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April 14, 2008


i still maintain that assuming another's outrage is just as condescending as anything that was said by obama. my question: did you listen/read the whole comment?

The significance of a gaffe is directly proportional to how much it fits into the narrative that the opposition and/or the media has created for the candidate. A case in point is John Kerry's famous "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." That gaffe might have faded from sight had it not so well reinforced and confirmed the already-existing perception that Kerry was a flip-flopper and an opportunist.

Obama may well prove to be luckier than Kerry. Though he had to fight against perceptions of elitism earlier in his political career, when he was trying to appeal to South Side African-Americans, elitism hasn't been part of his baggage during this campaign. That suggests that his gaffe may have more limited consequences.

I think this goes along with what Rob was saying, but the good part about this gaffe was that it was actually on message for Obama. Bitterness at missed opportunities and frustration with political leadership are corollaries of a Hope and Change message. Of course the biggest problem for Obama long term was not WHAT he said, but TO WHOM he said it.

That he aligns himself with San Francisco liberals against church goers and gun owners will be a much more potent message in the general election.


I suppose there is some small chance that you wrote this post using your original thoughts. But if you are going to steal my ideas, can you throw a brother a cite or something?



Hi Brendan. This is something I have thought about for a while. See my post from 03 on the Master Narrative. I think you need a more complex view than this sketch to actually get at campaign narratives.

For example, one could develop a "conservation of narratives" theory; the press doesn't like to develop new narratives because it's expensive in several senses of the term. Also, as I argued in this piece on why campaign coverage sucks, there is a substantial premium placed on narratives that establish the political innocence of the press and suggest that journalists are non-aligned.


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