The problem with the Obama OBL Romney attack video is that it manages to confuse us with two different images of Obama, one the high-minded statesman and the other, a (yes, more Clinton-like) Machiavellian operator whose motivation in eliminating bin Laden was all too political.
Pete Souza loves to do this Kennedy-like treatment photographing Obama from behind, in silhouette, looking out the window or studying a historical painting in a deep-thought, “one for the ages” motif.
Kennedy is probably a good comparison here, too, in terms of how better to frame the bin Laden mission. The OBL operation approaches the same level of cred as Kennedy’s Cuban Missile outcome, these events bestowing an aura you don’t want to cheapen. It’s that high-minded, temperate, cool-headed, grown-up persona that people identify with Obama and which effectively trumped the erratic and temperamental McCain. When you build this video around Bill Clinton as Obama’s witness, however, and then toss in the Romney attack, what you’re doing is undermining Obama’s statesmanlike image.
Even though Clinton never mentions Romney, and the attack on Mitt is executed solely through a graphic followed by a news clip featuring a network commentator, the viewer is all too susceptible to linking Clinton to the attack on Romney. Knowing what a street fighter Clinton can be, one doesn’t attend to Clinton’s heartfelt and laudatory words about the President’s guts so much as one attends to Clinton’s body language and that trademark and emphatic finger pointing (and then, following the Romney bit, more testament with karate chop) connecting that with the aggressiveness of the ad.
Weirdly and unfortunately, the producers of the video make the choice of following up Clinton’s finger pointing with two prominent photos of Obama finger pointing, too, the first (below) providing more connection to Bill because of Hillary presence wearing that tense-anxious face. (Notice, also, the tight fist far lower right).
I’m sure, of course, the intent there was to emphasize Obama’s decisive leadership in approving the raid. Associating Obama with Bubba’s finger waving and the shallow Romney attack, however, we don’t know if we’re supposed to believe in the JFK-Obama or the Bill Clinton-Obama, the net being we’re less apt to trust any Obama.
(video: One Chance/Obama Campaign)
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