, you mistakenly associate the campaign with a methodology that, in many average, middle-aged and older minds conjures visions of disposable teenage gossip and participatory TV voyeur-fests. The logo imagery asking, "Who Will be Barack's VP. Be the First to Know," sounds distressingly like a "24" TV promo or a political subplot teaser on a daytime soap.

By turning what should be a tactical afterthought into a mainstage event, the Obama campaign is playing to its own weaknesses. Image is everything, and the whole point of McCain's "celebrity" angle is to rob Obama of his presidential-seeming dignity.

Touting the VP selection with stunt casting trappings does their work for them.