21 October 2008
Pictured above are the latest issues of some magazines I subscribe to: Men's Health (Nov. 2008), Time (October 20, 2008), and MIT Technology Review (Sept/Oct 2008). Guess what they all have in common? That's right, they all have cover stories on the 47 year old senator from Illinois! Yes, the media infatuation continues! Seems like he doesn't need to be spending any of the $150 million he raised last month (over $600 million total) on things like this, when the media already scrambles to put the Obama "brand" on anything possible. Don't believe me? Walk into your local bookstore and scan the magazine section, then get back with me. I would be very interested in seeing how many magazine covers McCain has been featured on versus how many Obama has been on.
Consider the issues in my photo. Men's Health? Yes, I agree, Obama is a man, so I guess he qualifies to be on the cover. I suppose it is better than the usual cover of male models with chiseled abs and bulging biceps. But check out that tag line - "Strong and Fit!" Wow, not too subtle eh? Especially when considering the "Old and Weak" alternative, right? How about Technology Review? Published by MIT since 1899 (almost as old as Senator McCain!) the cover tag line is "How He Really Did It". Did what? As far as I know, as of the publication date of the magazine, the election had not been decided yet! And Time, the oldest newsweekly in the United States, seems to have Obama on the cover every week.
This post is not meant to be an indictment of Mr. Obama. He is very accomplished, seems to be a natural leader, and is quite eloquent. If I had to choose between listening to Dreams of My Father spoken by Mr. Obama, or Faith of My Fathers, spoken by Mr. McCain, I'd choose Obama's sonorous voice over the nasally pitch of MCain everytime. And there's no doubt, if Mr. Obama is elected president, it will be a historic event, the first man of color to be elected to the highest office in the land. Perhaps such an event would prove that race is no longer an issue, and that a person's character and honesty and belief is what really matters. Sounds dreamy, right? Sounds like real change, right? Former Secretary of State Colin Powell seems to think so, calling Obama a "transformational figure" while endorsing him for president today.
I appreciate his life-story, I think he is quite likable, and because he is younger and a person of color, I can definitely identify with him more. But here is my main concern: I am worried that Senator Obama is going to be elected president solely because of America's love affair with all-things celebrity. Senator Barak Obama is a rock star. Senator McCain is not. I remember reading about the first televised presidential debate, between JFK and Nixon, and how many analysts felt that because JFK looked better on camera, that translated into people thinking he would thus make a better president. Perhaps that is not the best example, based on what happened with Nixon later on, but it still makes a strong point about the need for star power. McCain made a valiant effort at fighting back with his own choice of celebrity, but she has proven to be no match to the Obama love affair, even with her latest appearance on SNL.
The 2008 election is not about who has better economic policies, who would make a better world leader, or who has more experience. Really, it's about who will sell more magazines at the newstand. And frankly, that's just plain sad.