Presidential races have had a history of being dirty and under the rug, and political cheap shots were never hard to find. But this year, in an already breakthrough election, candidates have thrown out more ads recently than ever before. Political standoffs between two parties or campaigns have usually resulted (or been the result) of an attack ad, complicating already very political situations by letting the general public have an unusually high say on the outcome. Thus, TV spots have turned into political weapons — with endings both beneficent and disastrous to their authors. 

Most recently, these political ads taken huge strides in the form of attacks back and forth from the two remaining candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. Although Obama has just recently started sending out “attack” ads, mostly as responses to McCain’s harsh accusations. The first real sign of this was McCain’s “Celebrity” ad, which was the result of a non lethal (in the sense of attacks) but heated standoff between the two senators.

The ad, sent out by a semingly fearless McCain squad, compared Obama to the star-struck Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and was responded to in a surprising fashion — by Hilton herself. The response was brilliantly played out to both send a message to McCain, and — as another topic — improve Hilton’s public status. It worked, flooding out McCain’s original ad and setting the stage for Obama’s more political response, which delivered a more serious but at the same time up-beat message. 

This was really the start of McCain’s continuous but mild public downpour, in which his previous political gaffes have come back to haunt him, including his Iraq-Pakistan border nightmare as well as his foreign policy mistake in Jordan, pictured, which occurred during a press confrence.Obama, though, has never capitalized on these public weaknesses. Taking a position many politicians in his would have quickly decided against, the senator will only fight once attacked. This way, not only has he kept a very clean slate, he has had time to asses the attacks aimed at him, quickly differ what he can say, and then release a public spot with many more directions and points to make than McCain. This, however, has never been referred to as “weak.” Obama’s team has carefully picked apart attacks (some of this is public) and assessed where they can attack and how they can cover up their softer political spots.

A great example of this was Obama’s second major attack ad towards McCain, named “Fix the Economy“. The ad was placed a few days after the “celebrity” fiasco, and is applauded by myself as well as many political experts for its seemingly perfect timing.

The spot aired during the dubbed “aftermath” of the war-like celebrity dispute, where the public was waiting for more moves from the two campaigns. Obama immediately recognized the situation and sent out what I like to call his “smoke grenade.” Geared towards a topic not mentioned around that time due to the previous Iraq-centered debates, Obama took footage of McCain claiming the American economy was in good shape and threw it against clips of American’s disagreeing with him intently. The ad was politically and factually sound down to the finest details, even including the states the Americans lived in, which were battleground swing-states for Obama and McCain (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky ect.) that are currently up for grounds in a political perspective. 

I call the ad a “smoke grenade” because it both did tremendous damage and put a cloud of smoke in-between the conservatives and the general public. The points made in the ad sent the McCain party wheeling for a response, and the eerie gap of time made an effective bad aftertaste towards the republicans publicly. What I mean by this is since political attacks were plentiful up to that point for weeks, the world had prepared itself for a McCain attack. But in a sense, it never came. So who can we credit this to? In my opinion, it has really been the work of Obama’s campaign working together, headed by the smart PR decisions of Jim Messina, the Chief of Staff. 

So as McCain keeps pumping out attack ads (here is the newest and the response), Obama will keep bouncing them back in the same way he always does — sifting through the ad and hitting hard on the facts. And that’s why Obama is not only winning in the PR department as well as the television side — he’s dominating.

  • Bill Clinton delivered a very rewarding speech both to Obama and himself as well. He secured his politics with the public and also received a very welcome introduction and standing ovation by the crowd which forced him to quiet them down for what seemed like over five minutes. He successfully attacked the Republicans, and the crowd loved his remark: “The third time won’t be the charm.” A good note: this time Bill kept his speech short — anyone remember the 30+ minute 1988 DMC address?
  • Running mate Joe Biden accepted as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, and introduced perfectly by his son, who jerked tears out of virtually all the delegates in the crowd. Biden himself delivered in my opinion the best speech so far, which really introduced himself to the public as well as giving a national TV look at his wife and mother, which the crowd fussed over as well. His speech also had less politics in it as I would have liked from him, but he really rode off of his son’s introduction and took that momentum and used it very well.
  • An interesting update — CNN tells us John McCain has officially picked his running mate, and he is to appear with him/her tomorrow night (August 28, 2008). A very interesting diversion from the convention itself.

Mixed feelings surround tomorrow’s (August 28, 2008) change in the MLB’s rule policy toward instant replay, which is noticeably only geared towards disputes on home runs. Most proclaim that its too little of a change, that baseball should suck it up and admit to the new age of technology, and forget all the old stuff. And very few, including me, argue the other way, claiming that baseball should stick to the original rules. 

Why? Baseball is all about the old stuff — the crack of the bat, the outdoors, the spitting on the ground like no one is looking, the game of gentlemen, the slow pace, the rain delays, and yes — the pile of chewed gum at the side of the dugout. But most of all, my favorite part about Baseball is letting the umpires call the shots. This game isn’t just like any other sport; its America’s pastime, and it deserves to be recreated every time the ball-players step onto the field. 

Personally, I am a huge fan of the JumboTron and its counterparts including Cricket and Tennis’s Hawkeye. Trust me as a die-hard Lakers fan, I’d die without correct calls, instant replay or not. But although Baseball isn’t exactly my forte, I can go this far — as a sports fan, and an American — the one sport that is ours entirely should stay entirely as it was meant to be, and if that answer is “old” — then so be it.

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The first day of the Democratic National Convention, even without Barack Obama, was a very successful one. Though many suggested it was just a warm up for the senator’s big appearance on Thursday, August 28th, it really had a more important vibe to it, different that many people — including me — precluded.

Some of the things I noticed included the fact that very few politics were discussed, making the event more about showcasing and introducing Barack Obama, in which Michelle Obama took to her advantage. Throwing out a speech with emphasis on her more personal points about Obama’s history, story, and the hurdles he had to jump to be where he was today. It was a very effective speech that loosened up the previously uptight crowd of delegates to near tears. And not only was the speech powerful, convincing, and persuasive, it also helped out the Obama campaign in a strategic way, too. It in a sense gave the convention, politics, and the Obama campaign a more relatable feel, which both parties are hard-pressed for. Nevertheless, the speech not only may have convinced many would-be non voters or die hard Hillary supporters to punch in Obama’s name on the ballot in the near future, but it really was an attack in itself to the Republicans, proving that Obama had the family and comfort appeal more than they have. Matthew Yglesias may have missed this attack for something literal, as he claimed the only one who really pulled out a true attack was Claire McCaskill.

Nevertheless, this first day has really set the tone for a convention of the ages that well-suits this very different election year. Hearing Barack Obama’s very anticipated speech on Thursday will definitely be something to look forward to.

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