March 5, 2008 – The Power of Pictures in Politics

obamasomali.jpg
As if base Democrats really care

 My old boss and mentor, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, was once quoted as saying, in relation to the brilliant Willie Horton attack ad he and political partner-in-crime, Lee Atwater, made (which sunk the Michael Dukakis campaign against George H.W. Bush):  “The only question was whether to depict Horton with a knife in his hand.”  Or something like that.

 A lot of people have asked me over the past week whether the Hillary Clinton campaign would score some damage in allegedly (at least as reported by Matt Drudge) circulating a photo of Barack Obama in traditional Somali gear.  My answer was that negative visuals like this work when they do, and backfire when they don’t.  Often it’s a very fine line and tough to gage.  If the Clinton campaign did release it, I would have focus grouped the heck out if it before doing so rather than making a blind prediction.  (Then again, Clinton’s desperate, and angry — a characteristic which, however unfair, looks horrible on women in politics — enough at the moment that she really has nothing to lose.)

My take?  I would imagine that the photo would only have an impact on people who wouldn’t have ever voted for Barack Hussein Obama anyway, and I suspect that it would do far more damage in a general election campaign than in a Democratic Party primary.

But images, in both political and corporate PR campaigns, can backfire.  And sometimes in ways that aren’t even foreseen.  In other cases – eh, not so much.

 Entrepreneur Richard Branson’s brilliant and edgy “Flick Off” campaign for the unfortunate crock of an issue that is “manmade glowbull warming” is illustrated, here:

bransonflick.jpg

But this particular depiction by a Toronto-based politician who wasn’t paying enough attention to detail and the potential power of imagery, landed her on the backbench:

flickoff2.jpg

And here’s Bush, making it “cunt”:

bushcunt.jpg

It works for him, though, because he strikes people as the kind of guy who would do this as a joke.  It would be harder to weather for “Jesus Gold Star” recipient and moral high-ground staker like Mike Huckabee, though.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “March 5, 2008 – The Power of Pictures in Politics

  1. satrac

    I believe that if Hillary were to release the “somali” image it will likely backfire on her because democrats don’t like negative campaigning. And having the media labeling her as a desperate, angry and do whatever she can to win doesn’t help her either.
    Despite all that there are ways the image can be released these days without leaving a trace back to hillary. Which is exactly what has happened.

  2. samcat55

    Barack Hussein Obama has been proclaiming that words mean something. We have heard him through Reverend Wright with his racist hatred, his blame the USA for everything.

    This picture is quite mild to the monster that Obama is. All one has to do is to understand that Obama has been a member of a racist radical church for the last 20 years.

    Truely the Senatah is part of the Klan with the tan.

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