Obama v. McCain, during the transition
The weeks after the US presidential election have been interesting.
First, certain Republicans wanted to make Gov. Sarah Palin the fall girl of their campaign. They failed. Bill O’Reilly tore in to her pretty quickly but faced a backlash from Republicans who saw the Governor as a heroine of their cause. Sen. John McCain took an entire week to respond, by which time it was “safe” for him to have done so, when the political meter had swung to Gov. Palin’s favour. We have Joe the Plumber now coming out and saying that he wasn’t that impressed with the Senator, but he was impressed by his running-mate.
Then, we have a shrewd President-elect who has sought to distance himself from the radical elements, the corruption in the Illinois governor’s ofﬁce, kept in touch with American people via YouTube, and attempted to go forth with a transparent transition process.
I am not going to get into politics deeply here. My point is that the behaviour of the two candidates speaks volumes toward the way they brand themselves, their notions of leadership and their motives.
I do not feel then-Sen. Obama’s campaign was the most transparent. There were questions to be answered, as I have stated on this blog. Vagueness is not a way to earn votes—but history has always shown that a campaign on change after years of one president in ofﬁce works: Clinton 1992, Blair 1997 and Clark 1999 are good examples.
I did feel Sen. McCain attempted to be more candid during the campaign. I was unimpressed, however, by points he ﬂip-ﬂopped on—when ﬁrst faced with the mortgage crisis, his ﬁrst words were in fact about letting laissez-faire economics have their way. Within weeks he spoke of nationalizing mortgages.
So much for the maverick who took a position.
Now elected, President-elect Obama has done right by his YouTube addresses, understanding that he needs to set a vision as well as a strategy. This is not a cynical exercise in PR. A leader knows that the most effective way to get an organization moving—and in this case a country—is to get stake-holders in on the act early, rather than impose a strategy on to them. I have said the same in any branding job for our clients.
Sen. McCain’s failure to defend his running-mate rates down there alongside Al Gore’s failure to endorse Sen. Joe Lieberman, as tradition might have suggested he should have done, going for Gov. Howard Dean instead. Gov. Palin was ﬁne at defending herself ultimately, but not before more damage was done to the Republican Party.
Whether one agrees with his Cabinet choices, Barack Obama’s moves in his transition have been pretty good, and among the most open I have witnessed since I began watching American presidential campaigns. He is using the playbook of modern communications to ensure that the ofﬁce of the President will continue to deserve respect. While in some respects he has gone against the ‘Change’ cry of his campaign by rewarding Clinton-era loyalists for the Cabinet positions announced so far, it’s another shrewd move to ensure stability from his party. With enough in place, let’s hope that he can get on with the real serious issues.
Am I going to give Barack Obama ﬁve out of ﬁve? No. I still hold concerns over his ideas. But those who questioned his experience—as those who questioned Gov. Palin’s—might be revising their thoughts today. For the most part, these transitional weeks have been well played by Illinois’s rising star. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:48
Hi Jack, I hope you are doing well. It's been a long time since I checked your blog. It was neat to read something from Kiwiland.
In regards to Palin, in my opinion, if it wasn't for Palin, McCain would've really gotten his butt whooped by Obama. I think she brought him a lot of votes that might've stayed away otherwise. I know I wasn't at all impressed with McCain and didn't like how many times he backstabbed his fellow Republicans.
It’s really great to hear from you. I agree that Sarah Palin got the Republicans a lot more attention. McCain rallies, prior to her selection, looked like the Senator was running for, well, the Senate. After the convention, they looked presidential for the ﬁrst time.Post a Comment
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