Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Obama's Narrator

An interesting profile in last Sunday's NYT Magazine of David Alexrod, one of Obama's consultants.  I think this analogy is right and very powerful:
Axelrod says that his model for the Obama campaign came last year when Deval Patrick ran for governor of Massachusetts. There are many ways in which Patrick’s run and Obama’s are similar: the optimism, the constant presence of the candidate’s biography, the combination of a crusading message of reform with the candidate’s natural pragmatism, the insistence that normal political categories did not apply, even the same, unofficial slogan, shouted from the crowds — “Yes. We. Can!” But most essential is the way in which both of these campaigns came to use the symbolism that accompanies their candidates’ race, not by apologizing for it or ignoring it but by embracing the constant attention paid to the historic nature of the candidacy itself. The Democratic media consultant David Eichenbaum, whose candidate, Chris Gabrieli, lost to Patrick and Axelrod in Massachusetts, told me: “What they were able to do in the Patrick campaign was similar to what they’ve been able to do with Obama. The campaign managed to energize the grass roots, but there was a sense of idealism and hope and being able to break that historic barrier that was very unifying and reached out beyond liberals or the base. It became a movement that took on a life of its own.”
Obama’s Narrator
Published: April 1, 2007

I. When Barack Obama decided in January that he would run for president in 2008 and quietly began calling up his staff members and close supporters to tell them so, the choice had many effects, but one of the most immediate and parochial was that it sent Obama’s chief political and media adviser, a Chicago consultant named David Axelrod, into his editing studio. For four years Axelrod has had camera crews tracking virtually everything Obama has done in public — chatting up World War II vets in southern Illinois, visiting his father’s ancestral village in western Kenya — and there were days when the camera crews have outnumbered the civilians.


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