As the 2012 presidential campaign sprints to the finish, the ultimate outcome of the election may boil down to image.
It our 24/7 news cycle world, where opinions and attitudes can change in mere seconds, the devastating effects of
In fairness, there is really little Barack Obama can do to relieve the catastrophic damage of the hurricane, either physically or emotionally, in the northeast. He made the obligatory photo-op appearance in
Beyond that, a president can only offer support and comfort to grieving people who have seen their lives forever changed in such a situation. In fact, the best thing a president can do is to get out of the way and let the clean-up process move forward as efficiently as humanly possible.
The president did all of the above. He “acted” presidential. He responded. He made his appearance for the cameras, and then he got the hell out of dodge.
Obama loves to boast about the transparency of his presidency, and the events leading up to the hurricane and beyond were glaringly transparent. It was clear from the moment the storm began to surge toward the coast that the president would sequester himself until it was time to make a pronouncement to the nation the following day.
Then came the photo-op with Christie and, finally, as expected, he was jetting off to four campaign events to do what was really foremost in his mind, getting re-elected.
Sadly we live in an age where we expect immediate solutions. It is natural to focus upon the extremely personal nature of such devastation, and the least bit of assistance offered to one individual can be immediately misinterpreted as preferential treatment by another.
Residents of the northeast live in the media hub on the country, if not the world. That microscope of attention magnifies the situation through radio, television and newspapers. Five days after the storm, current victims of
In the aftermath of the destruction, perhaps President Obama would, in hindsight, have been wiser to remain at the White House for at least a day, maybe two, longer rather than hightail it aboard Air Force One to additional campaign events.
Away from the devastation in
Those images. Those perceptions are what much of
Over the weekend many of Obama’s liberal entertainment industry friends will be doing a hurricane relief telethon. Amazingly the concert was organized less than a week after the hurricane. Amazingly it will be done just days before the election.
Why don’t Obama’s millionaire entertainer friends just write checks themselves to bring relief to the victims? After all, shouldn’t the rich pay just a little bit more? Wouldn’t that be faster and less cumbersome than going to all the trouble to do a “show” to make everyone feel better?
The answer is no, because simply writing a check is nowhere near as sexy or public or as much of a visible expression of compassion as doing a show. The operative word being “visible.” Let’s make sure everyone knows how much they care and, oh, by the way, vote for Obama on Tuesday too. It’s the American way.
Transparency. Image. Perception.
We have become cynical for good reason.
Keep that marathon in
Transparency. Image. Perception.
But the rest of the country can see right through Obama’s transparent efforts to remain in the White House another four years.
Timing is everything. So is perception. This time it may bite him in ways he never anticipated.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
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