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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Non-stop Obamania

Today's news included several items on Barack Obama, as the media is in full frenzy over the junior senator from lllinois and his presidential bid.

Not content to stop at the revelation that he had a slave-holder among his ancestors, the geneaologists are continuing to dig. This morning, there was a story in the Chicago Sun Times that Mr. Obama has both a Scottish Royal and an Irish shoemaker in his family tree. But don't fear, they tell us that shoemakers were among the "upper echelons" of society in the 1790s, so he's no commoner (see, For sure, Obama's South Side Irish for the full story). I'm not sure what impact such old family tidbits have on his presidential qualifications, but there's no limits to the inquisitiveness of the press when it comes to Obamania.

Next in the media coverage calvacade came the more interesting story of Obama's MySpace dustup. As you've probably already read (see, Campaign takes control of 'official' MySpace site, if you haven't), Obama tried to negotiate a takeover of a MySpace page that a fan had created. In the campaign's eyes, the page with its 160,000 "friends" had reached a tipping point and they wanted to make it "official." Unfortunately for Obama's media image, negotiations broke down and he resorted to a strong-arm takeover of the site.

Having worked in a campaign recently, I can understand the desire to be in control of the message going out over the Internet, especially when the candidate's name is used for a site. Campaign rules are changing in the Web 2.0 environment, however, and the greater need is for a candidate to be open, transparent, accountable and engaged. Going through back channels to accomplish anything is going to draw much more negative buzz than a renegade site could generate.

Finally, as the media nightcap, there comes the double-edged sword of a story that Obama now rates Secret Service protection (see, Obama gets Secret Service). I'm sure that Mr. Obama is glad to be seen as legitimate enough to warrant protecting. On the other hand, it can't ever be a comfortable feeling to know that you need to be safeguarded from the assorted nuts out there. Considering the latest press coverage, however, he's probably getting used to being a target.
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