Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Power of Lipstick

Well who would have thought that lipstick on a pig would cause such a ruckus? For those who are not following the constant news feed of the campaign, here is the back-story before we get into some analysis.   

In a recent speech (I believe it was yesterday), Obama said that McCain’s economic plan is like putting lipstick on a pig. The phrase was supposed to imply that one cannot make a bad plan better by simply dressing it up. Thus, Obama saying McCain’s economic plan was like putting lipstick on a pig was the equivalent of saying that McCain’s economic plan is worthless and tries to fix the economy by making only cosmetic changes.   

Obama’s comments immediately caused outrange in the McCain/Palin camp, but not exactly as one might expect. Rather than being upset that his economic plan was called into question, McCain responded that Obama’s remarks were an unjustified sexist attack on Palin.  

The connection, for those who are lost and wondering why the McCain campaign would react the way it did, is that during Palin’s acceptance speech, she said that the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom is that one wears lipstick. Thus, the McCain/Palin ticket reacted believing that the swipe was at Palin and not the economic plan.   

It will never be known what Obama intended, but to be honest, whether it was planned or not, the move by Obama was absolutely brilliant. Since the end of the republican convention, all that has been talked about is Palin and how strong she is, what a good selection she was, etc. She has been caught in a very powerful and positive media cycle. Since there hasn’t been anything else for the media to really cover since her speech, she has stayed in the news. However, McCain’s response seems to have ended that by giving the media something new to cover.   

Now, you might ask, why is this comment by Obama good? Because McCain’s response is completely irrational based on what was said. Palin’s name was never mentioned and Obama was talking about economic plans. It shows that McCain can’t talk about real issues, but would rather talk about unrelated aspects of the campaign. It feeds into the image of the republicans that the democrats are trying to build: republicans are out of touch, they have no new ideas, and they can only win by relying on platitudes.   

Luckily for Obama, McCain took the bait, and the resulting news cycle has done two important things. First, the post-convention positive coverage of Plain has ended. This is possibly the most important change the democrats could hope to effectuate. They had to find a way to shift the focus without attacking Palin directly because doing so would just add to the media frenzy. Second, they were able to once again show that McCain/Palin would rather talk about lipstick than real issues. Obama attacks an economic plan and McCain responds by calling the attack sexist. I think I can see the campaign ad already.   

Clearly, this is not going to be remembered as a key turning point in the election, and for the vast majority of people, it will remain completely unknown. But in reality, this little comment has once again shifted media focus back to Obama and gotten Palin’s name out of the positive news cycle. For this to really be a turning point, Obama now needs to capitalize on McCain’s mistake and really drive home that McCain would rather talk about lipstick than issues that matter to Joe America.   

As one final note on this story, McCain’s response becomes even more bizarre when you take into account that he was actually the first person in this election to make the comment that someone’s ideas were like putting lipstick on a pig. He was referring to a plan by Hillary Clinton in the early primaries. Don’t think that that aspect won’t make it into the news cycle as this story passes. 


Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing that when McCain uses the "lipstick on a pig" phrase against Hillary's plan, he didn't consider it sexist - only when Obama uses it. I certainly hope you are right that this is the end of Palin in the limelight as the "media darling."

R.P. McMurphyDBB said...

it truly is. Of course only time will tell, but I am fairly confident that we already seeing the effect take place. Today's news that Palin's comments regarding the bridge no were not exactly truthful have built on yesterdays remarks. Also hurricane Ike is sure to gather a lot of media attention, which should basically restart the game between the two campaigns

Anonymous said...

I think McCain has lipstick and Palin on his mind. Haven't you heard a few men say they think she's "hot"?